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February 8th, 2021, 17:29
Warner Bros finally secures patent for Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system.

If this starts to become a thing, I think it could have a very stifling effect on the games industry, and could be disastrous for RPGs in particular.
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Last edited by Ripper; February 8th, 2021 at 18:43. Reason: typo
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February 8th, 2021, 18:15
Yeah, saw that yesterday. Chilling implications.
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February 8th, 2021, 18:50
Yes. The suggestion is that it's meant to cover only close copies of a very specific system, but I think the definitions could be interpreted very broadly, for all sorts of legal shenanigans. Even if it's true that courts would only enforce very narrow definitions, that doesn't do you much good if you're a small company facing a suit from a major corporation. Most would have to capitulate immediately, due to the potential legal costs.

Something similar happens with modding projects that companies don't like, so send cease and desist orders. I've read legal opinions that in many cases they don't have much merit, and would probably lose to a "fair use" defence, but what bunch of modders are going to take that on, and risk it? It's effectively a veto.
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February 8th, 2021, 18:56
Patenting game systems has been around for a long time, this is nothing new.

Patenting as a whole is a terrible and abused system that has stifled innovation and hurts the consumer, the economy, and the environment in unimaginable ways.

Thankfully there is no functioning global patent system in place or this world would be a lot more messed up than it already is.
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February 8th, 2021, 19:06
Chilling, new?
Not really, patents for games or software in general are not new. In most cases, it should only be seen as leverage, especially in software.

It's a US-only patent, not even PCT (international), so its domain is already restricted. Besides, those patents are deemed weak and can usually be contested in court much more easily than European patents. The procedure is easier to pass and faster, that's why many companies, even in Europe, fill in an application for US patent and don't bother to aim international if it's just for show or leverage.

And if we look at the first claim, it looks as it would be pretty easy to contest its inventiveness or even its novelty:

Claim 1 - A method comprising:
- controlling, by a processor, game events in a computer-implemented game, the game events involving an avatar that is operated in response to input from a player, and a first non-player character that is controlled in response to a first set of character parameters defined in a computer memory and in response to operation of the avatar;
- detecting, by the processor, occurrence of a predefined game event involving the non-player character;
- changing, by the processor, a second set of character parameters defined in a computer memory for control of a second non-player character in the game based on the detecting; and
- outputting, to an output device, an indication of the second set of character parameters that are changed by the changing.
That's the difficulty when trying to get very general claims. Although, sometimes they pass, and if the company is aggressive enough, it has the desired effect, other companies try to avoid the conflict. I doubt such a claim would pass in Europe, for instance.

It's just a silly game (this type of patent, I mean), I wouldn't worry about it

EDIT: just saw Wisdom's post
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February 8th, 2021, 19:09
Yes, another article mentioned some past game patents, which haven't turned out to be very significant. But this one seems to be taken as a more threatening precedent. Perhaps it is just one case among many, but it seems to have garnered more attention, which might be a good thing if the optics backfire on them.

Certainly in the wider software market, patents have been a major issue for a long time, but in terms of game mechanics, it doesn't seem to have been too much of a problem, so far.
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February 14th, 2021, 20:07
Patenting works best when a company pours a lot of time and money into some risky idea and it results in something good. If another company can just look at the results and use the same idea with minimal time, money, and risk then they're going to roll over the original company. Companies will be a lot more profitable copying others' ideas rather than thinking up thins of their own and innovation gets stifled pretty badly.

Where it fails is when a company manages to get a patent that's something that isn't all that hard to develop. Amazon's "one-click-to-buy" jumps to mind. The patent on mini-games in the loading screens is another. The law already states that patents have to be original and not something that's fairly easy to think up based on existing technology. That's not happening, though, and its easy to see why: the industry is moving way too fast and in too many directions. IMHO, you would need at least half a dozen people working full time just to track all the changes going on in PC gaming, never mind mobile or VR/AR. The patent office doesn't have nearly enough resources to track EVERY industry out there! (You can see some of that in this case - it should not take 5+ years to get a patent.)

Also, I think the law itself could use tweaking. If a company comes up with a really neat idea but it isn't hard to implement, I don't think they deserve much patent protection. I would really like to make the length of the patent proportional to the work done.
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February 14th, 2021, 21:49
I think patenting game systems is quite stupid, almost all games are copying most systems from another game…… I guess it could come something good out of it though if it would make AAA studios start to become more creative, first because they can't use a lot of systems which are patented, and second if they come up with something good in terms of gameplay they could patent that…..
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February 15th, 2021, 11:13
A strange decision. I don’t think that this will spur to real development, rather the whole development of new games in principle will become slower.
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