[MUD-Dev] DNA Game Patent [was Randy's Resume]

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Wed Aug 1 19:05:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Wed, 1 Aug 2001 09:02:35 -0700, "F. Randall Farmer"
<randy.farmer at pobox.com> wrote:

> Here is the first claim (from which all other claims are
> derived...)

>   1. An apparatus comprising:

>     a plurality of processing devices, at least first and second
>     ones of said processing devices including an associated
>     display;

Ultimate Universe ran on multiple bulletin board systems. What
exactly "an associated display" means is a thorny point.

>     a network interconnecting said processing devices;

The phone system and user community comprised such a network, under
an appropriate definition of "network". If FIDONET was a network, so
was this.

>     a first game program at least partially stored on one of said
>     processing devices, said first game program having at least a
>     first playing object having at least one attribute, said first
>     playing object being identifiably associated with a user, said
>     first playing object having a look and feel on said display
>     corresponding to said at least one attribute of said first
>     playing object;

This would map directly to the concept of a "ship". Each individual
installation of Ultimate Universe placed different restrictions on
what was and was not permitted on a ship.

>     a second game program at least partially stored on one of said
>     processing devices, said second game program having at least a
>     second playing object having at least one attribute, said
>     second playing object being identifiably associated with said
>     user said second playing object having a look and feel on said
>     display corresponding to said at least one attribute of said
>     second playing object; and

Likewise.

>     a mapping function, at least partially stored on one of said
>     processing devices, for mapping attributes of said first
>     playing object in said first game to said second playing
>     object in said second game, wherein said mapping function
>     maintains a substantially similar overall value of attributes
>     between said first and second playing objects.

A ship could be exported from registered versions of the game,
translating the ship into a format which could be imported to
another registered game. Different games could "outlaw" different
facilities, which would be removed from imported ships, and
customised items were removed during the export process.

It is notable that in UU, the ship could not exist in both universes
simultaneously. However, there was nothing to prevent moving a ship
from universe to universe multiple times. The language of the patent
may describe a way that objects maintain *consistency* between the
instances of an object in two separate games where they exist
simultaneously, but may also describe an export/import feature. At
the very least, a challenge could alter the wording to clarify this
point.

> I am interested in any pre-May 1996 games that meet ALL of these
> criteria, but I'm pretty sure they don't exist.

If you'd like to look at it more carefully, the January 1995 archive
of Ultimate Universe 2.04 is available at:

  ftp://ftp.darklock.com/pub/uu/uu204.zip

The registration key to enable export/import functionality is
available at:

  ftp://ftp.darklock.com/pub/uu/register.zip

The /pub/uu directory of ftp.darklock.com also contains a vast array
of documents, utilities, and editors for the game. It's pretty
addictive once you get into it... that's why I bought the rights
from the author.  (UU is my current major project. It's about 30%
ported to the Windows/internet environment.)

> Oh yeah, the standard of Prior Art is tougher than most people
> think. A single garage-effort in 1995 that 5 people used isn't
> Prior Art. :-)

Here's the list of boards running Ultimate Universe in northern
Virginia, as of November 1994:

BOARD NAME              PHONE NUMBER   SPEED   BBSTYPE      REGISTERED?
=======================================================================
THE CRIMSON TIDE........703-347-5551...14400...RENEGADE........Yes
ETERNAL EQUINOX BBS.....703-370-7326...19200...PCBOARD 15.0....Yes
DARKSIDE BBS............703-439-0919...14400...WWIV............No
THE CAT'S MEOW..........703-439-3060...14400...PCBOARD.........Yes
THE MIDNIGHT RIDER BBS..703-591-5744....9600...PCBOARD 14.5....Yes
HELM'S DEEP.............703-729-5622...14400...RBBS 17.4.......Yes

A list of 580 other boards internationally which were running UU at
that time is included in the aforementioned January 1995
archive. The average number of players on a UU game was about 20,
which adds up to over 10,000 users. Some games had as many as 100
regular players, the hardcoded limitation of the software.

Oh, and incidentally, The Crimson Tide was mine. :)

HTH

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