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Discussione: Revolution!

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  1. #1
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    Revolution!

    Tutto il materiale Ŕ gia stato postato su un altro forum, non Ŕ roba mia:

    United States Patent Application 20040176170
    Kind Code A1
    Eck, Charles P. ; et al. September 9, 2004

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Game machine having wireless communication capability


    Abstract
    A video game machine is provided with wireless functionality. The wireless functionality may be built-into the video game machine or may be provided by a device that is removably attachable to the video game machine. The wireless functionality enables, among other things, enhanced multi-player capabilities, the ability to receive video game updates, new game levels and new games.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Inventors: Eck, Charles P.; (Sammamish, WA) ; Kamada, Hiroshi; (Kyoto, JP) ; Comair, Claude; (Bellevue, WA)
    Correspondence Name and Address: NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC
    1100 N GLEBE ROAD
    8TH FLOOR
    ARLINGTON
    VA
    22201-4714
    US


    Assignee Name and Adress: Nintendo Corporation Ltd.
    Kyoto
    JP


    Serial No.: 805243
    Series Code: 10
    Filed: March 22, 2004

    U.S. Current Class: 463/43; 342/357.06; 463/45; 711/115
    U.S. Class at Publication: 463/043; 463/045; 342/357.06; 711/115
    Intern'l Class: G06F 017/00; G06F 019/00



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    Claims

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    We claim:

    1. A global positioning system (GPS) cartridge for use with a game machine having a processing system to execute a video game program and player controls operable by a player to generate video game control signals, the GPS cartridge comprising: GPS circuitry configured to determine position based on signals received from GPS satellites; and a connector that, in use, electrically connects the GPS cartridge to the game machine so that the position determined by the GPS circuitry is usable during execution of the video game program.

    2. The GPS cartridge according to claim 1, further comprising: a memory for storing a video game program executable by the processing system.

    3. The GPS cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the game machine is a hand-held game machine.

    4. The GPS cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the GPS cartridge is adapted to receive a replaceable video game program cartridge when the GPS cartridge is connected to the game machine.

    5. The GPS cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the GPS cartridge is adapted to receive a read/write memory cartridge when the GPS cartridge is connected to the game machine.

    6. A removable device for use with a video game apparatus including a processing system for executing a video game program and user control keys for a user to provide control signals to the processing system, the removable device comprising: a receiver; position determining circuitry for determining geographic position based on signals received by the receiver; and a connector for detachably electrically connecting the position determining circuitry to the processing system of the video game apparatus.

    7. The removable device according to claim 6, wherein the processing system of the video game apparatus uses the geographic position determined by the position determining circuitry during the executing of the video game program.

    8. The removable device according to claim 6, wherein the position determining circuitry comprises global positioning system (GPS) circuitry.

    9. The removable device according to claim 6, further comprising: memory storing a program executable by the processing system of the video game apparatus.

    10. A removable device for use with a video game apparatus including a processing system for executing a video game program and user control keys for a user to provide control signals to the processing system, the removable device comprising: a receiver; velocity determining circuitry for determining velocity based on signals received by the receiver; and a connector for detachably electrically connecting the velocity determining circuitry to the processing system of the video game apparatus.

    11. The removable device according to claim 10, wherein the velocity determining circuitry comprises global positioning system (GPS) circuitry.

    12. The removable device according to claim 10, further comprising: a memory storing a program executable by the processing system of the video game apparatus.

    13. A game machine comprising: a removably attached global positioning system (GPS) cartridge comprising GPS circuitry configured to determine position based on signals received from GPS satellites; a user interface enabling a user to provide inputs to the game machine; and a processing system operable in response to user inputs to execute a game program in accordance with the position determined by the GPS circuitry.

    14. The game machine according to claim 13, wherein the game machine comprises a hand-held game machine.

    15. The game machine according to claim 13, further comprising: a display, wherein the processing system is responsive to user inputs to cause the display to display the position determined by the GPS circuitry.

    16. The game machine according to claim 13, wherein the GPS cartridge further comprises a memory for storing a video game program and the processing system is operable in response to user inputs to execute the video game program stored in the memory of the GPS cartridge.

    17. A game machine comprising: radio circuitry configured to transmit and receive messages via a paging system; a user interface enabling a user to provide inputs to the game machine; a memory for storing message credits; and a processing system operable in response to user inputs to transmit messages via the paging system if sufficient message credits are stored in the memory.

    18. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the radio circuitry is provided as part of a pager cartridge that is removably attachable to the game machine.

    19. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the processing system decreases the number of message credits in the memory in accordance with sizes of the transmitted messages.

    20. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the number of message credits in the memory is increasable in response to user inputs via the user interface.

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    21. The game machine according to claim 20, wherein the user inputs for increasing the number of message credits in the memory comprise alphanumeric inputs.

    22. The game machine according to claim 21, wherein a message based on the alphanumeric inputs is transmitted by the radio circuitry to a remote location for authentication of the alphanumeric inputs and the number of message credits in the memory is increased only if a authentication message is received by the radio circuitry from the remote location.

    23. The game machine according to claim 17, further comprising: a display, wherein the processing system is operable to cause the display to display indicia indicative of the number of message credits in the memory.

    24. The game machine according to claim 17, further comprising: a display, wherein the processing system is operable to cause the display to display reminder indicia when the number of message credits in the memory falls below a predetermined number of message credits.

    25. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the processing system is operable in response to user inputs to cause the display to display messages received by the radio circuitry.

    26. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the processing system is operable to change the number of message units stored in the memory in response to a message received by the radio circuitry.

    27. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the processing system is operable to change the number of message units stored in the memory in accordance with scanned data.

    28. The game machine according to claim 17, wherein the processing system is operable to change the number of message units stored in the memory in accordance with data read from a magnetic stripe.

    29. A video game machine comprising: radio circuitry configured to transmit and receive messages over a wireless communication network; a user interface enabling a user to provide inputs to the video game machine; a memory for storing message credits; and a processing system operable in response to user inputs to transmit messages via the wireless communication network if sufficient message credits are stored in the memory.

    30. A removable device for use with a video game apparatus including a processing system for executing a video game program and user control keys for a user to provide control signals to the processing system, the removable device comprising: an electrical connector that detachably electrically connects the removable device to the video game system; two-way wireless radio frequency communication circuitry for communicating over a wireless communication network; and a memory including a first memory portion for storing instructions for performing wireless operations using the two-way wireless radio frequency communication circuitry and a second memory portion for storing instructions for a video game executable by the processing system of the video game system.

    31. A video game apparatus comprising: radio frequency communication circuitry for transmitting and receiving messages over a wireless communication network; storage for storing game-related activation data included in received messages; and a processing system for executing a video game program, the video game program including embedded game features that are activated by the game-related activation data stored in the storage.

    32. The video game apparatus according to claim 31, wherein the processing system is embodied in a hand-held unit, and the radio frequency communication circuitry and the storage are embodied in a device that is detachably connectable to the hand-held unit.

    33. The video game apparatus according to claim 31, wherein the game-related activation data comprises game character activation data for activating video game characters.

    34. The video game apparatus according to claim 31, wherein the game-related activation data comprises collectible activation data for activating video game collectibles.

    35. The video game apparatus according to claim 31, wherein the game-related activation data comprises game level activation data for activating additional video game levels.

    36. A video game apparatus comprising: radio frequency communication circuitry for transmitting and receiving messages over a wireless communication network; storage for storing video game intervention data included in received messages; and a processing system for executing a video game program for a video game, wherein video game interventions are provided based on the video game intervention data stored in the storage.

    37. The video game apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the message including the video game intervention data is communicated from another video game apparatus.

    38. The video game apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the video game intervention data comprises video game elements solicited by a player playing the video game.

    39. The video game apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the video game intervention data comprises video game elements unsolicited by a player playing the video game.

    40. The video game apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the video game program includes a limit on the number of video game interventions during the playing of the video game.

    41. The video game apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the message including the video game intervention data is responsive to a background message transmitted by the video game apparatus during the playing of the video game.

    42. The video game apparatus according to claim 41, wherein the video game program permits the setting of a limit on the number of background messages transmitted during the playing of the game.

    43. A hand-held game machine for playing a video game, comprising: a display; radio frequency communication circuitry for transmitting and receiving messages over a wireless communication network; and a processing system for executing a video game program that generates game displays on the display, wherein the video game program includes instructions for automatically transmitting game player identification information over the wireless communication network.

    44. A hand-held game machine for playing a video game, comprising: a display; radio frequency communication circuitry for transmitting and receiving messages over a wireless communication network; and a processing system for executing a video game program and for controlling the communication circuitry to communicate one or both of sound and visual data over the wireless communication network.

    45. The hand-held game machine according to claim 44, wherein the communicated one or both of sound and visual data comprises one or both of compressed sound and visual data.

    46. A hand-held game machine, comprising: a display; radio frequency communication circuitry for transmitting and receiving messages over a wireless communication network; and a processing system for executing a video game program, wherein the processing system is responsive to a received message for disabling the radio frequency communication circuitry.

    47. An accessory device for detachable connection to a video game machine comprising: wireless communication circuitry; and a connector for connecting to the video game machine, wherein the wireless communication circuitry is operative to at least receive wireless communications even when the accessory device is detached from the video game machine.

    48. The accessory device according to claim 47, further comprising: storage for storing the wireless communications received when the accessory device is detached from the video game machine.

    49. The accessory device according to claim 47, further comprising: a notification circuit for providing notifications when wireless communications are received.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Description

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

    [0001] This application is a divisional of application Ser. No. 09/659,738, filed Sep. 11, 2000, which claims domestic priority in accordance with the provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 119(e) from provisional Application No. 60/158,045, filed on Oct. 7, 1999. The contents of provisional Application No. 60/158,045 are incorporated herein in their entirety.

    COPYRIGHTS PRESERVED

    [0002] A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

    BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

    [0003] This invention generally relates to a portable game machine and, more particularly, to a portable game machine that is selectively configurable for one or more different operations such as wireless communications, global positioning, image capturing and combinations thereof.

    [0004] Over the years, portable (or hand-held) game machines have been (and continue to be) very popular. Typically, these portable game machines include a hand-held game machine housing a processing unit and associated hardware for running a game program, and include a display for displaying images of the game. The game program itself is typically contained in a game program memory such as, for example, a semiconductor memory (e.g., ROM, EPROM, etc.) that is part of a removable cartridge. By storing the game program in a removable cartridge, the user can conveniently and easily change the game being played by simply exchanging one cartridge with another, different cartridge containing a different game. Examples of portable game machines are the "Game Boy.RTM." and "Game Boy.RTM. Color" products manufactured and sold by Nintendo of America Inc.

    [0005] Generally, the functionality of conventional portable game machines of the type described above is directed to executing the game that is contained in the game program memory of a particular removable cartridge. In addition, these game machines are sometimes configured to permit games having a two-player mode to be played. In one such implementation, two portable game machines are connected together by a cable. In another implementation, infrared communications between two portable game machines are used. However, both of these implementations require that the portable game machines be in physical proximity to each other.

    [0006] Thus, it would be desirable to provide a portable game machine that provides enhanced multi-player capabilities through communications with other game machines, portable or otherwise. It would also be desirable to provide a portable game machine to which game updates, new game levels and new games can be easily communicated and to take advantage of the existing portable game machine hardware and user interface as a basis for additional communications capabilities. It would further be desirable to provide these enhanced capabilities to other gaming systems such as console game machines that are connected to a user's television set.

    [0007] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a global positioning system (GPS) cartridge is provided for use with a game machine having a game program executing processing system including a microprocessor to execute a video game program and player controls operable by a player to generate video game control signals. The GPS cartridge includes GPS circuitry configured to determine position based on signals received from GPS satellites and a connector that, in use, electrically connects the GPS cartridge to the game machine so that the position determined by the GPS circuitry is usable during execution of the video game program.

    [0008] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a game machine is provided with radio circuitry configured to transmit and receive messages via a paging system, a user interface enabling a user to provide inputs to the game machine, and a memory for storing message credits. A processing system is operable in response to user inputs to transmit messages via the paging system if sufficient message credits are stored in the memory.

    [0009] Still other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

    [0010] FIGS. 1A-1C show an example portable (handheld) game machine.

    [0011] FIG. 2 is an overall block diagram of the game cartridge and the game machine shown in FIG. 1.

    [0012] FIG. 3 illustrates a portable game machine and a pager selectively attachable to the portable game machine.

    [0013] FIG. 4 illustrates a two-way paging system in which the present invention may be implemented.

    [0014] FIG. 5A and 5B are block diagrams of example pager cartridges 100 usable in the two-way paging system of FIG. 4.

    [0015] FIGS. 6A-6J show various physical configurations of pager cartridge 100.

    [0016] FIG. 7 is a conceptual block diagram of an interface for pager cartridge 100 when it is connected to game machine 10.

    [0017] FIGS. 8A-8H show various screens that are part of the interface conceptually shown in FIG. 7.

    [0018] FIGS. 9A-9C show various screens in PagerWorld.

    [0019] FIG. 10 is diagram of an example bus multiplexer and address decoder usable in pager cartridge 100.

    [0020] FIG. 11A illustrates sample conversations and FIG. 11B illustrates sample chat codes.

    [0021] FIGS. 11C-11N illustrate cards used for symbola.

    [0022] FIGS. 12A and 12B show message cards usable with pager cartridge 100.

    [0023] FIG. 13 is a block diagram of a GPS cartridge 200.

    [0024] FIGS. 14 and 15 are external perspective views showing the structure of a digital camera cartridge 300.

    [0025] FIG. 16 is an exploded view showing the digital camera cartridge 300 of FIGS. 14 and 15.

    [0026] FIG. 17 is a block diagram of a digital camera cartridge 300.

    [0027] FIG. 18 is a block diagram of a read/write memory cartridge 400

    [0028] FIGS. 19A-19C show example alternative compatible implementations.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS

    [0029] The present invention is described in the context of example embodiments. However, the scope of the invention is not limited to these particular example embodiments. Rather, the example embodiments merely serve to illustrate various principles and characteristics of the present invention.

    [0030] FIGS. 1A, 1B and IC show an example portable (hand-held) color display game machine (hereinafter, referred to simply as "game machine") 10 that displays game characters in color on a color liquid crystal display (LCD) 16 when a color-ready game cartridge 12 is selectively inserted into a slot 18 (see FIG. 1C). The color LCD 16 displays characters using, for example, up to a maximum of 56 colors if the color-ready game cartridge 12 is inserted into the game machine 10. Game machine 10 may also be configured to receive monochrome game cartridges (not shown) and to display monochrome characters on LCD 16. Example game machine 10 may, for example, be a GameBoy.RTM. Color game machine, although it will be readily recognized that the features described below are readily applicable to other portable game machines.

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    [0031] With reference to FIG. 2, game machine 10 includes color LCD 16 as described above. Color LCD 16 is formed as a dot matrix display and is driven by LCD drivers 22 and 24 to display color images on its screen. LCD driver 22 selectively drives, for example, the rows of the dot matrix display and LCD driver 24 selectively drives, for example, the columns of the dot matrix display. LCD drivers 22, 24 are supplied with color image signals from a color display processing circuit 28 included in a central processing unit (CPU) 26.

    [0032] CPU 26 further includes a CPU core 30 that is connected to an internal read only memory (ROM) 32 and an internal random access memory (RAM) 34. Internal RAM 34 is used as a work memory of CPU core 30. CPU 26 further includes a basic oscillator 36. Basic oscillator 36 is formed of, for example, a quartz oscillator, and supplies an oscillating signal to a programmable frequency divider 38. Programmable frequency divider 38 divides the oscillating signal from basic oscillator 36 in accordance with frequency division data from CPU core 30, and supplies a divided signal as a clock of CPU core 30.

    [0033] A connector 40 is connected to CPU 26 by an appropriate bus. Game cartridge 12 shown in FIG. 1 is selectively attachable to connector 40. Game cartridge 12 is preferably in the form of a replaceable memory cartridge insertable into slot 18 of game machine 10. Game cartridge 12 may be in the form of a plastic housing that encases a printed circuit board. The printed circuit board has a connector defining a number of electrical contacts. When game cartridge 12 is inserted into slot 18 of game machine 10, the cartridge electrical contacts mate with corresponding "edge connector" electrical contacts within game machine 10. This action electrically connects the printed circuit board contained within the plastic housing to the electronics within game machine 10. In this example, the printed circuit board of game cartridge 12 at least includes a read-only memory (ROM) 42 and a read/write memory (e.g., SRAM) 46. ROM 42 stores instructions and other information pertaining to a particular video game. ROM 42 for one game cartridge 12 may, for example, contain instructions and other information for an adventure game while the ROM of another game cartridge 12 may contain instructions and other information for a car race game, an educational game, etc. To play a game, a user of game machine 10 need only plug the appropriate game cartridge into slot 18 of game machine 10--thereby connecting the cartridge's ROM 42 (and other any circuitry it may contain) to game machine 10. This enables the game machine circuitry to access information contained with ROM 42 (and read/write memory 46), which information controls the game machine to play the appropriate video game by displaying images and reproducing sound as specified under control of the ROM game program information. Read/write memory 46 is used to store data such as game backup data.

    [0034] CPU 26 is supplied with operation signals from operating keys 48a-48e. Operating key 48a is used, among other things, to move a game character displayed on color LCD 16 in four directions, that is, upward, downward, right and left. Operating key 48b is a select key that is used for, for example, game mode selection and the like. Operating key 48c is a start key that is used to start playing the game or to temporarily stop the progress of the game. Operating keys 48d, 48e are push-button switches. By pushing operating keys 48d, 48e, it is possible to cause various motions of the game characters displayed on color LCD 16, for example, a weapon use, a jump and the like. Operating keys 48a-48e are disposed in a forward surface of game machine 10 as shown in FIG. 1B. Operating keys 48a-48e are also usable in connection with various features described below. A key matrix (not shown) is provided for sending CPU 26 the operation signals from operating keys 48a-48e as controller data.

    [0035] Batteries (not shown) (e.g., 2 AA batteries) provide power for game machine 10. A power indicator LED 19 (see FIG. 1B) may dim as the batteries lose their charge, thereby providing a visual indication to the user that new batteries are needed. Game machine 10 may also be configured for connection to an AC adapter to permit extended use without batteries.

    [0036] In accordance with the game program, character data supplied from game cartridge 12 and the controller data from operating keys 48a-48e, CPU 26 executes data processing and writes display data into a display RAM 52, using an extended RAM 50 when necessary. The display RAM 52 has two banks, that is, a first bank and a second bank, and has, as a whole, a storage area that is greater than the display area of color LCD 16, thereby enabling a scrolling display upward and downward and/or rightward and leftward on the screen of color LCD 16. As a result of the data processing by CPU 26, sound signals to be output are adjusted in level by volume controls 54 and 56, and then outputted to a speaker 58 and/or an earphone jack 60. Sound signals output from speaker 58 and/or earphone jack 60 include game sound effects, voices and music.

    [0037] Generally speaking, to use game machine 10 to play a game, a user selects a game cartridge 12 containing a desired video game, and inserts that game cartridge into slot 18 of game machine 10, thereby electrically connecting ROM 42 and other cartridge electronics to game machine 10. The user then operates a power switch 21 (see FIG. 1B) to turn on game machine 10 and operates operating keys 48a-48e to control video game play. For example, depressing operating key 48c may cause the video game to start playing. Actuating operating key 48a may cause animated characters to move on color LCD 16 in controllably different directions.

    [0038] Additional features of game machine 10 may be found in application Ser. No. 09/321,201, filed May 27, 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,669, the contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety.

    [0039] As will be explained in greater detail, cartridges other than game cartridges are insertable into slot 18 of game machine 10. One illustrative example is a cartridge that houses the elements of a two-way pager. Like game cartridge 12, the pager cartridge includes a plastic housing that encases a printed circuit board on which is mounted the components of the pager. This printed circuit board of the pager cartridge has a connector defining a number of electrical contacts that mate with the corresponding edge connector electrical contacts within the game machine 10 when the pager cartridge is inserted into the slot of the game machine. This electrical connection between the pager cartridge and the game machine permits the implementation of many advantageous features that will be described in greater detail below.

    [0040] In an example implementation, the pager cartridge is itself provided with a slot for receiving a cartridge such as a game cartridge. The slot of the pager cartridge is provided with "edge connector" electrical contacts that mate with the electrical contacts of the cartridge inserted therein. In this way, a game cartridge 12 may be "piggy-backed" onto the pager cartridge when the pager cartridge is inserted into slot 18 of game machine 10. The edge connector electrical contacts of the pager cartridge are connected via a bus to those electrical contacts of the pager cartridge that mate with the edge connector electrical contacts of game machine 10. In this way, ROM 42 of game cartridge 12 (and any other circuitry game cartridge 12 may contain) is electrically connected to game machine 10 and a user may play the game stored on game cartridge 12 even when the pager cartridge is attached to game machine 10.

    [0041] As will be further described below, cartridges including the components of a global position system (GPS), or of a digital camera, or of a read/write memory may also be piggy-backed onto the pager cartridge when the pager cartridge is inserted into the slot of game machine 10.

    [0042] FIG. 3 illustrates a pager cartridge 100 that is selectively attachable to game machine 10 via connector 40. Generally speaking, paging systems are well-known in the art. For example, with reference to FIG. 4, U.S. Pat. No. 5,805,077 discloses a two-way paging system 101 that includes paging stations 103, paging terminals 105, public switched telephone network (PSTN) 107, paging receivers 109 and a pager 111. While only two paging terminals 105 are shown, a paging system may include many paging terminals. Likewise, the number of other components of paging system 101 is merely illustrative.

    [0043] Paging stations 103 are also referred to as base stations or paging transmitters. In operation, callers who wish to page a system user use PSTN 107 to call the system user's pager telephone number. In a system including pager-equipped portable game machines, a computer of the game content provider may be connected to PSTN 107. Alternatively, pages can be originated through a computer network directly connected to a paging terminal. The call is routed, perhaps through a plurality of paging terminals, from PSTN 107 to paging terminal 105 that formulates a page. The page is distributed over a communications network to each of paging stations 103. Paging stations 103 in turn transmit the page throughout the geographic coverage area of paging system 101. For example, the page may be broadcast over radio waves on a dedicated frequency. The paging system may operate using any well-known protocol such as Flex, ReFlex (e.g., ReFlex 25) or POCSAG.

    [0044] If pager cartridge 100 is within the geographic coverage area of paging system 101, pager cartridge 100 receives the page and processes the message embedded within the page. Generally, pager cartridge 100 also includes a vibrating or beeping mechanism to inform the person carrying the pager that he or she has received a message. Pager cartridge 100 may itself be configured to communicate messages (visually and/or aurally) to the user.

    [0045] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, pager cartridge 100 shown in FIG. 4 is provided as a pager cartridge 100 that is insertable into slot 18 of game machine 10. Pager cartridge 100 is configured to transfer messages received over paging system 101 to game machine 10 when pager cartridge 100 is inserted into slot 18 of game machine 10. In this case, game machine 10 communicates (visually and/or aurally) the messages to the user. In some cases, the messages relate to game playing aspects of the game machine and such messages are used by game machine 10 to update or modify certain of these game playing aspects as will be described in greater detail below.

    [0046] In the two-way paging system, pager cartridge 100 is configured to broadcast back to paging receivers 109 an acknowledgment signal that informs paging terminal 105 that the page has been successfully received. Pager cartridge 100 may also initiate other types of messages that are unsolicited and are not acknowledgments for received messages. Various examples of these messages will be described in greater detail below.

    [0047] FIG. 5A is a generalized block diagram of one example pager cartridge 100. Pager cartridge 100 includes an antenna 130 connected to a conventional radio section 132 for receiving and sending messages. While certain features of the system described below utilize the capability of pager cartridge 100 to send messages, it will be apparent that not all features depend on this capability and the present invention is not limited to the use of a two-way pager cartridge. Thus, the present invention contemplates that a one-way pager cartridge may be utilized in some implementations. Notification circuitry 134 provides notification to the user that a message has been received. Notification circuitry 134 may be implemented as a vibration circuit that is controlled by control circuit 136 to vibrate when a message is received. Notification circuit 134 may alternatively or additionally be implemented as a beeper circuit that is controlled by control circuit 136 to beep when a message is received. As suggested, notification circuit 134 may in fact comprise a number of different elements for notifying the user that a message has been received. A user may selectively enable/disable the notification circuit 134 using input circuitry 138. Control circuit 136 controls a display driver 140 to cause display 142 to display received messages. Display 142 may be a liquid crystal display and may be provided with backlighting, if desired. Because pager cartridge 100 is connectable to game machine 10 for communicating messages, display driver 140 and display 142 may be omitted or simplified. A power supply 144 such as one or more batteries supplies power to the components of pager cartridge 100 requiring power. The connections of power supply 144 shown in FIG. 5 are for illustrative purposes only and the need for power by the components of the pager and the manner of supplying the needed power thereto will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Pager cartridge 100 may also be provided with an indicator (not shown) for indicating the power supply level, thereby prompting the user when, for example, new batteries are needed. Alternatively or in addition, a periodic beep (e.g., every 30 minutes) may be generated and output by speaker 149 when the power supply level decreases below a certain level.

    [0048] Pager cartridge 100 includes a memory 145 for storing software used in the pager operations, including at least some of the various operations described below. It is of course possible to store the software for implementing at least some of these operations in the memory of game machine 10. However, storing such software in memory 145 of pager cartridge 100 facilitates use of the pager cartridge with existing game machines. Memory 145 also stores other data such as available message unit data (message credits), persona character data, messages, etc. Memory 145 may be a combination of read/write and read only memory. Finally, memory 145 may store one or more video game programs that are executable by CPU 26 of game machine 10. Game machine 10 may execute video game programs (including those stored in memory 145) in accordance with one or more instructions contained in received messages.

    [0049] Pager cartridge 100 is provided with first and second connectors 146 and 148. First connector 146 is configured to permit pager cartridge 100 to be selectively attached and electrically connected to game machine 10 via the connector 40 of game machine 10. In this way, the electronic components of the pager cartridge are accessible to and controllable by CPU 26 of game machine 10 and data (including messages) can be communicated between pager cartridge 100 and game machine 10. Second connector 148 permits game cartridges, read/write memory cartridges, digital cameras cartridges, GPS cartridges and the like to be electrically connected ("piggy-backed") to pager cartridge 100 and, via connector 146 of pager cartridge 100, to game machine 10.

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    [0050] FIG. 5B is a block diagram of another example pager cartridge 100. The example pager cartridge of FIG. 5B includes:

    [0051] a connector 900,

    [0052] a pass-through connector 902,

    [0053] a battery (power source) 904,

    [0054] a power converter 906,

    [0055] a game machine interface 908,

    [0056] a mask ROM 910,

    [0057] a codec/DSP section 912,

    [0058] bandpass filter, RF mixer and dual PLL section 914,

    [0059] crystal 916,

    [0060] transmitter 918,

    [0061] receiver 920, and

    [0062] antenna 922.

    [0063] Connector 900 connects the pager cartridge to portable game machine 10. Pass-through connector 902 provides a connection to the portable game machine for game cartridges piggy-backed onto the pager cartridge. This allows CPU 26 of game machine 10 to access game programs stored in the piggy-backed game cartridges so that games can be played even when the pager cartridge is inserted into slot 18 of game machine 10. Game machine interface 908 interfaces game machine 10 to the communication circuitry of the pager cartridge and the mask ROM 910 of the pager cartridge. Mask ROM 910 stores various programs that are loaded into the main memory map of the portable game machine. These programs are described in greater detail below. Codec/DSP 912 section encodes/decodes and processes messages transmitted and received by the pager cartridge. Bandpass filter, RF mixer and dual PLL 914 section filters and upconverts/downconverts messages transmitted and received by the pager cartridge. Transmitter 916 transmits messages via antenna 922 and receiver 918 receives messages via antenna 922. Battery 904 provides power for the components of the pager cartridge and power converter 906 converts the power from battery 904 to a level suitable for application to the pager cartridge components. Crystal 916 is used to generate a clock signal usable by bandpass filter, RF mixer and dual PLL section 914.

    [0064] Example transmitter 916 has the following characteristics:

    [0065] Frequency bands: 896-902 MHz

    [0066] Transmit power-1 watt

    [0067] Bit rate-9600 bps

    [0068] Channel spacing-12.5 kHz

    [0069] Frequency stability-0.5 PPM

    [0070] Signaling-FSK

    [0071] Example receiver 918 has the following characteristics:

    [0072] Frequency bands: 929-941 MHz

    [0073] Channel spacing: 25 kHz

    [0074] Bit rate: 6400 bps

    [0075] Signaling: FSK

    [0076] Pager cartridge 100 is operable in AWAKE, SLEEP, and OFF modes. In AWAKE mode, full pager cartridge functionality is available. In SLEEP (non-display) mode, pager cartridge 100 has limited functionality, but does operate to receive messages (e.g., marketing information, game information, customer-solicited information, un-solicited information). In OFF mode, pager cartridge 100 is powered down and no functionality is available. The paging system operator (service provider) maintains messages for pager cartridge 100 for a predetermined period of time (e.g., 72 hours). If the user does not place the pager cartridge in the SLEEP mode or the AWAKE mode within 72 hours, the messages will be lost.

    [0077] FIGS. 6A-6R show various example physical configurations of pager cartridge 100. FIG. 6A shows a front perspective view of pager cartridge 100 and FIG. 6B shows a rear perspective view of pager cartridge 100. FIG. 6A shows connector 146 for connecting pager cartridge 100 to game machine 10 and a user interface 163. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 6C and 6D, pager cartridge 100 may be provided with a protective flap 167 that is moveable between an open position (shown in FIG. 6C) and a closed position (shown in FIG. 6B). When protective flap 167 is in the open position, a slot 169 is accessible for, in use, receiving game cartridges, read/write memory cartridges, digital camera cartridges, GPS cartridges and the like. FIG. 6D shows a game cartridge 12 positioned in the slot 169. By "piggy-backing" a game cartridge 12 onto pager cartridge 100, a user can use game machine 10 to execute a game program contained on game cartridge 12 even while pager cartridge 100 is attached to game machine 10. This "piggy-back" configuration also allows for different activities to be performed simultaneously (e.g., paging activities and the playing of games). For example, while a player uses the game machine to play a game contained on the game cartridge, pager cartridge 100 can receive messages such as, for example, stock price quotations or sports scores. These messages may be displayed to player during game play (e.g., by a scrolling or overlaying a message (or a "re" line of a message) across display 16 of game machine 10). Alternatively, an indication (such as a graphical message icon) may be provided on display 16 of game machine 10 to indicate to the player that a message has been received. The player can then decide, for example, to suspend (or end) game play and view the message. After the message has been viewed, suspended game play may be resumed. FIG. 6E shows a pager cartridge 100 having the physical configuration shown in FIGS. 6A-6D connected to game machine 10. FIGS. 6F-6J are wire drawings showing various physical implementations of pager cartridges 100 connected to game machine 10.

    [0078] As noted, the "piggy-back" configuration allows a player to play a game contained on a game cartridge 12 while pager cartridge 100 is connected to game machine 10. In the case in which a read/write memory cartridge is "piggy-backed" to game machine 10 via pager cartridge 100, game machine 10 can read/write data such as high score data, suspended game settings and the like from/to the read/write memory cartridge. Similarly, in the case in which a digital camera cartridge is "piggy-backed" to game machine 10 via pager cartridge 100, digital images may be captured by the camera and used by game machine 10 and/or transmitted as a message using pager cartridge 100. If the digital camera cartridge is configured to capture sounds, these captured sounds may be used by game machine 10 and/or transmitted as a message using pager cartridge 100. Of course, a separate "sound card" may be "piggy-backed" to game machine 10 via pager cartridge 100.

    Example Operations

    [0079] A pager-equipped portable game machine may include (but is not limited to) the following features:

    [0080] a plug-in two-way pager,

    [0081] sending and receiving of alphanumeric pages,

    [0082] sending and receiving of e-mail messages,

    [0083] receive broadcasts such as news broadcasts,

    [0084] allow playing of pager-compatible games (e.g., network games),

    [0085] provide real time clock and calendar,

    [0086] play mini-games,

    [0087] creation of personal persona, and

    [0088] playing of conventional games.

    [0089] In accordance with one example, pager cartridge 100 provides a two-way paging device that has the ability to receive messages from other users in the paging system as well as from the paging system operator. The pagers in the system are individually and collectively addressable to and from standard telephones, PC-Internet, facsimile machines and other pagers. Messages from the paging system operator may be sent to all users in the paging system, to certain groups of users in the paging system or to a particular user in the paging system. The system operator messages may be transmitted during off-peak messaging hours (such as night-time) when air time and bandwidth are less of a transmission issue and more cost-effective. The system operator messages may include by way of example, but not limitation, mini-games, special game levels, sample games, game tips and hints, system operator information, general game news, advertising, and promotional information. Other messages may include e-mail, stock price quotations, sports scores, news updates, and customer-requested information (e.g., top movies of the week, top songs of the week).

    [0090] Apart from traditional paging functions, pager cartridge 100 can be used in game playing. It will be appreciated that the system operator does not necessarily generate the game playing content. The system operator may simply provide the paging infrastructure on a contract basis with the game content provider. The game content provider may be a game marketer, a game developer, a game retailer, a game equipment manufacturer, or licensees of any or all of these.

  5. #5
    (╯ಠ_ರೃ)╯︵ [ǝɯɐ1ɟ] L'avatar di wanzer
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    [0091] Two illustrative, but non-limiting, applications of pager cartridge 100 to game playing are in Multiple User Dungeon (MUD) games and virtual pets. Generally speaking, MUDs are Internet-based on-line exploration and quest games in which an open-ended number of players simultaneously exist in the same game world, sharing experiences and adventures. MUD games exist in all genres, from fantasy to science fiction and all point in-between, and come in countless formats from text-based to fully graphical. Some currently popular Internet MUDs include Ultima Online (Electronic Arts/Origin), Everquest (Sony 989 Studios), Darkness Falls (Gamestorm/AOL/Kesmai) and Cosrin (AOL). While MUDs vary greatly in appearance and content, MUDs generally share the following key components:

    [0092] Exploration and adventure

    [0093] Chat and community interaction

    [0094] Character growth

    [0095] Perpetual, dynamic worlds that grow, adapt and change

    [0096] In one implementation, the user of pager cartridge 100 becomes a player in what will be referred to hereinafter as PagerWorld, a virtual community for the network of all users having pager cartridges 100. Players are represented in PagerWorld by a "persona character" and it is this character that all other PagerWorld players will see, for example, when messages are received. Over time, this persona character will become ever more unique to the particular player. As players interact with other players in PagerWorld (e.g., by sending messages and playing games), players will share the fin and excitement of discovering new items, skills and appearances as their persona characters gain experience.

    [0097] Players read and send messages from the main PagerWorld screen, this screen serving as "communication central." From this screen, the player can choose a portal and actually step into a nation-wide or world-wide community of other PagerWorld players. PagerWorld is the hub for communications, becoming a central meeting place to find friends and share messages. Visually, it can be thought of as a carnival midway where players walk their persona characters in a world featuring attractions and sideshows. Players can find pen-pals, view message boards, check high-score lists and play games with others. PagerWorld also contains games and quests with prizes for victorious persona characters.

    [0098] Via downloads from the system operator at regular intervals, new areas of PagerWorld may open, revealing new games and quests. Players can explore new lands and find items or powers for their persona characters that will be unique to them. PagerWorld can be implemented in a manner that emphasizes the growth and daily care of a player's persona character. The player can care for his/her persona character as he/she would care for a virtual pet, as well as participate with others to improve the skills and add to the virtual possessions of the persona character.

    [0099] FIG. 7 is a conceptual block diagram of an interface for pager cartridge 100 when it is connected to game machine 10. Turning on pager cartridge 100 when it is connected to game machine 10 takes the player to a main PagerWorld screen 200. This screen is the starting point for every user session. First, the player is greeted by his/her persona character. The representation of the persona character may be present on each screen throughout the session. The persona character may in fact be the featured element on the screen and function as a sort of "pager" tour guide.

    [0100] FIG. 8A shows an illustrative, but non-limiting, implementation of the main screen 200. Along with the player's persona character 202, main screen 200 includes a dialog box 204 informing the player about the number of incoming, unread messages and other status indicators and four icons 206, 208, 210 and 212. Icon 206 ("My Persona") is a face; icon 208 is a book ("Pager Lingo"); icon 210 is an unopened envelope ("Message Center"); and icon 212 is a globe ("PagerWorld"). These icons provide the player four choices.

    [0101] Selecting book icon 208 (e.g., via appropriate manipulation of one or more of operating keys 48a-48e) brings the user to a screen 220 shown in FIG. 8B. Screen 220 permits the user to review their dictionary of words and symbols. Players can trade word symbols, build phrases and decode messages. This "personal language" is important to communication between players of PagerWorld. Players can create encoded messages as well as use symbols to represent entire phrases, hence streamlining their messaging and reducing message costs. Icons 222 and 224 permit the user to create associations between words/phrases (e.g., phone) and symbols (e.g., ). The symbols may, for example, be symbols obtained from messages, from the memory of the game machine or from a read/write memory cartridge or a game cartridge piggy-backed onto pager cartridge 100. The words or phrases may be generated using, for example, a virtual keyboard displayed on display 16 of game machine 10 and selections made using one or more of operating keys 48a-48e.

    [0102] Selecting an unopened envelope icon 210 brings the user to a screen 230 shown in FIG. 8C. Screen 230 is the "Message Center" and permits users, among other things, to read their messages and to compose and send new messages. The Message Center screen features a window 232 that lists unread messages. Selecting a message takes the user to a Read Message screen 250 shown in FIG. . Message Center screen 230 contains four icons: a File Cabinet icon 234; a Quill icon 236; an Address Book icon 238; and an Account Meter icon 240. Selecting File Cabinet icon 234 takes the user to a File Cabinet screen 270 shown in FIG. 8E; selecting Quill icon 236 takes the user to a Compose Message screen 290 shown in FIG. 8F; and selecting Address Book icon 238 takes the user to an Address Book screen 309 shown in FIG. 8G.

    [0103] Account Meter icon 240 is a graphical representation of the user's account balance. As messages are sent, this meter will decline. As new message time ("airtime" or "message credits") is purchased (as will be described in greater detail below), the meter will increase accordingly. Of course, the meter is but one way of displaying data indicative of the user's account balance and it will be apparent that other textual and graphical representations may be used. A graphical or textual reminder to obtain additional message credits may be generated on display 16 of game machine 10 when the user's account balance decreases below some predetermined amount.

    [0104] Read Message screen 250 is shown in FIG. . When a message is selected from Message Center screen 230, the contents of the message appear, along with the user's persona character and "handle" of the person that sent the message. Throughout the Message Center operations, the displayed icons generally remain consistent. However, when a user accesses Read Message screen 250 to read a message, a Trash Can icon 252 also appears. Trash Can icon 252 allows users to discard messages they do not wish to keep. The system may, if desired, be configured to provide a message archiving feature in which a user may archive messages to a read/write memory cartridge piggy-backed into pager cartridge 100.

    [0105] File Cabinet screen 270 is shown in FIG. 8E and is similar in appearance to main Message Center screen 230. File Cabinet screen 270 displays a list of saved messages. In some implementations, the saved messages may be organized by topic. Selecting a message opens up the message in Read Message screen 250 of FIG. .

  6. #6
    (╯ಠ_ರೃ)╯︵ [ǝɯɐ1ɟ] L'avatar di wanzer
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    [0106] Compose Message screen 290 is shown in FIG. 8F and permits a user to construct a message by choosing letters or by selecting symbols from his/her dictionary of lingo symbols using icons 222 and 224. As noted above, letters may be chosen using a combination of a virtual keyboard displayed on display 16 of game machine 10 and user inputs via operating keys 48a-48e. A "Send To" window 292 allows the user to choose to whom the message will be sent. Users can type in another user's handle or choose from the listings in their address book.

    [0107] A "Send Message" icon 294 also appears and allows the user to send the composed message using the radio circuitry of pager cartridge 100.

    [0108] Address Book screen 309 is shown in FIG. 8G and provides a listing of other users by their handles. Next to each handle is the persona character of the other user as it appeared on his/her last communication with the user.

    [0109] With reference again to Main Screen 200 shown in FIG. 8A, choosing Face icon 206 takes the user to a "My Persona" screen 330 shown in FIG. 8H. Here, a user may customize his/her persona character to his/her liking. A Bag icon 332 may be selected to show the user his/her inventory of items that can be purchased or discovered on mini-adventures. A Coin icon 334 shows the number of coins that the user has collected over time. The system also includes a "Handle Maker" option that permits a user to alter their face (i.e., hair, node, eyes, mouth, etc.). This capability may be implemented so that it can be accessed only at "boot-up" or it may be implemented so that it is accessible at all times via the interface. The player can simply choose what items he/she would like to be wearing and how he/she would like his/her persona character to look. As the persona character gains experience, hence coins and possessions, its look will become ever-more customized. Any time the user sends a message, his/her persona character appears alongside the message on the other user's screen. It is even possible to customize the persona character using image data obtained with a digital camera cartridge.

    [0110] Again with reference again to Main Screen 200 shown in FIG. 8A, selecting Globe icon 212 from Main Screen 200 transports the user's persona character into PagerWorld. The implementation shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B is a top-down view into a city in which the player can freely roam. At the center of PagerWorld is the "Midway." The Midway is a stretch of road that features several buildings. Players can move their persona characters through PagerWorld using operating keys 48a-48e, for example, and enter buildings freely. Illustrative, but non-limiting examples of buildings that may be included in PagerWorld include:

    [0111] The Newscenter--This building permits a player to view news from the service provider and to customize the amount and/or type of news downloaded to the pager cartridge by the system operator, for example, each night.

    [0112] The Hub--This building is a place to learn the names of other players and strike up a pen-pal communication.

    [0113] The Store--This building permits the player to purchase various items for the persona character such as hats and clothing.

    [0114] The Gaming Center--The building permits players to meet and play games, view high scores, etc.

    [0115] As noted, this list of buildings is intended to be illustrative, not limiting. The full design of PagerWorld will generally incorporate many other elements to take full advantage of the system in order to create a community feel.

    [0116] At regular intervals, PagerWorld is updated. In one implementation, these PagerWorld updates are communicated to pager cartridge 100 via night-time downloads when pager cartridge 100 is in SLEEP mode. When this occurs, new areas are made available for the player to "adventure" within. These side-quests or mini-adventures allow players to explore in order to collect coins and acquire unique items and skills. These new areas may become a permanent part of PagerWorld or may be available for limited periods of time (e.g., one week, one month, etc.).

    [0117] The game design for the mini-adventure may take the form of stand-alone RPG/adventure and a series of transmissions in the form of "choose-your-path" multiple-choice decisions. The player moves through the new areas in search of the proper path to the best possible ending, with their decisions shaping how the adventure unfolds.

  7. #7
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    [0118] For example, suppose when a player of PagerWorld wakes up and connects pager cartridge 100 to game machine 10, he/she is informed by a message that the "Haunted Castle" is now open in PagerWorld. Upon entering PagerWorld using the above-described interface, the player would notice that a new pathway had opened up, leading straight to a spooky tower on the outskirts of the midway as shown in FIG. 9C. During the course of the adventure, the player might encounter a fire monster that stands before a critical juncture. The action taken by the player at this point may depend on the situation and the experience of the persona character (e.g., does the persona character possess a water sword to slay the beast?). Depending on these factors, the player may control his/her persona character to fight, flee or use some item in the player's possession. The player makes a choice and sends it back to the system operator via pager cartridge 100 in the form of a message. The consequences of the player's decision are sent back in a message from the system operator via pager cartridge 100 and the adventure continues. Each adventure generally comprises a predetermined number of messages between the player and the system operator (e.g., 8-10). There are several possible endings, some yielding coins, others yielding items or other surprises. The adventures may also incorporate the following illustrative, but non-limiting, ideas:

    [0119] A limited number of the "best awards" per new adventure (e.g., only 20 players will win the special item)

    [0120] Teamwork-based adventures requiring input from multiple players with complementary skills

    [0121] Tile-based worlds require small downloads. The tiles already exist within pager cartridge 100 or game machine 10.

    [0122] Additional "adventure paks" could be sold, containing new tile sets, sounds and item graphics.

    [0123] When the portable game machine and the attached pager cartridge are turned on, the main PagerWorld screen 200 is displayed. The users can then go to different places (i.e., send a page, read news, play games) as described above. In an example implementation using the pager cartridge shown in FIG. 5B, these programs are stored in ROM 910. The programs and their I/O portions are loaded into the memory map of portable game machine 10 so as to be accessible to CPU 26 of portable game machine 10. Game machine interface 908 interfaces between pager cartridge 100 and portable game machine 10. When a game cartridge is piggy-backed onto pager cartridge 100, users can play the game independently via pass-through connector 902. This capability may be provided using a switching mechanism that enables appropriate communication of signals between portable machine 10 and the game cartridge when the game cartridge is piggy-backed onto pager cartridge 100. An example of such a switching mechanism that includes a mode control circuit 990, an address decode circuit 992 and a bus multiplexer 994 is shown in FIG. 10. During game play using a non-pager-compatible game cartridge, if pager cartridge 100 receives an incoming message, the user is notified. The users can then retrieve the message by disconnecting the game cartridge from pager cartridge 100. During game play using a pager-compatible ("pager-aware") game cartridge, incoming pages may be processed or responded to immediately.

    Example Intervention

    [0124] The portable game machine equipped with a pager cartridge as described above has the ability to wirelessly intervene in a video game either by result of a player solicitation or an unsolicited action from another player (using a similar pager-equipped portable game machine) on the fly--wherever the portable game machine is operational. Because is a "message" is not real-time, but delayed time, the interventions are magical, fun and, by nature, unpredictable. Interventions allow players to equalize skills in games, making games more competitive. Interventions can be solicited or unsolicited. An illustrative solicited intervention is a player requesting help from a friend playing the same game. A player could, for example, request a ladder to climb a wall to gain a prize or level or request more ammunition to fight enemies. An illustrative unsolicited intervention is multiple players playing the same game and sending "messages" to each other to disrupt game play and slow competitors down. A player could, for example, destroy a bridge that a heroic game character must cross to rescue a princess (thereby forcing another player to use another route). A player could blow up an ammunition dump, depriving a competitor of ammunition needed to win a battle (forcing the competitor to change game tactics in order to survive).

    [0125] The element of consequences to a solicitation adds additional intrigue for users--players have to determine the value of what they will get for what they must trade in. Solicited interventions may, for example, have a consequence (or cost) associated to it. For example, if a player requests a ladder, the player could trade an item for the ladder or give up coins. In the case of unsolicited interventions, a game can have hidden "supplies" available only for interventions in order to add more fun, complexity and mystery to the game. To discourage abuse, game supplies could be restricted to a quota of interventions per level or game to reduce messaging costs to player.

    [0126] The use of intervention requires that players know each other's address and are playing the same game. Typically, this is relatively simple for users to coordinate. Games may be provided with built-in capabilities to send and receive interventions from pager-equipped portable game machines even though they may be great distances from each other. Similarly, this technique could be used in "guest" games, where players may be blind to each other. They would have to identify each other by address in order to play. This could be accomplished by a bulletin-board service and player sign-up roster. Additionally, a game content provider could intervene in games automatically by having background pager messages generated by players during game play that are sent to the game content provid.


    Possiamo iniziare a sperare nella Rivoluzione?

  8. #8
    Utente L'avatar di Mignolo
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    Firma in sciopero

    FC: 2363 7812 3462

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  10. #10
    EXEC_SPHILIA/. ♥ L'avatar di Glenn
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    Non Ŕ Revolution, Ŕ Game Boy Evolution (da quel poco che sto leggendo)

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  13. #13
    Obi Skim Kenobi L'avatar di Aliax
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    Ma ke Ŕ sta roba

    Esiste un unico Amministratore

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