FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No 60/614,884 filed 30 Sep. 2004, which application is incorporated herein by reference.
- LIMITED COPYRIGHT WAIVER
The invention relates generally to audio in wagering gaming systems, and more specifically to environmental audio effects in a computerized wagering game system.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material to which the claim of copyright protection is made. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any person of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but reserves all other rights whatsoever.
A wide variety of gaming devices are now available to gamers and to casino operators in computerized form, from slot machines to games that are traditionally played live such as poker and blackjack. These computerized games provide many benefits to the game owner and to the gambler, including greater reliability than can be achieved with a mechanical game or human dealer, more variety, sound, and animation in presentation of a game, and a lower overall cost of production and management.
Computerized video game systems must be designed with many of the same concerns as their mechanical and table game ancestors—they must be fair, they must provide sufficient feedback to the gamer to make the game fun to play, and they must meet a variety of gaming regulations to ensure that both the machine owner and gamer are honest and fairly treated in implementing the game. Further, they must provide a gaming experience that is at least as attractive as the older mechanical gaming machine experience to the gamer, to ensure success in a competitive gaming market.
Many computerized wagering game systems have a variety of sound and graphical elements designed to attract and keep a game player's attention, such as sound effects, music, and animation. These game presentation features often include a variety of music, sound effects, and voices presented to complement a video presentation of the wagering game on a display.
Wagering game players typically stand or sit in front of a wagering game placed in a large gaming establishment, and interact with the game such as by pushing buttons, pulling levers, and operating a touchscreen. The wagering game system in turn provides feedback to the game player via the display and one or more speakers.
The speakers often play sounds integrated with the theme of the game, and are designed to enhance the game player's experience. For example, frogs croaking, boat motors, and reels spinning may accompany a fishing-themed wagering game, while the sound of cards being shuffled, a honkytonk piano, and drinks being poured may be played to enhance the presentation of an old west saloon-themed wagering game.
But, simply presenting sound effects alone does not completely capture the environment that is often presented. For example, a saloon is an indoor, enclosed space, while the fishing game is an outdoor wide-open space, and although graphics can present such images it's difficult to make a game player believe that the environment being presented is realistic and involving. Such tasks are further complicated with unique environments, such as exploring a cave-like Egyptian pyramid or in environments that change during the course of game play.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is therefore desirable to enhance presentation of the environment presented in the computer wagering game.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
The present invention provides in one embodiment a computerized wagering game system having a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered. An audio module is operable to play sound through one or more speakers, and further operable to apply environmental audio effects to the sound so that it appears to be coming from a selected acoustic environment.
FIG. 1 shows a computerized reel slot gaming system having audio crosstalk cancellation, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a display image of an environmental audio effects configuration program, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a display image of another environmental audio effects configuration program, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a display image of a preset environmental audio effects configuration screen, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a computerized wagering game system employing a surround sound speaker system and environmental audio effects processing, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.
In the following detailed description of sample embodiments of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific sample embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, electrical, and other changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the invention is defined only by the appended claims.
The present invention provides in one example embodiment a computerized wagering game system having a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered. An audio module is operable to play sound through one or more speakers, and further operable to apply environmental audio effects to the sound so that it appears to be coming from a selected acoustic environment. The selected acoustic environment is selected in some embodiments to enhance the wagering game experience by enabling the computerized wagering game system to present a realistic and involving sound environment that can be tailored to the theme or visual presentation of the game.
FIG. 1 illustrates a computerized wagering game machine, as may be used in an embodiment of the present invention. The computerized gaming system shown generally at 100 is a video wagering game system, which displays information for at least one wagering game upon which monetary value can be wagered on video display 101. Video display 101 is in various embodiments a CRT display, an LCD display, a surface conducting electron emitter display, or any other type of display suitable for displaying electronically provided display information. Alternate embodiments of the invention will have other game indicators, such as mechanical reels instead of the video graphics reels shown at 102 that comprise a part of a video slot machine wagering game.
A game of chance is implemented as software within the wagering game, such as via instructions stored on a machine-readable medium such as a hard disk drive or nonvolatile memory. In some further example embodiments, some or all of the software stored in the wagering game machine is encrypted or is verified using a hash algorithm or encryption algorithm to ensure its authenticity and to verify that it has not been altered. The game of chance takes various forms in different wagering game machines, and includes such well-known wagering games as reel slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, or hold 'em games. The wagering game is played and controlled with inputs such as various buttons 103 or via a touchscreen overlay to video screen 101. In some alternate examples, other devices such as pull arm 104 used to initiate reel spin in this reel slot machine example are employed to provide other input interfaces to the game player.
Monetary value is typically wagered on the outcome of the games, such as with tokens, coins, bills, or cards that hold monetary value. The wagered value is conveyed to the machine through a changer 105 or a secure user identification module interface 106, and winnings are returned via the returned value card or through the coin tray 107. Sound is also provided through speakers 108. In some further embodiments, the wagering game machine is coupled to a network, and is operable to use its network connection to receive wagering game data, track players and monetary value associated with a player, and to perform other such functions.
The wagering game in one example embodiment of the present invention uses application of environmental audio effects processing to sound played through speakers 108 to make it sound to a game player as though the sound were coming from a specific acoustic environment. In some embodiments, the environmental audio effect is a preconfigured environment such as an environment designed to mimic the acoustic properties of a cathedral, a nightclub, a concert hall, or a panoramic effect. In other embodiments, the environmental audio effect is derived from the characteristics of a particular environment specific to a location consistent with a theme of the wagering game.
FIG. 2 illustrates an example screen diagram of a surround configuration application designed to allow a game designer to specify certain parameters to simulate an acoustic environment. The environment comprises a room as shown at 201, and having a width that is specified by selecting a room width such as 20 feet as shown at 202. Similarly, the room length is specified to be 30 feet as shown at 203, and the room height is set at nine feet as shown at 204. The position of the listener within the room is shown at 205, and the position of the sound source within the room is shown at 206. In a further embodiment, the height of the listener and sound source objects are specified as parameters of the object, so that the position of the listener and of the sound source can be specified completely. In other examples, the room has variable geometry, and parameters such as the sound source and listener position are changeable over time.
The acoustic properties of the various surfaces within the acoustic environment can also be specified, such as by specifying the absorptive or reflective properties of each surface as is shown at 206. In the example shown in FIG. 2, the absorption of each of the six room surfaces can be independently specified, enabling modeling a room having absorptive ceiling tiles but a reflective tile floor, and having walls that are covered with various materials or objects such as a reflective drywall wall surface on one wall and an absorptive drapery or curtain on another wall. Further embodiments will allow a user to specify other acoustic properties, such as a percent of sound diffracted, or frequency-dependent absorption for surfaces that absorb different frequencies at different levels.
A more complex example of a method of specifying an acoustic environment is shown in FIG. 3, which shows a model of an acoustic environment having user-configurable environmental objects and properties. Such a program in some embodiments works much like a computer-aided design or CAD program, and is able to trace sound through an arbitrary environment from multiple sources much like ray-tracing programs are able to render three-dimensional environments having objects with multiple light sources and objects with various visually reflective properties.
Referring again to FIG. 3, consider as an example a room with a wood floor 301 having properties that reflect high frequency sounds but absorb low frequency sounds while reverberating somewhat when excited at low frequencies. The floor is covered by a rug 302 that is absorptive at all frequencies, but that loses absorptive effectiveness at very low frequencies due to its lack of thickness. Walls 303 are based on measurements taken from typical drywall construction walls, and ceiling 304 is based on acoustical tile ceiling measurements, creating an acoustic environment that closely mimics the model environment configured by the user. The room of FIG. 3 also has a window 305, which has its own unique sound absorptive and reflective properties, and an open doorway 306 which reflects no sound but simply allows sound to pass through. Two individual sound sources are present in speakers 307, and the view of FIG. 3 is taken from the perspective of the listener. These are examples of how a space can be configured in significant detail in some embodiments of the invention to model an acoustic environment with a much greater degree of accuracy than simply choosing a most appropriate preconfigured setting.
In some embodiments of the invention, the preconfigured settings can be tailored or adjusted to better produce a particular desired environmental effect. FIG. 4 shows a screenshot of a software tool for adjusting example parameters of a cathedral environmental audio effect.
The depth specified in FIG. 4 allows the wagering game designer or other user to specify the depth of the cathedral, which dictates the reverberation time and other acoustic properties of the environmental effect. Longer distances will have a more delayed echo and sound more spacious than shorter distances. The rate of decay of the sound is specified by a mid-frequency RT60of three seconds, which is a specification of the time it takes a mid-frequency acoustic signal in the cathedral to decay by 60 deciBels. Similarly, a bass RT60 setting allows the user to specify how long it takes low frequency bass sounds to decay 60 deciBels.
The high frequency rolloff in frequency response that is present in large open spaces is modeled with the aid of the HF rolloff setting of 500 Hz. This allows the user to specify at what frequency the gradual rolloff of high frequencies begins, and thereby tailor the degree to which high frequency rolloff is heard through the audible spectrum of frequencies. Finally, the reverb delay setting of 15 ms allows the user to specify how long it takes form the first occurrence of a sound until the first reverberation or echo is heard, which can be used to change both the perceived position of a wagering game player in an acoustic environment and the apparent depth of the acoustic environment.
FIG. 5 is an example configuration of a surround sound system, which employs more than two speakers to provide sound to a game player from multiple directions at once. The example shown here has a left speaker 501, a center speaker 502, and a right speaker 503, as well as surround channel speakers including left surround speaker 504 and right surround speaker 505. These five speakers, plus an optional bass module designed to produce only low frequencies, are typical of a surround sound speaker setup as used for today's most common surround sound formats. The addition of multiple channels to a wagering game designed to incorporate environmental audio effects enables the wagering game system to further enhance the experience by reproducing echoes, reverberation, and other acoustic effects from the rear and from other directions not possible with a simple stereo pair or a single speaker.
Sound having more than the traditional two stereo channels can be encoded and decoded in many ways, including a few example commercial embodiments discussed here in greater detail (all names are trademarked property of their respective owners). Examples include Dolby formats such as Dolby ProLogic and Dolby Digital, Logic 7, and various embodiments of DTS such as DTS-ES and DTS-NEO6.
Dolby ProLogic was one of the first commercially available surround sound formats, and enabled analog derivation of a center channel and two surround channels from a two-channel encoded signal. Dolby Digital is a digitally encoded format, providing for encoding and decoding of five full-range channels and a low frequency channel (5.1 channels) from an encoded digital signal.
Similarly, a variety of digital surround sound formats from DTS, including DTS, DTS-ES, and DTS-NEO6 derive five or six channels plus a low frequency effects channel from a digitally encoded signal. DTS is a five channel discrete encoded signal that also has an encoded low frequency effects channel. DTS-ES adds a sixth channel, plus the ability to matrix encode a 5.1 channel surround signal in addition to discrete channel encoding. DTS-NEO6 is a six channel matrix encoded format, incorporating a low-frequency effects channel to provide a 6.1 channel matrix encoded digital surround format.
Logic 7, also known as L7, is a proprietary seven-channel decoding process developed by Lexicon, a subsidiary of Harman International. Logic 7 in various embodiments is able to derive seven channel surround sound from a two channel stereo or matrix encoded source, and has various parameters optimized for film, broadcast, reverberant environment, and other modes. It is further able to derive up to seven channels of surround information from other surround encoded formats, including matrix and discrete multichannel surround formats such as Dolby Digital or DTS.
The Dolby Digital, Logic 7, DTS, and other surround sound formats presented here are examples of ways in which various audio processing can be applied to implement different surround sound formats in an audio system having three or more discrete audio channels and speakers. The surround sound speaker system is able to enhance presentation of the environmental audio effects by providing different sound from several directions at once, thereby reproducing an acoustic environment more accurately. The surround sound speaker system will take various forms in various embodiments, including incorporation into a chair in which the wagering game player sits. Other examples will apply environmental audio effects to sound played through only one or two speakers, as are typically employed in traditional wagering game systems presently in operation. Such embodiments include retrofitting existing wagering games with technology to practice the present invention, and creating new wagering game systems having one or two speakers in a platform that is less expensive and less complex than a surround sound system employing environmental audio effects.
The examples shown herein have illustrated how environmental audio effects can be employed in a wagering game system to enhance sounds played by the system such that they appear to be coming from a selected or specific environment. Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement which is calculated to achieve the same purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the invention. It is intended that this invention be limited only by the claims, and the full scope of equivalents thereof.