Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20060068873 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/955,015
Publication dateMar 30, 2006
Filing dateSep 30, 2004
Priority dateSep 30, 2004
Publication number10955015, 955015, US 2006/0068873 A1, US 2006/068873 A1, US 20060068873 A1, US 20060068873A1, US 2006068873 A1, US 2006068873A1, US-A1-20060068873, US-A1-2006068873, US2006/0068873A1, US2006/068873A1, US20060068873 A1, US20060068873A1, US2006068873 A1, US2006068873A1
InventorsBenjamin Gomez
Original AssigneeGomez Benjamin T
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wagering game with moveable bonus trigger to initiate bonus features
US 20060068873 A1
Abstract
A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game has a basic game and a bonus game. The gaming terminal includes a wager-input device. A display displays a plurality of moveable reels having symbols located thereon during the basic game. The symbols indicate a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input received via the wager-input device. The symbols on the moveable reels include a start-bonus symbol. A moveable indicator randomly moves across the display during the basic game. The bonus game is triggered in response to the moveable indicator coinciding in location with the start-bonus symbol on the display when the moveable reels and the moveable indicator have stopped.
Images(17)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(34)
1. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game, comprising:
a wager-input device;
a display for displaying a plurality of moveable reels having symbols located thereon during said basic game, said symbols indicating a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input received via said wager-input device, said symbols including a start-bonus symbol; and
a moveable indicator that randomly moves across said display during said basic game, in response to said moveable indicator coinciding in location with said start-bonus symbol on said display when said moveable reels and said moveable indicator have stopped, said bonus game being triggered.
2. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said plurality of moveable reels include mechanical reels.
3. The gaming terminal of claim 2, wherein said display includes a glass panel that is located directly in front of said moveable reels.
4. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said plurality of moveable reels include video reels.
5. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said display includes at least one payline that traverses said plurality of moveable reels.
6. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said symbols on said plurality of moveable reels form an array of specific locations.
7. The gaming terminal of claim 6, wherein said moveable indicator moves between locations of said specific locations.
8. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game, comprising:
a wager-input device for receiving wagers from a player;
a display for displaying a plurality of moveable reels having symbols located thereon during said basic game, said symbols indicating a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input received via said wager-input device, a first combination of said symbols indicating a winning payout; and
a moveable indicator that randomly moves across said display during said basic game, in response to said moveable indicator coinciding in location with one of said symbols in said first combination of symbols, an enhanced form of said winning payout being awarded.
9. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said plurality of moveable reels include mechanical reels.
10. The gaming terminal of claim 9, wherein said display includes a glass panel that is located directly in front of said moveable reels.
11. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said plurality of moveable reels include video reels.
12. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said enhanced form is a multiplier of said winning payout.
13. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said enhanced form is an additional payout that is added to said winning payout.
14. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said display includes at least one payline that traverses said plurality of moveable reels.
15. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said symbols on said plurality of moveable reels form an array of specific locations.
16. The gaming terminal of claim 15, wherein said moveable indicator moves between locations of said specific locations.
17. The gaming terminal of claim 8, wherein said symbols include a start-bonus symbol, and wherein in response to said moveable indicator coinciding in location with said start-bonus symbol on said display when said moveable reels and said moveable indicator have stopped, said bonus game is triggered.
18. A method of conducting a wagering game having a plurality of symbol-bearing reels with symbols thereon, said wagering game including a basic game and a bonus game, said method comprising:
receiving a wager from a player;
randomly selecting a game outcome from a plurality of outcomes in response to said wager;
displaying said game outcome for said basic game as symbols on said plurality of symbol-bearing reels in alignment along at least one payline;
moving a moveable indicator across said symbol-bearing reels;
stopping said moveable indicator at a location on at least one of said plurality of symbol-bearing reels; and
in response to said location of said moveable indicator coinciding with a start-bonus symbol on one of said plurality of symbol-bearing reels, triggering said bonus game.
19. The method of claim 18, further including, during said bonus game, displaying a predetermined number of player-selectable elements and requesting that a player select at least one of said player-selectable elements.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein said selected player-selectable element masks bonus credits to be awarded.
21. The method of claim 19, wherein said selected player-selectable element triggers an additional bonus game to be displayed.
22. The method of claim 21, wherein, during said additional bonus game, multiple bonus symbols, and their associated credit values, are pre-revealed and shuffled, and said player is requested to select one of said multiple bonus symbols.
23. The method of claim 22, further including awarding said associated credit value for said selected multiple bonus symbol and ending said additional bonus game when a bonus-termination symbol has been selected.
24. The method of claim 22, further including awarding said associated credit value for said selected multiple bonus symbol and continuing said additional bonus game when a predetermined multiple bonus symbol has been selected.
25. The method of claim 18, wherein said symbols on said plurality of moveable reels form an array of specific locations.
26. The method of claim 25, wherein said moveable indicator moves between locations of said specific locations.
27. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game, comprising:
at least one display; and
a controller coupled to said display and programmed to move symbols on a plurality of moveable reels across said display to indicate an outcome of said basic game,
move a moveable indicator across said display during said basic game, and
in response to a stopped location of said moveable indicator coinciding with a start-bonus symbol on one of said plurality of symbol-bearing reels, trigger said bonus game.
28. The gaming terminal of claim 27, wherein during said bonus game, a predetermined number of player-selectable elements are displayed and a player is requested to select at least one of said player-selectable elements.
29. The gaming terminal of claim 28, wherein said selected player-selectable element masks bonus credits to be awarded.
30. The gaming terminal of claim 28, wherein said selected player-selectable element triggers an additional bonus game to be displayed.
31. The gaming terminal of claim 30, wherein during said additional bonus game, multiple bonus symbols, and their associated credit values, are pre-revealed and shuffled, and said player is requested to select one of said multiple bonus symbols.
32. The gaming terminal of claim 31, wherein said associated credit value for said selected multiple bonus symbol is awarded, and said additional bonus game is ended when a bonus-termination symbol has been selected.
33. The gaming terminal of claim 27, wherein said symbols on said plurality of moveable reels form an array of specific locations.
34. The gaming terminal of claim 33, wherein said moveable indicator moves between locations of said specific locations.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to gaming terminals for playing a slot game and, more particularly, to a slot game having a unique feature for providing a moveable indicator to trigger a predetermined enhancement when the moveable indicator is incident with a preselected symbol or set of symbols on the reels of the slot game.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gaming terminals, 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 terminals with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the terminal and the intrinsic entertainment value of the terminal relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing terminals and the expectation of winning each terminal 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 terminals.

Consequently, shrewd operators strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting terminals available because such terminals attract frequent play and, hence, increase profitability to the operator. In the competitive gaming terminal industry, there is a continuing need for gaming terminal manufacturers to produce new types of games, or enhancements to existing games, which will attract frequent play by increasing 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 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.

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. 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 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.

Wagering games need to include additional features that will maintain the player's interest and enhance entertainment. The present invention is directed to satisfying this and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game. The gaming terminal includes a wager-input device. A display displays a plurality of moveable reels having symbols located thereon during the basic game. The symbols indicate a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input received via the wager-input device. The symbols on the moveable reels include a start-bonus symbol. A moveable indicator randomly moves across the display during the basic game. The bonus game is triggered in response to the moveable indicator coinciding in location with the start-bonus symbol on the display when the moveable reels and the moveable indicator have stopped.

The present invention is further directed to a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game. A wager-input device receives wagers from a player. A display displays a plurality of moveable reels having symbols located thereon during the basic game. The symbols indicate a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to a wager input received via the wager-input device. A first combination of the symbols indicates a winning payout. A moveable indicator randomly moves across the display during the basic game. An enhanced form of the winning payout is awarded in response to the moveable indicator coinciding in location with one of the symbols in the first combination of symbols.

The present invention is further directed to a method of conducting a wagering game having a plurality of symbol-bearing reels with symbols thereon. The wagering game includes a basic game and a bonus game. The method involves receiving a wager from a player. A game outcome is randomly selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to the wager. The game outcome for the basic game is displayed as symbols on the plurality of symbol-bearing reels in alignment along at least one payline. A moveable indicator moves across the symbol-bearing reels. The moveable indicator stops at a location on at least one of the plurality of symbol-bearing reels. The bonus game is triggered in response to the location of the moveable indicator coinciding with a start-bonus symbol on one of the plurality of symbol-bearing reels.

The present invention is further directed to a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game having a basic game and a bonus game. The gaming terminal includes at least one display. A controller is coupled to the display and programmed to move symbols on a plurality of moveable reels across the display to indicate an outcome of the basic game. A moveable indicator moves across the display during the basic game. The bonus game is triggered in response to a stopped location of the moveable indicator coinciding with a start-bonus symbol on one of the plurality of symbol-bearing reels.

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.

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 illustrates a gaming terminal that has the enhanced communication feature in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a control system that is used in conjunction with the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates a main display of a winning bonus-game-triggering instance of a slot game according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a main display of a winning combination of symbols of the slot game enhanced by the moveable indicator according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a main display of an additional winning combination of symbols of the slot game enhanced by the moveable indicator according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a main display of a symbol being captured by a moveable indicator according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a main display of a bonus game having user-selectable elements according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a main display in which the contents of the user-selectable elements of the bonus game are displayed according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrates a process utilized when the player is awarded a bonus game according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a main display of a second bonus game according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game after the player has successfully selected a user-selectable location element according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game showing the player's bonus total with each digit shown in front of a user-selectable element according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game showing user-selectable elements masking the player's bonus total according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game showing the remaining user-selectable elements hiding the remaining digits of the player's bonus total after one of the user-selectable elements has been selected according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game after all of the user-selectable elements have been selected according to an embodiment of the invention.

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 gaming terminal and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, the gaming terminal 10 may be a mechanical gaming terminal configured to play mechanical slots, or it may be an electromechanical or electrical gaming terminal configured to play video slots or a video casino game, such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, etc.

The gaming terminal 10 includes input devices, such as a wager acceptor 16 a, 16 b, a touch screen 21, a push-button panel 22, and a player-identification card reader 24. For output, the gaming terminal 10 includes a main display 26 for displaying information about the basic wagering game. The main display 26 can also display information about a bonus wagering game and a progressive wagering game. The gaming terminal 10 also includes a secondary game display 27 for displaying the bonus wagering game, or for displaying award amounts of a progressive game. 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 a, 16 b may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination. The wager acceptor 16 a, 16 b may include a coin slot acceptor 16 a or a bill validator 16 b to input value to the gaming terminal 10. Or, the wager acceptor 16 a, 16 b may include a card-reading device for reading a card that has a recorded monetary value with which it is associated. The card may also authorize access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming terminal 10.

A payout mechanism 23 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 the gaming terminal 10. Also, the payout mechanism 23 may also be adapted to receive a card that authorizes the gaming terminal 10 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 push button panel 22 will be described in more detail with respect to FIG. 3.

The operation of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the main display 26. The main display 26 can also display the bonus game associated with the basic wagering game. The main display 26 may take the form of a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution LCD, a plasma display, a 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 entire monitor (or a portion thereof) to allow players to make game-related selections. Alternatively, the gaming terminal 10 may have a number of mechanical reels to display the game outcome.

The player-identification card reader 24 allows for the identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. Currently, the 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 player-identification card reader 24, which allows the casino's computers to register that player's wagering at the gaming terminal 10.

A player begins play of the basic wagering game by inserting a wager input into the wager input accepter 16 a, 16 b of the gaming terminal 10. A player can select play by either using the touch screen 21 or the push-button panel 22. The basic game consists of a plurality of symbols on a plurality of reels that are displayed along a plurality of paylines, yielding a plurality of outcomes of the basic game. Such outcomes are randomly selected and then displayed in response to the wagering input by the player.

As shown in FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 30, also referred to as a processor (such as a microprocessor or microcontroller). To provide the gaming functions, the CPU 30 executes one or more game programs. The CPU 30 performs the random selection of an outcome from the plurality of outcomes of the wagering game. Alternatively, the random selection of an outcome may be performed remotely by a CPU that is networked to the gaming terminal 10 but is not a component of the gaming terminal 10. The CPU 30 is also coupled to or includes a system memory 32. The system 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 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 35 a. 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 the I/O circuits 35 b. Although the I/O circuits 35 may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuits 35 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 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., accounting 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.

FIG. 3 illustrates a main display 26 of a winning bonus-game-triggering instance of a slot game according to an embodiment of the invention. The slot game may have an Irish theme, or any other type of entertaining theme. This slot game may be implemented via mechanical reels or via a video representation of slot reels. As shown, the main display 26 shows a video slot with three visible symbols in five video reels 62 a, 62 b, 62 c, 62 d, and 62 e (collectively, “62”). In other embodiments, more or fewer than three symbols on more or fewer than five video reels may be visible. The displayed video reels 62 of the slot game are analogous to the reels on a mechanical slot machine. As shown, many different symbols may be used on the reels 62 of the slot game, such as, for example, (a) a LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN (i.e., an image of the head of a leprechaun) symbol; (b) a GOLDEN SHAMROCK symbol; (c) a HAT AND SHILLELAUGH symbol; (d) a CLADDAUGH RING symbol; (e) a SHINDIG BONUS symbol; (f) HORSESHOE symbol; (g) a EMERALD symbol; (h) a PIPE symbol; (i) a HARP symbol (the HARP symbol is not illustrated in FIG. 3); and (j) a WILD symbol that may be used to represent any symbol other than the LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN or the SHINDIG BONUS symbols (the WILD symbol is not shown in FIG. 3).

To play the slot game, the player may spin the reels 62 (e.g., by pressing push-button panel 22 or a “spin” symbol on the touch screen 21). Once the reels 62 have stopped spinning, the player may win credits if a particular sequence of symbols on the reels 62 occurs. In one embodiment, the payline may be just the middle row. In other embodiments, each of the rows may have their own paylines, and/or the player may select the paylines prior to spinning the reels 62. Other embodiments may utilize diagonal paylines.

The gaming terminal 10 on which the slot game is played may accept one or more of the minimum betting units. If more than more one of the minimum betting units is given by the player, and the player wins credits, the player's credits may be multiplied by the number of betting units being played by the player or by some other predetermined multiplication factor. For example, if the player spins the slots and receives a winning combination of the symbols that pays 50:1, the player will receive 50 credits for each betting unit that was played. The gaming terminal 10 may limit how many betting units may be played on each spin by the player (e.g., the gaming terminal 10 may be set up to accept no more than ten betting units per spin).

When preselected sequences of symbols on the reels 62 are located on the activated payline(s) after the spin has completed, the player may win credits. The game may be set up so that winning combinations of symbols pay left to right only—line wins from the left must occur on adjacent reels, beginning with the leftmost reel. In other embodiments, the game may be designed, e.g., so that winning combinations pay right to left only, or so that winning combinations need not be located on adjacent reels of the betting line.

The following is an exemplary pay table for various winning combinations:

TABLE A
Number of winning credits per betting unit
Winning 2 adjacent 3 adjacent 4 adjacent 5 adjacent
combination reels only reels only reels only reels only
LUCKY THE 10 100 1000 10000
LEPRECHAUN
EMERALD  5 50 200 1000
GOLD 25 100 500
SHAMROCK
CLADDAUGH 15 50 200
RING
HATAND 10 50 200
SHILLELAGH
HARP 10 25 150
HORSESHOE 5 25 150
PIPE 5 20 150

In other embodiments, a different pay table may be utilized. Also, in the event that three consecutive SHINDIG BONUS symbols appear on a payline, the player will win a “SHINDIG BONUS” and a bonus game will be presented to the player, allowing the player to enhance a score by, e.g., receiving additional bonus credits, as described below with respect to FIGS. 10-15.

FIG. 3 shows another aspect of the slot game, which is a moveable indicator 60 (as shown, the moveable indicator 60 may have a box-like shape formed partially of clovers). The moveable indicator 60 is capable of achieving additional positive outcomes for the player. For example, the moveable indicator 60 may be utilized to increase a player's score or initiate a bonus game.

As the reels 62 are spinning, the moveable indicator 60 moves around the reels 62. In FIG. 3, the moveable indicator 60 is the size of one of the symbols on the reels 62. As illustrated, the moveable indicator 60 surrounds the symbol of LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN in the second reel 62 b. The moveable indicator 60 may move randomly around the reels 62 during the spins (or across a predetermined path).

In the event that the moveable indicator 60 lands and stops on top of a symbol in one of the winning combinations listed in Table A above, the number of credits won by the player for the winning combination (other than the LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN symbols) will be enhanced (e.g., doubled). In other embodiments, the number of credits won by the player may be multiplied by a factor other than two when the moveable indicator 60 lands on top of a symbol in a winning combination. Although the moveable indicator 60 shown in FIG. 3 is the size of a single symbol, in other embodiments it may be multiple rows tall and/or multiple reels wide, and may also change size as it moves. Additional embodiments of the slot game may utilize more than one moveable indicator 60.

In the event that the moveable indicator 60 lands on the LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN symbol, the player may be presented a bonus game (e.g., the “GETTIN' LUCKY” bonus game), described below with respect to FIGS. 6-9. In the event that the moveable indicator 60 lands on a SHINDIG BONUS symbol in a winning combination of the SHINDIG BONUS symbols, the player will receive an enhancement of the bonus earned during a second bonus game (e.g., the “SHINDIG BONUS” game), described below with respect to FIGS. 10-15.

FIG. 4 illustrates a main display 26 of a winning combination of symbols of the slot game enhanced by the moveable indicator 60. As illustrated, the middle row includes two WILD symbols located on reels adjacent to a GOLDEN SHAMROCK symbol. Accordingly, the WILD symbols represent GOLDEN SHAMROCK symbols in this instance and the player has a winning GOLDEN SHAMROCK combination because WILD symbols represent the symbols, other than LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN and the SHINDIG BONUS, resulting in the highest paying combination, which in this case is the GOLDEN SHAMROCK symbols. As set forth in Table A above, this combination ordinarily pays out 25 credits per each betting unit. However, in this instance, the combination pays out 50 credits because the moveable indicator 60 is incident with a WILD symbol in the winning combination, resulting in a doubled payout.

FIG. 5 illustrates a main display 26 of an additional winning combination of symbols of the slot game enhanced by the moveable indicator 60. As illustrated, three consecutive SHINDIG BONUS symbols are located on the pay line. Accordingly, the player wins the SHINDIG BONUS and is presented with the bonus game (i.e., the SHINDIG BONUS game) described below with respect to FIGS. 10-15. Moreover, because the moveable indicator 60 stopped on top of one of the SHINDIG BONUS symbols of the winning combination, the number of bonus credits that the player wins in the bonus game will be doubled. In additional embodiments, the player may also receive credits for receiving the winning SHINDIG BONUS combination apart from those that can be won via the bonus game.

FIG. 6 illustrates a main display 26 of a symbol being captured by the moveable indicator 60 of the slot game. As discussed above, when the moveable indicator 60 stops on top of the symbol of LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN, the player is presented the bonus game (i.e., the “GETTIN' LUCKY” bonus game) and proceeds to the bonus “GETTIN' LUCKY” screen where the player has the opportunity to win substantial credits. In an embodiment of the invention, the only way to proceed to the “GETTIN' LUCKY” bonus game is by “capturing” the LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN symbol with the moveable indicator 60.

FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrates a process utilized when the player is awarded the “GETTIN' LUCKY” bonus game according to an embodiment of the invention. First, at step 900, the player spins the reels 62 of the slot game. Next, at step 905, the process determines whether the moveable indicator 60 has stopped on the LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN symbol. If “no,” processing returns to step 900. If “yes,” processing proceeds to step 910, where a large image of LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN is placed of the reels 62. FIG. 6 illustrates the screen of the main display 26 shown to the player when “LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN” has been “captured” by the moveable indicator 60. As illustrated, a message may be displayed to the player to indicate that LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN has been captured, and LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN may be shown with a rope, or similar device, tied around his leg.

At step 915, a different display screen is shown to the player in which LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN is standing in front of three player-selectable elements (e.g., pots of gold are shown) 72 a, 72 b, and 72 c (collectively, “72”), one of which contains a trigger (e.g., the trigger may be the phrase “Lucky's gold”) for an additional bonus game, and the other two contain credit values.

FIG. 7 illustrates a screen of the main display 26 shown to the player where LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN is standing in front of the three player-selectable elements 72. As shown, LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN may be standing on a tree branch at the bottom of a rainbow in front of the three player-selectable elements 72. This display screen may be superimposed on top of the regular slot game screen, with part of the slot game screen being visible behind the image of LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN and the player-selectable elements 72.

At step 915, LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN may prompt the player to pick one of the three player-selectable elements 72, and the player may select one of the player-selectable elements 72 at step 920. The player may make a selection by either touching the touch screen 21, or via the push-button panel 22. After the selection is made, the contents of each of the player-selectable elements 72 may be shown to the player, as illustrated in FIG. 8. As shown, the left player-selectable element 72 a contained an additional bonus game trigger (i.e., the phrase “Lucky's gold”), the middle player-selectable element 72 b contained 30 credits, and the right player-selectable element 72 c contained 90 credits. Next, at step 925, the process determines whether the player-selectable element 72 containing the additional bonus game trigger was selected. If “yes,” processing proceeds to operation 940. If “no,” processing proceeds to step 930, where the credit amount of the selected player-selectable element 72 is awarded to the player. At step 935 a tally screen showing the total credits awarded is then displayed to the player, the bonus ends, and processing returns to step 900.

At step 940, an additional bonus screen is shown to the player, and five new player-selectable elements (e.g., gold pots) are displayed to the player. All of the player-selectable elements contain credits, but one of the player-selectable elements also contains the word “Collect.” In other embodiments, more or fewer than five player-selectable elements may be used, more than one player-selectable element may contain the word “Collect,” and/or the player-selectable elements with the word “Collect” need not also contain credits. The player is then given the opportunity to select player-selectable elements until the player-selectable element containing the word “Collect” is selected, at which point the bonus ends. At step 945, after the player-selectable elements and the contents thereof are shown to the player, LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN shuffles the player-selectable elements and hides their values so that the player does not know which of the player-selectable elements contains the word “Collect.” LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN then prompts the player to pick one of the player-selectable elements. Next, at step 950, the processing determines whether a player-selectable element containing the word “Collect” was selected. If “yes,” then at step 955, the credit amount of the selected player-selectable element is awarded to the player, at step 960 the tally screen displays the total, the bonus ends, the contents of all the player-selectable elements are displayed, and processing returns to step 900. However, if the answer at step 950 is “no,” then processing proceeds to step 965 where LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN reveals the contents of the remaining unselected player-selectable elements. At step 970, the credit amount of the selected player-selectable element is then awarded and the selected player-selectable element disappears. Next, at step 975, LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN adds more credits to all of the remaining player-selectable elements except for the player-selectable element containing the word “Collect.” In other embodiments, more credits may also be added to the player-selectable element contain the word “Collect.” At step 978, the process then determines whether more than two player-selectable elements remain. If “yes,” processing returns to step 945. If “no,” processing proceeds to step 980, where LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN shuffles the two remaining player-selectable elements, hiding their contents, and prompts the player to pick one of the player-selectable elements. Next, at step 982, the process determines whether the player-selectable element containing the word “Collect” was selected. If “yes,” processing returns to step 955. If “no,” processing proceeds to step 985, where the credit amount of the selected player-selectable element is awarded. The credit amount of the player-selectable element containing the word “Collect” may also be awarded to the player (because it is the only remaining un-selected player-selectable element), and processing may proceed to step 960.

An additional bonus game available to the player is the “SHINDIG BONUS” game, which is described below with respect to FIGS. 10-15. In order to be presented with the SHINDIG BONUS game, the player must get a combination of at least three consecutive SHINDIG BONUS symbols on a payline, such as that shown in FIG. 5. In other embodiments, the SHINDIG BONUS may be achieved via a combination of more than three or less than three SHINDIG BONUS symbols on the payline. If the player triggers the SHINDIG BONUS, a new bonus display screen is shown to the player in which LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN stands in front of a great hall of the leprechauns. LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN comments about how he is going to reward the player, but first requires the player to find the gold in the great hall. The display screen then changes to give the player a view of the inside the great hall of the leprechauns. Inside the great hall, lively music is played and the player is shown a bunch of leprechauns having a good time around a big bonus credit accumulation element (e.g., a gold pot). The music suddenly scratches to a halt, all leprechauns on the screen look out toward the player, and then abruptly scurry and jump into hiding places. LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN then announces, “If you want gold, then you need to find the leprechauns.” Next, the screen highlights hiding spots and the player is given five picks at hiding spots (via user-selectable location elements) for the leprechauns. The player may pick a hiding spot by touching the touch screen 21, or via the push-button panel 22. If the player's pick reveals a leprechaun, then the leprechaun jumps out of the hiding spot and adds credit to the bonus credit accumulation element in the center of the great hall. However, if the player's pick reveals no leprechaun, LUCKY THE LEPRECHAUN adds a smaller amount of credits (or no credits) to the bonus credit accumulation element.

FIGS. 10-15 illustrate the main display 26 showing different stages of the second bonus game (i.e., the “SHINDIG BONUS” game). FIG. 10 illustrates a main display 26 of the second bonus game—as shown, the great hall of leprechauns may be presented. As illustrated, there are a number of places where leprechauns might hide, including, e.g., under the table at the lower left of the screen, in the barrel, under the door to the basement, etc. When it is the player's turn to guess the spot, the potential hiding spots may be shown to the player as user-selectable location elements by becoming shaded in gray, or indicated in some other easily perceptible manner. The bonus round may be set up so that the player has to pick all five spots at once, or one at a time.

FIG. 11 illustrates the main display 26 of the second bonus game after the player has successfully selected a user-selectable location element. In other words, a display screen of the great hall of leprechauns is shown after the player has successfully chosen a hiding spot of a leprechaun. As shown, 15 credits were added to a bonus credit accumulation element 85 because of the player's correct guess. Once the player has selected the five hiding spots via the user-selectable location elements and the bonuses have been added to the bonus credit accumulation element 85, the player's score is shown in big numbers, each digit being shown directly in front of a shamrock. FIG. 12 illustrates the main display 26 showing the player's bonus total, 208, with each digit shown in front of a user-selectable element (e.g., a shamrock) 88 a, 88 b, and 88 c (collectively, “88”). Next, each of the digits is hidden behind a user-selectable element, and the user-selectable elements are shuffled so that the player does not know which number is behind which user-selectable element.

FIG. 13 illustrates a main display 26 of the second bonus game showing user-selectable elements masking the player's bonus total (e.g., the digits of the player's bonus total are each hidden behind a user-selectable-element). The player has won 208 credits, so three user-selectable elements 88 are utilized to hide the digits. If the player had scored 1075 credits, then four user-selectable elements would be utilized to hide the digits, etc. The player is then prompted to select one of the user-selectable elements 88 (the display screen refers to the user-selectable elements as “clovers,” but other embodiments may call them “shamrocks”).

FIG. 14 illustrates the display screen of the second bonus game showing the remaining user-selectable elements 88 hiding the remaining digits of the player's bonus total after one of the user-selectable elements has been selected. As shown, the player selected the middle user-selectable element 88 b, behind which the number “2” was hiding. After being selected, the middle user-selectable element 88 b disappears, and the number “2” is moved to a space directly above the bonus credit accumulation element 85.

The player is then prompted to select one the two remaining user-selectable elements. The number behind the selected user-selectable element will be placed to the left of the number “2” (to form the “tens” digit in the newly-created number) and the number behind the final remaining user-selectable element will be placed directly to the left of the number that was behind the second selected user-selectable element (to form the “hundreds” digit). Once the user-selectable elements 88 have all been selected and the numbers behind each of the user-selectable elements have been placed above the bonus credit accumulation device, the player will be given a bonus equal to the greater of the original bonus amount before the shuffling, and the number that was created after individually selecting the user-selectable elements.

FIG. 15 illustrates a main display of the second bonus game after all of the user-selectable elements 88 have been selected. As shown, the number 802 was created via the individual selection of the user-selectable elements 88. Accordingly, since the number 802 is larger than the original bonus amount (i.e., 208), the player will be awarded a bonus of 802 credits for each betting unit the player had played during the game.

While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof. The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of an embodiment of the present invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of an embodiment of the invention being indicated by the appended claims, rather than the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7927204May 25, 2007Apr 19, 2011Gc2, Inc.Slot gaming devices and methods
US7993196 *Jan 19, 2007Aug 9, 2011Wms Gaming Inc.Wagering game with symbol strings dictating winning outcomes
US8105145Sep 8, 2006Jan 31, 2012Wms Gaming Inc.Gaming machine having positional expanding symbols
US8128483Nov 7, 2008Mar 6, 2012Wms Gaming Inc.Gaming machine with synchronized bezel lights
US8469797Sep 26, 2011Jun 25, 2013Wms Gaming Inc.Wagering game with multiple overlying reel strips for triggering events or outcomes
WO2009061457A1 *Nov 7, 2008May 14, 2009Joel R JaffeGaming machine with synchronized bezel lights
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/16
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3244, G07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32K, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 30, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: WMS GAMING INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GOMEZ, BENJAMIN T.;REEL/FRAME:015857/0564
Effective date: 20040929