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Riot allegedly patents Spectator Mode camera element


According to a Reddit thread today, Riot, creator of League of Legends, has had a patent approved for what the poster describes as the "self-moving camera" within their spectator mode. The patent documents spell out the specific thing Riot is claiming patent on, describing a spectator mode that has an element described as follows:
...the spectator server is further configured to calculate an interest value associated with each avatar and direct the user's view to the avatar having the highest interest value.
The online multiuser game system of claim 1, wherein the spectator server is further configured to monitor data affecting the interest values and shift the view to another avatar if it gains the highest interest value.
You can read the full text of the claim on the online document. Based on the Reddit thread, and reading the documents, it seems that this claim is very specific, dealing with a camera which the game automatically moves to whichever character has the most interesting action going on. According to the second part of the claim, it will also monitor data on what is the most interesting, and shift its view accordingly.

The impact of this patent on other games, particularly Blizzard games, is open for discussion. Should Blizzard wish to introduce a self-moving camera with a background AI that monitors the "interest levels" of the actions of specific avatars, then it seems that might be a problem. That is, of course, if the patent withstands further scrutiny and any cases brought against it.

For Heroes of the Storm, it is likely that the Starcraft system will be used, as indeed it is for Starcraft II itself, certainly Blizzard's biggest e-sport contributor at this point. Starcraft's spectator mode camera is wholly user-controlled, that is to say that the self-moving element in question here does not feature. Hearthstone? Well, that doesn't really have a spectator mode at present, and given the static nature of the game, it's unlikely that the question of a self-moving camera and associated AI would arise. Our hopes of a spectator mode in WoW are not that great, almost 10 years into the game's life, but the general method is to use dead avatars as "cameras" in wargames. Again, wholly user-controlled.

What remains to be seen is whether other games bring claims against this patent. According to the Reddit thread, Valve introduced a "directed camera" feature for DOTA in 2011, so may have something to say about the enforceability of this patent should it go to litigation between the two companies. One thing's for sure, this is far from a patent on Spectator Mode, and should not be viewed as such.

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