Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE FOR SINGLE-INPUT CONTROLS IN A RACING GAME ON A TOUCHSCREEN DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/091861
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of providing a user interface on a touch-screen display of an electronic device is disclosed, the user interface enabling user control in a video game of a participant in a race, the race occurring in a virtual environment shown on the touch-screen display, a direction of motion of the participant in the environment being changeable according to a position of a contact location of a thumb of the user on the touch-screen display, wherein a position of the contact location to a first side of a central region on the touch-screen display corresponds to a left-turn of the participant, and a position of the contact location to the other side of the central region corresponds to a right-turn of the participant, wherein alignment of the contact location with the central region corresponds to maintaining a present direction of motion of the participant, wherein a rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant is incrementally adjustable by the user according to a distance away from the central region of the contact location.

Inventors:
RAEBURN, John Joseph Barclay (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
COURTNEY, Stephen (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
YANG, Tony (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
MILLER, Samuel Robert (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
JONES, Martyn Charles (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
MEJIAS STOTT, Thomas James (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
SULLIVAN, Adam (First Floor100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
Application Number:
GB2017/052862
Publication Date:
May 24, 2018
Filing Date:
September 25, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SPACE APE GAMES (UK) LTD (First Floor, 100 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB, WC1A 1HB, GB)
International Classes:
A63F13/2145; A63F13/426; A63F13/803
Foreign References:
US20070077541A12007-04-05
US20120169610A12012-07-05
US20150258441A12015-09-17
US20110285636A12011-11-24
US20120242590A12012-09-27
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KILBURN & STRODE LLP (Lacon London, 84 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8NL, WC1X 8NL, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A method of providing a user interface on a touch-screen display of an electronic device, the user interface enabling user control in a video game of a participant in a race, the race occurring in a virtual environment shown on the touch-screen display, a direction of motion of the participant in the environment being changeable according to a position of a contact location of a thumb of the user on the touch-screen display, wherein a position of the contact location to a first side of a central region on the touch-screen display corresponds to a left-turn of the participant, and a position of the contact location to the other side of the central region corresponds to a right-turn of the participant, wherein alignment of the contact location with the central region corresponds to maintaining a present direction of motion of the participant, wherein a rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant is incrementally adjustable by the user according to a distance away from the central region of the contact location.

2. A method according to claim 1 , wherein a location of the central region on the touch-screen display corresponds to an initial contact location from the beginning of the race or during a preparation time period before the beginning of the race. 3. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein, in response to a detected reapplication of the thumb to a second contact location on the touch-screen display subsequent to a removal of the thumb from a first contact location on the touch-screen display, the location of the central region on the touch-screen display is updated such that the location of the updated central region relative to the second contact location is the same as the earlier location of the central region relative to the first contact location.

4. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein, in response to a detected reapplication of the thumb to the touch-screen display subsequent to a removal of the thumb from the touch-screen display, an event is initiated, wherein the event comprises at least one of: using an item collected by the participant during the race, temporarily increasing the speed of the participant, temporarily causing the participant to be invulnerable to attacks from opponents in the race, hindering one or more of the opponents, reducing the speed of one or more of the opponents, and depositing an item in the virtual environment that hinders the next opponent to travel within a predetermined distance of the item in the virtual environment.

5. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein removal of the thumb from the touch-screen display such that there is no longer a contact location initiates a grace period having a predetermined maximum duration. 6. A method according to claim 5, wherein, during the grace period, the rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant remains at a level corresponding to the last contact location before the removal of the thumb.

7. A method according to claim 5 or 6, wherein, during the grace period, a speed of the motion of the participant remains at least at a level corresponding to the speed of the motion of the participant when the thumb was removed.

8. A method according to any of claims 5 to 7, wherein reapplication of the thumb to the touch-screen display within the maximum duration causes the grace period to end, wherein a contact location on reapplication of the thumb is treated as the same contact location as the last contact location before removal of the thumb, resulting in a shift of the central region on the touch-screen display.

9. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein a drift turn mode is activated in response to the position of the contact location moving beyond a first predetermined distance away from the central region, wherein, during the drift turn mode, the participant carries out a drift turn instead of a conventional turn.

10. A method according to claim 9, wherein the drift turn mode is deactivated in response to the position of the contact location moving within a second predetermined distance away from the central region, wherein the second predetermined distance away from the central region is closer to the central region than the first predetermined distance away from the central region. 1 1. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein there is a time lag of a predetermined duration between a desired rate of change of direction of motion of the participant and the current rate of change of direction of motion of the participant, the desired rate being derived from the current contact location relative to the central region. 12. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein a visual indicator on the display indicates a desired rate of change of direction of motion of the virtual vehicle, the desired rate being derived from the most recent contact location relative to the central region.

13. An application configured to implement the method of any of claims 1 to 12.

14. A computer-readable medium comprising instructions which, when implemented on a computer, perform the method of any of claims 1 to 12.

15. An electronic device configured to implement the method of any of claims 1 to 12.

Description:
Graphical user interface for single-input controls in a racing game on a touchscreen device

The present disclosure relates to video game control, in particular to the use of a touch- screen device to control a participant in a racing game.

Video game systems have historically tended to rely on a separate controller device used by a user to control gameplay, with the game being displayed on a separate display screen. Such controller devices typically comprise various control elements such as buttons. In recent times, there has been an increase in interest among users in playing videogames on touch-screen devices, for example portable touch-screen devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Such devices typically have few physical buttons. Many video games on these devices are therefore controlled primarily or entirely based on user inputs on the display screen. This has created challenges in how to provide user control in video games operated on such devices.

One category of video games is racing games. In such games, the user controls a participant in a race, which takes place in a virtual environment displayed on the display screen. The participant may take the form of a virtual vehicle such as a car which moves along the surface of the environment. The environment may take the form of a track which the user must navigate. The user typically races against other opponents. The other opponents may be controlled by other users or may be fictional opponents created using artificial intelligence. An invention is set out in the independent claims. Optional features are set out in the dependent claims.

The present disclosure is a development of the features described above. According to an aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a method of providing a user interface on a touch-screen display of an electronic device, the user interface enabling user control in a video game of a participant in a race, the race occurring in a virtual environment shown on the touch-screen display, a direction of motion of the participant in the environment being changeable according to a position of a contact location of a thumb of the user on the touch-screen display, wherein a position of the contact location to a first side of a central region on the touch-screen display corresponds to a left-turn of the participant, and a position of the contact location to the other side of the central region corresponds to a right-turn of the participant, wherein alignment of the contact location with the central region corresponds to maintaining a present direction of motion of the participant, wherein a rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant is incrementally adjustable by the user according to a distance away from the central region of the contact location.

The user interface enables the user to control the participant using only his or her thumb (alternatively, another finger could be used). Single-digit control is therefore enabled, which simplifies the control method and requires the user only to use one hand to hold and operate the device. The user is able to adjust the direction of motion of the participant by sliding his or her thumb along the surface of the display screen. This enables essentially analogue control of the steering of the participant. This provides a more accurate control than a digital input system. In some embodiments, a location of the central region on the touch-screen display corresponds to an initial contact location from the beginning of the race or during a preparation time period before the beginning of the race. An advantage of this feature is that the participant always begins the race travelling forward in a straight line. The user does not have to identify a particular location on the display screen to touch at the beginning of the race; instead, any location on the display screen touched by the user is appropriate.

In some embodiments, in response to a detected reapplication of the thumb to a second contact location on the touch-screen display subsequent to a removal of the thumb from a first contact location on the touch-screen display, the location of the central region on the touch-screen display is updated such that the location of the updated central region relative to the second contact location is the same as the earlier location of the central region relative to the first contact location. An advantage of this feature is that it enables the position of the central region on the display screen to be moved. For example, if the user selects an initial position significantly to one side of the display screen, it may be difficult to turn in both directions appropriately. Therefore, the user can adjust the location of the central region by removing his or her thumb and placing it on a different part of the display screen. Furthermore, when removing his or her thumb from the display screen, the user does not have to be concerned about replacing the thumb in exactly the same location. Any location on the screen that the user touches after having released his thumb will be treated as if it had been the same location that the user was touching previously. In some embodiments, the central region extends along the touch-screen display in a direction that separates the first side of the central region from the other side of the central region. An advantage of this feature is that the user's thumb can be at various vertical positions on the screen while achieving the same functionality in the game. The user therefore has a large area of the screen in which he can move his thumb from left to right without having to be concerned about the vertical position of his thumb. The irrelevance of the vertical position of the user's thumb on the display screen simplifies the control and ensures that the user can concentrate on the horizontal position of his thumb on the display screen. In some embodiments, the central region extends entirely or substantially from one edge of the touch-screen display to an opposite edge of the touch-screen display. In some embodiments, the central region is of a minimal width to provide a continuous change of the direction of motion as the contact location moves from one side of the contact region to the other side. In some embodiments, in response to a detected reapplication of the thumb to the touchscreen display subsequent to a removal of the thumb from the touch-screen display, an event is initiated. In some embodiments, the event comprises using an item collected by the participant during the race. In some embodiments, wherein the event comprises at least one of: temporarily increasing the speed of the participant, temporarily causing the participant to be invulnerable to attacks from opponents in the race, hindering one or more of the opponents, reducing the speed of one or more of the opponents, and depositing an item in the virtual environment that hinders the next opponent to travel within a

predetermined distance of the item in the virtual environment. An advantage of these features is that the user can initiate an event without having to use another finger or touch another part of the display screen or a button.

In some embodiments, removal of the thumb from the touch-screen display such that there is no longer a contact location initiates a grace period having a predetermined maximum duration. In some embodiments, during the grace period, the rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant remains at a level corresponding to the last contact location before the removal of the thumb. In some embodiments, during the grace period, a speed of the motion of the participant remains at least at a level corresponding to the speed of the motion of the participant when the thumb was removed. In some

embodiments, reapplication of the thumb to the touch-screen display within the maximum duration causes the grace period to end. In some embodiments, a contact location on reapplication of the thumb is treated as the same contact location as the last contact location before removal of the thumb, resulting in a shift of the central region on the touch- screen display. In some embodiments, non-reapplication of the thumb to the touch-screen display within the maximum duration causes the speed of the motion of the participant to reduce gradually, wherein subsequent reapplication of the thumb causes the speed to increase. An advantage of these features is that the user can adjust the position of his thumb on the screen without a decrease in speed or a change in direction taking place. These features also allow the removal and reinstatement of the user's thumb to be used to activate events, as described above, without impacting the speed or direction.

In some embodiments, a drift turn mode is activated in response to the position of the contact location moving beyond a first predetermined distance away from the central region. In some embodiments, during the drift turn mode, the participant carries out a drift turn instead of a conventional turn. In some embodiments, the drift turn mode is deactivated in response to the position of the contact location moving within a second predetermined distance away from the central region. In some embodiments, the second predetermined distance away from the central region is closer to the central region than the first predetermined distance away from the central region. In some embodiments, during the drift turn mode, the rate of the change of direction of motion of the participant is incrementally adjustable by the user according to a distance away from the central region of the contact location. An advantage of these features is that a drift turn can be activated without the user having to press a button or press a different area of the display screen in order to activate the drift turn. Furthermore, the drift turn is also automatically deactivated at an appropriate time. The situation of the deactivation point being at a different location from the activation point provides a larger area in which the user can make adjustments to the rate of the change of direction while still remaining in the drift mode.

In some embodiments, the participant comprises a virtual vehicle in the virtual environment. In some embodiments, the virtual vehicle is shown on the display during the race. In some embodiments, the orientation of the virtual vehicle on the display indicates a current rate of change of direction of motion of the virtual vehicle. In some embodiments, there is a time lag of a predetermined duration between a desired rate of change of direction of motion of the participant and the current rate of change of direction of motion of the participant, the desired rate being derived from the current contact location relative to the central region. In some embodiments, a visual indicator on the display indicates a desired rate of change of direction of motion of the virtual vehicle, the desired rate being derived from the most recent contact location relative to the central region. In some embodiments, the visual indicator comprises an arrow with an orientation corresponding to the desired rate of change of direction of motion of the virtual vehicle. These features provide visual feedback to the user regarding the desired and the current rate of change of direction of the virtual vehicle, which enhances the user's ability to navigate around the virtual environment. In some embodiments, the first side of the central region is to the right of the central region from the perspective of the user of the touch-screen display and the other side of the central region is to the left of the central region from the perspective of the user of the touch-screen display. In other embodiments (and/or as an alternative option), the first side of the central region is to the left of the central region from the perspective of the user of the touch-screen display and the other side of the central region is to the right of the central region from the perspective of the user of the touch-screen display.

In some embodiments, the race is between the participant and one or more opponents. In some embodiments, at least one of the opponents is controlled by a user of another electronic device configured to share race information with the electronic device over a network. In some embodiments, the race information is shared via a server. In some embodiments, during the race, the environment is displayed in portrait orientation on the touch-screen device. In some embodiments, the race is a race along a track in the virtual environment. In some embodiments, the videogame is playable without any additional user interaction with the touch-screen device.

In some embodiments, one or more driving aids assists the user by modifying the rate of change of direction of the participant. In some embodiments, the one or more driving aids includes at least one of assistance with avoiding a collision with an edge of a track and assistance with taking a central path around a bend in the track.

According to an aspect of the disclosure, there is provided an application configured to implement any of the methods according to the aspects and/or embodiments described herein.

According to an aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a computer-readable medium comprising instructions which, when implemented on a computer, perform any of the methods according to the aspects and/or embodiments described herein.

According to an aspect of the disclosure, there is provided an electronic device configured to implement any of the methods according to the aspects and/or embodiments described herein. In one embodiment, all of the features discussed above as taking place in some embodiments are implemented. Specific embodiments are now described with reference to the drawings, in which:

Figure 1 depicts a first display of a display screen during a race;

Figure 2 depicts a second display of the display screen during the race;

Figure 3 depicts a steering curve;

Figure 4 depicts a third display of the display screen during the race, showing a drift turn mode;

Figure 5 depicts a first control diagram regarding the drift turn mode;

Figure 6 depicts a second control diagram regarding the drift turn mode; and

Figure 7 is a diagram explaining a driving aid function. With reference to Figure 1 , a display as depicted by a display screen of a touch-screen device during an implementation of an embodiment of the present disclosure is shown. The display shows part of a virtual environment from a perspective behind a participant. The participant comprises a virtual vehicle. A visual indicator points in a direction corresponding to a user's desired rate of change of direction of motion of the virtual vehicle. The visual indicator is an arrow. The user's desired rate is derived from a horizontal position of a thumb (or other finger, throughout) of the user in contact with the display screen. During the race, the user slides his finger left and/or write in order to turn the virtual vehicle. The vehicle increases or maintains its speed while the user has his thumb in contact with the display screen. The user races against a plurality of opponents. In Figure 1 , the virtual vehicle is travelling forward in a straight line.

With reference to Figure 2, a display similar to Figure 1 is shown. The arrow is pointing in a different direction from Figure 1 , and the virtual vehicle is pointing in a direction corresponding to the direction of the arrow. The situation in this Figure corresponds to a gentle right-turn of the virtual vehicle.

With reference to Figure 3, a steering curve illustrates the relationship between the horizontal position of the user's thumb on the display screen and the instructed rate of change of the direction of the virtual vehicle. The "0" position on the horizontal axis corresponds to the thumb being positioned in a central region. Movement of the thumb to the left or to the right corresponds to a movement to the left or the right of the respective position on the horizontal axis. Movement to one side of the "0" position results in a negative steering rate (i.e. a turn in a first direction), and movement to the other side of the "0" position results in a positive steering rate (i.e. a turn in the opposite direction). The "steering curve" system allows for a comfortable "dead zone" of steering in the centre, allowing people to steer straight easily. It also flattens the steer rate at the extremities. In other embodiments, the curve may take a different form.

With reference to Figures 4 to 6, a drift turn mode is described. As shown in Figure 5, the drift turn mode is initiated when the user's thumb has moved beyond a first predetermined horizontal distance away from the central region, either to the left or to the right. In response to a determination that this has occurred, the drift turn mode is initiated. In the drift turn mode, the virtual vehicle drifts such that its direction of motion is not parallel to the orientation of the vertical vehicle. In the drift turn mode, the perspective of the view of the environment continues to be in line with the direction of motion of the virtual vehicle (rather than the direction in which the virtual vehicle is facing). This enables the user to see the track ahead. As shown in Figure 6, the drift turn mode ends when the user's thumb moves sufficiently far back towards the central region to pass a second

predetermined horizontal distance from the central region. The first predetermined distance is 82% of the distance from the central region to a maximum steering point distal to the central region either to the left or the right. The corresponding second

predetermined distance is 20%. In another embodiment, these distances are 60% and 23%, respectively. In another embodiment, these distances are between 95% and 50%, and between 10% and 45%, respectively. If the user removes his thumb from the display screen for more than a predetermined time (in this embodiment, one second), the drift mode ends.

With reference to Figure 7, a driving aids feature is described. As the participant gets closer to the edge of the track, the arrow becomes guided back to centre. Or put differently the game helps the user with the steering - as the user approaches the edge of the system aids the user by not allowing the user to steer away from the corner hard (although it is still possible). This feature reduces the chance of collision with the sides of the track, and allows the drift feature to be carried out safely. The driving aids are implemented in proportion to the level of danger corresponding to the respective driving aid. The driving aids are implemented in varying amounts corresponding to the specific situation, for example whether or not the drift turn mode is being used. Different driving aids can be in action at the same time, with a cumulative effect. The driving aids can vary or be influenced in proportion to:

o the virtual vehicle's distance from an edge of the track o the virtual vehicle's distance from the centre of the track o the curvature of the road at the current point

o the curvature of the road ahead

o How closely the player's input matches the curvature of the road o Whether the player is drifting

In Figure 7, an initial direction is compared with the influence of a forward assist direction aid and a centre assist direction aid. The disclosure can be implemented on any suitable electronic device. Such devices contain components including a processor and a memory.

It will be understood that the above description of specific embodiments is by way of example only and is not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure. Many modifications of the described embodiments are envisaged and intended to be within the scope of the present disclosure.