US 20050261047 A1
A gaming machine controlled by a processor in response to a wager, comprising a basic game and a bonus game is disclosed. The basic game includes a plurality of basic game outcomes, which include at least one start-bonus outcome. The bonus game feature is triggered by the start-bonus outcome indicated on a basic game visual display. The bonus game includes a chamber for displaying a plurality of physical balls which have a first and second indicia and a plurality of bonus prize tubes. Each prize tube is configured to display a randomly generated first or a second bonus prize award. The bonus game further includes a ball control feature activated by the start-bonus outcome which displays a prize ball in one of the prize tubes corresponding to a randomly generated bonus outcome. The prize ball will be displayed in the prize tube with the first indicia if the first bonus prize award is generated or with the second if the second bonus prize award generated.
1. A gaming terminal for playing a basic wagering game and a bonus game comprising:
a display for displaying a randomly selected outcome for said basic wagering game, said randomly selected outcome being selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to receiving a wager input from a player, said plurality of outcomes including a start-bonus outcome;
a chamber for jumbling a plurality of physical balls in response to said randomly selected outcome being said start-bonus outcome;
a plurality of prize tubes adjacent to said chamber for indicating a randomly selected bonus game award, each of said plurality of prize tubes capable of displaying a first prize award and a second prize award, said first prize award indicated by a prize ball having a first indicia displayed within said prize tube, and said second prize award indicated by a prize ball having a second indicia displayed within said prize tube; and
a ball-control device operable in conjunction with said plurality of prize tubes for displaying a prize ball within one of said plurality of prize tubes that corresponds to said randomly selected award.
2. The gaming terminal of
3. The gaming terminal of
4. The gaming terminal of
5. The gaming terminal of
6. The gaming terminal of
7. The gaming terminal of
8. The gaming terminal of
9. The gaming terminal of
10. The gaming terminal of
11. The gaming terminal of
a plurality of compartments positioned below a lower end of each prize tube, each compartment having at least one prize ball therein; and
at least one gate connected to each compartment for holding said prize ball in the compartment.
12. The gaming terminal of
13. The gaming terminal of
14. The gaming terminal of
15. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game, comprising:
a chamber for jumbling a plurality of physical balls;
a plurality of prize tubes adjacent to said chamber for indicating an award in said wagering game, each of said plurality of prize tubes displaying a first prize award or a second prize award, said first prize award indicated by a prize ball that is displayed within said prize tube as a first color, and said second prize award indicated by a prize ball that is displayed within said prize tube as a second color; and
a single prize ball that is moveable into any of said plurality of prize tubes and being displayable in said first color and said second color, said single prize ball being moved to one of said plurality of prize tubes that corresponds to a randomly selected outcome of said wagering game.
16. The gaming terminal of
17. The gaming terminal of
18. The gaming terminal of
19. The gaming terminal of
20. A method of operating a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game, said method comprising:
receiving a wager from a player;
displaying a randomly selected outcome for said basic game, said randomly selected outcome being selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to receiving said wager, said plurality of outcomes including a start-bonus outcome;
jumbling a plurality of physical balls in a chamber in response to the selection of said start-bonus outcome; and
after a predetermined amount of time, displaying a prize ball in one of a plurality of prize tubes adjacent said chamber, said one prize tube corresponding to a randomly generated bonus-outcome, wherein said prize ball is displayed in said prize tube in a first color corresponding to a first prize award or a second color corresponding to a second prize award.
This application is related to and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/570,035 filed May 11, 2004, titled “Gaming Terminal With Bonus Payout Indicated By Ball-Control Feature,” which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
The present invention relates generally to gaming terminals and, more particularly, to a gaming terminal having a bonus feature that utilizes a ball control feature.
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 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 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 successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is that of a “secondary” or “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 activated on 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.
Another 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. 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 payline. 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. Many existing progressive jackpots are often high-pay, low-frequency progressives, which may result in some players becoming disheartened when they do not win.
In existing gaming machines, the indicators for a winning outcome in a bonus game or a progressive game are generally displayed on a mechanical reel or simple video display. To attract players, more engaging or unusual visual displays and/or audio often accompany bonus games. Theses fanciful and visually appealing displays offer tremendous advantages in player appeal and excitement relative to other known games. Additionally, such games are attractive to both players and operators. Thus, there is a continuing need to develop new features for bonus games to satisfy the demands of players and operators. Preferably, such new features will maintain, or even further enhance, the level of player excitement. The present invention is directed to satisfying these needs.
In last few years, state lotteries, which usually randomly select numbered balls from a housing containing numerous jumbled balls and then display the winning numbered balls, have grown tremendously in popularity. This increase in popularity is due, in part, to the growing number of states with lotteries as well as the large jackpots, which often exceed tens of millions of dollars. One example of a wagering game incorporating a lottery type game feature is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,660 to Seelig et al. In an attempt to benefit from the current popularity of lotteries and provide a wagering game with increased player excitement over the prior art, the present invention is directed to a novel gaming machine which provides the illusion of a lottery type drawing and displays a prize ball corresponding to a randomly generated bonus game outcome.
In one embodiment, the present invention relates to a gaming terminal, which includes a basic wagering game and a bonus game. The basic wagering game includes a display for displaying a randomly selected outcome from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input from a player. The randomly selected outcomes include at least one start-bonus outcome. The bonus game further includes a plurality of physical balls in a chamber which jumbles the balls in response to the start-bonus outcome. A plurality of prize tubes, which display a bonus game prize award, are positioned adjacent the chamber. A ball control device which operates in conjunction with the plurality of prize tubes displays a prize ball corresponding to a randomly selected bonus-game outcome. The bonus game outcome may be a first prize award indicated by a prize ball having a first indicia or a second prize indicated by a prize ball having a second indicia.
In another embodiment of the present invention, the present invention relates to a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game. The gaming terminal includes a chamber for jumbling a plurality of physical balls and a plurality of prize tubes adjacent to the chamber. The prize tubes are used to display a prize ball having a first indicia indicating a first prize award or a prize ball having a second indicia indicating a second prize award. In addition, the gaming terminal includes a single prize ball which can be display either the first or the second indicia. The prize ball is displays either the first indicia or the second indicia in a prize tube which corresponds to a randomly selected outcome of the wagering game. For example, the prize ball can be displayed as a first or second color due to lighting external or internal to the ball.
In yet another embodiment, the present invention relates to a method of operating a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game. Initially, a wager is received from a player. In response to the wager, a randomly selected outcome for the basic game is displayed. The randomly displayed outcome for the basic game is one of a plurality of possible outcomes which include at least one start-bonus outcome. If the start-bonus outcome is selected, a plurality of physical balls in a chamber are jumbled. After the physical balls have been jumbled for a predetermined amount of time, a prize ball is displayed in one of a plurality of prize tubes adjacent to the chamber corresponding to a randomly generated bonus game outcome. The prize ball is displayed in the prize tube in a first color corresponding to a first bonus prize award or a second color corresponding to a second bonus game award.
The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment, or every aspect, of the present invention. The detailed description and figures will describe many of the embodiments and aspects of the present invention.
The foregoing and other advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.
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.
As further shown in
The wager acceptor 3 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination. For example, the wager acceptor may except cash and may include a coin slot acceptor or a note acceptor to input value to the gaming terminal 1. Alternatively, the wager acceptor 3 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 may also receive a card that authorizes access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming terminal 1.
The push button panel 7 is typically offered, in addition to the touch screen 5, which may overlie the main display 15 (or a portion thereof), to provide players with an option on how to make their game selections. Alternatively, the push button panel 7 provides inputs for one aspect of operating the game, while the touch screen 5 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 15. The main display 15 may take the form of a mechanical display, 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 1. Referring now to
The player-identification card reader 9 (
The gaming terminal 1 further includes a bonus game region 17 located above the main display 15. The bonus game region 17 comprises a main chamber 19 for holding a plurality of physical player attraction balls 21. In the embodiment shown in
The chamber 19 may take any shape and may be formed from any material that is at least partially transparent so that potential players and players can see the player attraction balls 21 in the chamber. Suitable materials for the chamber include, but are not limited to glass, plastic, plexi-glass, acrylic, butyrate, PETG (polyester terephthalate glycol), and Kydex® commercially available from Kleerdex Company. Attraction balls 21 should be light enough that they can be moved easily around the inside of the chamber by a forced fluid such as air. In one embodiment the attraction balls 21 are made of plastic and are similar to ping pong balls. Attraction balls 21, however, may also be constructed of rubber, foam, or the like.
Below chamber 19 is an attraction ball blower 27 (
The bonus game region 17 further includes a prize ball controller 31 (shown in detail in
For example, in one embodiment, the player attraction balls 21 are all one color and there is one ball in the ball controller 31 which is the same color as the player attraction balls 21. The bonus game prize award thus corresponds to the number on the prize tube in which the ball appears. In another embodiment, the prize ball controller 31 includes a red and a white prize ball, which are the same color as the red and white player attraction balls 23 and 25 in the chamber 19. A white prize ball in a prize tube 29 indicates that the player has won the amount shown on the prize tube, while a red ball in a prize tube 29 indicates that the player has won double the amount shown on the prize tube. One of ordinary skill in the art will understand that a red prize ball may indicate a bonus prize award of any multiple of the prize award displayed on a prize tube. Moreover, one of skill in the art will recognize that any number of colors, symbols, letters, numbers or geometric shapes may be used to indicate a variety of bonus game prize awards. The features of the bonus game will be described in more detail below.
As shown in
Communications between the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 1 and the CPU 33 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 41 a. As such, the CPU 33 also controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 1. Further, the CPU 33 communicates with external systems via the I/O circuits 41 b. Although the I/O circuits 41 a-b may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuits 41 a-b may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.
The gaming terminal 1 is typically operated as part of a game control network 43 having control circuitry and memory devices, such as a network that controls the play of restricted-access progressive wagering games, as described in U.S. Patent Application No. 60/502,762, filed on Sep. 12, 1903, and entitled “Restricted Access Progressive Game For A Gaming Machine,” which is commonly owned and herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. The gaming terminal 1 often has multiple serial ports, each port dedicated to providing data to a specific host computer system that performs a specific function (e.g., accounting, player-tracking, or a 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 1 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 1 to communicate with the game control network 43). To perform this function, a custom interface board may be used by the gaming terminal 1 for each communication port in the gaming terminal 1. It should be noted that the gaming terminal 1 can initially be designed to be configured for a typical RS-485 protocol, instead of the typical RS-232 protocol. Further, the gaming terminal 1 may simply be designed for an Ethernet connection.
In one embodiment, to begin play of the game, the player places a wager and pushes a button on panel 7 or pulls down on arm 11. The CPU 33 then randomly generates an outcome which may or may not be a winning outcome. Once the outcome is generated, the CPU 33 determines how the outcome will be displayed from a plurality of possible outcomes including a start-bonus outcome. For example, as shown in
Referring now to
Those skilled in the art will realize that the CPU 33 may randomly generate outcomes for the game in a variety of ways. For example, the CPU 33 may not randomly generate the final game outcome at the outset. Instead, the CPU 33 may first randomly generate the basic game outcome which may or may not be a start bonus outcome. Moreover, the start-bonus outcome may or not award any credits to the player. If the basic game outcome is a start-bonus outcome, the bonus game will be activated, and the CPU 33 will then randomly generate a bonus game outcome which will be displayed by a prize ball 67 in a prize tube 29.
A first embodiment of the bonus game ball controller 31 of the present invention is shown in
In operation, once the bonus game is activated, a signal is sent from the CPU 33 to a ball blower motor (not shown) which causes the attraction ball blower 27 to be turned on resulting in the jumbling of the player attraction balls 21 in the main chamber 19. After the attraction balls 21 have been jumbled for a predetermined amount of time, the CPU 33 causes the conveyor belt stepper motor 77 to activate the conveyor belt 59. The conveyor belt 59 then moves the balls 65 and 67 the appropriate number of spaces and positions the correct prize ball under the prize tube 29 corresponding to the bonus game prize award.
For example as shown in
After the white ball 65 has been displayed in the prize tube 29 f for a predetermined amount of time, the CPU 33 signals the vacuum motor to turn the vacuum source off causing the white prize ball 65 to fall down the prize tube 29 and back into the opening 63 of the conveyor belt. Once the prize ball 65 has fallen back into the ball controller chamber 57, the CPU 33 signals the ball blower motor to turn off the attraction ball blower 27 allowing the player attraction balls 21 to fall to the bottom of the chamber 19. The bonus game ball controller 31 is then ready to be activated again.
In another embodiment, the conveyor belt stepper motor 77 further includes sensors (not shown) which can detect when either a red or white prize ball from one of the prize tubes 29 a-f falls back into one of the openings in the conveyor belt 59. Once the prize ball is detected, the conveyor belt stepper motor 77 moves the conveyor belt 59 so that the white prize ball 65 and the red prize ball 65 are centered below the prize tubes 29 a-f. As a result, the conveyor belt stepper motor 77 only has to move the conveyor belt 59 a short distance to the right or left in order to position the correct prize ball 65 or 67 under the correct prize tube 29 the next time the bonus game is activated. This allows for the bonus game to be played more quickly resulting in increased player excitement.
Referring now to
The diverters 83 a-e and the holding pocket diverter 93 are ultimately connected to the CPU 33 which controls the position of the diverters. In one embodiment, the diverters 83 a-e and 93 are each connected to stepper motors (not shown) which, in turn, are directly connected to the CPU 33. Alternatively, the stepper motors are connected to an intermediate bonus game CPU (not shown) which, in turn, is connected to the central CPU 33. The intermediate CPU receives high-level signals (e.g. send a red ball 67 to the 100 credit prize tube 29 d) from the CPU 33. The intermediate CPU then produces low level signals that control the diverters and the vacuum source to achieve the randomly generated result.
In another embodiment, a spring type ejector pin (not shown) is positioned in the bottom of each holding pocket 89 and 91 in order to assist in ejecting the red and white prize balls from the pockets. When the bonus game is inactive the ejector pins are flush with the bottom surface 95 of each holding pocket. However, when the bonus game is activated and the random generator has chosen either the red or white prize ball, the appropriate ejector pin is activated by the CPU and extends above the bottom surface of the holding pocket thereby ejecting the prize ball out of the holding pocket. Once the prize ball has left the holding pocket, the ejector pin retracts to a position where it is again flush with the bottom 95 of the holding pocket.
In operation, the bonus game is activated as discussed with respect to the embodiment shown in
In a fourth embodiment of the prize ball controller, only a white prize ball 65 is used. Referring now to
In operation, as shown in
A fifth embodiment for the bonus game ball controller is shown in
In operation, as shown in
Optionally, the ball controller 31 in
In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the red prize balls 67 in the bonus game ball controllers in
In another embodiment, a player is able to participate in the selection of his or her bonus prize from more than one bonus prize. For example, once the bonus game is activated, a first ball is shown in a prize tube chamber. If the player likes the bonus prize award, the player can “accept” the bonus prize award, and the basic game will start again provided the player does not “cash out.” However, if the player thinks that he or she can obtain a better bonus prize, the player can “reject” the first bonus. The first ball is then returned to the ball controller and another bonus prize award will be displayed to the player. The player can either “accept” or “reject” the second bonus prize award. Any number of bonus prize awards can be offered to the player. If the player rejects all of the bonus prize offers, he or she will automatically be awarded the last bonus prize offered regardless of the amount of the award. If the highest possible bonus prize award is offered, the player will automatically be given that bonus prize award, and the basic game will start again provided the player does not “cash out.” Such player interaction further increases the excitement and enjoyment of the game.
Alternatively, the bonus game prize award may be an accumulation of a predetermined number of bonus prize awards. For example, once the bonus game is activated, four separate random bonus prize awards may be generated, and a prize ball may appear in a bonus game prize tube on four separate times. The player's total bonus game prize award would be the sum of the four individual prize awards.
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.