US 20050051952 A1
A pay line system has a novel type of pay line that can be provided in a variety of different display systems, including at least 3×3 reel-type displays, 3×4, 4×3, 3×5, 5×3, 4×5 and 5×4 displays. The pay lines are preferably displayed on 3×5 or 5×3 window formats and comprise a predetermined number of frames (e.g., at least three or at least four frames) that are in an ordered or sequential adjacent relationship with other frames, there is a winning payline established. The length of a payline is limited only by the total number of frames in the display.
1. A wagering system in which symbols are provided and predetermined sequences of at least a minimum number of adjacent symbols are used to determine wins or losses along undefined pay lines.
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17. A game event on a video gaming apparatus in which there are no fixed pay lines available for play, but in which any sequence of frames that appear in a predetermined order in a continuous line between frames defines a winning event.
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1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to gaming equipment, especially multi-line and multicolumn wagering displays, particularly reel-type wagering apparatus and displays, and most particularly to the pay lines that are used on such gaming apparatus and displays.
2. Background of the Art
Gaming apparatus where symbols are randomly displayed and predetermined sets of symbols are awarded prizes have been used for entertainment for over one hundred years. These types of systems are generally referred to as slot machines or slot-type machines and the like. These machines had originally been limited to their style and format to the available physical structures that could be used to provide and display the symbols, relying primarily upon the mathematical relationships of a) wagering odds/payouts and the b) statistical distribution of symbols to control the amount of awards provided to players.
Even prior to 1900, machines were available with three reels with symbols provided on each reel at various positions where the reel was allowed to stop spinning (referred to as “stop positions” in the art), rotating pointers that would identify symbols or awards, rotating racks of cards that would display one card in each of five windows (much like the original “digital” clocks with each number on a panel), cash machine displays where cards would pop-up just as sales amounts would pop-up in a cash register and spinning wheels that would stop at a pointer. The classic slot machine format of three axially aligned reels having multiple sets of images on each reel became the standard in the industry for many years and still receives the majority of play in today's casinos.
The advent of video gaming technology and touch-screens has advanced the theoretical limits of the types of games and displays that can be used on gaming apparatus. Initially, there was some resistance to the newer video format games, except in the venue of poker-type video games. It has become lore in the industry that the main reason for this is that players wanted the machines to look and act the same as the old machines as a matter of trust in the old gaming apparatus and technical inertia.
Video games are widely accepted in the industry across many different game styles, from poker games, blackjack, three-reel slots, keno, 3×5 slots (three rows and five columns), bonus events on gaming apparatus and the like. The industry has been slow, however, to take advantage of all the potential opportunities and formats available on gaming apparatus.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,580,053 describes a series of pay lines for use in video gaming. That invention consists in a gaming machine having display means arranged to display a plurality of symbols in an array of a predetermined number of rows and columns of symbol locations, game control means arranged to control images displayed on the display means, the game control means being arranged to pay a prize when a predetermined combination of symbols is displayed on a predetermined line of symbol locations of the array characterized in that the number of possible predetermined lines recognized by the control means is greater than the number of rows plus a number of diagonals of the array, there being at least n+1 lines that use no symbols in at least 1 row, where n is the number of rows.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,604,999 describes a gaming machine that has a display and a game controller arranged to control images displayed on the display. The game controller is arranged to play a game wherein at least one random event is caused to be displayed on the display and, if a predefined winning event occurs, the machine awards a prize. A matrix of symbol positions is displayed on the display and at least one payline is associated with the matrix. The payline is comprised of an equal number of symbol positions as there are columns in the matrix but passes through fewer than all of the columns. A typical payline is a T-shaped set of contiguous frames or irregularly-shaped set of five frames.
Copending and commonly-assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No., filed August, 2003 and bearing attorney's docket number 311.010US1 and titled “PAYLINE SYSTEM AND GAMES USING THAT SYSTEM” describes a pay line system is provided in which at least one pay line does not extend across all columns in a gaming display. This type of pay line can be provided in a variety of different display systems, including at least 3×3 reel-type displays, 3×4, 4×3, 3×5, 5×3, 4×5 and 5×4 displays. The pay lines are preferably displayed on 3×5 or 5×3 window formats and comprise “horseshoe” arrays of frames. The horseshoe arrays may be provided with the horseshoe opening at 0°, 90°, 180°, 270° with respect to vertical on the screen or with respect to the vertical orientation of a column, and the horseshoe may have three adjacent frames parallel to three of the four sides of the rectangular display created by the columns and rows. In a 3×5 display format, this allows for the horseshoe pay lines to provide twelve new pay lines. These twelve new pay lines may be in addition to other pay lines or as alternatives to other pay lines. The preferred pay line is a series of three lines of equal dimensions (e.g., three frames along each line) in which only one line is perpendicular to two lines and only two lines are parallel to each other (forming a horseshoe or U-shape, or forming an H-shape).
It is still desirable in the industry to provide additional formats and variations so that manufacturers can offer the player new games to maintain and stimulate their interest and enjoyment in play.
A video gaming display is provided with images in an array of adjacent frames (e.g., in columns and row, especially 3×3, 3×4, and 3×5 columns and rows) and the individual frames have the potential for an ordered relationship with respect to other frames. Whenever a predetermined number of frames are in an ordered or sequential adjacent relationship with other frames, there is a winning payline established. The length of a payline is limited only by the total number of frames in the display. It is the ordered content of symbols and their adjacency that determines winning sequences, not mere repetition of the same symbols.
In addition to game formats, the present invention provides a new format for pay lines that can be used on both a mechanical reel slot machine and a video slot machine wagering system. The system may be used on any size of frame display (e.g., 3×3; 3×4; 4×3; 4×4; 3×5; 5×3; 4×5; and 5×4, but is preferably used in a 3×5 or 5×3 frame array (that is 3 rows and 5 columns or five rows and 3 columns). The game may be played with a single unit wager or multiple units of wagers. With certain game plays or certain levels of wagers, there may be awards that are less then than the total wager (including ) up to a portion of the original total wager or a fixed amount), equal to the total wager, and/or greater than the total wager.
The symbols selected for a game or games must have some order or sequence or predetermined order of relationships among the symbols. The simplest ordering is to have the (e.g., 15) images that are displayed on the frames (there may be a number of images equal to, less then or greater than the number of available frames) numbered or subtitled with numbers, or lettered or subtitled with letters for ease of visual verification of orders or sequences. Other order sequences can be differences in sizes among the images (from larger to smaller; smaller to larger; the well-known artistic rendition of the small fish getting eaten by a larger fish which is in turn eaten by a still larger fish, or other food chain progression); differences in colors (e.g., variations from the rainbow going in shades and tones from red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo and violet; moving from black-to-white through various shades of grey or vice versa); a series of images morphing from one shape to another (e.g., a circle morphing to a square, with approximately thirteen or other number of intermediate images which may also contain color variations to assist in distinguishing amongst and defining the order; Dr. Jekyll morphing to Mr. Hyde, or Lon Chaney morphing to a werewolf); and scenes from a story, such as Sisyphus seeing a rock at the bottom of a hill and pushing it up the hill; a progressing scene from a movie or clip; an artistic rendering of a comic book sequence; or any other still screen clip images in a discernible sequence. Any series of frames that can be provided in a fixed order or sequence of events can be used as the images, with the proper order or sequence available for display in a help screen or on a panel on the screen or on a belly board or sheet attached to the machine.
The games of the present invention and the pay lines of the present invention may be played on mechanical reels or video displays. The visual display may be any image display system, by way of non-limiting examples being CRT displays, plasma displays, Liquid Crystal displays, LED displays, and any other digital or analog display system. The processor system used in the present invention may be a unique game synthesized processor (hardware and software), or the wide range of commercially available and modifiable hardware and software systems on the market (by way of non-limiting examples, PC-based hardware and software, MAC-based hardware and software, LINUX systems, UNIX systems, and any other hardware and software and processors) may be used. Player controls may include buttons, touch-screens, mouse, joy stick, light rod, voice control, roller ball, throttle or any other user interface user-active control known to the computer industry.
The systems of the invention may use value in the play of the games derived from coins, currency, credit cards, ticket-in/ticket-out systems, player control cards, central computerized record systems, or any other acceptable source of value. Various in-machine and machine-external security systems may be available with the systems of the invention such as bio-recognition systems (by way of non-limiting examples, facial recognition, retinal scans, voice recognition, fingerprints, etc.), validation and verification software and hardware for the transmission of data, security cameras, security personnel and the like.
The actual use of the pay lines of the invention in the play of wagering games is further enabled and described by reference to the Figures. Although the examples in the Figures use the preferred mode of a visual display, almost of the features in that play can be mechanically reproduced in a mechanical reel system, with halo or highlight effects being provided by lighting arrangements or a teleprompter panel or liquid crystal panel over the mechanical reels.
A wagering system of the invention may provide symbols and predetermined arrangements of symbols are used to determine wins or losses along pay lines. The system should have at least one pay line of four sequential frames. It is another aspect of the invention that with a three-symbol sequence, there may be a payout that is less then the initial total wager. This payout may be limited to larger wagers, so that the calculation of the payout may be easier. For example, when there are three units wagered, a 3-symbol sequence may return one unit. When four units are wagered, a 3-symbols sequence may return two units to the player, and where a 5-unit wager is placed, three units may be returned to the player. This provides an incentive to playing higher unit wagers, since the return on this less than push wager is 33.3%, 40% and 60% respectively.
A bonus event or challenge event may also be played with the screen as described. For example, after a win, the player may elect to go into a challenge round where the player wagers against various odds that the next screen will have a sequence of at lest a fixed number. The payout in the challenge round may be higher then the lower payout rates in the underlying game, but lower then the payout rate at the higher end of symbol sequences. For example, if a run of four frames is 1:1 and run of five frames pays 2:1 in the underlying game, the player may wager all of his winnings from a previous game, a portion of his winnings from a previous game, or his wager amount in the challenge round (after any win, after at least a win at greater than 1:1 payout, or after a predetermined sequence occurs, such as frames 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 showing a particular scene).
Although many specific examples have been provided in the description of the invention, there are options, alternatives and equivalents that have been and will be recognized by those skilled in the art with respect to elements of the practice of the invention and it is the intent of this description to include those elements within the scope of the invention as described and claimed. For example, scatter pay symbols may also be used with the pay lines of the invention, bonus events may be used with the practice of the invention on the same display, mechanically attached display, or separate video screen.