Nintendo has filed for a patent on a game system which would allow players to view pre-recorded gameplay and solutions unfolding in realtime.
Nintendo virtuoso Shigeru Miyamoto filed the patent on June 30, 2008, but, noted by game weblog Kotaku, it became public only recently.
The patent hinges on a form of automated gameplay -- likely sequences pre-recorded by a game's developer -- that users can turn on, described as "digest moving image." For example, it could show a game's character navigating a level to reveal its solutions to stuck players -- or simply to allow players to experience it without investing the time for an entire playthrough.
It appears there are a few sub-sections of the system, with one mode revealing pop-up gameplay hints throughout play and another allowing players to watch a play-through. Through a third "scene menu" option, players can choose specific segments of gameplay to view without relying on existing save data.
The system doesn't appear to allow players to actually bypass gameplay or save progress made by the automated playthrough. Specifically, the patent refers also to the method for storing pre-played gameplay data that doesn't interfere with the user's own gameplay saves.
The objective of the technology appears essentially to encourage completion of more games by allowing players to discover solutions more quickly and reduce the time investment required for large games.
"In some of these games, a volume of the story or the scenario is too large, and therefore a lot of time is needed for clearing the game," reads the patent text. "Further, in some cases, various puzzles are set in the scenario, and/or a skilled action (operation to be performed by a player) and the like are required, so as to enhance an interest in the game."
"However, there is a problem that these puzzles and the like are too difficult, and therefore the game may be stuck halfway, and the game may not be cleared to the end."
Simply providing hints has been insufficient to decrease barriers for players lacking in time and attention, the patent maintains. Such players "may not enjoy the large volume of game to the end and give up the game halfway even when the difficulty level of game is lowered by presenting a hint or the like in the middle of the game," reads the text.
"Therefore, an object of the present invention is to provide a computer-readable storage medium having stored therein a game program for allowing a player to freely play and enjoy the game to the end, and a game apparatus."
This ease of use should be balanced in a fashion that allows more traditional players to continue to play independently and be challenged, the patent text maintains, hence the need for the storage system:
"Further, another object of the present invention is to provide a computer-readable storage medium having stored therein a game program for preventing a player who desires to clear a game by him/herself from losing his/her interest in the game, and a game apparatus."