Patent application title: Wagering Game Having Cascading Electromechanical Reels
Dion K. Aoki (Henderson, NV, US)
Alfred Thomas (Las Vegas, NV, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63F924FI
Class name: Lot match or lot combination (e.g., roulette, lottery, etc.) plural lots (e.g., keno, etc.) lot-to-lot combination (e.g., slot machine, etc.)
Publication date: 2008-09-18
Patent application number: 20080227521
A method of playing a wagering game. The method comprises conducting the
wagering game at an electromechanical gaming terminal. The
electromechanical gaming terminal has a plurality of electromechanical
reels with a plurality of symbols. At least some of the plurality of
symbols is displayed on a payline. In response to one of the plurality of
symbols causing a winning outcome, the player is awarded an amount
corresponding to the winning outcome and a corresponding reel with the
one of the plurality of symbols is moved. When the corresponding reel is
moved, the player is given another chance at obtaining a second winning
1. A method of playing a wagering game, the method comprising:conducting
the wagering game at an electromechanical gaming terminal, the
electromechanical gaming terminal having a plurality of electromechanical
reels with a plurality of symbols;displaying at least some of the
plurality of symbols on a payline; andin response to one of the plurality
of symbols indicating a winning outcome, awarding a player an amount
corresponding to the winning outcome and moving a corresponding reel.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the moving comprises moving the corresponding reel until a different symbol on the corresponding reel is displayed on the payline.
3. The method of claim 2, further comprising in response to the different symbol indicating a new winning outcome, awarding the player an amount corresponding the new winning outcome and moving a corresponding reel to display another different symbol on the payline.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the one of the plurality of symbols indicating a winning combination is at least two symbols on at least two of the plurality of electromechanical reels, the method comprising moving the at least two of the plurality of reels.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the moving comprises nudging the corresponding reel downward.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the moving comprises nudging the corresponding reel upward.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the conducting the wagering game comprises debiting a player a wager amount.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein a new wager amount is not debited in response to the moving the corresponding reel with the at least one symbol.
9. A gaming terminal for playing an electromechanical wagering game, comprising:an input device for receiving inputs from a player during the wagering game, the inputs including a wager amount; anda display for displaying a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the wagering game, the plurality of symbols being located on a plurality of electromechanical reels;wherein, in response to one of the plurality of symbols indicating a winning outcome, an award is awarded to a player and a corresponding reel with the one of the plurality of symbols is moved to provide the player with a chance for a second winning outcome.
10. The gaming terminal of claim 9 wherein the corresponding reel is advanced until another symbol is displayed.
11. The gaming terminal of claim 9 wherein, in response to the movement of the corresponding reel causing a new winning outcome, the player is awarded another award.
12. The gaming terminal of claim 11 wherein, in response to a new winning outcome being achieved, at least one of the plurality of electromechanical reels is moved.
13. The gaming terminal of claim 11 wherein, in response to a winning outcome being achieved, all of the electromechanical reels being moved.
14. The gaming terminal of claim 11 wherein in response to a winning outcome being achieved, the corresponding reel is randomly spun.
15. A gaming system comprising:at least one display;at least one electromechanical gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a randomly selected outcome being indicated by a symbol combination derived from a plurality of symbols located on a plurality of electromechanical reels, the symbol combination being aligned along a payline; anda controller coupled to the at least one gaming terminal and the at least one display, the controller operative to(i) in response to the randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome, awarding a player an award and moving a corresponding reel to indicate a second randomly selected outcome, and(ii) in response to the second randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome, awarding the player a new award and moving a corresponding reel to indicate a third randomly selected outcome.
16. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the display is part of the gaming terminal.
17. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the controller is external to the gaming terminal.
18. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the controller is internal to the gaming terminal.
19. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the controller is operative to continue moving a corresponding reel until the randomly selected outcome does not result in a winning outcome.
20. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein all of the electromechanical reels are moved.
21. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the winning outcome includes between one and three symbols, and the controller is operative to move between one and three electromechanical reels.
22. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the controller is operative to move the corresponding reel to display a symbol that is adjacent to the one of the plurality of symbols on the payline.
23. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein in response to the randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome, the controller is operative to randomly spin the corresponding reel.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to gaming terminals for playing a wagering game and, more particularly, to a wagering game having a unique feature for allowing a player to achieve credits.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines, and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing machines and the expectation of winning at each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are most likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting of the machines.
Consequently, shrewd operators strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines available because such machines attract frequent play and, hence, increase profitability to the operator. In the competitive gaming machine industry, there is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to produce new types of games, or enhancements to existing games, which will attract frequent play by enhancing the entertainment value and excitement associated with the game.
One concept that has been employed is the use of a progressive jackpot. In the gaming industry, a "progressive" involves collecting coin-in data from participating gaming device(s) (e.g., slot machines), contributing a percentage of that coin-in data to a jackpot amount, and awarding that jackpot amount to a player upon the occurrence of a certain jackpot-won event. The percentage of the coin-in is determined prior to any result being achieved and is independent of any result. A jackpot-won event typically occurs when a "progressive winning position" is achieved at a participating gaming device. If the gaming device is a slot machine, a progressive winning position may, for example, correspond to alignment of progressive jackpot reel symbols along a certain pay line. The initial progressive jackpot is a predetermined minimum amount. That jackpot amount, however, progressively increases as players continue to play the gaming machine without winning the jackpot. Further, when several gaming machines are linked together such that several players at several gaming machines compete for the same jackpot, the jackpot progressively increases at a much faster rate, which leads to further player excitement.
Another concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is that of a "bonus" game which may be played in conjunction with a "basic" game. The bonus game may comprise any type of game, either similar to or completely different from the basic game, and is entered upon the occurrence of a selected event or outcome of the basic game. Such a bonus game produces a significantly higher level of player excitement than the basic game because it provides a greater expectation of winning than the basic game.
However, in some of the basic games, the player is not as engaged as he or she could be because once the player wins an award, the basic game is finished, and there are no continuing benefits for having achieved a winning outcome. If the basic game does not have a bonus feature or a progressive feature, the player may feel dissatisfied with only the basic game. Alternatively, if the game includes a bonus game and/or progressive game, but the player does not achieve it, the player may feel dissatisfied even after achieving a win in the basic game.
Thus, there is a need to allow a player to play a wagering game in which after achieving a winning combination, there is another continuing benefit.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to one embodiment of the present invention, a method of playing a wagering game is provided. The method includes conducting the wagering game at an electromechanical gaming terminal. The electromechanical gaming terminal has a plurality of electromechanical reels with a plurality of symbols. At least some of the plurality of symbols is displayed on a payline, which indicates the wagering game outcome. In response to one of the plurality of symbols indicating a winning outcome, a player is awarded an amount corresponding to the winning outcome. Also, a corresponding reel is moved to provide the player with another chance for achieving a second winning outcome.
According to another aspect of the present invention, a gaming terminal for playing an electromechanical wagering game is provided. The gaming terminal includes an input device for receiving inputs from a player during the wagering game. The inputs include a wager amount. A display for displaying a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the wagering game is also included. The plurality of symbols is located on a plurality of electromechanical reels. In response to one of the plurality of symbols indicating a winning outcome, an award is awarded to a player and a corresponding reel with the one of the plurality of symbols is moved to provide the player with another chance for achieving a second winning outcome.
According to yet another aspect of the present invention, a gaming system including at least one display is provided. The gaming system also includes at least one electromechanical gaming terminal for playing a wagering game. The wagering game has a randomly selected outcome that is indicated by a symbol combination derived from a plurality of symbols that are located on a plurality of electromechanical reels. The symbol combination is aligned along a payline. A controller is coupled to the at least one gaming terminal and the at least one display. The controller is operative to award a player an award in response to the randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome. Also, in response to the randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome, the controller operates to move a corresponding reel to create a second randomly selected outcome. In response to the second randomly selected outcome being a winning outcome, the controller awards the player a new award and moves a corresponding reel to indicate a third randomly selected outcome.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The foregoing and other advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mechanical gaming terminal according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 illustrates an initial display of a wagering game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 illustrates another display of a wagering game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 illustrates yet another display of a wagering game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.
While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a typical gaming terminal 10 used by gaming establishments, such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming terminal 10 may be any type of electromechanical gaming terminal configured to play mechanical slots.
As shown, the gaming terminal 10 includes input devices, such as a wager acceptor 16 (shown as a card wager acceptor 16a and a cash wager accepter 16b), a touch screen 21, a push-button panel 22, and an information reader 24. For outputs, the gaming terminal 10 includes a payout mechanism 23, a main display 26 for displaying information about the basic wagering game, and a secondary display 27 that may display an electronic version of a pay table, and/or also possibly game-related information or other entertainment features. While these typical components found in the gaming terminal 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other elements may exist and may be used in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming terminal.
The wager acceptor 16 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination. The cash wager acceptor 16a may include a coin slot acceptor or a note acceptor to input value to the gaming terminal 10. The card wager acceptor 16b may include a card-reading device for reading a card that has a recorded monetary value with which it is associated. The card wager acceptor 16b may also receive a card that authorizes access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming terminal 10.
Also included is the payout mechanism 23, which performs the reverse functions of the wager acceptor 16. For example, the payout mechanism 23 may include a coin dispenser or a note dispenser to output value from gaming terminal 10. Also, the payout mechanism 23 may also be adapted to receive a card that authorizes the gaming terminal to transfer credits from the gaming terminal 10 to a central account.
The push button panel 22 is typically offered, in addition to the touch screen 21, to provide players with an option on how to make their game selections. Alternatively, the push button panel 22 provides inputs for one aspect of operating the game, while the touch screen 21 allows for inputs needed for another aspect of operating the game.
The outcome of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the main display 26. The main display 26 may take the form of a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution LCD, a plasma display, LED, or any other type of video display suitable for use in the gaming terminal 10. As shown, the main display 26 includes the touch screen 21 overlaying the mechanical reels to display the game outcome, as well.
In some embodiments, the information reader 24 is a card reader that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. Currently, identification is used by casinos for rewarding certain players with complimentary services or special offers. For example, a player may be enrolled in the gaming establishment's players' club and may be awarded certain complimentary services as that player collects points in his or her player-tracking account. The player inserts his or her card into the information reader 24, which allows the casino's computers to register that player's wagering at the gaming terminal 10. The information reader 24 may also include a keypad (not shown) for entering a personal identification number (PIN). The gaming terminal 10 may require that the player enter their PIN prior to obtaining information. The gaming terminal 10 may use the secondary display 27 for providing the player with information about his or her account or other player-specific information. Also, in some embodiments, the information reader 24 may be used to restore assets that the player achieved during a previous game session and had saved. In one embodiment of the present invention, a cascading nudge (described below) can be saved on the player's identification card for the player to utilize at a later time.
As shown in FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 30 (such as a microprocessor or microcontroller). To provide the gaming functions, the CPU 30 executes a game program that allows for the randomly selected outcome. The CPU 30 is also coupled to or includes a local memory 32. The local memory 32 may comprise a volatile memory 33 (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory 34 (e.g., an EEPROM). It should be appreciated that the CPU 30 may include one or more microprocessors. Similarly, the local memory 32 may include multiple RAM and multiple program memories.
Communications between the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10 and the CPU 30 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 35a. As such, the CPU 30 also controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10. Further, the CPU 30 communicates with external systems via I/O circuits 35b. Although the I/O circuits 35a, 35b may be shown as single blocks, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuits 35a, 35b may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.
The gaming terminal 10 is typically operated as part of a game control network 50 having control circuitry and memory devices. The game control network 50 may optionally include a system memory 52 for alternative storage of data. The game control network 50 may include instructions for playing games, such as progressive jackpots that are contributed to by all or some of the gaming terminals 10 in the game control network 50. The gaming terminal 10 often has multiple serial ports, each port dedicated to providing data to a specific host computer system that performs a specific function (e.g., account system, player-tracking system, progressive game control system, etc.). To set up a typical serial communication hardware link to the host system, the typical RS-232 point-to-point communication protocol that is often present in the gaming terminal 10 is converted to an RS-485 (or RS-485-type) master-slave protocol so as to take advantage of some of the advantages of the RS-485 capability (e.g., multi-drop capability that allows many gaming terminals 10 to communicate with the game control network 50). To perform this function, a custom interface board may be used by the gaming terminal 10 for each communication port in the gaming terminal 10. It should be noted that the gaming terminal 10 can initially be designed to be configured for a typical RS-485 protocol, instead of the typical RS-232 protocol. Further, the gaming terminal 10 may simply be designed for an Ethernet connection to the game control network 50.
The gaming terminal 10 and associated game control network 50 are capable of executing wagering games on or through a controller 60. Controller 60, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of a gaming terminal 10 or like machine which may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming terminal and a bus, another computer, processor, or device, and/or a service and/or a network. The network may include, but is not limited to a peer-to-peer, client/server, master/slave, star network, ring network, bus network, or other network architecture wherein at least one processing device (e.g., computer) is linked to at least one other processing device. The controller 60 may comprise the I/O circuits 35b and the CPU 30. In other embodiments, the CPU 30 may be housed outside of the controller 60, and a different processor may be housed within the controller 60. The controller 60, as used herein, may comprise one or more controllers. In one implementation, each gaming terminal 10 comprises, or is connected to, a controller 60, enabling each gaming terminal 10 to transmit and/or receive signals, preferably both, in a peer-to-peer arrangement. In another example, the controller 60 may be adapted to facilitate communication and/or data transfer for one or more gaming terminals 10 in a client/server or centralized arrangement. In one aspect, shown in FIG. 2, the controller 60 may connect the gaming terminal 10 via a conventional I/O port and communication path (e.g. serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.) to the game control network 50, which may include, for example, other gaming terminals connected together in the game control network 50.
Turning now to FIG. 3, the main display 26 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown in more detail. In this embodiment, the basic game is a slot machine game, with symbols on three different reels 70, 72, 74. The reels 70-74 are traditional electromechanical reels (the term "electromechanical reels" as used also encompasses mechanical reels), with each reel composed of a plurality of symbols. A pay line indicator 76 indicates a randomly selected outcome for the pay line, which is the combination of symbols on the reels 70-74. Thereafter, an outcome indicator 78 indicates whether the outcome has resulted in a payout, a progressive jackpot, a bonus game, or whether it resulted in no reward at all. The main display 26 also includes a credit counter 80, a wager indicator 82 and a win-meter 84. The credit counter 80 illustrates how many credits a player has left in the gaming terminal 10. The credit counter 80 is increased whenever the player wins credits and decreased whenever the player makes a wager.
The wager indicator 82 indicates how many credits the player is wagering on that particular spin. The win meter 84 indicates how much in total the player has won for that particular spin. While a single pay line 76 is shown, a gaming terminal 10 with multiple pay lines will also work with the present invention.
In the present example, the wagering game is a traditional mechanical or electromechanical wagering game. Various combinations of the symbols can result in prizes, including monetary and non-monetary prizes. The non-monetary prizes include free spins, multipliers, entry into a bonus game, entry into a progressive game, etc. In this particular embodiment, having a single cherry symbol on the pay line 76 is a winning combination.
Once a winning combination is achieved, the player is awarded the corresponding prize, in this instance, five credits, as shown in the outcome indicator 78. But, unlike previously known gaming terminals with electromechanical reels, the reel 70 with the winning symbol (or symbols) nudges downward. Because the reels 70-74 do not have any blanks (i.e., blank symbol spaces), there is a symbol directly above the winning symbol. As the winning symbol is nudged downward, the new symbol cascades down to fill the positions vacated by the winning symbol. The nudging results in the new symbol combination shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the new symbol combination is three different "bar" symbols.
As shown in FIG. 4, the new symbol combination is also a winning combination that results in the player being credited another five credits. The win is illustrated in the outcome indicator 78 as well as in the credit meter 80 and the win meter 84. Both the credit meter 80 and the win meter 84 are increased by five credits to display the win. Because the player did not spin the reels 70-74 to achieve this outcome, no credits are debited from the player.
In this embodiment, the player is awarded the winning award associated with the new winning combination, and all three reels 70-74 will be nudged downward, causing a new symbol combination to appear on the payline, as shown in FIG. 5. The nudging and cascading of symbols continues to occur until there are no more winning combinations.
In the above-described embodiment, the only reel that is nudged is the one with the winning symbol. In other embodiments, all three reels could be nudged whenever one or more contains a winning symbol. Also, the reels could be nudged upwards instead of downwards.
In another embodiment, the reel may be randomly rotated instead of only being moved one symbol. For example, in response to achieving the cherry win as described in reference FIG. 3, the first reel 70 may be re-spun. The new symbol may be any one of the symbols on the reel, instead of the adjacent symbol.
According to another embodiment, the reels 70-74 are only nudged during a special state. For example, the player may have to be in a bonus round for the nudge to occur. The bonus round may occur when a predetermined symbol combination falls on the payline, or it may be randomly awarded.
While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.
Patent applications by Alfred Thomas, Las Vegas, NV US
Patent applications by Dion K. Aoki, Henderson, NV US
Patent applications in class Lot-to-lot combination (e.g., slot machine, etc.)
Patent applications in all subclasses Lot-to-lot combination (e.g., slot machine, etc.)