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Publication numberWO2002022224 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/AU2001/001153
Publication date21 Mar 2002
Filing date13 Sep 2001
Priority date13 Sep 2000
Publication numberPCT/2001/1153, PCT/AU/1/001153, PCT/AU/1/01153, PCT/AU/2001/001153, PCT/AU/2001/01153, PCT/AU1/001153, PCT/AU1/01153, PCT/AU1001153, PCT/AU101153, PCT/AU2001/001153, PCT/AU2001/01153, PCT/AU2001001153, PCT/AU200101153, WO 0222224 A1, WO 0222224A1, WO 2002/022224 A1, WO 2002022224 A1, WO 2002022224A1, WO-A1-0222224, WO-A1-2002022224, WO0222224 A1, WO0222224A1, WO2002/022224A1, WO2002022224 A1, WO2002022224A1
InventorsDean Michael Shannon
ApplicantDark Blue Sea Pty Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
A system and method for simulating ownership and management of a sporting contestant
WO 2002022224 A1
Abstract
A method of simulating ownership and/or management of a virtual sporting contestant including the steps of; generating a virtual sporting token; providing a player with selection options for at least one managerial variable and conducting a simulated sporting contest between the token and at least one other virtual sporting token. The virtual contestant may be a human or animal athlete or a mechanical device, such as a racecar, motorbike or similar. The invention also includes a system for managing and competing with a virtual sporting character which includes, a virtual sports token having attributes controllable by a player and a virtual contest between the virtual sporting token and at least one other virtual sporting token. The attributes of the virtual sporting token influence the performance of the virtual sporting token in the virtual contest.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
CLAIMS:
1 . A system for managing and competing with a virtual sporting character, said system including: a virtual sports token having attributes controllable by a player; and a virtual contest between said virtual sporting token and at least one other virtual sporting token; wherein the attributes influence the performance of the virtual sporting token in the virtual contest.
2. The system of managing and competing with a virtual sporting character of claim 1 , wherein a player controls the attributes of the virtual sports token by providing input by an internet connection.
3. A multi-user virtual sporting system comprising: two or more virtual sporting tokens, said tokens each having at least one attribute modifiable by a respective user; and at least one simulated contest between said tokens, wherein the at least one attribute affects the performance of a respective sporting token.
4. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, further including independent variable conditions which affect the performance of the tokens.
5. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the system further includes means for two or more users to communicate.
6. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the system further includes storage means for storing the virtual tokens.
7. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 6, wherein the
storage means comprises at least one host computer.
8. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the
system further includes a user input means.
9. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 8, wherein the
user input means comprises at least one keyboard in signal connection
with a host computer.
1 0. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 8, wherein the user input means further comprises at least one user computer in
signal connection with a host computer.
1 1 . The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the at
least one multi user may be a simulated user.
1 2. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the
system further includes means for generating and maintaining a virtual
token.
1 3. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the
system further includes means for modifying the virtual token.
14. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the
system further includes means for simulating a contest between the
virtual token and at least one other virtual token.
1 5. The multi-user virtual sporting system of claim 3, wherein the
virtual token represents a horse, dog, human contestant, a team of
human contestants or a mechanical sporting device, such as a race
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

TITI F

"A SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SIMULATING

OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT OF A SPORTING CONTESTANT"

FIFI H OF THF INIVFNTION

THIS INVENTION relates to a method of simulating ownership

and/or management of a sporting contestant where that contestant

may be a human or animal athlete or a mechanical device, such as a

racecar, motorbike or similar.

RACKGROUNn OF THF INVFNTIΩN

There has always been a close association between people

having an interest in sport and a parallel wish to own an animal or

machine for training and preparation for sporting contests. This is

particularly evident in the case of industries associated with

Thoroughbred racehorses, Trotters, Greyhounds, Formula One racecars

and Rally cars. In relation to human athletes, enthusiasts often wish

to emulate coaches and managers who are engaged in preparing

individuals as well as teams of athletes for sporting competitions.

To be involved other than as a spectator in these industries

usually requires significant outlays of economic resources as well as a

high time component. One or both of these requirements may exclude

the majority of the population from active participation as owners and

managers of sporting contestants.

It is known to provide virtual pets through computer technology,

the capacity of which has developed to the point that animation on screen can give a realistic impression of an animal or person. These

pets may require basic simulated attention such as feeding and

cleaning. However, they fall far short of involving an owner with real

managerial considerations which effect the performance of that virtual

pet, or the opportunity to enter that virtual pet in simulated contests.

SUMMARY OF 1NVFNTIONI

In one form, although it need not be the only or indeed the

broadest form, the invention resides in a system for managing and

competing with a virtual sporting character, said system including:

a virtual sports token having attributes controllable by a player;

and

a virtual contest between said virtual sporting token and at least

one other virtual sporting token;

wherein the attributes influence the performance of the virtual

sporting token in the virtual contest. Control by a player may occur

through input provided by an internet connection.

In a further aspect, the invention resides in a multi-user virtual

sporting system comprising:

two or more virtual sporting tokens, said tokens each having at

least one attribute modifiable by a respective user; and

at least one simulated contest between said tokens

wherein the at least one attribute affects the performance of a

respective sporting token.

The system may include independent variable conditions which also affect the performance of the tokens.

Suitably, the system may also include means for two or more

users to communicate.

Preferably, the system also includes means for a user to obtain

rights to at least one further sporting token.

The system may further comprise storage means for storing the

virtual tokens. The storage means may comprise at least one host

computer. The system may further comprise a user input means. The

user input means may comprise at least one keyboard in signal

connection with the host computer. The user input means may further

comprise at least one user computer in signal connection with the host

computer.

At least one multi user may be a simulated user.

The system may further include means for generating and

maintaining a virtual token. The system may include means for

modifying the virtual token. The system may in addition include

means for simulating a contest between the virtual token and at least

one other virtual token.

Suitably the virtual token may represent a horse. Alternatively,

the virtual token may represent any other animal competitor such as a

dog. Further alternatively, the virtual token may represent a human

contestant or a team of human contestants. As yet a further

alternative, the virtual token may represent a mechanical sporting

device such as a race car, a rally car, a motorcycle, an aeroplane or any other similar competitive device.

In a further aspect the invention may reside in a method of virtual sporting involvement said method including the steps of generating a virtual sporting token and providing a player with selection options for at least one managerial variable, said at least one managerial variable impacting on performance of the sporting token and conducting a simulated sporting contest between said token and at least one other virtual sporting token. The method may also include the step of creating independent variables which impact on performance of the token in the sporting contest. The method may further include the step of conducting a virtual auction for purchase of at least one virtual token. Further, the method may include the step of providing at least one player with an opportunity to gamble on the outcome of said sporting contest. A player may conduct selection options through electronic connection via the internet.

RRIFF DESCRIPTION OF THF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flow chart for a site layout for a horse racing site; FIG. 2 is an example of a start up page; FIG. 3 is a representation of a stable; FIG. 4 is a conceptual photograph for a finishing post;

FIG. 5 is a conceptual photograph for a winner's enclosure.

DFTAII FD DESCRIPTION OF THF DRAWINGS

Throughout the description of the invention, reference will be made to horse racing. However, it is clear to a skilled addressee that many other forms of competition may be used as the basis for the

system disclosed. In this example the sporting token will be one or

more virtual and/or animated horse(s) .

Referring to FIG. 1 there is shown a flow sheet for a site layout

of a system, which may be accessible via the internet. The site may

have a start up page 1 1 .

The first page viewed at the website will be predominately

static HTML and is required to be quick loading. Flash can be used

with minimal page elements but is not necessarily a requirement of

viewing. If the user does not have a Flash plug-in installed, a static

JPEG image file may be displayed.

The page may have links that resemble the following functions:-

• Members Login

• Free Tour or Demonstration

• Sign Up or Pick a Horse

The start up page may appear as shown in FIG. 2. A user who

has access to the start up page may be given several options.

The first option may be a free demonstration or tour.

The free tour presents the user with a number of screenshots

from the system along with audio samples from such areas as the race

and the training area. Each screenshot will be accompanied by caption

text explaining the individual aspects of the experience.

The screenshots displayed may include the follow areas: -

• The Stable • Training

• Race Day

• Trophy Presentation

• The Winners Post

Alternatively, a user who is a pre-existing member may be

entitled to log in using their user name and password 1 3.

The member's login option will present the user with a

username and password box to fill in. Through the sign-up process,

the user will become a member and will give a preferred username and

password combination to use for access to the system. Once the

sign-up process is complete, they may be presented with the members

login screen and asked to login. From this point on, the user may go

to the members login screen to access the system.

The username and password from the member's login page may

be transmitted over a secure connection, similar to that used by a

credit card collection process.

As a third alternative a user may sign up to choose a horse 14

with the ability to then proceed further into the system.

The option to sign up or pick a horse may be the sign-up

process for the user, where the user may be presented with the

selection screen where one of twenty (20) different horses can be

chosen.

It is clear from FIG. 1 that a user may progress to choosing a

horse from either the start up page 1 1 , the tour site 1 2, or the log in facility 1 3.

In choosing a horse 1 4, a user may consider a number of

characteristics provided in the sporting token such as those described

below The user will be able to choose from five (5) colors of horse,

each with four (4) varying markings giving twenty (20) possible horses

to choose from. The colors from which they are able to choose include

the following: -

• Bay (brown)

• Dark Bay (brownie black)

• Chestnut (orangey brown)

• Black

• Gray (grey)

The four (4) different markings are available for the horses

including: -

• Plain (no markings)

• Stripe (explanation: "A white marking running down a

horse 's face, starting under an imaginary line

connecting the tops of the eyes "}

• Star marking (star shape usually on face or top of the

horses head)

• Socks (colored lower region of foot)

The process of selecting a horse may involve the twenty (20)

horses being displayed on the screen at once and selectable, or may be scrolled through using forward and back style buttons. Various

audio cues are used where appropriate to add to the atmosphere of

the horse selection.

As each specific horse is shown, details of the horse may be

displayed. Such information may include one or more of the following:

• Age

• Color

• Distinctive markings

• Horse breed

Once a horse is selected, a user may sign up 1 5 for further

involvement with the system. The details requested from a user

signing up may include the following: Page 1

Username

Password

Password Confirmation

Email address (Email)

Page 2

First name

Last Name

Postal address (Address)

City

Zip code

State • Country Page 3

• Time Zone

• Credit card number, type of card and expiry date Once the horse is selected, the creation of the horse's randomly generated attributes begin. The Time Zone

The user may request that the events of feeding and training be relative to a particular time zone. If the user wishes to change the time zone, there is a changeover period of 48 hours to prevent cheating of the system. The changeover period of approximately 48 hours which allows for the owner to enter the horse. In a new race, the horse placements and entrants are finalized 24 hours before the race begins. The time zone makes if fair on different members in different time zones as well as spreading the load of the daily calculation process over 24 time slots. This method will avoid the calculations being performed at a "virtual" midnight.

A member logging on 13 or a new user signing up as a member 15 may then proceed to a welcome page 1 6. The first page viewed of the members area within the website is the members or welcome page. The members page may is to give the member access to the help system as well as providing information on how Unreal Racing works. Members Page

The Members page is to present various pieces of information.

These may include but not limited too: -

Manage your stable

How to Play

Trainers Handbook

Hint of the Day

Forum

Statistics

. FAQ

System Notices

Game Notices

Buy a Horse

News

• User Specific Notifications

Help

What's New?

How to Play

General Help

In the members page the user will presented with news items

and announcements to inform the user about such things but not

limited too new racetracks or training and feeding methods. The news

items are configurable from the back-end administration area to allow

for easy additions. Trainers Handbook?

The handbook may be an online, searchable book containing

realistic horse ownership issues that could possibly assist the member

in gaining more of an understanding of caring for a horse. The book

may contain hints and tips on general horse training, feeding and

maintenance issues.

Tutorial

The tutorial option area or how to play option advises the first

time user the basic rules and guidelines on how to play the sporting

contest. The area is to give an example of a simplified day-in-the-life of

a trainer so that the horse's health is at least maintained from an early stage.

Forum

The forum system may contain several topics relating to caring for

the virtual horses and tips from the experts.

Statistics

The statistics page is integrated into the Members Area and will

display a summarised view of statistics for all of the horses in the users

stable. Such statistics will show, at a glance, all of the statistics available

in the sporting contest itself.

HELP

The Help or General Help area provides assistance to the user of

a general nature, relating to aspects of the system. The help page maybe context sensitive, based upon where the users in located within

the sports contest system.

The user who is now a member may then proceed to screen 1 7,

Manage Your Stable.

Manage your Stable

This scene depicts a 3D Render of the horse's stalls in a stable

containing a number of horses. The menu system allows the user to

access feeding, vet and training menus.

The screen gives a visual representation of each of the horses

within the members stable. The horses are displayed in the correct

colours according to the original choice of horse color and marking.

The name of the horse is also displayed on the stable door.

A sample of the collection of trophies won may be displayed

above each horse. Access to the entire trophy collection may be

available from within the stabling environment. A button giving the

option to upgrade the stable may also be visible.

There may be three (3) variations on the stable, the first model

of which is standard and free. The other stables have increasingly

more room and more benefit to the attributes of the horses. The three

(3) stables available, along with possible additional features each one

may provide, are outlined as follows: -

The stable may be represented as shown in FIG. 3. Statistics Displayed In Stable

The interface for each horse may display the following

statistics: -

• The placing in the last 3 races

• The last recorded weight of the horse

• The last food / vitamin supplement fed to the horse

• Recent ailments, injuries or illnesses affecting the horse

At this stage a member may choose to return to the welcome

page 1 6 to review information provided if required. At the main

screen 1 7 a range of activities relating to the selected horse are available.

A number of horses can be display at any one time; the user

may click on a specific horse to select them. When a specific horse is

clicked, the member may be presented with menu actions allowing

them to do the following functions including but not limited too; specific to that horse: - Feeding the horse

Call the Vet

Talk to the Foreman

Call the Farrier

Visit the Store

Visit Auction Yard

Train the horse

Trial horse

Enter into a race

Visit the Chat room

Trophy Presentation

View Statistics for the Horse and Race

View Horse History

Putting the horse to pasture

Purchasing further horses

Spelling the Horse

Visit the auction yard

Global options for all the members' horses are also to be

displayed on this screen. The global options may give the member the

opportunity to perform any number of actions to user definable subset

of the horses owned. Which may include but not limited too feeding, grooming, calling the vet or calling the farrier. This gives more control

to users who own more than one horse.

The feeding screen or panel may utilise the same stable

backdrop but may focus on an individual horse as well as its' feeding

trough. There may be a menu displaying choices for particular feed

available to the user to give to the horse. The feed options may

consist of various feed mixes, hay, vitamin supplements and medicine.'

Different colors or texture-maps for the feed would indicate

different brands and mixtures. The feeds may cost varying amounts

or be free, thus being able to be changed at any time if required.

Additional feeds, with additional charges may be added at a later

stage.

An example of the different feed mixtures, are outlined below: -

An example of the different mixtures of hay are outlined below:- Hay Name E planation

Standard Grass Hay (6- 14% Protein)

Alfalfa Hay (1 2-1 5 % Protein)

Lucerne Chaff ( 1 8-20% Protein) (Improve mood, easy for horse to eat)

An example of the different vitamin supplements are outlined below :-

Supplement Name Explanation-

General Vitamins

Vitamin B Given to help calm a nervy horse.

"Longactive" (Fatigue) Minimise fatigue, lactic acid build up and increase stamina

"Powerdyne" (Energy) Maximum energy for the active horse

"Healfast" (Injury) Assists with recovery of injury

Perfect Balance Electrolyte mix used for assisting recovery of illness

"BioHoof" (Hoof) Supplement to assist recovery from hoof injury

An example of the different medicines are outlined below

Medicine Name Treatment o

Phenylbutazone ('Bute') - Effective legal pain killer, anti-inflammatory

Adequan Used in the treatment of certain arthritic conditions

Pentosan injections Give weekly or pre race - helps joints

Course of antibiotics Helps with recovery from virus or illness

Vitamin injections Can give several times and up to race day

(Ascorbic, Folic, B1 2, B1 5, multi)

L-Carnitine Aids in fatty acid metabolism/helps with muscle cell metabolism

EHV-1 Injection Guard against EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus), which is similar to a cold.

Tetanus / Strangles Protect against Tetanus & Strangles. Injection Administered as a foal automatically when a horse is cut, generally a Tetanus booster is given. This should be given annually as a booster.

Vitamin - 1 7 R1 R Help with keeping nervous houses at hay. Each feed mix may contain a make-up of ingredients. Such

ingredients may include, but are not limited to the following: -

• Oats

• Barley • Corn

• Lucerne Chaff

• Vitamin Supplements

Each ingredient is broken up into percentages of base

components. These base components may include, but are not limited

to the following: -

• Carbohydrate

• Protein

• Fat

• Nutrients (various vitamin types) When the feed item is selected, an image or textual

representation of the product and ingredients is presented.

An example of such a display of ingredients for a feed item is

shown below: -

Toast Performance - This feed provides performance, show and

breeding horses with the highest energy levels - balanced energy from corn oil and carbohydrates. To further improve endurance and

performance, this formula includes high levels of vitamins to minimize the

effects of stress. In addition, PERFORM includes the highest-quality grains, as well as extra sodium and potassium to replenish electrolytes

lost during heavy exercise. It's everything an active horse needs to

maintain peak performance.

Performance

Crude Protein 1 0%

Lvsine 0.55%

Methionine 0.25%

Crude Fat 3%

Crude Fibre Max. 1 5 %

Calcium Min. 0.8%

Calcium Max. 1 .1 %

Phosphorus 0.7%

Copper 50 ppm

Zinc 1 50 DDm

Selenium 0.6 ppm

Vitamin A 4.000 lU/lb

Vitamin D3 450 lU/lb

Vitamin E 60 lU/lb

Biotin 0.45 mg/lb

At this point, the user may select a mixture/brand choice and

the time (morning and/or afternoon) at which the food is to be

administered. The food trough may appear full if they choose to feed

the horse and a limited animation of the horse feeding may be

displayed.

Feeding Prior to a Race ("Race Feed")

If the horse has been entered into a race, the owner is given the

option to choose a feed routine to be administered in the hours prior to the race. By doing this, the owner need not be online for the hours

prior to the race. The other reason for this is to make it reasonably clear that a different feed type (i.e. one that is higher in protein for additional energy) may be given before a race to possibly enhance performance.

The stable backdrop may be used when the vet is called from the main stable area. The vet may be pictured inspecting the horse's state of health with a first-aid bag nearby.

The inclusion of the vet checking the health of the selected horse may be used to display textual information on any problems regarding the horse's health or state of being. The session may include a vet's "verdict" using a simple textual system to give the user feedback on the horse's health after the examination. The vet's verdict may be given at the end of the examination using a caption below an image of a vet.

The text displayed may be dynamically included in the page from information provided by the database, which is to contain various treatments and/or recommendations regarding the specific ailment, or illness encountered. The menu system may allow the users to pay the vet to administer any recommended medicines to treat the horse as per diagnosis. At the races, the vet may also be able to be called to give a health check before the race.

The various health issues affecting the horse may fall into any combination of categories. These categories may include: - • Stable related injuries/ailments

• Training related injuries/ailments

• Race related injuries The vet is able to detect and cure, over time, a multitude of health issues. An example of such issues affecting health, the possible causes, how they may be diagnosed and where they can occur are listed below: -

Training and Race Related Injuries

Other Injuries

Iniurv Description & Causes Diagnosis & Treatment

Arthritis Cause: Diet and stable care. Adequan™ : Brand name for Increase in older horses. polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, Inflammation of a joint. An used in the treatment of certain increase in the amount of arthritic conditions. synovial fluid in the joint is a result of this inflammation.

Tvinα UD Cause: Untreated Injuries Chiropractor. Very serious cases can lead to the horse can effectively end a horse's changing their running style career. and, over time, can tie the animal up.

Hoof Iniurv Two types depending on Treatment required by Farrier. Hoof Strength.

Sore Hoof Cause: Over training or Re-shoe horse and rest for a period. improperly shod hoof. If left Any number of painkillers can be untreated, the horse may used to comfort the horse (i.e. change its running style, Bute) . which could lead to bigger problems.

Cracked Hoof A vertical split of the hoof A Bar shoe can be used and wall. corrective trimming may remedy mild cracks but in severe cases, more extensive treatment is required. Treatment required by Farrier.

The vet may also be able to diagnose issues, which would normally concern a chiropractor. The issues would be diagnosed with the assistance of external chiropractic services. The chiropractic treatment may fall into the category of a form of veterinary treatment that the vet can offer. The chiropractic care may be incorporated into the veterinary area for ease of management and presentation.

With the help of external chiropractic services, the vet is

therefore able to diagnose and cure a multitude of health issues

relating to the bones. An example of such issues affecting health, the

possible causes and what the external chiropractor, via the vet, might

prescribe include, but are not limited to the following: -

Health Issue Possible Causes Diagnosis and Treatment

Sore Back Every day training or One visit per week for 4 weeks Poor shoeing depending on severity

Tying Up Over Training and lax One visit per week for 8 weeks treatment of injuries

Special Veterinary Services

In the event that a horse gets a badly fractured leg or gets to

the point of age that the member deems them no longer useful, the

vet may be able to put the horse down. Alternatively, the member can

put the horse to pasture if it isn't badly injured via the Put the horse to

pasture item available from the vet 's "retire" options.

The process of the vet putting the horse down rather than

putting the horse to pasture may be represented graphically. This

action may be charged.

In the event that the member has no horses remaining in the

stable, they may be presented with the screen to purchase further horses.

The option of talking to the foreman enables the member to automate the feeding and training regime for a pre-determined period

of time so that the member is able to go on vacation without the horse

suffering. This option may also give the member the ability to

automate healing processes if the horse is spelled for a period of time

and the member doesn't want to personally bother with the day-to-day

maintenance chores of the horse.

The stable backdrop may also be used when the foreman is

called from the stable area. The foreman may be depicted attending to

the specific horse selected at the time. The foreman screen may contain a week-by-week, calendar

style interface along with respective feeding and training panels. The

feeding and training panels may allow the member to set-up a number

of feeding and training regimes for use during the required time

periods. The member may then be able to allocate the foreman to

service the horse for any given period.

At the stable the member may elect to call in a farrier.

The stable backdrop may also be used when the farrier is called

from the individual stable. The farrier may be pictured inspecting the

horse's hooves. The session may include a farrier's "verdict" using a

simple textual system to give the user feedback on the horse's health

after an examination. The farrier's verdict may be given at the end of

the examination using a caption below a graphical representation of

the farrier.

An active horse may need to be shod, by the farrier, approximately every 3 weeks. If the horse is not particularly active,

shoeing may only be required every 6-8 weeks. If maintenance is not

performed after this period, the horses' health and well-being may be

detrimentally affected.

The farrier may be able to detect and cure, over time, a

multitude of health issues related to the horse's hooves. An example

of such issues affecting health, the possible causes and what the

farrier may prescribe include, but are not limited to the following: -

Health Issue Possible Causes Diagnosis and Treatment

Sore Hoof Over training and poor Reshoe and rest as much shoeing as possible

Cracked Hoof Poor shoeing and over Corrective trimming and training. Can also be reshoeing can help the inherited problem.

An example of the various types of shoes that may be fitted as

well as possible services provided may include, but are not limited to

the following: -

Service/Shoe Reason for Service / Fitting

Heavy Shoe Used for training

Standard Racing Used for racing. Automatically fitted for race at Plates no charge.

Calk Shoe Used for racing. Especially when track is wet.

Bar Shoe Used to repair hoof and adds support to a cracked area

Hoof Reconstruction When hoof cannot sustain any shoes naturally, the hoof will need to be reconstructed using a fiberglass rnnl .

In addition a member may elect to visit the shop or store,

represented by screen 1 9, to purchase equipment such as saddles, mouth bits and whips.

An example of the equipment on sale with their respective

benefits may include, but is not limited to the following: -

The store may be a rendered 3D image where all equipment can

be inspected and purchased. The storeowner may also be pictured at a

kiosk. Anything said by the storeowner may be done using a simple

textual representation below an image of the storeowner. The

storeowner may be used to give advice on purchases or help in the

store.

The scene may present the inside of a store with one area

containing mouth bits and another area containing blinkers. The user

may be able to, and may be advised as such by the storeowner to

click on the various areas to view the equipment available. Once the

user clicks on an area that contains the respective equipment, for

example the bits, a panel may appear displaying all available bits, their

uses and their respective costs. The pieces of equipment themselves may be dynamically loaded from the database allowing for additional

equipment to be added at a later date.

The equipment purchased may be used to cause an effect on

training sessions or racing events.

Once the well being of the horse is established and adequate

equipment has been obtained, a member may turn their attention to

training the horse 20.

The options available during training may be displayed on a

separate screen. This may be accessible from the individual stable

menu screen 1 8 and may depict the training area used to keep the

horse in peak running/sprinting condition. This may be depicted as a

grass running track, where the horse could be viewed running with a

scrolling background and a looping animation of the horse.

The scene may be a rendered 3D image of the horse and jockey

behind a fence performing training exercises. The trainer may be

leaning on the fence, observing the horse and rider. Full bridal gear and

jockey may be pictured on the horse with saddle to maintain the

realism of the training.

The session may include a trainers "verdict" using a simple

textual system giving feedback on the horses performance during the

training session. The trainer's verdict may be given at the end of the

training using a caption below an image of the trainer.

As part of the selection of the training methods, the member may be given an option to have the horse roll in a sand pit. Rolling in

the sand pit may provide the trainer with further information as to the

horse's balance and general state of well-being.

The member may be presented with a training screen allowing

for configuration of up any number of possible training sessions and

any number of specialized training sessions. The training sessions may

each be made up of a combination of speed and distance. The

specialized training methods selectable may include, but is not limited

to such methods as a sand roll, swim or a run on the beach. The

member has the option which sessions to implement. Selecting too

much training according to the horses individual abilities and attributes

will generally have a detrimental effect on the horses' attributes.

Optimally, the selections may include a warm up and a number

of training methods that stretch the horses' ability, without achieving

an excessive level of fatigue. In the event that excessive fatigue is

caused, proneness to injury may increase proportionally. When no

training or a light training routine is selected, the fatigue level may in

turn decrease, thus reducing the risk of injury.

An example of the training and optional, available specialized

methods, as well as an explanation of each include the following: - Optional Training (Stages 1 -3)

Optional Specialised Training (Stage 4)

Method Explanation

Sand roll Helps to determine any health problems that the horse may have developed.

Swim Aids loosening a horse after training, and helps with injuries.

Beach Training Will add to all attributes slightly and mood.

Training Partner Run the horse with a partner to help with confidence and agility,

Don't push Instructs the jockey to lay off if the horse is struggling with the training to help avoid fatigue and injury.

Open him up for Ease the horse up to its maximum speed for the last last 20% 20% of the distance covered . (20 - 50%)

Barrier Training Remind the horse how and what to do when the barrier is opened at the start of a race.

Grooming Generally makes the horse feel better and obviously look better. The looking better, however, is not represented in the system.

The training speed of a horse is a percentage of the animal's

maximum speed and the distance travelled may be represented in any

form of measurable distance.

If the members own two or more horses, they may be able to

utilize training partnerships. The training partner may be a selectable

parameter enabling the partnered horse to be trained at the same level. One horse may be fitter than the other, but each horse is trained and affected individually. Training partnerships, however, generally add to the horses' attributes as well as the speed with which it learns. Such attributes that may be affected by participation in a training partnership may include, but is not limited to mood and temperament. Horses with differing or non-compatible temperaments may cause the benefits of partnering to be reduced or negated.

When determining the effect of a training session on a horse, a number of considerations may be taken into account. Such considerations may include, but is not limited to the speed of training, distance of

training, presence and compatibility of training partner, strength, stamina, agility, overall health, current and post training fatigue, proneness to injury, current feed type, and the size and weight of the horse.

Further details on these possible contributing attributes are given below: -

Speed of Training - The speed of training is the user selectable speed for the particular training session. The speeds available for selection are outlined in the "Optional Training" table above.

Distance - The distance of training is the distance, measured in any measurable form of distance metres for the particular training session. If the measurable form used to represent distance is meters, the distances available may range from 600m to 3200m. The actual

distance that the horse trains and the distance the member requested

the horse train may differ if the fatigue level of the horse reaches a

critical threshold. The threshold deemed critical may be dependant on

the abilities of the horse to recover from a certain level of fatigue. If

this occurs, the horse may "rear-up" and the jockey will notify the

trainer and stable owner that the horse was unable to complete the

distance at the requested speed.

Presence and Temperament of Training Partner - The presence

of another horse when training may give the horses more confidence,

thus effecting the mood attribute as well as helping the horse to learn

quicker and generally benefit better from the training session. If,

however, the partnered horses have incompatible temperaments (i.e.

two partnered horses have aggressive attitudes) the horses may not

benefit from the partnering and the jockey will inform the trainer and

stable owner of the possibility of a conflicting temperament. Such

phrases used to denote an incompatibility may include, but is not

limited to "she's shying away from the other horses" or "he was a

handful and [insert partnered horse's name] just didn't want to

cooperate."

Strength - The strength of the horse will contribute to the speed

that a horse is able to produce during a race. Therefore the speed that

it is trained at may determine how strong an animal is. The longer that speed is maintained may also increase the strength of a horse. The

more that a horse is pushed compared to its actual ability, the more

the proportional benefit will be, although the fatigue level may also

proportionally increase if the horse is pushed too much. If a horse is

run well within its capability, the benefit of training will generally be

minimal. The right type of feed may also contribute highly to an

increase in strength.

Stamina - The distance that the horse covers is the main

contributing factor when determining the increasing stamina. The

current stamina determines if the horse is "running within himself",

meaning that the horse is not pushing itself and therefore not

expending much energy. Generally, the harder you train a horse, the

greater the benefit. If the horse is trained beyond its abilities, the level

of fatigue may be substantially higher, thus increasing the risk of injury.

The speed and distance for which the horse is trained will

increase the growth rate of stamina. As with strength, the diet of a

horse increases stamina.

Agility - Both speed and distance, contribute to agility as well as

the presence and compatibility of a training partner. The feed also

contributes to the agility in terms of its' relation to the alertness of the

horse. Overall Health - The current overall health of the horse is taken

into account when determining the rate at which the level of fatigue

increases. It may also be used to determine the effectiveness of the

strength, stamina and agility of the horse within training, thus, a horse

with poor health may not benefit from the training as much as a horse

with better health.

Fatigue and Post Training Fatigue - Depending on the current

stamina, strength and health, this factor may be determined at the end

of a session to see how hard the horse has worked. It may also be

factored into the training session to find how effective the training

was depending on the tiredness of the horse.

Proneness to Injury - This may be used at the end of the session

to determine if an injury has occurred during the training session. This

takes into account the current health, mood and fatigue of the horse

and determines its' susceptibility to injury. The higher the fatigue level,

the higher the probability of a more serious injury occurring. It is for

this reason that it is important for the member to balance training and

rest as well as taking good care of the horse.

Current Feed Type - If the horse is being trained for a long

distance, a high fat feed will contribute more to the stamina of a horse

over such a distance, whereas if the horse is being brought back from

an injury, a high protein feed may be better for recovery. Each ingredient of a feed mix contributes different amounts to each

attribute. A horse can only eat so much, so it is up to the user to

balance a horses diet in order to get the most out of training.

Trainer Response - An example of the possible trainer

responses regarding the performance of the horse after training may

include, but is not limited to the following: -

Trainer Response Reason

"He had nothing left." Fatigue is high

"He reared up and just couldn't give Fatigue is high anymore."

"He showed something in his run." Injury

'He didn't roll well, he wasn't right. Muscle injury

"The jockey said he was hanging in / out" Temperament

"He was a bit shy" Doesn't like his partner

"He was a handful Bad Temperament

"Trained within himself" Fatigue Growth was low

"He hung in / out" Temperament.

"He shied from his training partner" Nervy horse

"Trained well" Stats gain was high

Also under the training page 20 a user may trial their horse.

The trialing of a horse may be modeled on a Race Day scene, but with

only one horse running at a time. The trialing of a horse will

demonstrate to the owner the abilities of the horse by providing a time

over a specified distance.

A member may also access the race administration screen 21 .

The Race Administration screen is primarily used for performing

race related tasks. The screen will allow the user to perform a number

of functions. Such function may include, but are not limited to the

following: - • Enter a Horse into a Race

• View Current Race

• View Race Archive / Replay

• Race Summary Enter a Horse into a Race

The process of entering a race is performed from within the stable area on a separate panel. The member is shown a list of possible races that they can enter their horse into. Once the member has entered their horse in a race, they may not be permitted to scratch (or withdraw) the horse from the race.

Once entered into a race, the members are unable to see the other entrants of the race until 24 hours before the race is being run. At this time, the entrants, barrier draw and track conditions may be listed. The information available on the entrants may include the following: -

• The name of the owner (username)

• The name of the horse

• The previous number of winnings and

• The last three (3) available times of previously run races If the member attempts to enter a race before a specified number of days since the last race, a message may be shown stating that they are not allowed, to enter the horse in a race so soon after another race. The list of races may include, but is not limited to the following

information: -

Date of race

Name of the track

Class of Race

Time of the particular Class / Length event

Length of the race

Surface of the track

Type of race

Winnings for the race

Number of members horses entered Date of Race - The date of the race may be a real-time date

such as 12 Sept representing the 1 2th of September. The racing

calendar may present at least the next 3 - 4 weeks of races, in

advance.

Name of Track - The race events and tracks themselves may be

are named via the back end administration system or randomly from

entries within the database where the track types are also listed.

Class of Race - Having classes of a race ensure that as the

number of members increase, the horses are raced against similar-able

horses. This means that one particular horse cannot continually win

races where maiden (horses that haven't won a race) horses have

entered. Once a particular class of race has been won, that horse may only able to enter that class of race a limited number of times before it

is restricted to it's current next class. The class of races in the system

are numbered. An example of such a numbering system used for the

class structure may be from 1 to 1 0.

Class 1 is a racing class where the horses have yet to win a

race. This is similar to the Maidens races. Once a class has been won,

the horses will be entered into the next available class. It is not

possible for the members to skip classes themselves although certain

horses or stables may be promoted to further classes for promotional

purposes. All horses are purchased at a specific class. The general

horses will be sold as "ready-to-race", class 1 , although horses may be

sold at higher classes to facilitate such functions as the Auction Yard

or higher class promotions.

As the horses win their classes, they advance and are allowed

to be entered into that class again but will be handicapped. Each class

may require a least one race to be won before proceeding to the next

class.

There is also a FREE class that may be used for testing and

promotional purposes. The members that are classified under the free

class are able to race their horses against other free class horses. Free

classed races may not win any prize money but they will be shown an

estimate on possible winnings if their horse were to have entered a real class driven race. Free members are not able to advance to any further classes.

The amount of prize money per class will vary as the classes increase, although Class 1 will be considered a qualifying class and no prize money will generally be awarded.

Time of the Particular Class /Length Event - The time of each class of race on the day of the event is scheduled via the backend administration interface. The race times may be structured so that a combination of each of the ten classes and chosen race lengths are run once, each week. Due to more than 20 people entering into any particular race, the actual race that the members' horses actually run in will be a subset of the "race meeting". This will mean that each race meeting will be a specific class and length of race event, though there may be any number of simultaneous actual races occurring.

Length of Race - The lengths of the various races available each day will be a combination of the following distances: -

1000m (5 furlongs) 1200m (6 furlongs) 1400m (7 furlongs) • 1600m (1 mile / 8 furlongs)

2000m (10 furlongs) 2400m (12 furlongs) 2800m (14 furlongs) 3200m (2 miles / 1 6 furlongs) Surface of the Track - The surface of the track may be depicted as an icon next to the race listing and will include Fast Dirt, Fast Grass, Good Grass, Slow Grass and Muddy (Slow Dirt) or alternatively it may be depicted as text.

Type of Race - The types of races available for entry by the members include, but are not limited to Standard, Cup and Free.

The Standard race is the most common race, which most

members will see and is governed by the class structure outlined

above.

Every few months (e.g. every 3 months) there will be a Cup

race where a larger than normal amount of prize money will be given

away. The Cup will be entered by collection of nominations from

members. Once the Cup is announced, each member that wishes to

enter the Cup may nominate his or her horse every week for entry. At

the end of the nomination period, the members that have the most

nominations and the highest-class level are entered into the Cup. Any

number of determining factors may be used to select the entrants for a

cup race.

The Free races are only applicable to the free, promotional or

test members. The free members cannot enter any races other than

free races.

Winnings of the Race - The winnings purse of the races in each

class will be a set amount, configurable from the back-end administration system. Any winnings by the member will be deposited

in the member's "winnings purse" from which the member can draw a

cheque at any time.

Randomness of Race Entry - The randomness of the track type

determination will favour the fast grass and dirt tracks. The slow grass

tracks may be accompanied by a weather condition such as rain.

The members can enter any number of their own horses in the

one race. Only the 1 st, 2nd and 3rd place getters receive real prize

money, thus being generally cost effective to have a single person

owning multiple stables and entering a number of horses in a single

race. The barrier draw may also be randomised to such an extent with

the added element of any number of races per day that it would be

very difficult to guarantee that particular horses would enter in the

same race, although not impossible.

Barrier Draw Position - As each race is required to be finalised

48 hours before the race itself is run, members entering the race are

able to see the barrier draw approximately 24 hours in advance of the

race. This will allow the members to see which horses they are racing

against and which position they themselves will be racing in before the

race day. The barrier draw positions will have no bearing on the

outcome of the race, as the racetracks themselves will be straight, and

not oval in shape. Race Summary - The race summary screen allows the user to

display the currently entered races sorted by stable and by horse.

View Current Race - The View Current Race option may be

displayed if one of the member's horses is racing and the current time

is within the viewing time-window of the race event. As an example,

this viewable time window may be 1 5 minutes from the start of the

race time until this option is no longer available. After this time, the

race can be viewed on the View Race Archive screen.

View Race Archive - The Race Archive panel on the Race

Administration screen allows members to view previously run races.

Information presented on this page may include times, placing and any

photo finishes. The races that are presented have passed, therefore no

falling within the "current-time viewing window". The races may be

presented in a panel where an icon of racetrack is pictured on the left

with statistical detail displayed on the right adjacent to the racetrack

icon. If the member's horse was placed 1 st, 2nd or 3rd in the race, a

photo finish icon may be shown that the user is able to click on. In

clicking on the photo finish icon, a static image (or minimal animation)

may be displayed of their horse crossing the winning post. Audio cues

such as a photo being taken and visual cues such as a flash of the

camera may be used where appropriate. The statistics on the previous

races for each horse in the race are to include, but are not limited to the following: - • Places

• Horse names

• Times

• Type of track • Length of track

• Any commentary relating to the race in general Once a horse is adequately prepared in the opinion of the

member it may be entered into a race. A current race may be viewed

on screen 22.

The race itself is the absolute demonstration of a horses' true

ability at the time of racing. Once the feeding and training plans have

been completed and the member feels that the horse is ready to race,

a race is entered.

Gate Depiction - The starting gate, or barrier, is used to hold the

horses back at the start of a race. Once the barrier is lifted the horses

generally jump to a full gallop with little coaxing. Some, however,

depending on the temperament of the horse, may need to be

encouraged.

The starting gate scene may depict a number of horses, lined up

at the gate, edging to go. An example of how this could be depicted

would be a head-on or overhead view of the horses in which the

member can scroll along the barrier entrants to view the horses prior

to the race commencing.

The horses may be represented in a static or animated form with a fenced track and a crowd filled grandstand visible in the

background. Sounds such as the crowd cheering, horses neighing and

the gate opening may be heard to add atmosphere.

Barrier Positions

As each race is required to be finalised approximately 24 hours

before the race itself is run, members entering the race are able to see

the barrier draw a number of days in advance of the race. This will

allow the members to see which horses they are racing against and

which position they themselves will be racing in on the race day.

Virtual "Robot" Horses

If in the event that there are not enough real horses to fill the

gate, virtual "robot" horses may be used to fill up a number of spaces.

The horses are to have their form based upon the least able real

entrant in the race so that they will never be placed in the top places.

If only one real entrant is in the race, that horse is guaranteed (i.e.

horse is assured of completing the race at 1st place) of winning and any remaining top placements by "robot" horses are purely aesthetic.

It is possible, however, that due to a lack of entrants in a race, the

race itself will be scratched giving the actual entrants preferential

placing for future races. This scratching method will possibly negate

the use of virtual "robot" horses as ensuring that these virtual "robot"

horses do not place, while remaining realistic is inherently difficult. Jockeys and Silks

Each place in the starting gate may be given a specific color so

that various colors are used to denote the positions.

A horse may be given a random jockey. Each jockey may weigh

the same and have the same skill level making the jockey have no

actual bearing on the outcome of the horses performance. Each of the

jockeys may be given a silk pattern to wear to denote which jockey

they are. In a more sophisticated alternative, the jockeys may each

have separate weights and skill level and the member may be able to

choose which jockey they would like racing their horse.

Below are some silk patterns, attained from an unknown source,

giving examples of which silk patterns may be used.

Race Day

The event of the race itself may be visualised as a side-on view

with 3D graphical representations of horses moving around a track.

The scene may have moving grass, fence, progress indicator and

distance markers as well as various audio cues were appropriate.

There may be differing track types and differing running

configurations.

Conditions

The race itself is subject to other random conditions, which may

help in the determination of the race outcome. These conditions are as

follows: -

• Weather Conditions

• Surface and condition of the track

The track surfaces may include, but are not limited to the following: -

• Dirt

• Fast Grass

• Good Grass

• Slow Grass The weather conditions affecting the race may include, but are not limited to the following: -

• Sunny

• Raining Other weather conditions such as fog, wind strength and wind

direction may also be used.

Naming of Races

The race events and tracks themselves may be are named via

the back end administration system or randomly from entries within

the database where the track types are also listed.

Race Determination

The technicalities of the racing event are that the racing path is

segmented into a number of sections. An example of the number of

sections of a race may be 40, meaning that a 1000m race would

require a velocity measurement for each horse every 25m. The scale

and speed of the various track configurations are represented as

accurately as possible. The physical length of the track appears visibly

longer and therefore the horse will take proportionally longer to travel

a longer track.

The back-end engine predetermines via complex calculations,

the speed of the horses at each section, and thus the final

placeholders, before the actual visual representation of the race. This

would mean that the back-end calculations would be able to accurately

represent a horse sprinting out of the gate, backing off during the

middle of the race and sprinting once again in the final stage to win.

How each horse performs in a race is determined by the individual characteristics of the horse and the minimum, mean and maximum performance of all of the horses in the race.

This means that if a horse has a low stamina and stayer attribute while racing a long race, the horse may not have enough stamina for the last half, thus dropping in speed (and place) during mid race.

The racing tracks need to be loaded dynamically as per the details provided by the back-end. Any additional tracks may be added at a later date without having to change or recompile the front-end components.

The Race Viewing Time Window

The time window for viewing the race is the time in which the race is viewed as if it is happening in "real-time". The member is able to view the race, as it happens, from the time that the race actually starts to a predetermined time into the future. An example of such a predetermined time may be fifteen (1 5) minutes. If a race is schedule for 1 pm EST, the race may be able to be viewed in "real-time" from 1 pm until 1 : 15pm.

After this time-window has expired, the race is to be viewed as an action replay via the race archive screen. The only difference between the "real-time" and the action-replay presentation is that the action-replay has an "R" in the right-hand corner of screen denoting

that the race has already occurred and is being replayed.

Winner's Post

The winning horses may be dynamically composited over the

winning post picture using the correct colours of the winning horses

utilising such a graphical representation system as Macromedia Flash.

If the members' horse is placed (for example, in the top three), the

finishing post image may be used as a memento for the members

when the trophy they are presented with in the winners enclosure is

clicked from the trophies area.

The winner's post may have various advertising banners on

either side and may be visible in each photo taken. The view of the

winners post may be centred on the winning post itself. The winners

post may be displayed as the leading horse in the race approaches the

finishing line. The over-head race view may move to the winning post

view at this point.

A conceptual view as the horses approach the winners post is

shown in FIG. 4.

Winner's Enclosure

For the first few placeholders only (for example the first three),

a cut screen of the winner's enclosure may be provided for additional graphical presentation. At this point, the placeholders may be presented with their specific trophies to store in their stables and

virtual trophy cabinets.

The winnings purse of the races in each class is a set amount,

configurable from the back-end administration system.

A conceptual view of a winner's enclosure is pictured in FIG. 5.

Results Table

A results table for each race may display textual placement

details over a racing related background. Such a background may

consist of the course or the winning horses in a winner's enclosure.

The results table may include information regarding the race in

question:. Such information may include, but is not limited to the

following: -

• Placement

• Horses name • Owners name

• Age of horse

• Time the horse took

• Distance the horse won by

Members may not necessarily be present at the actual race and

may be emailed when the race is complete. When the members come

back into the system, they are presented with the results of the

previous days races. From the time after the race itself, the results table for any

particular race may be shown to members whose horse was in the

race. Results may not be accessible by members who did not have a

horse entered in the race. Race results may be viewed from an auction

where the horse owner has authorised prospective buyers to view the results of races run.

An online chat room or forum 23 may be provided for members

to discuss performance of their horses and generally exchange

information with other members. The chat room may allow race-going

members to talk to each other before, during and/or after the race.

Certain restrictions on who can talk to each other may be put in place

such that only the members in the system would be able to talk to

each other. The racing chat room may only be open to those in a

specific race and would be initialised two hours before the actual race

starts and kept open indefinitely after the race. The reason behind this

is that due to the unpredictability of the communication technology

used, it is possible that two members situated in two separate

locations could view the race at slightly different times. Restricting

any discussion may prove to maintain the realism and "real-time"

aspect of the race.

The other use of the chat room may be as a general chat area

for members to discuss tricks and tips they've learnt regarding unreal horse ownership. The general chat area may not be restricted as to it's

time of operation.

Trophy Presentation in stable

The trophy cabinet is a key element in maintaining user

satisfaction and inspiring the stable owner to train and ultimately race

their respective horse(s) . Whenever a horse is placed 1 st, 2nd or 3rd

within a race, they are presented with an appropriately sized trophy.

The trophies act as a reminder and memento to the stable

owners for they're past victories. In displaying the trophy cabinet, the

user may be able to click on any particular trophy where they may be

presented with a static "photo finish" image of the particular race. The

trophies themselves may be rendered 3D and composited on the page

dynamically.

The names of the trophies themselves will also be configurable

by the back-end administration area.

View Statistics for the Horse and Races

Each horse that enters into a race may have statistics on the

times and placing of each race and it is with this screen that the

member can view such statistics. The statistics available may include,

but are not limited to the following:-

• Times and placing for all previous races • Highest amount won from race

• Total winnings of horse

• Records held

View Horse History

The horse's history allows the member to view all the actions

that were performed by the horse throughout the last number of

months. Records may be kept for a period of approximately three (3)

months. This will allow the member to analyse the feeding, training

and grooming habits of the horse verses its actual performance. This

may be presented in a logbook type form with possible additional

entries for races run, time trials, barrier trials, veterinary and farrier

visits.

Putting the horse to pasture

In the event that a horse gets to the point of age that the

member deems them no longer useful, the member is given the option

to put the horses to pasture. Alternatively, the member can put the

horse down using the veterinary services if it's badly injured or the

member doesn't want to look after the horse any further.

Purchasing further horses A member may be able to purchase further horses 24. The

member has the option as part of the stable screen to purchase

additional horses. The screen for purchasing new horses may be identical to the first screen seen by a new member as they sign-up.

The main difference is the presence of a button entitled such as "Take

me to the stables" which will serve as a cancel button if the user were

to change their mind regarding the purchase of another horse. The

"purchase horse" button may still be present.

Attributes Directly Affecting Horses

In order for the virtual horses to act in a realistic fashion,

individual attributes for each horse are required to make each and

every horse in the system unique. These attributes are initialised at a

specific value when the horse is purchased.

A number of attributes of the horse are combined algorithmically to

determine the horses overall "fitness". When a horse is first purchased

the attributes are initialised such that the overall fitness of the horse is

70% . The peak potential of a horse is where all attributes are

combined algorithmically to provide a resultant fitness level of 1 00% .

The health of a horse plays a critical part in the fitness of a horse as

each attribute may depend upon health. This means that as the health

of a horse drops, all other attributes would drop also, thus accurately

simulating real-life interaction.

When the horse is purchased, a specific attribute known as the

seed value, is randomly generated. This seed value defines the maximum potential of the horse if all other contributing factors were at

the highest possible level.

The "fitness" level is an algorithmic combination of a number of

attributes, which interact to allow realistic determination of a horses'

ability. The attributes are weighted differently and contribute to the

"fitness" level to produce the final level of ability. These attributes

include, but are not limited to strength, health, agility, stamina, mood,

temperament, hoof strength and proneness to injury

The majority of the attributes are increased and decreased

dynamically as care and maintenance of a horse is or is not performed.

The proneness to injury, however, involves a random value where as

the proneness to injury increases, the probability of an injury occurring

increases.

The attributes themselves are described briefly below.

Strength - The strength of the horse is an attribute that mainly

contributes to the speed of the horse during a race. The Strength of a

horse is made up of a combination of the food type, the quantity of

the food consumed, the overall health of the horse and the amount of

exercise and training performed. The relationship between these

products is explained further as per the interactivity model.

Health - The health is critical attribute as all other attributes are

affected proportionally to the horse's health. The health also affects the rate at which the horse recovers from injury so that if a horse is ill

or injured and the feeding habits are not changed and/or treatment is

not provided the horse would take longer to recover from the injury or

illness.

Agility - The agility of a horse determines how quickly it can

move its legs in order to run, thus playing a factor in the speed of the

horse during trialing, training and racing. Agility may also be used to

determine how quickly the horse can react or change speed in a race

given a change in race or environmental status.

Stamina - The stamina of a horse affects the distance that it is

able run before tiring. Particular distances of races may require

particular levels of stamina (as well as health and strength) to run the

race at 1 00% potential speed. If the stamina required of the horse falls

short, the horse may be reduced in speed proportionally to the

attributes that contribute to its speed.

Mood - The mood of the horse is a relatively minor factor, but a

factor none-the-less. The mood of the horse is affected by its fitness

as well as the variation of its feeding and exercising habits. The mood

can also be looked at as the boredom and interest factor of the horse.

A number of possible moods can be represented. Examples of

the moods include the following: - Mood Graphical Representation

Happy Horse looking tall and strong. Moving brightly.

Moderately Happy Head down. Looking bored.

Unhappy Head down. Swinging from side to side-

Very Unhappy / Sick Laying down. Head down.

Injury Proneness - The proneness to injury is an important factor

in ensuring that all the attributes affect one another. As the health and

strength decrease, the proneness to injury increases; thus causing the

health and strength to deteriorate further.

If training is performed above optimal level for the fitness level

of the horse, the proneness to injury also increases due to over-work.

If, for example a horse is not warmed up correctly before a

strenuous training session, the proneness to injury may be fairly high.

Interactivity Model of a Horses Attributes - This Interactivity

Model aims to allow the back-end engine to calculate accurately what

happens to, for example: -

a) The horse's health when the horse is fed different food types

b) The horse's health when the horse is injured

c) The horse's stamina when it is trained using a Long Slow

Distance (LSD) method as against a fast paced gallop and

d) The horse's mood as it becomes bored with its mundane

feeding habits and lack of social interaction. For each model proposed, there are a number of contributing attributes. These attributes, explained above, include, but are not limited to strength, agility, stamina, health, mood and proneness to injury.

Mathematical Relationship Model - The model developed is used to mimic the realistic interaction between the chosen attributes using a series of mathematical relationships between each attribute. A factor of deterioration of effectiveness is also used to calculate how particular attributes are affected over time. The deterioration rate would be used to calculate the loss of strength and health of a horse over a predetermined period. The mathematical aspects of this deterioration rate add complexity to the system but mean that the horse's attributes are affected more realistically. The mathematical involvement also makes the system easier to tweak as well as providing good performance when recalculating the value of the horses attributes daily in respect to the owners selected time zone.

Fatigue - As the level of fatigue increases, the proneness to injury increases. The following matrix provides an example of the relationship between the various illnesses and injuries and the fatigue level. Training & Racing Injuries Chance (%)

Age - As the age of the horse increases, the proneness to certain injury may increase. The following matrix provides an example of the relationship between the various illnesses and injuries, the age of the horse and the probability of such an injury occurring.

Other Injuries Chance (%) (Depending on Age)

Effects of Illness and Injury - Each injury or illness that occurs will affect the horse's attributes over a number of days. An example of the attributes, the term of effect and the amount of effect are outlined below: -

Training & Racing Injuries Effect Table

Other Injuries Effect Table

Stabling Contribution - The stable is also a contributor (each day) to both the health and mood attributes of the horse. An example of the effects and the types of stabling that may be available are as follows: -

Size and Height - The height of a horse is an attribute that may change over time. Generally, a two (2) year old horse will be 14-15 hands high and stop growing between the ages of 3-4 to maintain a height of 1 6-17 hands.

The height of a horse will be randomly generated when purchased within a certain threshold and may grow over time proportionally to the training and feeding schedule.

Hoof Strength - The strength of the hooves of a horse in real life seem to be fairly randomly distributed, but can have a significant impact on the amount of farrier care required. The strength of the hooves would be a percentage (0-100) that may be used when determining the probability of a hoof related injury occurring.

Generally, a horse would be shod every 3-4 weeks. If the member does not shoe the horse every 3-4 weeks the performance in training and racing as well as the mood of the horse is negatively affected because of the increasing risk of injury given that the hooves

are not being maintained accordingly.

Differing Track Conditions

There are to be a number of track conditions that may have little

or no bearing on the outcome of the race but will be used to add a

certain amount of variety in the visual aspects of the game.

These track conditions will include: -

Weather and Temperature at Racetrack - The actual temperature at the

racetrack has no effect on the race itself but provides variety in the

visual representation of the race itself. The temperature and weather

at the racetrack are randomly generated so that generally the weather

may be fine and temperate. The rain will increase the probability (all-

be-it slightly) of the horse slipping on the track. The chance of rain

occurring on the race day is 1 in 30.

The weather at the track affects all horses equally.

Type of Racetrack Surface - The type of tracks have no effect

on the race itself but provide variety in the visual representation of the

race itself. An example of the types of track available and the chance

of them being chosen for a race are as follows: -

The Dirt and Good Turf are the most common types of track.

The type of track would not affect the places of the race

outcome, only the overall times.

Attrihntes Affecting Rar.p. Ontnnmf.

Given that the horses in the system have differing levels of

potential, differing training regimes, differing feeding habits and the

added probability of illness or injury, various attributes are used to

affect the race outcome to add to the realism of the races. This also

avoids equally placed (drawn) horses in the event of two or more

horses of the same potential being trained and fed in an equal fashion.

Position of Horse in Barrier - From talking with trainers, the

position of the horse in the barrier (known as the barrier draw) is

determined randomly and has a significant impact on the race outcome

given a non-straight track. The most favourable position in the barrier

is position one (1 ) because the horse is right next to the fence.

Auction of Unreal Horses - As the number of horses within the

system increase and the prize money won by the good horses increase

there will be more of a demand for an auction type system to sell a

horse to another stable owner for the highest price possible.

Initially, with few ( < 1 000) horses in the system the auction

concept may not be required but may be implemented as numbers

increase. Auctions will then be staged in which bids by other members

may be made for a horse put up for purchase. Bidding may be online.

Frr.nt-f.nd rievelr.prrtf.nt (Interface)

Purpose

The purpose of the front-end interface of the system is to

provide an interactive, informative and entertaining environment for

potential members and actual members. The interface must be

informative to the point that people with little or no computing

experience can use the site effectively.

Development Requirements

• Navigation through the site may be done via the use of buttons or links and therefore no pages are so large enough that scrolling of the browser window is required.

• Pages may be designed to a screen size of 800 x 600 x 65,535 colors as this, statistically appears to be the most common screen resolution of target users.

• The website may be compatible with the following browsers: -

o Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x

o Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x

o Netscape Navigator 4.7x

Pages are to be designed to operate at a satisfactory level on a computer system with the following specifications: - o Pentium II 266Mhz CPU

o 32Mb RAM

o S3 Virge GX, 2D Video Card

o Voodoo 1 , 3D Accelerator Card

• As this is a high-impact site it needs to be fast loading - especially the front pages.

Rank-end df.vf.lnpment (Engine)

The backend engine is based on the PHP: Hypertext Processor

(www.php.net) scripting language on a Unix based server system. A

database management system (DBMS) such as MySQL will also be used.

Database Structure

The structure of the system may be split into three separate

databases.

These databases and there respective responsibilities are:

Daily Calculation of Horse Attributes

The daily calculation of the horse's attributes will be performed on a daily basis according to the member's time-zone configuration. The main advantage to the members time-zone being requested is that the calculations can be spread out over a 24 hour period rather than all occurring at a "virtual" midnight. This is further explained in an earlier section; Time Zone.

A PHP script executed via a Unix CRON job every fifteen minutes will perform daily calculations. The script would select members within that time zone and recalculate the attributes for the stable members' horses. Object Model

Utilising PHP's class and object capability, the work of the back-

end engine is to be split up into various objects. Each individual object

will be able to be programmed independently thus allowing for multiple

programmers to work simultaneously on the project.

The PHP objects include, but are not limited to the following: -

Audit Object

Authentication Object

Banner Event Object (Affiliate Program)

Censorship Object

Client Sniffer Object

Credit Card Checking Object

Database Abstraction Object

Date & Time Manipulation Object

Graphing Object

Group Object

Horse Object

HTML Mime Mail Object • IP Restriction Object

• Meeting Object

• Payment System API Object

• Query String Object

• Race Object

• Security Module

• Stable Object

• Text Validator Object

The main PHP module itself (separate from the PHP classes above) may utilise the abovementioned objects to coordinate any and all functions the server and stable owner requires.

While the description has been limited to thoroughbred horse racing, it is clear to a skilled addressee that the invention is applicable to many different sorts of sporting entities. For example, the above description could easily be applied to trotters and pacers. Further, greyhound dogs may also be the subject of the process.

Steeplechasers and showjumping horses may also be the subject of the invention with suitable allowances made in the process. The invention is not limited to animal athletes and may be

applied to human contestants such as track and field competitors,

boxers, swimmers and virtually all individual sporting pursuits.

Likewise with appropriate adjustments to the invention, a player may

purchase and train a team such as a football, cricket or basketball

team or a team in any other selected sport.

The method and system may also be applied to mechanical

devices such as Formula One race cars, rally cars, 500cc class racing

motorcycles, power boats, aircraft and the like. The type of variables

may include fuel mix, tyres, engine timing, fuel injectors,

superchargers and/or practice rounds.

A player may make considered decisions in an attempt to hone

a competitor or vehicle to its highest performance level and thereby

maximise the chance of winning and playing in a race. The incentive

may include prize money for finishing in the first three.

Additionally, players may be given the opportunity to gamble on

the outcome of certain races. The ability to place wagers may be via

Internet connections.

Although it is envisaged that the invention will be accessed

online, this does not exclude the possibility that a single computer system may be used to work the invention. Throughout the specification, the aim has been to describe the preferred embodiments of the invention without limiting the invention to any one embodiment or specific collection of features. Various changes and modifications may be made to the embodiments described and illustrated without departing from the present invention.

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Classifications
International ClassificationA63F13/30
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2300/8058, A63F2300/65, A63F2300/407, A63F13/12
European ClassificationA63F13/12
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