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Publication numberUS20120178517 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 13/207,240
Publication date12 Jul 2012
Filing date10 Aug 2011
Priority date10 Aug 2010
Publication number13207240, 207240, US 2012/0178517 A1, US 2012/178517 A1, US 20120178517 A1, US 20120178517A1, US 2012178517 A1, US 2012178517A1, US-A1-20120178517, US-A1-2012178517, US2012/0178517A1, US2012/178517A1, US20120178517 A1, US20120178517A1, US2012178517 A1, US2012178517A1
InventorsDaniel Julio Montenegro, Aaron James Pratt
Original AssigneeAristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming system and a method of gaming
US 20120178517 A1
Abstract
An example gaming system is disclosed that includes a selector arranged to select a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols for display in a plurality of display position groups, with each display position group including a plurality of display positions. The example system includes an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination including a symbol from each of the display position groups. The example system also includes a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed. The example system is arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination. A corresponding example method is also disclosed.
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Claims(35)
1. A gaming system comprising:
a selector arranged to select a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols for display in a plurality of display position groups, each display position group comprising a plurality of display positions;
an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination comprising a symbol from each of the display position groups; and
a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed;
the gaming system being arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
2. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the system is arranged to progressively replace the symbols in the display position groups according to a defined sequence.
3. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein each display position group is associated with a reel having a plurality of display positions.
4. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein, for the or each display position group including symbols that have not been replaced with replacement symbols, the selector is arranged to re-select a plurality of symbols from the set of symbols for display.
5. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the replacement symbol is a particular symbol of the special winning combination.
6. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the replacement symbol is a wild symbol usable as a symbol of the special winning combination.
7. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the outcome evaluator is arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a standard winning symbol combination, and the prize allocator is arranged to allocate a prize when a standard winning symbol combination is displayed.
8. The gaming system of claim 7, wherein the prize allocator is arranged to allocate a prize in response to display of a standard winning symbol combination after each progressive symbol replacement.
9. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the special winning symbol combination is defined as a run or multiple symbols of the same kind.
10. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein, when multiple special winning combinations are displayed, the prize allocator is arranged to allocate a prize for each displayed special winning symbol combination.
11. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the gaming system is operable in base game mode or special game mode, wherein:
in base game mode, the gaming system implements a base game; and
in special game mode, the gaming system is arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
12. The gaming system of claim 11, wherein the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode when a trigger condition occurs.
13. The gaming system of claim 11, wherein the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode in response to player input, based on the amount or type of bet placed, or when a special game is purchased by a player.
14. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the trigger condition is display of a particular symbol, or display of a defined symbol combination.
15. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the allocated prize is based on how many symbol replacement progressions have occurred.
16. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the allocated prize is determined according to the last symbol replacement progression that causes a special winning symbol combination to be defined.
17. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the allocated prize decreases as the number of symbol replacement progressions increases.
18. A method of playing a game, the method comprising:
selecting a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols;
displaying the selected symbols in a plurality of display position groups, each display position group comprising a plurality of display positions;
evaluating whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination comprising a symbol from each of the display position groups;
progressively replacing all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination; and
allocating a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed.
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising progressively replacing the symbols in the display position groups according to a defined sequence.
20. The method of claim 18, further comprising associating each display position group with a reel having a plurality of display positions.
21. The method of claim 18, wherein, for the or each display position group including symbols that have not been replaced with replacement symbols, the method comprises re-selecting a plurality of symbols from the set of symbols for display.
22. The method of claim 18, wherein the replacement symbol is a particular symbol of the special winning combination.
23. The method of claim 18, wherein the replacement symbol is a wild symbol usable as a symbol of the special winning combination.
24. The method of claim 18, further comprising determining whether the displayed symbols define a standard winning symbol combination, and allocating a prize when a standard winning symbol combination is displayed.
25. The method of claim 24, further comprising allocating a prize in response to display of a standard winning symbol combination after each progressive symbol replacement.
26. The method of claim 18, wherein the special winning symbol combination is defined as a run or multiple symbols of the same kind.
27. The method of claim 18, further comprising allocating a prize for each displayed special winning symbol combination when multiple special winning combinations are displayed.
28. The method of claim 18, further comprising providing a base game mode wherein a base game is implemented, and a special game mode wherein all symbols in each display position group are progressively replaced with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
29. The method of claim 28, further comprising a special game mode when a trigger condition occurs.
30. The method of claim 28, further comprising commencing a special game mode in response to player input, based on the amount or type of bet placed, or when a special game is purchased by a player.
31. The method of claim 29, wherein the trigger condition is display of a particular symbol, or display of a defined symbol combination.
32. The method of claim 18, further comprising allocating a prize based on how many symbol replacement progressions have occurred.
33. The method of claim 18, further comprising determining a prize to be allocated according to the last symbol replacement progression that causes a special winning symbol combination to be defined.
34. The method of claim 18, wherein the allocated prize decreases as the number of symbol replacement progressions increases.
35. A computer readable medium having a computer readable program code embodied therein for causing a computer to implement a gaming system, the gaming system comprising:
a selector arranged to select a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols for display in a plurality of display position groups, each display position group comprising a plurality of display positions;
an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination comprising a symbol from each of the display position groups; and
a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed;
the gaming system being arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application claims the benefit of priority to Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 2010906574, filed on Aug. 10, 2010, entitled “A GAMING SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF GAMING”, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to a gaming system and to a method of gaming.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0003]
    It is known to provide a gaming system arranged to randomly display several symbols from a predetermined set of symbols and to determine a game outcome such as a game win based on the displayed symbols.
  • [0004]
    Such gaming systems may commonly be implemented as a stepper machine provided with reels with each reel carrying several symbols of the set, or a video machine wherein selected symbols are displayed on virtual reels on a graphical display device.
  • [0005]
    However, while such gaming systems provide users with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY
  • [0006]
    In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming system including:
  • [0007]
    a selector arranged to select a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols for display in a plurality of display position groups, each display position group including a plurality of display positions;
  • [0008]
    an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination including a symbol from each of the display position groups; and
  • [0009]
    a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed;
  • [0010]
    the gaming system being arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
  • [0011]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to progressively replace the symbols in the display position groups according to a defined sequence.
  • [0012]
    Each display position group may be associated with a reel having a plurality of display positions.
  • [0013]
    In one embodiment, for the or each display position group including symbols that have not been replaced with replacement symbols, the selector is arranged to re-select a plurality of symbols from the set of symbols for display.
  • [0014]
    In one embodiment, the replacement symbol is a particular symbol of the special winning combination.
  • [0015]
    In one embodiment, the replacement symbol is a wild symbol usable as a symbol of the special winning combination.
  • [0016]
    In one embodiment, the outcome evaluator is arranged to determine whether the displayed symbols define a standard winning symbol combination, and the prize allocator is arranged to allocate a prize when a standard winning symbol combination is displayed.
  • [0017]
    The prize allocator may be arranged to allocate a prize in response to display of a standard winning symbol combination after each progressive symbol replacement.
  • [0018]
    In one embodiment, the special winning symbol combination is defined as a run or multiple symbols of the same kind.
  • [0019]
    In one embodiment, when multiple special winning combinations are displayed, the prize allocator is arranged to allocate a prize for each displayed special winning symbol combination.
  • [0020]
    The gaming system may be operable in base game mode or special game mode, wherein:
  • [0021]
    in base game mode, the gaming system implements a base game; and
  • [0022]
    in special game mode, the gaming system is arranged to progressively replace all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination.
  • [0023]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode when a trigger condition occurs.
  • [0024]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode in response to player input, based on the amount or type of bet placed, or when a special game is purchased by a player.
  • [0025]
    The trigger condition may be display of a particular symbol, or display of a defined symbol combination.
  • [0026]
    In one embodiment, the allocated prize is based on how many symbol replacement progressions have occurred.
  • [0027]
    In one embodiment, the allocated prize is determined according to the last symbol replacement progression that causes a special winning symbol combination to be defined.
  • [0028]
    In one embodiment, the allocated prize decreases as the number of symbol replacement progressions increases.
  • [0029]
    In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of playing a game including the steps of:
  • [0030]
    selecting a plurality of symbols from a set of symbols;
  • [0031]
    displaying the selected symbols in a plurality of display position groups, each display position group including a plurality of display positions;
  • [0032]
    evaluating whether the displayed symbols define a special winning symbol combination, the special winning symbol combination including a symbol from each of the display position groups;
  • [0033]
    progressively replacing all symbols in each display position group with a replacement symbol corresponding to a symbol of the special winning symbol combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning symbol combination; and
  • [0034]
    allocating a prize when a special winning symbol combination is displayed.
  • [0035]
    In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program arranged when loaded into a computer to instruct the computer to operate in accordance with the gaming system of the first aspect.
  • [0036]
    In accordance with a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer readable medium having a computer readable program code embodied therein for causing a computer to operate in accordance with the gaming system of the first aspect.
  • [0037]
    In accordance with a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a data signal having a computer readable program code embodied therein to cause a computer to operate in accordance with the gaming system of the first aspect.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0038]
    In order that the present invention may be more clearly ascertained, embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • [0039]
    FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of components of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0040]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of functional components of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0041]
    FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention with the gaming system implemented in the form of a stand alone gaming machine;
  • [0042]
    FIG. 4 is a schematic block diagram of operative components of the gaming machine shown in FIG. 3;
  • [0043]
    FIG. 5 is a schematic block diagram of components of a memory of the gaming machine shown in FIG. 3;
  • [0044]
    FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a gaming system in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention wherein the gaming system is implemented over a network;
  • [0045]
    FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating game play of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0046]
    FIGS. 8 a to 8 i are diagrammatic representations of a screens displayed by a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0047]
    The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of certain embodiments of the present invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, certain embodiments are shown in the drawings. It should be understood, however, that the present invention is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentality shown in the attached drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS
  • [0048]
    Although the following discloses example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus including, among other components, software executed on hardware, it should be noted that such methods and apparatus are merely illustrative and should not be considered as limiting. For example, it is contemplated that any or all of these hardware and software components could be embodied exclusively in hardware, exclusively in software, exclusively in firmware, or in any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware. Accordingly, while the following describes example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus, the examples provided are not the only way to implement such methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus.
  • [0049]
    When any of the appended claims are read to cover a purely software and/or firmware implementation, at least one of the elements in an at least one example is hereby expressly defined to include a tangible medium such as a memory, DVD, CD, Blu-ray, etc. storing the software and/or firmware.
  • [0050]
    The present gaming system operates such that during game play, a plurality of symbols are randomly selected from a set of symbols and displayed in a corresponding plurality of display position groups, each of which includes a plurality of display positions. The symbols shown at the display positions are used to determine game outcomes by comparing the displayed symbols with defined winning combinations.
  • [0051]
    In one conventional type of gaming machine, a display area including 15 display positions is presented to a player with each display position including one symbol. The display positions are arranged in five vertically disposed reels, with each reel corresponding with a display position group, and each reel having three visible display positions. After the reels are spun and subsequently stopped, the display positions show a random selection of symbols.
  • [0052]
    Generally, with such games, a plurality of win patterns in the form of win lines are defined which extend across the reels and include one display position from each reel. Typically the symbols that are disposed in a win line are compared with winning symbol combinations defined in a pay table so as to determine whether a player of the game should receive an award. For example, if winning symbol combinations are based on poker hands, a particular prize would be awarded if the win line includes four aces. Other winning symbol combinations and corresponding prizes may also be defined.
  • [0053]
    Such a game often includes normal game mode and special game mode. During normal game mode, the displayed symbols are compared with base winning combinations defined in a pay table.
  • [0054]
    With the present system, during special game mode, the gaming system is arranged to progressively replace all symbols on each reel with a symbol of a special winning combination until the displayed symbols define the special winning combination. For example, all of the symbols on one reel are replaced with wild symbols and the remaining four reels are respun so as to display a new random selection of symbols. If, after the four reels have been respun and no special winning symbol combination is defined, then all of the symbols on a further reel are replaced with wild symbols and the three remaining non-wild reels are respun. This process continues until the player achieves a defined special winning symbol combination, such as five of a kind.
  • [0055]
    Referring to the drawings, there is shown a schematic block diagram of a gaming system 10 arranged to implement a probabilistic game of the type wherein several symbols from a set of symbols are randomly displayed, and a game outcome is determined on the basis of the displayed symbols. The system is of the type including multiple game modes, such as being operable in normal game mode wherein a base game is implemented and special game mode wherein a feature game is implemented.
  • [0056]
    With some such probabilistic games, the set of symbols used during normal game mode include standard symbols and function symbols, and the game outcome is determined on the basis of the displayed standard symbols and the function associated with any displayed function symbol. For example, standard symbols may resemble fruit such as apples, pears and bananas with a win outcome being determined when a predetermined number of the same fruit appear on a display along a win line, or are displayed according to defined outcome patterns such as scattered, and so on. The function associated with a function symbol may be for example a wild function wherein display of the function symbol is treated during consideration of the game outcome as any of the standard symbols. A function symbol may be represented as the word “WILD”, a star, or by any other suitable word or symbol. Other functions are also envisaged such as scatter functions, multiplier functions, repeat win functions, jackpot functions and feature commencement functions.
  • [0057]
    Referring to FIG. 1, a schematic diagram of components of a gaming system 10 in accordance with the present embodiment is shown. The components include a player interface 30 and a game controller 32. The player interface 30 is arranged to enable interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes input/output components for the player to enter instructions and play the game.
  • [0058]
    Components of the player interface 30 may vary but will typically include a credit mechanism 34 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 36 which may includes a touch screen, and a game play mechanism 38 arranged to enable a player to input game play instructions.
  • [0059]
    The game controller 32 is in data communication with the player interface 30 and typically includes a processor 40 arranged to process game play instructions and output game player outcomes to the display 36. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 42 that can also be hardwired. It will be understood that in this specification the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions and may include a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device such as a personal computer or a server.
  • [0060]
    A functional diagram illustrating operative components of the game controller 32 is shown in FIG. 2.
  • [0061]
    The memory 42 is arranged to store symbols data 14 indicative of a plurality of symbols, in the present example associated with a plurality of reels, win lines data 16 indicative of available win lines, game instruction data 18 indicative of game instructions usable by the gaming machine 10 to control operation of the game, and special winning symbol combination data 20 indicative of defined special winning symbol combinations and associated prizes when a feature game is played.
  • [0062]
    The game controller 32 includes a symbol selector 21 which is arranged to select several symbols from the available symbols 14 for display to a player in a plurality of display positions, in this example by spinning reels containing the symbols and stopping the reels so as to display at least one symbol on each reel. In this example, the selection carried out by the symbol selector 21 is made using a random number generator 22.
  • [0063]
    It will be appreciated that the random number generator 22 may be of a type which is arranged to generate pseudo random numbers based on a seed number, and that in this specification the term “random” will be understood accordingly to mean truly random or pseudo random.
  • [0064]
    With this embodiment, the game controller 32 also includes a trigger determiner 23 arranged to determine whether a trigger condition exists and to commence a feature game when a trigger condition is determined to exist.
  • [0065]
    During a feature game, the symbol modifier 24 causes all of the symbols of a display position group to be replaced with a symbol of a special winning symbol combination when a trigger condition has been detected. Such a trigger condition may be the display of a particular symbol or combination of symbols.
  • [0066]
    The game controller 32 also includes an outcome evaluator 28 which, in accordance with game instructions 18, determines game outcomes based on the symbols selected for display to the player by the symbol selector 21 and, during a feature game, based on symbols modified by the symbol modifier 24.
  • [0067]
    The game controller 32 also includes a prize allocator 29 arranged to allocate a prize to a player when a winning outcome exists.
  • [0068]
    In this example, the gaming system is operable in normal game mode and special game mode.
  • [0069]
    During normal game mode, the outcome evaluator determines whether a standard winning symbol combination exists and a prize is awarded to a player for a standard winning symbol combination.
  • [0070]
    During special game mode, a feature game is implemented wherein the gaming system is arranged so that the symbol modifier 24 replaces all of the symbols of a display position group with a symbol of a special winning symbol combination. The outcome evaluator 28 determines whether a special winning symbol combination exists and a prize is awarded to a player if it does. The gaming system may also be arranged to check for standard winning symbol combinations during special game mode so that a player is still able to receive a prize if a standard winning symbol combination is displayed during the special game.
  • [0071]
    In the embodiment described below, the symbol selector 21, the trigger determiner 23, the symbol modifier 24, the outcome evaluator 28, and the prize allocator 29 are at least partly implemented using the processor 40 and associated software although it will be understood that other implementations are envisaged.
  • [0072]
    The gaming system 10 can take a number of different forms.
  • [0073]
    In a first form, a player operable gaming device in the form of a stand alone gaming machine is provided wherein all or most components to implement the game are present in the gaming machine.
  • [0074]
    In a second form, a distributed architecture is provided wherein some of the components to implement the game are present in a player operable gaming device and some of the components to implement the game are located remotely relative to the gaming device. For example, a “thick client” architecture may be used wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable gaming terminal and part of the game is executed remotely, such as by a gaming server; or a “thin client” architecture may be used wherein most of the game is executed remotely such as by a gaming server and a player operable gaming terminal is used only to display audible and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player.
  • [0075]
    However, it will be understood that other arrangements are envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming device is networked to a device server and the respective functions of the gaming machine and the gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming machine mode, “thick client” mode or “thin client” mode depending on the game being played, operating conditions, and so on. Other variations will be apparent to persons skilled in the art.
  • [0076]
    A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 50 is illustrated in FIG. 3. The gaming machine 50 includes a console 52 having a display 54 on which is displayed representations of a game 56 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 60 of the gaming machine 50 houses a bank of buttons 62 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during gameplay. The mid-trim 60 also houses a credit input mechanism 64 which in this example includes a coin input chute 64A and a bill collector 64B. Other credit input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. A top box 66 may carry artwork 68, including for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 69 of the console 52. A coin tray 70 is mounted beneath the front panel 69 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 50.
  • [0077]
    The display 54 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 54 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, or any other suitable video display unit. The top box 66 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 54, or of a different type. The display 54 may includes a touch screen usable by a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play.
  • [0078]
    The display 54 in this example is arranged to display representations of several reels, each reel of which has several associated symbols. Typically 3, 4 or 5 reels are provided. During operation of the game, the reels first appear to rotate then stop with typically three symbols visible on each reel. Game outcomes are determined on the basis of the visible symbols together with any special functions associated with the symbols.
  • [0079]
    A player marketing module (PMM) 72 having a display 74 is connected to the gaming machine 50. The main purpose of the PMM 72 is to allow the player to interact with a player loyalty system. The PMM has a magnetic card reader for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. However other reading devices may be employed and the player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device. In this example, the PMM 62 is a Sentinel III device produced by Aristocrat Technologies Pty Ltd.
  • [0080]
    FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of operative components of a gaming device 100 which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine shown in FIG. 3.
  • [0081]
    The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 in accordance with the present invention are stored in a memory 103 which is in data communication with the processor 102.
  • [0082]
    Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.
  • [0083]
    FIG. 5 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.
  • [0084]
    The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with a player interface 120 of the gaming machine 100, the player interface 120 having several peripheral devices. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102.
  • [0085]
    In the example shown in FIG. 4, the peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 includes one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or bank of buttons 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted based on the specific implementation.
  • [0086]
    In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or database.
  • [0087]
    It is also possible for the operative components of the gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 may be provided remotely from the game controller 101.
  • [0088]
    FIG. 6 shows a gaming system 200 in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network, a LAN or a WAN. In this example, three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 40,100 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, or may have simplified functionality depending on the guidelines, rules, preferences, and/or requirements for implementing game play. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 6, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.
  • [0089]
    One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. The displays 204 may, for example, be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.
  • [0090]
    In a thick client embodiment, a game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server 205 and the gaming machine 202 implement part of the game, they collectively provide a game controller. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to monitor and carry out the Jackpot game.
  • [0091]
    In a variation of the above thick client embodiment, the gaming machine 202 may implement the game, with the game server 205 functioning merely to serve data indicative of a game to the gaming machine 202 for implementation.
  • [0092]
    With this implementation, a data signal containing a computer program usable by the client terminal to implement the gaming system may be transferred from the game server to the client terminal, for example in response to a request by the client terminal.
  • [0093]
    In a thin client embodiment, the game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 essentially provides only the player interface. With this embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming machine will receive player instructions, and pass the instructions to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. In a thin client embodiment, the gaming machines could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard computer input and output components.
  • [0094]
    Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming system 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208 and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to monitor the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.
  • [0095]
    The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks such as a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.
  • [0096]
    A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided.
  • [0097]
    Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random number generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided.
  • [0098]
    Examples of specific implementations of the gaming system will now be described in relation to a stand alone gaming machine 50 although it will be understood that implementation may also be carried out using other gaming system architectures such as a network architecture of the type shown in FIG. 6.
  • [0099]
    In this example, the gaming system includes five reels, each reel corresponding to a display position group having an associated set of display positions for displaying symbols.
  • [0100]
    The reels are arranged to display standard symbols and one or more function symbols and win outcomes are determined on the basis of the symbols visible at the display positions when the reels stop rotating.
  • [0101]
    Typically, a player will purchase or otherwise obtain win entitlements such as several win lines which are used in the game to determine win outcomes. If the displayed symbols on the reels have symbols associated with a winning combination such as a winning combination disposed on a win line, the player wins a prize.
  • [0102]
    The gaming system is operable in normal game mode and special game mode and may be arranged to commence special game mode when a predetermined game outcome occurs. Special game mode may include one or more free games. Special game mode may commence automatically on the basis of a game event occurring during a game such as display of a particular symbol, based on game outcomes determined by the gaming system, or may be prompted by a player pressing a button on the gaming system 10 after the player has identified that a game outcome corresponding to special game mode requirements has occurred.
  • [0103]
    The gaming system 10 may also be arranged so as to determine eligibility for special game mode, for example based on the amount or type of bet placed, based on particular time periods and so on.
  • [0104]
    Special game mode may also be arranged to commence when a special game is purchased by a player.
  • [0105]
    A specific example will now be described in relation to flow diagram 250 shown in FIG. 7 which illustrates blocks 252 to 268 of a method of gaming implemented by the gaming system according to the present embodiment.
  • [0106]
    FIG. 7 depicts an example flow diagram representative of processes that can be implemented using, for example, computer readable instructions that can be used to provide a method of gaming The example processes of FIG. 7 can be performed using a processor, a controller and/or any other suitable processing device. For example, the example processes of FIG. 7 can be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a tangible computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), and/or a random-access memory (RAM). As used herein, the term tangible computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable storage and to exclude propagating signals. Additionally or alternatively, the example processes of FIG. 7 can be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a non-transitory computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), a random-access memory (RAM), a CD, a DVD, a Blu-ray, a cache, or any other storage media in which information is stored for any duration (e.g., for extended time periods, permanently, brief instances, for temporarily buffering, and/or for caching of the information). As used herein, the term non-transitory computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable medium and to exclude propagating signals.
  • [0107]
    Alternatively, some or all of the example processes of FIG. 7 can be implemented using any combination(s) of application specific integrated circuit(s) (ASIC(s)), programmable logic device(s) (PLD(s)), field programmable logic device(s) (FPLD(s)), discrete logic, hardware, firmware, etc. Also, some or all of the example processes of FIG. 7 can be implemented manually or as any combination(s) of any of the foregoing techniques, for example, any combination of firmware, software, discrete logic and/or hardware. Further, although the example processes of FIG. 7 are described with reference to the flow diagram of FIG. 7, other methods of implementing the processes of FIG. 7 may be employed. For example, the order of execution of the blocks can be changed, and/or some of the blocks described may be changed, eliminated, sub-divided, or combined. Additionally, any or all of the example processes of FIG. 7 can be performed sequentially and/or in parallel by, for example, separate processing threads, processors, devices, discrete logic, circuits, etc.
  • [0108]
    In this example, five virtual reels 280, 282, 284, 286, 288 are provided and displayed on a graphical display device 54 in a display area 290, as shown in FIG. 8 a. Each reel 280, 282, 284, 286, 288 corresponds to a display position group, and each reel includes three display positions 292 for displaying symbols 294. It will be understood that any number of reels may be provided.
  • [0109]
    During implementation of a base game, the reels are spun and subsequently stopped 254 to show a plurality of symbols 294 in the display area 290. Winning outcomes are determined with reference to standard winning combinations of symbols 294 appearing in the display area 290.
  • [0110]
    Standard winning symbol combinations may include common poker game winning combinations such as three of a kind, four of a kind, straights, flushes etc. A standard symbol winning combination may be achieved if symbols that form part of the standard winning combination are displayed at defined display positions on the reels.
  • [0111]
    In the present example, the special winning symbol combination is defined as a five of a kind, although it will be understood that any symbol combination is envisaged.
  • [0112]
    The outcome generator 28 determines 254 whether the symbols displayed at the display positions correspond to a winning outcome and, if a winning outcome exists, a prize associated with the winning outcome is awarded to the player. This determination 254 is made by comparing the symbols displayed at the display positions with a pay table or similar.
  • [0113]
    In the example shown in FIG. 8 a, a standard winning combination including 3 Ace symbols exists, and a prize associated with this symbol combination is awarded to the player.
  • [0114]
    If a trigger condition exists 256, special game mode commences which causes implementation 258 of a special feature. The special feature may include one or more feature games. In the example illustrated in FIG. 8 a, the trigger condition 256 is display of a special wild symbol 296. In this example, the special wild symbol 296 is displayed at the upper most display position 292 of the fifth reel.
  • [0115]
    During implementation of a feature game, each symbol 294 shown on the fifth reel 288 is replaced 260 with a wild symbol 298, as shown in FIG. 8 b. Although wild symbols 298 are used in this example, it will be appreciated that each symbol 294 of the fifth reel 288 may be replaced with a symbol that forms part of a defined special winning symbol combination.
  • [0116]
    After replacing the symbols 294 on the fifth reel 288 with wild symbols 298, the first to fourth reels are then re-spun and subsequently stopped to display 262 a plurality of symbols 294 in the display positions 292 of the first to fourth reels 280, 282, 284, 286, as shown in FIG. 8 c.
  • [0117]
    After re-spinning the reels, an evaluation 264 is made as to whether any standard winning combinations are displayed, and whether a defined special winning symbol combination is displayed. If the special winning symbol combination is displayed, then the special game ceases and prizes are allocated according to the displayed standard winning combinations and the special winning symbol combination. If a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, then prizes for any displayed standard winning symbol combinations are awarded and, thereafter, a further progression of the special game is played.
  • [0118]
    In the present example shown in FIG. 8 c, a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, but a standard winning combination including three Jack symbols (J) is displayed. Accordingly, the player is allocated a prize 266 according to the three of a kind Jack (J) symbols that are displayed.
  • [0119]
    In the further progression of the special game, all of the symbols 294 of a further reel, in this example the fourth reel 286, are replaced 260 with wild symbols 298, as shown in FIG. 8 d. The first to third reels 280, 282, 284, are re-spun, and new symbols 294 are displayed 262 at the display positions 292 of the first to third reels 280, 282, 284, as shown in FIG. 8 e. It should be noted that the fifth reel 288 retains the wild symbols 298.
  • [0120]
    An evaluation 264 is then made as to whether any standard winning combinations are displayed, and whether a defined special winning symbol combination is displayed. If the special winning symbol combination is displayed, then the special game ceases and prizes are allocated according to the displayed standard winning combinations and the special winning symbol combination. As in the first progression of the special game, if a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, then prizes for any displayed standard winning symbol combinations are awarded and, thereafter, a further progression of the special game is played.
  • [0121]
    In the present example shown in FIG. 8 e, a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, and a standard winning symbol combination is also not displayed. Accordingly, the player is not awarded any prize.
  • [0122]
    Since a special winning symbol combination is still not displayed, a further progression of the special game is carried out.
  • [0123]
    In the further progression of the special game, all of the symbols 294 of a further reel, in this example the third reel 284, are replaced 260 with wild symbols 298, as shown in FIG. 8 f. The first and second reels 280, 282 are re-spun, and new symbols 294 are displayed 262 at the display positions 292 of the first and second reels 280, 282, as shown in FIG. 8 g. It should be noted that the fourth and fifth reels 286,288 retain the wild symbols 298.
  • [0124]
    An evaluation 264 is then made as to whether any standard winning combinations are displayed, and whether a defined special winning symbol combination is displayed. If the special winning symbol combination is displayed, then the special game ceases and prizes are allocated according to the displayed standard winning combinations and the special winning symbol combination. As in the previous progressions of the special game, if a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, then prizes for any displayed standard winning symbol combinations are awarded and, thereafter, a further progression of the special game is played.
  • [0125]
    In the present example shown in FIG. 8 g, a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, and a standard winning symbol combination is also not displayed. Accordingly, the player is not awarded any prize.
  • [0126]
    Since a special winning symbol combination is still not displayed, a further progression of the special game is carried out.
  • [0127]
    In the further progression of the special game, all of the symbols 294 of a further reel, in this example the second reel 282, are replaced 260 with wild symbols 298, as shown in FIG. 8 g. The first reel 280 is re-spun, and new symbols 294 are displayed 262 at the display positions 292 of the first reel 280, as shown in FIG. 8 i. It should be noted that the third to fifth reels retain the wild symbols 298.
  • [0128]
    An evaluation 264 is then made as to whether any standard winning combinations are displayed, and whether a defined special winning symbol combination is displayed. If the special winning symbol combination is displayed, then the special game ceases and prizes are allocated according to the displayed standard winning combinations and the special winning symbol combination. As in the previous progressions of the special game, if a special winning symbol combination is not displayed, then prizes for any displayed standard winning symbol combinations are awarded and, thereafter, a further progression of the special game is played.
  • [0129]
    In the present example shown in FIG. 8 i, the outcome evaluator 28 determines that a special winning symbol combination is displayed. Since in this example, the special winning combination is defined to be any five of a kind, the outcome evaluator 28 determines that five Ace symbols, five PIC1 symbols and five 10 symbols are displayed in multiple win lines, and accordingly prizes are awarded on this basis.
  • [0130]
    It will be understood that since each reel is progressively replaced with wild symbols, the chance of obtaining a special winning symbol combination increases for each progression of the special game. The total payout that a player may obtain also increases since the player is able to continue winning standard winning symbol combinations at each progression of the special game.
  • [0131]
    In the above example, each display position group is associated with a reel. However, it will be appreciated that the display position groups may be arranged in any suitable way, and need not be on the same reel or grouped sequentially.
  • [0132]
    It will also be appreciated that the symbols on the reels need not be replaced with wild symbols in a manner such that adjacent reels are progressively replaced with wild symbols. For example, a reel whose symbols are replaced with wild symbols may be selected randomly, and any subsequent reels whose symbols are to be replaced with wild symbols may also be randomly selected.
  • [0133]
    Still further, although the special winning symbol combination of the above example is five of a kind with wild symbols used to allow any five of a kind symbol combination to be defined, the symbols that are used to replace displayed symbols on a reel when a special game is initiated may be particular symbols that form part of a predefined special winning symbol combination. For example, each symbol of the fifth reel may be replaced with an Ace symbol and a straight poker hand (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace) defined as the special winning symbol combination. If re-spinning the reels does not result in the special winning symbol combination, then each symbol of the next reel may be replaced with a King symbol. In this way, the next time the reels are re-spun, the player need only achieve display of a 10, Jack and Queen at respective first, second and third reels to achieve the special winning symbol combination. This process may continue until the player achieves the special winning symbol combination.
  • [0134]
    The prize allocated may depend on how many display position groups have been replaced with replacement symbols. For example, a player may receive an additional award for each position group that has been replaced with a replacement symbol. Alternatively, a player may receive a reduced award based on how many display position groups have been replaced with a replacement symbol. For example, a possible total prize may reduce by a certain amount or fraction of the possible total prize for each display position group that has been replaced with replacement symbols. Further, or alternatively, a player may receive a prize based on the replaced group that causes a special winning symbol combination to be defined.
  • [0135]
    In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0136]
    It is to be understood that, if any prior art is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the prior art forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.
  • [0137]
    It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Several embodiments are described above with reference to the drawings. These drawings illustrate certain details of specific embodiments that implement the systems and methods and programs of the present invention. However, describing the invention with drawings should not be construed as imposing on the invention any limitations associated with features shown in the drawings. The present invention contemplates methods, systems and program products on any electronic device and/or machine-readable media suitable for accomplishing its operations. Certain embodiments of the present invention may be implemented using an existing computer processor and/or by a special purpose computer processor incorporated for this or another purpose or by a hardwired system, for example.
  • [0138]
    Embodiments within the scope of the present invention include program products comprising machine-readable media for carrying or having machine-executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such machine-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. By way of example, such machine-readable media may comprise RAM, ROM, PROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash, CD-ROM or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to carry or store desired program code in the form of machine-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a machine, the machine properly views the connection as a machine-readable medium. Thus, any such a connection is properly termed a machine-readable medium. Combinations of the above are also included within the scope of machine-readable media. Machine-executable instructions comprise, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing machines to perform a certain function or group of functions.
  • [0139]
    Method steps or blocks associated with certain embodiments may be implemented in one embodiment by a program product including machine-executable instructions, such as program code, for example in the form of program modules executed by machines in networked environments. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, etc., that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Machine-executable instructions, associated data structures, and program modules represent examples of program code for executing steps or blocks of the methods disclosed herein. The particular sequence of such executable instructions or associated data structures represents examples of corresponding acts for implementing the functions described in such steps or blocks.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/20
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3267, G07F17/3244, G07F17/34