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

F. Randall Farmer randy.farmer at pobox.com
Fri Aug 3 00:19:03 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:

>>   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.

The diagrams are an important part of the interpretation.  Based on
my interpretation them, this "prior art" claim is already on shaky
ground, as you seem to admit with the phrase "thorny point."

>From the diagrams, I think the intent is clear. Specifically,
BBS-based games required only terminals to access such games.  This
precludes all 100% server-side text-only games, including the ones I
built myself. :-)

>>     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.

Again, the diagrams seem to help me a bit (this is why I think the
PTO requires so many diagrams, it seems to help sort out intent.)

Two people simultaneously connected to a DOORs style BBS would most
likely qualify as a "network" as defined in this patent. Did the
users play this game simultaneously? I'll assume so and proceed.


>>     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.

This is where we fundamentally disagree. This claim _requires_ a
client program be used WHICH manages the playing object(s). As I
understand the game, the Ships were entirely server side. Isn't that
correct? The "client" doesn't house any of the game, per se.  If so,
to me we can definitely stop here; This is not prior art against
Claim 1.

>>     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.

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


I glanced at what I had time to, but since it's not my job to do IP
research, I'm not going to spend much more time on this particular
one because (to me) it doesn't represent prior art. UU sure looks
like fun though. I did a 3D text-only multi-user starship game
myself in the 1970s. :-)

Thanks CTD, I really appreciate the reference. It's good to look at
this stuff critically. It is _so easy_ for us to be dismissive
instead of taking the time to look in detail at our history and
culture. I say this knowing that I am one of the chief
offenders. :-)

Keep'm coming.

Randy
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