Microsoft patents in-game guide system

Researcher's 2008 patent for "User-Powered Always Available Contextual Game Help" shows Microsoft is considering an in-game guide similar to that of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

The just-released New Super Mario Bros. Wii comes with an all-new feature: The Super Guide. When players fail to pass a level eight times, they are given the option of having the computer play through the level for them. That way, players who might abandon the game in frustration would instead finish it, albeit without the glory of having conquered its challenges unaided.

Could the Xbox 360 soon be getting an in-game guide system?

Now, according to a US Patent and Trademark Office filing uncovered by gaming blog Siliconera, Microsoft may have been planning something similar to the Super Guide as far back as February 2008. That's when the company filed an application for "User-Powered Always Available Contextual Game Help" inside a game.

According to a copy of the patent application obtained by GameSpot, the technology would allow players who can't pass challenges to access a guide installed on the console through an in-game user interface. The guide would then analyze the "current context of the game including the encountered challenge," using a system in which "each object in the game is supplied with a tag having a unique ID."

Once identifying information about the challenges and in-game objects are analyzed, the game would then offer possible solutions drawn from a "list of entries" in the guide. Each of those entries would be "relevant to succeeding at the encountered challenge as represented by the received current context of the game."

When asked about the in-game guide system and its current status, Microsoft reps told GameSpot they would look into the matter, but offered no further comment. However, the patent does explicitly reference "a video game console," meaning it is likely intended for use with the Xbox 360 or one of its successors.

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291 comments
sparkypants
sparkypants

@ rando22 I'm not saying I'm superior, or that I'm a badass I just think its sad that the standards are getting lower. 10/20 years ago young children(you know, this things target audience) played games like the ones in my previous post. Yes they were frustrating and yes they were hard but beating the game(hell beating a level) made everything worth it. If companies are going to start taking away that sense of accomplishment and let a computer play the game for the players, then they might as well just start making movies. Yes I get that it is an option, and yes I get that I don't have to use it, but what lesson does this teach children? They won't learn to be patient and they won't learn that hard work(at least as much hard work as a game can provide) has its rewards. This in-game "helper'' thing is basically telling children that its ok to take short cuts and rewards children for using minimal effort. In the long run this will hurt children more than(the media claims) it does now. "Algerbra is hard, I will just have my big brother do the work for me so I can pass the class like everyone else."

W3En
W3En

Wow... What happened to hard games...I wouldn't want to have a computer play through Ghosts 'n Goblins or any other older game. There is no fun and they better not get any of the achievements for that level because you would have achieved nothing.

gamer_marrik
gamer_marrik

What a bunch of babies. If you think a level is too hard, man up and try again. Then you feel a sense of accomplishment, and it generally turns out to be a fun experience. This Super Guide crap ruins that.

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

Never for me, period. I don't care how hard something is... I still want to do it with my own hands even if that means surrendering and reading a FAQ to do it. That's an incredibly rare last resort for me. I just need to do it. This is one reason the Forza 3 -default- setting to infinite rewinds was particularly... discouraging. It's admitting that it's trying to assure "enjoyment" is more important than challenge of anything. Sadly, no reviewers really went in depth about this, and you can be damned sure that GT5 will be scored down for NOT having it. Good point on how hard games used to be. 8 and 16-bit eras. Few games were long and most expected massive repeated short play on assumption of repeated failure and trying to grind for an extra 10 points to brag to your friends about. "Beating the game" means nothing anymore.

MikeDecz
MikeDecz

Hmmm.... good points on either side. There sure were some frustrating games in the 80's and 90's that provided a sense of accomplishment when you beat them... (Mega Man 2, Castlevania) but how many hours did that keep us in front of a TV when we could have been playing outside?

MikeDecz
MikeDecz

Jim60360 Posted Nov 30, 2009 9:03 am PT so theres gonna be an option to cheat!? not for me thanks, i like to earn my achievements the old fashioned way. 93360G a thank you!! Holy Smokes! That has to include "My Little Pony"....

Shmoe82
Shmoe82

I kind of like that idea. Owning a PS3 i probably won't see something like that for many years but i do hope you 360 and wii owners enjoy it in the mean time. I've had so many games i wish i could skip to the next level. After reading some of your inputs though, i completely agree that this can be abused so easily so there should be a limit to how many times you can use it in one game.

Prime05
Prime05

As long as cheating stays an option I'm cool with it. I could have used some help for Ninja Gaiden Sigma. I don't know how that game ended, and I've been gaming since Collecovision. Some context clues are nice for some situations i.e the Glyph puzzles in AC2. The advice you get, though limited, is helpful for solving those puzzles.

Jim60360
Jim60360

so theres gonna be an option to cheat!? not for me thanks, i like to earn my achievements the old fashioned way. 93360G a thank you!!

SpikedStrider
SpikedStrider

This will not effect gaming. Remember Game Shark??? I never used it then and I won't use another version of it. If someone else prefers this over playing through I would not think more or less of them. Why would I care about how someone enjoys a game? I am sure they won't get an achievement for it and they still get to enjoy the story line.

desolation00
desolation00

Like I was ever planning on putting "I completed GameX on So Difficult God Would Ask the Devil for Help Mode" on my tombstone. Whoever put Achievements in games was a genius on par with the guy who bottled water. I tend not to use guides, unless it's to get to the real end-game content for some of the mmorpg's, where the game usually really takes off for me. One notable exception was the guide for Morrowind, probably read it more than I ever played the game, it's just so well-done. I can understand why some folks use guides though. My brother is a completion freak for instance. If he misses something in a game, he's likely to restart from the fricken beginning just to do that content. He uses guides to get to all the little details and get the most out of the experience for him. Arguments that this breaks the game are a bit overstated. If you're looking for the challenge, or can do all the little puzzles yourself so quickly, you don't even bother with guides, whether or not they're in-game. I mean, when was the last time many of us even looked at a game's Manual for goodness sake? This wouldn't break games for us, and would let our little cousin who doesn't know that you're supposed to click on the glowey thing and avoid red/green/blue stuff on the ground possibly get through a really challenging bit of a game.

HavocV3
HavocV3

maximo: "gamers lazy" no offense lmao.... It's optional, if someone wants to use it, people who want the challenge avoid it...it's no different than getting on the computer and finding it. I guess it can also promote a better XBL community too. Guides are popular for those who make them and those who read them.

maximo
maximo

this can only be bad for gaming does this mean that in theory you could really suck at a game and just have the computer play through it for you? if so then this will make gamers lazy.... i work hard at trying to complete games on the hardest settings i.e all cod games.... and they are real achievements for me. I hope that MSFT will disable the achivements if people utilise this feature

Rygarr
Rygarr

So MS admits xbox gamers are dumb

tony2077ca
tony2077ca

sound good maybe they should put it in those really difficult jrpg battles

Luger718
Luger718

finally after so many years i can beat cod 2!!!!

kamicolo
kamicolo

guess this will save ya money on buying strategy guides...

masterchief46
masterchief46

HAHAHA nice nintendo didn't patent this so microsoft 1 nintendo 0 I think it's funny when companies forget things and lose money because of it. This is a case of a company stealing ideas and using them for their gain plus it's nintendo's fault for not getting the patent first

TesslaRex
TesslaRex

yah i also agree with sparky pants if u take the hard parts out of the game all u are doing it taking the fun out its like the people who use god mode in games. tisk.......tisk!?!?!?!!?

Attoyou
Attoyou

oh god , i see it coming , WELL Wii and PS3 DONT HAVE IN GAME GUIDES ~!

Nintendofreakx
Nintendofreakx

Ok... who actually used this in new super mario bros. I never died more than 4 times in a level and that was only in a few levels. It may be decent for e rated games but keep it out of the M rated one's please!

Bombardist
Bombardist

no offense to any one but i agree with sparky pants its kinda whimpy and it isnt as satisfying as playing through it urself which is very satisfying after failing a while and then gettin through it so i completely agree with him

Daanyal
Daanyal

I'm just 10 and my uncle is a HARDCORE gamer and my goal is to catch up to him on gamescore points. He is on around 6000 and i'm on 3000. He's had a 360 for 3 years longer than me. This feature could really help me. I got my 360 last year.

Virtual87
Virtual87

In the future lets just make games a bunch of trailers that we can click next, next, next and at the ending we type in our name to the phrase: "Congratulations ..... You completed the game". Or lets just watch movies instead. Seriously now, isn't it bad enough there are cheats and anybody who respects himself doesn't use cheats right ? So how is this different than a cheat ?

rando22
rando22

@sparkypants ok thou art superior, i got it, you're a hardcore gamer who played classics, so that makes you cool and all. seriously....stop being so ignorant and naive. did you forget in the article where it said, and i quote the first paragraph(unbolded) second sentence, "they are given the option of having the computer play through". so there you have it, you have the "option", and (key note coming up)i'm sorry but i cant help but think that this option is gonna be more implemented into games that are demographic to the younger audience, i.e. anyone below the age of 12......you know the games with E for Everyone rating? seriously guy do you really think they're gonna implement something like that into the next MW, Bioshock, or GoW or whatever that's more for the older gamers? come on lets be real here. and even if you do use the OPTION who gives a flying turkey? seriously so flippin what....not everyone has the time to sit there and play a level 10 times over, specially kids!! i mean i love games and all, play at LEAST 3 hours a day, but kids shouldn't be sitting in front of the tv ALL day. can't get past the 4 level of the New Super Mario, well let them skip it and get on w/ there lives, go the Y or something.

lamprey263
lamprey263

sounds like one more thing to slow down the development process, I'm curious what studios would do this, especially third party studios that port games to the PS3 and Wii in addition to the X360

Khoo1992
Khoo1992

That would be good for my cousin who gave up Force Unleashed after level 4... lolz

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Wow. Gaming becomes even more dumbed down. Average.

sparkypants
sparkypants

@ rando22 why should we have to soften things up? I remember what it was like as a kid(hell I'm only 19) but I grew up playing castlevainia and Mega Man, at a young age those games are hard but that was part of the fun. It was(and still is) satisfying to beat a level after getting your ass handed to you 9 time out of 10. Why should they take out the most important part of playing a game(you know, playing it)? I should also add that as a kid playing those games, I learned a great deal of patience. Games can be frustrating but if they learned that its just a game and that mistakes are ok, any kid can have fun playing the hardest of games.

jazilla
jazilla

Couldn't "user powered" mean ALL of the users on the system being available to help each other out? seems pretty vague to just assume that is what it is.

bluace
bluace

well ye it fold help a lot of people and probably for me too, bat I fold never use future like that because I like finishing games on my own, and not with help of somewhan else or in this case game it self. And I think that loot of other players fold agree with me.

CurvedSword
CurvedSword

ok it will help for not good players but providing they dont take the challenge out and start lyk making games easier just to get more ppl buying them, well nintendo have obviously dun that but u know i luv a good hardcore hard game from time to time where i actually have to work out what to do without looking at a guide - be it on the xbox on on youtube

inkyspot
inkyspot

Some people need that feature. Like for me in Prototype, how the hell would you get platinum in those running races.

megoxq8
megoxq8

some one tell them we don't have games that hard enough like (demon soul ) to need such thing that game worth every cent

ISuPrEmAcY32I
ISuPrEmAcY32I

personally i enjoy the challenge of trying different tactics until i beat a challenge. But then again I normally turn difficulties on games all the way up. i do suppose this will save me the effort of googling a particularly challening portion of a game that has me stumped. laziness for the win.

luisfer17
luisfer17

i think this will take the fun out of games, cuz i makes it interesting not knowing what to do. It makes you use ur brain, at least once and a awhile. Having someone explain me the whole game is just dull.

datniccah187
datniccah187

that would be pretty sick, something like a pop-up help box when you get stuck in a game. Why not, saves time from having to actually pause the game, flip pages turn the lights on and what not.

jsnowbordr47
jsnowbordr47

I like the idea of this. I mean, it's one thing when a game is difficult, but I think we've all at one time or another have been frustrated by the difficulty of a game. And remember just like in NSMB, it's a totally optional feature, if you don't want/don't feel right using it, just press no. It's like in Forza 3, if you don't like the idea of the rewind system, don't use it. As for me with a game like Forza 3 especially on those longer races, having to restart a race just because I locked up my brakes around one corner on lap 20 would get very frustrating to the point where I'd probably turn the game off (that's happened to me in Forza 2), and remember, games are supposed to be fun, I know of several current-gen games that I have yet to finish due to the frustrating difficulty (Scrin Campaign in C&C3 for consoles and RE:4 Wii Edition). I sure would like to see how they end.lol

YankeeDan345
YankeeDan345

Its an interesting idea but its sounds too complex to work. I expect the guide would rarely be helpful.

mark_unix
mark_unix

the dumbest patent ever! this is what u get with Microsoft inside the gaming industry, they will patent everything which wasn't patented before (even though everyone used it without patenting it...) Microsoft likes to stab consumers in the back several times with their lame ass patents, like a real mob hit (who trusted these guys with the gaming industry again?) if it's upto me this is their last ever console...

maldoror19
maldoror19

This is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard of.

osiris
osiris

Pander to the casuals... damn you all! Unless it makes you more money so you can make better quality games... HA!

sammoth
sammoth

LMAO Why play the game at all ? Seriously WTH is the point.

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

Why does this honestly matter? Gamers should've known the instant they revealed Project Natal, Microsoft was going to be aggressive about getting into the casual market. I'm sure they'll only implement this on the easy mode of games, so all you people out there will still get Gamer points and all the glory of beating the game on Normal/Hard difficulty.

BalramRules
BalramRules

What kinda patent is this?!?! This should be for everyone! I can imagine this for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for people who want gameplay walkthroughs, you can just record the PS3 doing it and then upload it onto Youtube for millions to watch!