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Microsoft patents Xbox "Super Guide"

New filing reveals plans for GameFAQs style hints and tips system

A new patent filing by Microsoft suggests that the company is planning its own online help system for games, with content submitted by both gamers and developers.

As reported by website Siliconera the filing, by Microsoft director of games platform strategy Andre Vrignaud, describes a system where stuck gamers would be able to pause the action and access a database of online user-submitted tips.

The Xbox system appears to be similar in concept to the popular free-to-use website GameFAQs, where users submit guides and tips of varying complexity. The Xbox system would allow gamers to include annotated screenshots and video clips, as well as audio commentaries.

Microsoft is also considering allowing developers to offer their own guides, although there is no indication that any of the content would be paid-for. It is also unclear how the system might affect the existing strategy guide business which has proven a lucrative market for both videogame and book publishers over the years.

Nintendo recently launched the Super Guide system in new title New Super Mario Bros Wii which, along with detailed in-game hints, also allows the user to accede control to the game after a pre-set number of deaths. The game then plays itself on autopilot, allowing the player to take control again when a difficult section is overcome.

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David Jenkins