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Publication numberUS20060111164 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/273,278
Publication dateMay 25, 2006
Filing dateNov 14, 2005
Priority dateNov 23, 2004
Publication number11273278, 273278, US 2006/0111164 A1, US 2006/111164 A1, US 20060111164 A1, US 20060111164A1, US 2006111164 A1, US 2006111164A1, US-A1-20060111164, US-A1-2006111164, US2006/0111164A1, US2006/111164A1, US20060111164 A1, US20060111164A1, US2006111164 A1, US2006111164A1
InventorsJeremy Hornik, Larry Pacey
Original AssigneeHornik Jeremy M, Pacey Larry J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wagering game with bonus game
US 20060111164 A1
Abstract
A method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal. The method includes conducting the wagering game at the gaming terminal and displaying a plurality of game elements. Each of the game elements hides an award. At least one of the plurality of game elements is struck with a moveable object, causing at least one game element to disappear. The award associated with the at least one game element is then revealed and the award is granted to the player.
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Claims(20)
1. A method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal, comprising:
conducting the wagering game at the gaming terminal;
displaying a plurality of game elements, each of the game elements hiding an award;
striking at least one of the plurality of game elements with a moveable object, the striking causing the at least one game element to disappear;
revealing the award associated with the at least one game element;
awarding an award to the player.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the striking includes bouncing the moveable object between a bumper and the plurality of game elements.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein the bumper is moveable.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein the moveable bumper is controlled by one of the player and the gaming terminal.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the moveable object has a path and the path is randomly determined.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein the moveable object has a path and the path follows the laws of physics.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein the plurality of game elements are stationary.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the plurality of game elements are moving.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the wagering game payoff includes all of the revealed awards.
10. A gaming terminal comprising a wagering game having a plurality of game elements, each of the plurality of game elements having associated indicia, the gaming terminal displaying the plurality of game elements, at least one of the plurality of game elements being struck by a moving object, such that the at least one game element reveals the associated indicia.
11. The gaming terminal of claim 10 wherein the wagering game includes a basic game and the game elements are displayed during the basic game.
12. The gaming terminal of claim 10 wherein the wagering game includes a basic game and a bonus game, the basic game having a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the basic game, and the plurality of game elements are displayed on the gaming terminal in response to the randomly selected outcome at the gaming terminal being a start-bonus game outcome.
13. The gaming terminal of claim 10 wherein the wagering game further comprises a bumper and the moveable object moves between the bumper and the plurality of game elements.
14. The gaming terminal of claim 13 wherein a portion of the bumper is removed once the bumper is hit by the moveable object.
15. The gaming terminal of claim 13 wherein the wagering game ends when the moveable object misses hitting the bumper.
16. The gaming terminal of claim 10 wherein the moveable object disappears once it strikes one of the plurality of game elements.
17. A gaming system comprising:
at least one display;
a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game; and
a controller coupled to the gaming terminal and the at least one display, the controller operative to
(i) cause the display to display a plurality of game elements, the plurality of game elements covering a plurality of indicia,
(ii) cause a moving object on the display to strike at least one of the plurality of game elements;
(iii) reveal at least one of the plurality of indicia when the at least one game element has been struck by the moving object, and
(iv) determine an award amount based on the revealing.
18. The system of claim 17 wherein the controller is operative to randomly select the game elements to be revealed.
19. The system of claim 17 wherein the controller is further operative to cause the display to display a bumper such that the moving object moves between the bumper and the plurality of game elements.
20. The system of claim 17 wherein the controller is housed in the gaming terminal.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/630,450, filed Nov. 23, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to gaming terminals for playing a wagering game and, more particularly, to a wagering game having a unique feature for allowing a player to achieve credits.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

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 of the 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 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 pay line. 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.

Another concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is that of a “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.

However, in some of the bonus games, the player is not as engaged as he/she could be because the bonus game does not include any action or elements involving motion.

Thus, there is a need to allow a player to play a bonus game having an action component.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal includes conducting the wagering game at the gaming terminal and displaying a plurality of game elements. Each of the game elements hides an award. At least one of the plurality of game elements is struck with a moveable object, such that the striking causes the at least one game element to disappear. The award associated with the at least one game element is revealed and then awarded to the player.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a gaming terminal is provided. The gaming terminal includes a wagering game having a plurality of game elements, and each of the plurality of game elements has associated indicia. The gaming terminal displays the plurality of game elements. At least one of the plurality of game elements is struck by a moving object, such that the at least one game element reveals the associated indicia.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a gaming system includes at least one display and a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game. The system further includes a controller coupled to the gaming terminal and the at least one display. The controller is operative to cause the display to display a plurality of game elements. The plurality of game elements covers a plurality of indicia. The controller also causes a moving object on the display to strike at least one of the plurality of game elements and reveals at least one of the plurality of indicia when the at least one game element has been struck by the moving object. An award amount based on the revealing is determined by the controller.

A method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal is provided in another embodiment of the present invention. The wagering game has a basic game and a bonus game. The method includes conducting the basic game at the gaming terminal. In response to achieving a start-bonus outcome during the basic game, the bonus game is conducted at the gaming terminal. A plurality of prize elements, a moving game element and a stationary game element are displayed during the bonus game, and at least some of the plurality of prize elements having an associated award. The moving game element bounces between the stationary game element and the plurality of prize elements. The gaming terminal then reveals the associated award in response to one of the plurality of prize elements being hit by the moving game element.

In yet another embodiment, a gaming terminal including a wagering game having a plurality of game elements is provided. Each of the plurality of game elements has associated indicia. The gaming terminal displays the plurality of game elements. A moving object bounces between a stationary game element and the plurality of game elements, such that the display reveals the associated indicia in response to one of the plurality of game elements being hit by the moving object.

The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment or every aspect of the present invention, as there are several novel methods and gaming terminals incorporating this communication feature. 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 is a perspective view of a video gaming terminal according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates a main display of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 illustrates an initial screen of a bonus game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates another screen of a bonus game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 illustrates another embodiment of a bonus game of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

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.

As shown, the gaming terminal 10 includes input devices, such as a wager acceptor 16 (shown as a card wager acceptor 16 a and a cash wager accepter 16 b), a touch screen 21, a push-button panel 22, and an information reader 24. For outputs, the gaming terminal 10 includes a payout mechanism 23, a main display 26 for displaying information about the basic wagering game, and a secondary display 27 that may display an electronic version of a pay table, and/or also possibly game-related information or other entertainment features. 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 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination. The cash wager acceptor 16 a may include a coin slot acceptor or a note acceptor to input value to the gaming terminal 10. The card wager acceptor 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 wager acceptor 16 b may also receive a card that authorizes access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming terminal 10.

Also included is the payout mechanism 23, which 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 gaming terminal 10. Also, the payout mechanism 23 may also be adapted to receive a card that authorizes the gaming terminal 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 outcome of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the main display 26. The main display 26 may take the form of 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 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, as well.

In some embodiments, the information reader 24 is a card reader that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. Currently, 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. The information reader 24 may also include a keypad (not shown) for entering a personal identification number (PIN). The gaming terminal 10 may require that the player enter their PIN prior to obtaining information. The gaming terminal 10 may use the secondary display 27 for providing the player with information about his or her account or other player-specific information. Also, in some embodiments, the information reader 24 may be used to restore assets that the player achieved during a previous game session and had saved.

As shown in FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 30 (such as a microprocessor or microcontroller). To provide the gaming functions, the CPU 30 executes a game program that allows for the randomly selected outcome. The CPU 30 is also coupled to or includes a local memory 32. The local 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 local 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 game network 50 can include instructions for playing games, such as progressive jackpots that are contributed to by all or some of the gaming terminals 10 in the network 50. 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., account 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.

As has been discussed, the gaming terminal 10 and/or the associated gaming network 50 is capable of executing such wagering games on or through a controller. The controller, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of a gaming terminal 10 or like machine which may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming terminal and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The network may include, but is no limited to a peer-to-peer, client/server, master/slave, star network, ring network, bus network, or other network architecture wherein at least one processing device (e.g., computer) is linked to at least one other processing device. The controller, as used herein, may comprise one or more controllers. In one implementation, each gaming terminal 10 comprises, or is connected to, a controller enabling each gaming terminal to transmit and/or receive signals, preferably both, in a peer-to-peer arrangement. In another example, the controller may be adapted to facilitate communication and/or data transfer for one or more gaming terminals 10 in a client/server or centralized arrangement. In the example shown in FIG. 2, the controller in the gaming terminal 10 comprises CPU 30 and the I/O circuits 35 (e.g., Network Interface Units) connecting the gaming terminal 10 via a conventional I/O port and communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc . . . ) to the game network 50, which may include, for example other gaming terminals connected together in the network 50.

Turning now to FIG. 3, the main display 26 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown in more detail. In this embodiment, the basic game is a slot machine game, with symbols on five different reels 36, 38, 40, 42, 44. The reels 36-44 may be either traditional mechanical reels or they may be computer-generated images of reels, with each reel composed of a plurality of symbols. Pay line indicators 46 indicate a randomly selected outcome for each pay line, which is the combination of symbols on the reels 36-44. Thereafter, an outcome indicator 48 indicates whether the outcome has resulted in a payout, a progressive jackpot, a bonus game, or whether it resulted in nothing. While multiple pay lines 46 are shown, a gaming terminal 10 with a single pay line will also work with the present invention.

In the present example, the wagering game follows the theme of a Las Vegas Party, where the symbols represent different things generally associated with Las Vegas (e.g., people, singers, waitresses, cards, chips, dice, drinks, etc . . . ). Various combinations of the symbols can result in prizes, including monetary and non-monetary prizes. The non-monetary prizes include free spins, multipliers, entry into a bonus game, entry into a progressive game, etc.

In this particular embodiment, a particular combination of symbols generates entry into a bonus game. The game enters the bonus stage when a particular symbol is present on a pay line of the first reel 36 and a different symbol is present on a pay line in the fifth reel 44. In this embodiment, the combination illustrated is a symbol of a person 54 in the first reel 36 along with a deck of cards symbol 56 in the fifth reel 44. In other embodiments, other symbol combinations (including symbols on other reels) may trigger the bonus game.

In some embodiments there may be minimum requirements for a player to enter the bonus game. These may include: the player placing a minimum wager; the player being registered on the network 50, the player playing all lines; etc . . .

Turning now to FIG. 4, a display of the bonus game is shown that is triggered by the symbol combination in the basic game, as shown in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the bonus game includes a brick wall 58 made of three rows of bricks 60. On the bottom of the main display 26, a bumper 62 and a ball 64 are illustrated. Once the player enters the bonus game, the ball 64 is released and bounces between the bumper 62 and the brick wall 58. As illustrated, there are gaps between the bumper 62 and the side of the main display 26. In some embodiments, the bumper 62 is moveable (either by the player or the gaming terminal 10), causing the ball 64 to ricochet in different directions. In some embodiments, the movement of the ball is governed by physics, and the ball 64 follows a logical trajectory. In other embodiments, the movement of the ball 64 is completely random.

As shown in FIG. 5, as the ball 64 hits a brick 66, the hit brick 66 “breaks” or disappears and reveals a bonus award (5 credits in the illustrated case). In the embodiment in FIG. 5, the ball 64 has already “broken” three bricks 66, for a total bonus amount of 16 credits, which is displayed in a bonus meter 68 at the bottom of the display 26. The bonus awards may be monetary credit awards as shown, or they may be non-monetary, such as free spins, cause extra bricks to be “broken,” grant extra balls, make a ball invincible for a certain period of time, and the like. In this embodiment, the ball 64 continues to bounce between the bumper 62 and the brick wall 58 until the ball 64 hits an entire column of bricks 60 or misses the bumper 62. In the case where the ball 64 misses the bumper 62, the bonus game has ended and the player is awarded all of the bonus awards achieved.

If the ball 64 breaks all of the bricks 60 in a particular column, the next time the ball 64 passes through that column, the player advances to another bonus screen with more awards. Alternatively, the ball 64 may just be propelled back towards the bumper 62 with no award being given.

In other embodiments, the bumper 62 may be stationary, and pieces of the bumper 62 may also disappear once they are hit, increasing the likelihood of the ball 64 missing the bumper 62 with each additional bounce. Even if the bumper 62 moves, pieces of it may disappear once the ball 64 hits the bumper 62.

In some embodiments, the size of the bumper 62 may change randomly with each bonus game or the size may depend on how many pay lines were wagered or how much was wagered on each pay line. In other embodiments, the bumper 62 may not be a continuous line, but a series of small bumpers.

In some other embodiments, certain of the bricks 60 may be “special” bricks. When one of the “special” bricks 60 is struck, a chain-reaction is set off and a number of adjacent bricks 60 are also broken. The bricks affected in the chain-reaction could be all of the bricks in a particular row or column, or a predetermined number of adjacent bricks.

In some embodiments, certain of the bricks 60 may be game-ending bricks. When a game-ending brick is struck, the bonus game ends.

Turning now to FIG. 6, another embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the bricks 60 are not arranged in a wall pattern, but are instead scattered around the main display 26, and there are also a plurality of bumpers 62 spread out over main display 26. In this embodiment, once the player achieves the bonus screen, the player is given a number of balls 64. One of the balls 64 is shot from a shoot 70 and smashes into the bumpers 62. Once the ball hits a brick 60, the brick 60 is shattered as before, revealing a bonus award. The player is then credited with the bonus award. However, in this embodiment, the ball 64 also disappears. The next ball 64 is then shot from the shoot 70 and into bonus game. This continues until all of the balls 64 awarded to the player have been used. The number of balls 64 granted to the player may be random, or it may be based on pay lines played or amount wagered.

In some embodiments, the ball 64 may not disappear after hitting one brick 60, but may disappear after hitting another predetermined number of bricks. The number of bricks 60 required to be hit to make a ball disappear may be fixed or it may vary. In some embodiments, the bumpers 62 may be fixed, may spin, or some may be fixed and some may spin.

In some embodiments, in which the player is controlling the bumper(s) 62, the outcome of the bonus game is randomly determined before the ball 64 begins to move, but the values of the bricks 60 that create the outcome are modified as the ball 64 is in motion in order to ensure the correct outcome. For example, if it is randomly determined that the bonus is worth 20 credits and the first brick 60 struck is worth 20 credits, no matter which brick 60 the ball 64 strikes next will be a bonus-ending brick or a “ball destructor.” This gives the player the illusion of having control over the motion of the ball 64 and his/her winnings, while still allowing the gaming machine to meet gaming requirements.

In another embodiment, the movement of the ball 64 could be controlled by an animated character. The animated character could fling the ball at the bricks 60. In some embodiments, the animated character could be controlled by the player, while in other embodiments, it is controlled by the gaming terminal 10. The ball 64 may act in any of the ways described above. For example, the gaming terminal 10 may still include the bumper 62, and after the ball 64 is thrown and hits a brick 60, the ball 64 may continue to bounce between the bumper 62 and the wall of bricks 60. In other embodiments, there may not be a bumper 62 and the ball 64 may disappear after it strikes the brick 60.

In some embodiments, the animated character may throw an item other than a ball, such as a coconut or bomb. In some embodiments, the ball 64 may be an animated character, such as a human canonball.

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.

Classifications
U.S. Classification463/2, 463/16
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3267, G07F17/3295
European ClassificationG07F17/32P8, G07F17/32M4, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 14, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: WMS GAMING INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HORNIK, JEREMY M.;PACEY, LARRY J.;REEL/FRAME:017236/0408;SIGNING DATES FROM 20051024 TO 20051031