Streaming emulated classics to a video game console from the cloud is neat. Adding new challenges not present in those streaming classics? That's awesome. It's also the idea behind a recently revealed patent filed by Sony.
Originally filed in late June of 2012, just as Sony was purchasing streaming game technology company Gaikai, the "Suspending State of Cloud-Based Legacy Applications" patent filing describes a means to provide fresh content to preexisiting classic games without the need to rebuild them completely.
Finding new ways to play preexisting video games can increase the longevity of older games. Instead of replaying the same level or completing the same missions repeatedly, gamers often desire new challenges when replaying legacy games. In response to this need, game designers have begun to produce mini-games. Within a mini-game, the gamer can be instructed to complete new objectives or challenge their friends for high scores in a format that was not originally designed into the legacy game. Further, since the mini-game is derived from a legacy game, the gamer already knows the characters and basic components of the game, and is therefore more likely to play the mini-game.
IGameResponsibly, which first discovered the newly-made-public patent, calls the service "PlayStation Remix", though no reference to that name appears in the patent document. It's likely a reference to Nintendo's NES Remix, which presents mini-game challenges based on classic games from the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The idea is essentially the same, only instead of creating a whole new game, developers would be able to interrupt the streaming play of say, Final Fantasy VII right before the battle with Sephiroth. Players are then presented with a challenge. Maybe they fight him with half of their hit points. Perhaps there's a harsh time or round limit.
Mini-games often do not begin at traditional starting points that were used in the original game. For example, the mini-game may begin near the end of a level, just prior to facing a final opponent, or the boss of the level...Due to the climactic nature of fighting a boss, mini-game designers may choose to use this section of the game as their starting point. In order to make the mini-game more challenging than the original version, the game designer may also want to limit the number of lives a player may use, or change other game parameters such as the amount of health the main character has remaining
What a splendid idea. Having played all of the PlayStation games I've wanted to play over the past three console generations, the idea of streaming emulation is, quite frankly, a bit boring. Challenges like the ones proposed in this patent document change that, breathing new life into older title and giving players a reason to stream to their PlayStation 4 rather than track down classic games and systems or play through PC emulation. It would also be an excellent way to add trophy support to older, emulated titles.
Of course this is just a patent, and not everything you read in a patent comes to fruition. At the very least we're getting streaming PS3, PS2 and PS1 games. At the very best, we'll get fresh new ways to play in the process.
We've reached out to Sony for comment on the patent, and will update should we receive a response.
SUSPENDING STATE OF CLOUD-BASED LEGACY APPLICATIONS [U.S. Patent Office via IGameResponsibly]