|Publication number||US20030069064 A1|
|Application number||US 09/972,341|
|Publication date||Apr 10, 2003|
|Filing date||Oct 5, 2001|
|Priority date||Oct 5, 2001|
|Publication number||09972341, 972341, US 2003/0069064 A1, US 2003/069064 A1, US 20030069064 A1, US 20030069064A1, US 2003069064 A1, US 2003069064A1, US-A1-20030069064, US-A1-2003069064, US2003/0069064A1, US2003/069064A1, US20030069064 A1, US20030069064A1, US2003069064 A1, US2003069064A1|
|Original Assignee||Ainsworth Leonard Hastings|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (25), Classifications (9), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 The present invention relates to gaming machines. The invention has been developed primarily for computerized gaming machines and will be described herein with reference to that application. However, the invention is not limited to that particular field of use and may be suitable for many other applications such as gaming facilitated via the Internet.
 Gaming machines have long been known and are now one of the most common forms of gambling. Usually gaming machines will simulate a well known game of chance. One of the oldest and best known forms of gaming machine is the rotating reel type “poker machine”.
 Traditional poker machines use a series of three, four or five reels, each reel having symbols on it's peripheral edge. The reels are rotated upon placing a bet and then stopped to produce an arrangement of randomly selected reels. Winnings are paid if the random arrangement of symbol matches one of the predetermined winning combinations.
 Gaming machines can “pay winnings” in a variety of ways. These include dispensing money, dispensing tokens that can be redeemed for money, and adding credits to a credit meter that can be used for placing bets or redeemed for money. The winnings may even entail awarding the player one or more “free games” whereby the machine operates without the player needing to place a bet. Therefore, throughout the specification, the use of terminology such as “winnings are paid”, “pay winnings” and so on will be a reference to awarding the player some type of benefit or desirable outcome. More recently, these gaming machines have been computerized with a video screen replacing the physically rotating reels. Typically, the display screen presents an array of symbols in five columns and three rows equating to the symbols that would normally be seen on the five reels of an old style mechanical machine.
 Computerized machines have allowed players to bet on the combinations appearing in one or more rows, or other lines of symbols that extend through the array. In the old style mechanical machines, the middle row was traditionally the only row available on which to bet. Today, it is commonplace for these machines to offer the opportunity to simultaneously bet on the combinations in all three rows, and various angled or ‘zig zag’ lines.
 As the practical options for “paylines” of symbols have been exhausted, game developers have looked to subsidiary games (e.g. a simulated horse race or the like) in an effort to further increase gaming enjoyment for players. These subsidiary games are commonly referred to as features and they usually are initiated in response to a trigger event desired to occur frequently enough to maintain player interest. However, the nature of the feature is usually very different from that of the primary or base game. When the machine switches between the base game operation and the feature operation, there is a certain discontinuity in the gaming experience. This disruption can provide players with a convenient or defined point at which they stop using the machine. For example, at the end of a feature, the player may feel that the next feature is not likely to trigger for some time and therefore, it is a good time to stop playing and redeem any remaining credits for money.
 In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a gaming machine which overcomes or ameliorates at least one of the disadvantages of the prior machines, or provides a useful alternative.
 Further, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a gaming machine comprising:
 means adapted to simultaneously display at least two arrays of symbols arranged in columns and rows, wherein each array represents a separate game of chance;
 means adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of predetermined winning combinations of symbols of each array; and
 means adapted to pay winnings on the occurrence of any of predetermined winning combinations in each array.
 Preferably, one of the games is a base game and the other game is a feature game wherein the machine initially displays and operates the base game and subsequently displays and operates the feature game in response to a trigger. Conveniently, the trigger is a predetermined outcome in the base game.
 In a particularly preferred form, the array of symbols in both the base and the feature games is arranged in five columns and three rows; wherein, both the base array and the feature array have fixed paylines which extend through one symbol in each column such that the paylines connect symbols that are one of those laterally and diagonally adjacent each other; and, the machine is adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of winning combinations in at least one of the paylines in the primary game.
 In some embodiments, the configuration of the paylines in the feature game mirror the configuration in the base game and the machine is programmed to pay winnings on any winning combinations that appear on paylines in the feature game which correspond to the paylines in the base game that are carrying a bet as if an equivalent bet had been placed on the corresponding paylines in the feature game.
 In a further embodiment, the machine is configured to allow a bet to be placed on the occurrence of a winning combination in one or more of the paylines in the feature game. A gaming machine programmed in this manner provides an incentive for the player to place bets on the maximum number of available paylines in the base game as they effectively get a second chance at winning in the feature game without needing to place a bet. Of course it will be a simple matter to allow bets to be placed on the paylines in the feature game as well. In this case the corresponding bet in the base game would be simply added to any bets placed on the equivalent payline in the feature game.
 In some preferred embodiments, a tertiary game is suitably displayed and operated in addition to the base and the feature games. In that embodiment, the gaming machine further comprises means adapted to simultaneously display a third array of symbols arranged in columns and rows, wherein the third array represents a tertiary game of chance; means adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of predetermined winning combinations of symbols of the third array; and means adapted to pay winnings on the occurrence of any of predetermined winning combinations in the third array.
 In one embodiment, the tertiary game may be a different type of game to that of the base and the feature games. Alternatively, the tertiary game is suitably the same as the base and the feature games. In some embodiments, the tertiary game is displayed and operated in response to a combination trigger involving the occurrence of a predetermined outcome in the base game in combination with a predetermined outcome in the feature game.
 Of course, other forms of the gaining machine may allow the display and operation of fourth and subsequent games. In such embodiment, the gaming machine further comprises means adapted to simultaneously display at least a fourth array of symbols arranged in columns and rows, wherein the at least fourth array represents at least a fourth game of chance; means adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of predetermined winning combinations of symbols of the at least fourth array; and means adapted to pay winnings on the occurrence of any of predetermined winning combinations in the at least fourth array.
 Preferably, the base game and the feature game are operatively linked such that the winnings paid for the occurrence of a winning outcome in the base game include at least one free game in the feature game whereby the feature game operates and pays winnings despite no bets being placed. Similarly, the winnings paid on the occurrence of a winning outcome in the feature game may include at least one free game in the base game.
 In some forms, the gaming machine uses a common seed in a random number generator which ultimately determines the outcome of random events in both the base game and the feature game. In other forms, the random events in both the base game and the feature game are determined by separate random number generators.
 A gaming machine according to the present invention helps to remove the discontinuity between the base game and the feature game by effectively making the feature an extension of the base game. The feature can be designed to give additional winnings in the form of mirroring any bets placed in the base game for say five spins of the simulated reels. This ensures that the appearance of the feature carries with it at least some potential bonus winnings that players have traditionally come to expect from features. However, it also presents the player with the opportunity to place bets on additional paylines. Betting on additional paylines, and in particular, all available paylines in two or three sets of reels, greatly increases the probability that a player will experience at least one winning outcome. This tends to maintain a more favorable disposition to the gaming machine.
 Simultaneous games also increase the amount of screen activity and therefore makes the gaming experience more visually engaging forte player. As third, fourth, fifth, etc. games appear, the activity levels on the display screen escalate. In turn, the player's gaming experience escalates and this tends to intensity and prolong a player's interest.
 A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 shows a schematic representation of the base game displayed on a gaming machine according to the present invention; and
FIG. 2 shows a schematic representation of the base and feature games displayed on a gaming machine according to the present invention.
 Referring to FIG. 1, the gaming machine according to the present invention suitably initially operates in the same manner as most conventional computerized gaming machines. An array 1 of symbols is presented in five columns and three rows. In accordance with long standing tradition, the display is a simulation of five rotatable reels with the symbols on their peripheral edges. The player places bets on one or more of the seven available paylines 3 and the reels “spin” and subsequently stop to form a random arrangement of the symbols. Winnings are paid if any of the predetermined winning combinations appear on any of the paylines 3 carrying a bet.
 Other designated outcomes in the base game may trigger the feature game. For example, the appearance of any four identical symbols in the array 1 (known as a “scatter’) may be a convenient trigger to initiate the feature game.
 Referring to FIG. 2, the feature game 2 appears in response to the trigger and is displayed simultaneously with the base game 1. The feature game 2 is also a simulation of five physically rotating reels which can spin at the same time as the reels in the base game 1.
 To give the player a strong sense of bonus when the feature game 2 appears, it can pay winnings on any winning combinations that appear in the paylines 4 that correspond to the paylines 3 that carry a bet. It is only practical to sustain this for the first few spins of the feature game 2, such that after the first, say, five spins, the player must place bets on one or more of the paylines 4, in order to get any winnings from the feature game 2.
 Once the player starts to place bets on the feature paylines 4 there is more chance that each simultaneous spin of the reels in the base game 1 and the feature game 2 will yield at least one winning combination. This tends to give some positive reinforcement to the players gaming experience even though the overall percentage of bets returned as winnings does not change.
 Simultaneously displaying and operating two games also increases the level of activity on the screen. This makes each spin of the reels more visually engaging for the player and there is a greater level of involvement for prolonged periods compared to machines that have displays that switch between the base and feature games.
 The gaming machine may also be configured to display and operate a third game (not shown) which maybe of the same type as the base and feature games or may be completely different as is the case with traditional features. The trigger for a third game may be a combination trigger that requires a predetermined outcome in the base game 1 together with a predetermined outcome in the feature game 2. If the third game is another set of reels, the player has yet another set of paylines on which to place bets and even more on-screen activity to heighten the gaming experience. The addition of fourth and subsequent sets of reels are possible but there are practical limitations in view of the screen size and the number of paylines that the player is ever likely to use.
 At a basic operational level, each of the games can use a common seed in the random number generator of the microprocessor which ultimately determines the outcome of random events in all of the games. Alternatively, the games can be completely independent of each other regardless of whether each game uses the same symbols and systems of payment for winning outcomes.
 The present invention has been described herein by way of example only. Skilled workers in this field will readily recognize many variations and modifications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the broad inventive concept. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Other features and aspects of this invention will be appreciated by those skilled in the art upon reading and comprehending this disclosure. Such features, aspects, and expected variations and modifications of the reported results and examples are clearly within the scope of the invention where the invention is limited solely by the scope of the following claims.
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|International Classification||G07F17/32, G07F17/34|
|Cooperative Classification||G07F17/3211, G07F17/34, G07F17/3267|
|European Classification||G07F17/32C2F, G07F17/32M4, G07F17/34|
|Jan 29, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY LIMITED, AUSTRALIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:AINSWORTH, LEONARD HASTINGS;REEL/FRAME:012538/0740
Effective date: 20011127