Gamespot reports that back in 2010, Nintendo filed for a patent on the concept of a "Massively Single Player Online Game." The patent was published last week.
The patent describes a number of potential applications for the concept, including single player games in which players' actions could affect the game worlds of others who happened to be online at the same time, though without direct face to face interaction. The idea would allow single player games to take place in dynamic, emergent game worlds but provide privacy from unwanted contact and griefing.
Nintendo also cited the example of player-driven economies, with prices being driven by supply and demand.
Despite Nintendo's apparent assertion that this is a new idea, it's been done several times before across several different games. Will Wright's Spore first described itself as a massively single player game. The concept was implemented by downloading other players' custom creatures, buildings and vehicles into the single player adventure, changing and adapting as other people played online, while remaining a steadfastly solo experience. Demon's Souls offered an innovative approach to online play, with other gamers' deaths occasionally flashing before players' eyes as ghostly visions, mysterious messages scrawled on the floor and the ability to cooperate and compete with players as white or black phantoms. And social games on platforms such as Facebook and iOS offer solitaire experiences occasionally influenced by the actions of members of players' friends lists -- some even incorporate dynamic global economies.
The patent makes reference to the concept being implemented on "a home video game system such as the Nintendo Wii 3D video game system, a Nintendo DS or other 3D capable interactive computer graphics display systems." Before you get too excited about the possibility of a 3DTV-compatible Wii, bear in mind that the use of the term "3D" in this situation more likely refers to polygonal graphics than "true" 3D -- though it's possible that back in 2010 the company was considering the implementation of 3DTV compatibility in the as-yet unannounced Wii U.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Nintendo Applies for 'Massively Single Player' Patent