Sony Interactive Entertainment's latest patent filing suggests that Game Help could evolve into a massive ecosystem where players can share tips, tricks, and even playable save states.
Note: This article describes a patent and not a finalized feature or announced update. As with all patents, this particular one outlines a lot of different hypothetical features, scenarios, and use-cases. Please bear in mind that Sony may never bring any of this content to fruition.
Sony has filed a new patent entitled Method and System for Initiating a Jump Game Play From a Live Game Play Viewed by a Spectator, and it may be one of the company's most exciting patents of 2022.
This particular patent is linked to Sony's previous Cloud-Based Game Slice Generation and Frictionless Social Sharing with Instant Play patents, which I've covered at length in the past. These patents essentially let gamers create "snapshot" recordings of their gaming sessions and turn them into sharable, interactive save states via the cloud.
Sony refers to the act of going from your current gameplay session to a save state as "jumping," and describes the sections as Jump Points. Theoretically, gamers would "jump" from segment to segment, being able to warp into other players' save states and gameplay scenarios (if you're a 90's kid, it's kind of like Sliders).
The patent encompasses a multitude of different use cases and embodiments, some of which are a big leap over the PlayStation 5's current Game Help feature.
Here's how it works:
You know how the PlayStation 5 can auto-record video footage? What the patent outlines is similar to that. Only it's not just video footage. It's basically a snippet of your gameplay session that other people can play.
Using cloud technology, gamers will be able to share slices of their gameplay sessions (ergo "game slices") to other people on the PlayStation Network, through email, or social media.
Just killed a boss in a unique way? Hypothetically, you'd be able to record your session, upload it, and allow other people to watch your video and play that very segment of the game in real-time using your character and unlocks. This would be temporary, of course.
The patent also suggests gamers will be able to use this feature to as community-driven guides. It's kind of like if a Prima Game Guide were interactive and everyone could share their tips, tricks, and hints in a way that's frictionless.
The feature is reminiscent of the PlayStation 5's Game Help sidebar feature, which allows gamers to view picture-in-picture hints in real-time as they play. The patent's rendition is a much more advanced and unique solution that could foster in a new wave of engagement as players use the community-driven save-state sharing feature to test out builds and preview future areas of the game.
Not only that, but the patent also highlights what appears to be a game rewind feature.
This is a common addition to the modernized mini consoles of legacy systems like the SNES, SEGA Genesis, and even the original PlayStation. Theoretically, gamers would be able to open up the snapshot UI, select a previous point in their game, and start playing. This isn't all that much different than a normal save in concept, but in practice it seems to be a secondary launching function that could happen within the UI (or within the game) without having to override your current session.
The save states could also be significantly more convenient to gamers who play titles via the cloud by offering interactive save states on a separate UI. Again, this is something that the current PlayStation Plus Classics games offer (formerly PlayStation Now); gamers can already create save states in these older legacy games. But what if this would be possible for newer titles on PS4 and PS5?
What's more interesting is discussion about Jump Points and how every possible action--or the actions taken by specific players--being plotted in a node graph. This level of transparency would give players an unparalleled amount of knowledge about the games they're playing.
This is a lot of data, but apparently it won't be overwritten:
"These master files are not automatically erased or overwritten as the user progresses through the video game, as is typical in the industry. In that manner, information and metadata related to each snapshot can be readily accessed at any time in order to present snapshot images (e.g., in timelines), node graphs, and to enable jumping to a jump point in the game play of the same or other user," the patent reads.
Sony's patent goes on and on about all the various ways it would (or could) achieve the main goal:
Cloud-based systems, using computing resources (hardware and software), deliver services over a network (e.g., the internet). The services, in the context of gaming, enable streaming of content to remote clients, wherein most processing is done on servers, which may be distributed.
Input provided at the remote clients will in turn drive execution of the video game, without the need for dedicated gaming hardware at the client's location. Cloud-based gaming, therefore, has been increasing in popularity because users find it easier to access more video game titles without complex hardware restrictions, and game suppliers find it easier to manage game code from centralized locations.
As a user is progressing through a game play of a video game that may present multiple options giving different results, it may be difficult to decide in which direction to steer the game play. For example, though a user may want to avoid directions that do not provide any appreciable advancement in the game play, without prior knowledge gained through outside sources the user cannot avoid a particular direction that results in a dead-end.
In some cases, the user may exhaust all possible directions that a video game may present in a certain portion of the game before discovering the proper direction that gives a result advancing the game play. It may be desirable to avoid playing all possible directions in a video game.
It is in this context that embodiments of the disclosure arise.
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