- BACKGROUND ART
This invention relates to computer assisted games, and the Internet.
Story telling is a major part of every culture. The activity serves to entertain, to unite, to preserve history, and to teach. With the assistance of computers and the Internet, many forms of story telling are now possible that weren't before. Not surprisingly, the bulk of these modern inventions use the computer to assist in the actual story creation by prompting with or creating actual story content. U.S. Pat. No. 6,859,211 to Friedlander, Feb. 22, 2005, describes a system where the system prompts a user to write a story based on an image and a collection of words associated with the image. U.S. Pat. No. 7,333,967 to Bringsjord and Ferrucci, Feb. 19, 2008, describes a system where the story is automatically generated in its entirety. This is a divergence from pen and paper type systems, as described by U.S. Pat. No. 5,100,154 to Mullins, Mar. 31, 1992, where the primary content and generation is done by the players. The distinct advantage humans retain over computers and any other system is their ability to create. The drama technique called improvisation and variants therein is a top example. The first and foremost advantage of computers is the ability to bring players anywhere in the world together, and offer real time, live interactions between them that aren't possible without machine controlled game regulation.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Although each of the inventions above have at least one distinct purpose, e.g. a system that heavily prompts the user with content can assist challenged individuals in reading or writing skills, none of the prior art addresses all these points. With real time, simultaneous group-based, player-driven story generation with computer assisted grouping, scoring, and voting as described in the ensuing description and accompanying drawings, the method and system described maximizes creativity (content is created by the players) and use of grammar skills, while at the same time improving social skills (creation and scoring is affected by knowing how others will behave in the group).
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In accordance with one embodiment, this is a method and system for real time collaborative story generation and scoring. In real time on one or more computers or mobile devices, users enter story lines or even partial lines to continue a currently running story. All participants also vote on which lines they like the best, line accuracy, or any other metric. Winning lines are added to and displayed with the story in real time as users continue to play. Voting over the course of the story generation in part determines the winner and final scores, with additional factors including, but not limited to, who submitted winning lines, and how quickly. Voting and story creation can happen simultaneously, sequentially (line submission, then voting), or round-robin (individual submission/voting rounds).
FIG. 1 is a diagram of a multi-user internet game environment, used in the preferred embodiment.
FIG. 2 is a diagram of the process in the preferred embodiment by which users enter lines, vote, and are scored.
A modern multiplayer online computer game setup and the preferred embodiment setup for this invention is shown in FIG. 1. One or more players interact with one or more computers , which communicate with one or more servers  through a network and routers . These servers collect the players' actions and responses, and instruct each computer  what to do next, with visuals typically displayed on a computer monitor. In a smaller game setup, the entire system could be implemented on a single computer. Given the capabilities of modern day cell phones, these devices can also be used as clients for this invention . For advanced cell phones, the connection, processing, and rendering can be very similar to a traditional computer. For simpler cell phones, SMS can be used as the communication medium, with simple SMS text rendering as the primary interface. For all client computers, alternatives to traditional input are possible, including text to speech output/speech recognition input in lieu of a traditional computer keyboard and display, or voice only, as the core input and output of this game is words (spoken, written, or in any other form). This invention runs on any form of these systems, the preferred form being a networked multi-user system, using simple HTML/web access as the rendering format.
In the preferred embodiment, the process by which users create stories is shown in FIG. 2. To begin, a player creates a story with a preferred title, number of lines, and number of players, and waits for other players to join, typically from other remote computers or mobile devices . Once there are enough players, each player submits their addition—usually a single story line—to the story as a candidate for continuing the story . Time is a factor, so additions of any form are typically very short. Once everyone has submitted their story line, the new candidates are listed for everyone to vote on . Although it can be shown, the data on which user submitted which line is not revealed in the preferred embodiment. Everyone is free to vote for all, or one, or none of the lines. Once everyone has voted, each player's score is adjusted . Scoring is done by adding a weighted value of the number of votes on the winning line to the score of each player that voted for that line, and subsequently doing the same for the player or players that created that line. If two or more players happen to enter the same line, they are considered co-creators of that line. This allows writers of a winning line who also voted for it to gain points for both actions. Finally, the total number of votes from a player that were for lines that did not receive a winning number of votes are subtracted off that player's score. This motivates all players to only vote for the one or more lines they think might win, while at the same time motivating them to write the winning line. The winning line is the line with the most votes, or, in the case of a tie, the first line submitted.
Once the winning line is determined, it is added to the story for everyone to see . Players' attached graphics or auto-generated imagery or animations associated with this line may also be rendered with the addition of the winning line. If the winning line is a vote for ending the story (typically the line “THE END”), or, if the number of story lines has reached the limit as specified by the story creator, the final score and winning player or list of players in a tie is displayed . Players are given an opportunity to start a new story with the same group. If the story is not complete, the players perform another round of story line submissions .
All steps in this process are recorded, integrated, and controlled by the game servers . To handle dropped players or unresponsive players at each major decision phase in the process , the player group size is adjusted dynamically to allow the process to continue (e.g. in the case of voting or line submission, adjusting the group is equivalent to the unresponsive user passing on that turn). If one player continues to be unresponsive, they are permanently dropped from the story group in order to accelerate story generation. Other actions are possible as described in the ensuing alternate embodiments description.
- DESCRIPTION OF ALTERNATE EMBODIMENTS
To further enhance the players' experience, statistics for players are also rendered. Enhancements include, but are not limited to, honoring top scorers and players as “storytellers” and making this title visible, allowing players and non-players to vote for their favorite story, and simple tools allowing players to print out, or otherwise frame, stories they personally like. Top voted stories are prominently placed on the game's primary web page.
In an alternate variation, users can play the game in a pseudo round-robin fashion—that is, each player in turn (rather than simultaneously) submit a line and then other players vote on how much they like that line. By default, the author of the line is not revealed until after the voting. In the case of a voice-only interface, or, alternatively, high speed networked computers, players using the game in this setup have the opportunity to play at high speed, where responses have to be extremely quick and immediate. The server will in one variation cut each player off at a random time. The next player must continue what has been submitted so far with a grammatically perfect line or phrase that compliments the current story. In this case, players, assisted by the server, are also voting on line correctness (the server will flag grammatically incorrect sentences), not just likeability.
In another variation, in the case of unresponsive players, or, alternatively, as the fundamental game goal, the game servers will insert a story line in lieu of the player. In the case of handling dropped or unresponsive players when waiting for line submissions, this added line keeps the voting interface consistent for other players. In the variation of always inserting an auto-generated line as a fundamental game goal, players get points by guessing which line is computer generated. The computer generated line can be created by data mining the entire database of user stories, the web, or, alternatively, employing automatic story generation techniques as described in prior art.
In all of these variations, this system uniquely creates an environment where the players can simultaneously learn social skills (learning how others think allows one to write more favorable story lines and obtain a higher score), learn story writing techniques (both from how others vote and from other metrics like computer assisted grammar checking when these metrics apply), be creative, and at the same time be entertained.