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 numberUS20070072665 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/549,258
Publication dateMar 29, 2007
Filing dateOct 13, 2006
Priority dateSep 28, 2001
Also published asCA2666460A1, EP2074599A2, WO2008048857A2, WO2008048857A3
Publication number11549258, 549258, US 2007/0072665 A1, US 2007/072665 A1, US 20070072665 A1, US 20070072665A1, US 2007072665 A1, US 2007072665A1, US-A1-20070072665, US-A1-2007072665, US2007/0072665A1, US2007/072665A1, US20070072665 A1, US20070072665A1, US2007072665 A1, US2007072665A1
InventorsDavid Muir
Original AssigneeIgt, A Nevada Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Methods, Apparatuses And Systems for Multilayer Gaming
US 20070072665 A1
Abstract
A gaming method includes displaying an image of a multilayer game including a plurality of layers, each layer having at least one plane with at least one symbol position in which at least one symbol is disposed, at least two layers of the plurality of layers being displayed such that the planes of the at least two layers are not coplanar, and at least one layer of the at least two layers having a plurality of symbol positions in which a plurality of symbols are disposed. The method also includes determining a game outcome associated with the plurality of symbols disposed in the plurality of symbols positions of the at least one layer, and a multilayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers. Gaming apparatuses and gaming systems are also provided.
Images(31)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(36)
1. A gaming apparatus, comprising:
a display unit that is capable of generating video images;
a user input device;
a value input device; and
a controller operatively coupled to the display unit, the user input device, and the value input device, the controller comprising a processor and a memory operatively coupled to the processor,
the controller being programmed to determine that a wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
the controller being programmed to cause the display unit to generate an image of a multilayer game, the multilayer game comprising a plurality of layers,
each layer having at least one plane with at least one symbol position in which at least one symbol is disposed, at least two layers of the plurality of layers being displayed such that the planes of the at least two layers are not coplanar, and at least one layer of the at least two layers having a plurality of symbol positions in which a plurality of symbols are disposed;
the controller being programmed to determine a game outcome associated with the plurality of symbols disposed in the plurality of symbols positions of the at least one layer;
the controller being programmed to provide a payout according to the game outcome;
the controller being programmed to determine a multilayer game outcome associated with the at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers; and
the controller being programmed to provide a payout being according to the multilayer game outcome.
2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein:
the controller is programmed to determine if a trigger is received; and
the controller is programmed to determine a multilayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers if the trigger is received.
3. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the trigger is received from the player.
4. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the trigger is based on a game event or a condition of the gaming apparatus.
5. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the trigger is received from an entity other than the player.
6. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the controller is programmed to determine a multilayer game outcome associated with a payline that includes the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers.
7. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein:
a first layer and a second layer have a plurality of symbol positions in which a plurality of symbols are disposed; and
the controller is programmed to determine a multilayer game outcome associated with a payline that includes at least two symbol positions from the first layer and at least two symbol positions from the second layer.
8. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the controller is programmed to cause the display unit to generate an image of a multilayer game, the multilayer game comprising a first and a second layer, only the first layer being displayed at a first time and the first and second layers being displayed at a second time.
9. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the controller is programmed to cause the display unit to generate an image illustrating an interaction between the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer and at least one symbol disposed in the at least one symbol position of at least another layer.
10. The apparatus according to claim 9, wherein:
the controller is programmed to define a set of symbol positions according to the interaction between the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer and the at least one symbol disposed in the at least one symbol position of the at least another layer; and
the controller is programmed to determine the multilayer game outcome associated with symbols disposed in the set of symbol positions.
11. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein:
the controller is programmed to determine that another wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
the controller is programmed to determine the multilayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers if the another wager is received.
12. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein:
the controller is programmed to determine that at least a second wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
at least another layer of the at least two layers comprising at least two symbol positions if the at least a second wager has been received; and
the controller is programmed to determine the multilayer game outcome associated with the plurality of symbols of the at least one layer and at least two symbols disposed in the at least two symbol positions of the another layer.
13. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein at least one of the at least two symbols may be substituted for at least one of the plurality of symbols.
14. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein:
the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer are displayed in a plurality of rows and columns, each column representing a reel and each row representing a set of reel positions, each reel position in the set of reel positions from a different reel;
the at least two symbol positions comprise at least one of a row or a column of symbols positions;
the controller is programmed to substitute symbols disposed in the at least one of a row or a column of symbol positions for symbols disposed in one of the rows and columns to define a modified plurality of symbols; and
the controller is programmed to determine the multilayer game outcome associated with the modified plurality of symbols.
15. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein:
the controller is programmed to determine that a third wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
at least another layer of the at least two layers comprising more than two symbol positions if the third wager has been received; and
the controller is programmed to determine the multilayer game outcome associated with the plurality of symbol disposed in the plurality of symbol positions and symbols disposed in the more than two symbol positions.
16. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein:
each layer has a game structure associated therewith; and
each structure comprises actions or events for the layer with which it is associated.
17. The apparatus according to claim 16, further comprising a collection of statistically rules, the statistical rules relating the actions or events of the structures for the plurality of layers.
18. The apparatus according to claim 17, wherein the controller is programmed to process the structures and the collection of statistical rules to provide a game structure for the multilayer game.
19. A gaming method comprising:
receiving a wager from a player;
displaying an image of a multilayer game, the multilayer game comprising a plurality of layers,
each layer having at least one plane with at least one symbol position in which at least one symbol is disposed, at least two layers of the plurality of layers being displayed such that the planes of the at least two layers are not coplanar, and at least one layer of the at least two layers having a plurality of symbol positions in which a plurality of symbols are disposed;
determining a game outcome associated with the plurality of symbols disposed in the plurality of symbols positions of the at least one layer;
providing a payout according to the game outcome;
determining a multilayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers; and
providing a payout being according to the multilayer game outcome.
20. The method according to claim 19, comprising:
determining if a trigger has been received; and
determining a multiplayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in the at least one symbol position of the at least two layers if the trigger is received.
21. The method according to claim 20, wherein the trigger is received from the player.
22. The method according to claim 20, wherein the trigger is based on a game event or a condition of a gaming apparatus.
23. The method according to claim 20, wherein the trigger is received from an entity other than the player.
24. The method according to claim 19, comprising determining a multilayer game outcome associated with a payline that includes the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers.
25. The method according to claim 19, wherein a first layer and a second layer have a plurality of symbol positions in which a plurality of symbols are disposed, and comprising:
determining a multilayer game outcome associated with a payline that includes at least two symbol positions from the first layer and at least two symbol positions from the second layer.
26. The method according to claim 19, comprising displaying an image of a multilayer game, the multilayer game comprising a first and a second layer, only the first layer being displayed at a first time and the first and second layers being displayed at a second time.
27. The method according to claim 19, comprising displaying an image illustrating an interaction between the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer and the at least one symbol disposed in the at least one symbol position of at least another layer.
28. The method according to claim 27, comprising:
defining a set of symbol positions according to the interaction between the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer and the at least one symbol disposed in the at least one symbol position of at least another layer; and
determining the multilayer game outcome associated with symbols disposed in the set of symbol positions.
29. The method according to claim 19, comprising:
determining that another wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
determining the multilayer game outcome associated with at least one symbol in each of the at least one symbol positions of the at least two layers if the another wager is received.
30. The method according to claim 19, comprising:
determining that at least a second wager has been received from a player via the value input device;
at least another layer of the at least two layers comprising at least two symbol if the at least a second wager has been received; and
determining the multilayer game outcome associated with the plurality of symbol of the at least one layer and the at least two symbols disposed in the at least two symbol positions of the another layer.
31. The method according to claim 30, comprising substituting at least one of the at least two symbols for at least one of the plurality of symbols.
32. The method according to claim 31, wherein the plurality of symbol positions of the at least one layer are displayed as a plurality of rows and columns, each column representing a reel and each row representing a set of reel positions, each reel position from a different reel, and the at least two symbol positions comprise at least one of a row or a column of symbol positions, the method comprising:
substituting symbols disposed in the at least one of a row or a column of symbol positions for symbols disposed in one of the rows and columns to define a modified plurality of symbols; and
determining the multilayer game outcome associated with the modified plurality of symbol.
33. The method according to claim 30, comprising:
determining that a third wager has been received from a player via the value input device,
at least another layer of the at least two layers comprising more than two symbol if the third wager has been received; and
determining the multilayer game outcome associated with the plurality of symbol of the at least one layer and the more than two symbol of the another layer.
34. The method according to claim 19, comprising associating a game structure with each layer, each structure comprises actions or events for the layer with which it is associated.
35. The method according to claim 34, relating the actions or events of the structures for the plurality of layers through a collection of statistical rules.
36. The method according to claim 35, comprising processing the structures and the collection of statistical rules to provide a game structure for the multilayer game.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/966,851, filed Sep. 28, 2001, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

This disclosure is directed to methods, apparatuses, and systems for multilayer gaming, and, in particular, to methods, apparatuses, and systems for multiple layers interacting with each other.

To maintain or increase player interest in electronic casino games, game manufacturers frequently introduce new games. Typically, new games employ new themes (e.g., a jungle themed video slot machine) and/or new player pay out options (e.g., threaded paylines on a video slot machine). New player pay out options are desirable because they give the player more control and flexibility over his gaming environment. In addition, an increased number of payout options increases the variety of odds available to a player. For example, increasing the number of symbols which much match on a video slot machine from three to five allows game designers to create decreased odds and increased payouts. However, current electronic casino games suffer from a lack of new game types, new display modes, and new win evaluation methods.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a gaming system in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of one of the gaming units shown schematically in FIG. 1;

FIG. 2A illustrates an embodiment of a control panel for a gaming unit;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the electronic components of the gaming unit of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a main routine that may be performed during operation of one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an alternative embodiment of a main routine that may be performed during operation of one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 6 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed during performance of the video poker routine of FIG. 8;

FIG. 7 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed during performance of the video blackjack routine of FIG. 9;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a video poker routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a video blackjack routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 10 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed during performance of the slots routine of FIG. 12;

FIG. 11 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed during performance of the video keno routine of FIG. 13;

FIG. 12 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a slots routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 13 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a video keno routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 14 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed during performance of the video bingo routine of FIG. 15;

FIG. 15 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a video bingo routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 16 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed according to an embodiment of a multilayer game;

FIG. 17 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed according to another embodiment of a multilayer game;

FIG. 18 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed according to an additional embodiment of a multilayer game;

FIG. 19 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed according to a further embodiment of a multilayer game;

FIG. 20 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed according to a still further embodiment of a multilayer game;

FIG. 21 is an illustration of an embodiment of another visual display that may be displayed relative to the embodiment of the multilayer game of FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 is an illustration of an embodiment of a further visual display that may be displayed relative to the embodiment of the multilayer game of FIG. 20;

FIG. 23 is an illustration of an embodiment of a visual display that may be displayed in the alternative to the embodiment of the visual display of FIG. 18;

FIG. 24 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method for playing a multilayer game;

FIG. 25 is a flowchart of another embodiment of a method for playing a multilayer game;

FIG. 26 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method useful in the method of playing a multilayer game of FIG. 25;

FIG. 27 is a symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode displaying a three of a kind win completely in the “Z” dimension;

FIG. 28 is symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode where a player customizes game play by covering one or more reel positions with transparent selectors by dragging the selectors from the side of the game display;

FIG. 29 is a more detailed flowchart of the “update 3D data” routine of FIG. 12;

FIG. 30 is a more detailed flowchart of the “determined payout” routine of FIG. 12;

FIG. 31 is an exemplary pay table that may be used by one or more of the gaming units for win evaluation processing;

FIG. 32 is an exemplary reel strip layout that may be used by one or more of the gaming units for win evaluation processing;

FIG. 33 is a flowchart of an embodiment of an individual layer win valuation routine that may be performed by one or more of the gaming units;

FIG. 34 is a symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode where a traditional 3×5 reel layout is extended to 3×10 layout by adding one “Z” layer;

FIG. 35 is a symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode displaying a three of a kind scatter win on the base layer with four additional scatters on the “Z” layer; and

FIG. 36 is a symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode including additional win evaluation methods.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS

Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.

It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term be limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a casino gaming system 10 in accordance with the invention. Referring to FIG. 1, the casino gaming system 10 may include a first group or network 12 of casino gaming units 20 operatively coupled to a network computer 22 via a network data link or bus 24. The casino gaming system 10 may include a second group or network 26 of casino gaming units 30 operatively coupled to a network computer 32 via a network data link or bus 34. The first and second gaming networks 12, 26 may be operatively coupled to each other via a network 40, which may comprise, for example, the Internet, a wide area network (WAN), or a local area network (LAN) via a first network link 42 and a second network link 44.

The first network 12 of gaming units 20 may be provided in a first casino, and the second network 26 of gaming units 30 may be provided in a second casino located in a separate geographic location than the first casino. For example, the two casinos may be located in different areas of the same city, or they may be located in different states. The network 40 may include a plurality of network computers or server computers (not shown), each of which may be operatively interconnected. Where the network 40 comprises the Internet, data communication may take place over the communication links 42, 44 via an Internet communication protocol.

The network computer 22 may be a server computer and may be used to accumulate and analyze data relating to the operation of the gaming units 20. For example, the network computer 22 may continuously receive data from each of the gaming units 20 indicative of the dollar amount and number of wagers being made on each of the gaming units 20, data indicative of how much each of the gaming units 20 is paying out in winnings, data regarding the identity and gaming habits of players playing each of the gaming units 20, etc. The network computer 32 may be a server computer and may be used to perform the same or different functions in relation to the gaming units 30 as the network computer 22 described above.

Although each network 12, 26 is shown to include one network computer 22, 32 and four gaming units 20, 30, it should be understood that different numbers of computers and gaming units may be utilized. For example, the network 12 may include a plurality of network computers 22 and tens or hundreds of gaming units 20, all of which may be interconnected via the data link 24. The data link 24 may provided as a dedicated hardwired link or a wireless link. Although the data link 24 is shown as a single data link 24, the data link 24 may comprise multiple data links.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one possible embodiment of one or more of the gaming units 20. Although the following description addresses the design of the gaming units 20, it should be understood that the gaming units 30 may have the same design as the gaming units 20 described below. It should be understood that the design of one or more of the gaming units 20 may be different than the design of other gaming units 20, and that the design of one or more of the gaming units 30 may be different than the design of other gaming units 30. Each gaming unit 20 may be any type of casino gaming unit and may have various different structures and methods of operation. For exemplary purposes, various designs of the gaming units 20 are described below, but it should be understood that numerous other designs may be utilized.

Referring to FIG. 2, the casino gaming unit 20 may include a housing or cabinet 50 and one or more input devices, which may include a coin slot or acceptor 52, a paper currency acceptor 54, a ticket reader/printer 56 and a card reader 58, which may be used to input value to the gaming unit 20. A value input device may include any device that can accept value from a customer. As used herein, the term “value” may encompass gaming tokens, coins, paper currency, ticket vouchers, credit or debit cards, and any other object representative of value.

If provided on the gaming unit 20, the ticket reader/printer 56 may be used to read and/or print or otherwise encode ticket vouchers 60. The ticket vouchers 60 may be composed of paper or another printable or encodable material and may have one or more of the following informational items printed or encoded thereon: the casino name, the type of ticket voucher, a validation number, a bar code with control and/or security data, the date and time of issuance of the ticket voucher, redemption instructions and restrictions, a description of an award, and any other information that may be necessary or desirable. Different types of ticket vouchers 60 could be used, such as bonus ticket vouchers, cash-redemption ticket vouchers, casino chip ticket vouchers, extra game play ticket vouchers, merchandise ticket vouchers, restaurant ticket vouchers, show ticket vouchers, etc. The ticket vouchers 60 could be printed with an optically readable material such as ink, or data on the ticket vouchers 60 could be magnetically encoded. The ticket reader/printer 56 may be provided with the ability to both read and print ticket vouchers 60, or it may be provided with the ability to only read or only print or encode ticket vouchers 60. In the latter case, for example, some of the gaming units 20 may have ticket printers 56 that may be used to print ticket vouchers 60, which could then be used by a player in other gaming units 20 that have ticket readers 56.

If provided, the card reader 58 may include any type of card reading device, such as a magnetic card reader or an optical card reader, and may be used to read data from a card offered by a player, such as a credit card or a player tracking card. If provided for player tracking purposes, the card reader 58 may be used to read data from, and/or write data to, player tracking cards that are capable of storing data representing the identity of a player, the identity of a casino, the player's gaming habits, etc.

The gaming unit 20 may include one or more audio speakers 62, a coin payout tray 64, an input control panel 66, and a color video display unit 70 for displaying images relating to the game or games provided by the gaming unit 20. The audio speakers 62 may generate audio representing sounds such as the noise of spinning slot machine reels, a dealer's voice, music, announcements or any other audio related to a casino game. The input control panel 66 may be provided with a plurality of pushbuttons or touch-sensitive areas that may be pressed by a player to select games, make wagers, make gaming decisions, etc.

FIG. 2A illustrates one possible embodiment of the control panel 66, which may be used where the gaming unit 20 is a slot machine having a plurality of mechanical or “virtual” reels. Referring to FIG. 2A, the control panel 66 may include a “See Pays” button 72 that, when activated, causes the display unit 70 to generate one or more display screens showing the odds or payout information for the game or games provided by the gaming unit 20. As used herein, the term “button” is intended to encompass any device that allows a player to make an input, such as an input device that must be depressed to make an input selection or a display area that a player may simply touch. The control panel 66 may include a “Cash Out” button 74 that may be activated when a player decides to terminate play on the gaming unit 20, in which case the gaming unit 20 may return value to the player, such as by returning a number of coins to the player via the payout tray 64.

If the gaming unit 20 provides a slots game having a plurality of reels and a plurality of paylines which define winning combinations of reel symbols, the control panel 66 may be provided with a plurality of selection buttons 76, each of which allows the player to select a different number of paylines prior to spinning the reels. For example, five buttons 76 may be provided, each of which may allow a player to select one, three, five, seven or nine paylines.

If the gaming unit 20 provides a slots game having a plurality of reels, the control panel 66 may be provided with a plurality of selection buttons 78 each of which allows a player to specify a wager amount for each payline selected. For example, if the smallest wager accepted by the gaming unit 20 is a quarter ($0.25), the gaming unit 20 may be provided with five selection buttons 78, each of which may allow a player to select one, two, three, four or five quarters to wager for each payline selected. In that case, if a player were to activate the “5” button 76 (meaning that five paylines were to be played on the next spin of the reels) and then activate the “3” button 78 (meaning that three coins per payline were to be wagered), the total wager would be $3.75 (assuming the minimum bet was $0.25).

The control panel 66 may include a “Max Bet” button 80 to allow a player to make the maximum wager allowable for a game. In the above example, where up to nine paylines were provided and up to five quarters could be wagered for each payline selected, the maximum wager would be 45 quarters, or $11.25. The control panel 66 may include a spin button 82 to allow the player to initiate spinning of the reels of a slots game after a wager has been made.

In FIG. 2A, a rectangle is shown around the buttons 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 82. It should be understood that that rectangle simply designates, for ease of reference, an area in which the buttons 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 82 may be located. Consequently, the term “control panel” should not be construed to imply that a panel or plate separate from the housing 50 of the gaming unit 20 is required, and the term “control panel” may encompass a plurality or grouping of player activatable buttons.

Although one possible control panel 66 is described above, it should be understood that different buttons could be utilized in the control panel 66, and that the particular buttons used may depend on the game or games that could be played on the gaming unit 20. Although the control panel 66 is shown to be separate from the display unit 70, it should be understood that the control panel 66 could be generated by the display unit 70. In that case, each of the buttons of the control panel 66 could be a colored area generated by the display unit 70, and some type of mechanism may be associated with the display unit 70 to detect when each of the buttons was touched, such as a touch-sensitive screen.

Gaming Unit Electronics

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a number of components that may be incorporated in the gaming unit 20. Referring to FIG. 3, the gaming unit 20 may include a controller 100 that may comprise a program memory 102, a microcontroller or microprocessor (MP) 104, a random-access memory (RAM) 106 and an input/output (I/O) circuit 108, all of which may be interconnected via an address/data bus 110. It should be appreciated that although only one microprocessor 104 is shown, the controller 100 may include multiple microprocessors 104. Similarly, the memory of the controller 100 may include multiple RAMs 106 and multiple program memories 102. Although the I/O circuit 108 is shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuit 108 may include a number of different types of I/O circuits. The RAM(s) 106 and program memories 102 may be implemented as semiconductor memories, magnetically readable memories, and/or optically readable memories, for example.

FIG. 3 illustrates that the control panel 66, the coin acceptor 52, the bill acceptor 54, the card reader 58 and the ticket reader/printer 56 may be operatively coupled to the I/O circuit 108, each of those components being so coupled by either a unidirectional or bidirectional, single-line or multiple-line data link, which may depend on the design of the component that is used. The speaker(s) 62 may be operatively coupled to a sound circuit 112, that may comprise a voice- and sound-synthesis circuit or that may comprise a driver circuit. The sound-generating circuit 112 may be coupled to the I/O circuit 108.

As shown in FIG. 3, the components 52, 54, 56, 58, 66, 112 may be connected to the I/O circuit 108 via a respective direct line or conductor. Different connection schemes could be used. For example, one or more of the components shown in FIG. 3 may be connected to the I/O circuit 108 via a common bus or other data link that is shared by a number of components. Furthermore, some of the components may be directly connected to the microprocessor 104 without passing through the I/O circuit 108.

Overall Operation of Gaming Unit

One manner in which one or more of the gaming units 20 (and one or more of the gaming units 30) may operate is described below in connection with a number of flowcharts which represent a number of portions or routines of one or more computer programs, which may be stored in one or more of the memories of the controller 100. The computer program(s) or portions thereof may be stored remotely, outside of the gaming unit 20, and may control the operation of the gaming unit 20 from a remote location. Such remote control may be facilitated with the use of a wireless connection, or by an Internet interface that connects the gaming unit 20 with a remote computer (such as one of the network computers 22, 32) having a memory in which the computer program portions are stored. The computer program portions may be written in any high level language such as C, C+, C++ or the like or any low-level, assembly or machine language. By storing the computer program portions therein, various portions of the memories 102, 106 are physically and/or structurally configured in accordance with computer program instructions.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a main operating routine 200 that may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. Referring to FIG. 4, the main routine 200 may begin operation at block 202 during which an attraction sequence may be performed in an attempt to induce a potential player in a casino to play the gaming unit 20. The attraction sequence may be performed by displaying one or more video images on the display unit 70 and/or causing one or more sound segments, such as voice or music, to be generated via the speakers 62. The attraction sequence may include a scrolling list of games that may be played on the gaming unit 20 and/or video images of various games being played, such as video poker, video blackjack, video slots, video keno, video bingo, etc.

During performance of the attraction sequence, if a potential player makes any input to the gaming unit 20 as determined at block 204, the attraction sequence may be terminated and a game-selection display may be generated on the display unit 70 at block 206 to allow the player to select a game available on the gaming unit 20. The gaming unit 20 may detect an input at block 204 in various ways. For example, the gaming unit 20 could detect if the player presses any button on the gaming unit 20; the gaming unit 20 could determine if the player deposited one or more coins into the gaming unit 20; the gaming unit 20 could determine if player deposited paper currency into the gaming unit; etc.

The game-selection display generated at block 206 may include, for example, a list of video games that may be played on the gaming unit 20 and/or a visual message to prompt the player to deposit value into the gaming unit 20. While the game-selection display is generated, the gaming unit 20 may wait for the player to make a game selection. Upon selection of one of the games by the player as determined at block 208, the controller 100 may cause one of a number of game routines to be performed to allow the selected game to be played. For example, the game routines could include a video poker routine 210, a video blackjack routine 220, a slots routine 230, a video keno routine 240, and a video bingo routine 250. At block 208, if no game selection is made within a given period of time, the operation may branch back to block 202.

After one of the routines 210, 220, 230, 240, 250 has been performed to allow the player to play one of the games, block 260 may be utilized to determine whether the player wishes to terminate play on the gaming unit 20 or to select another game. If the player wishes to stop playing the gaming unit 20, which wish may be expressed, for example, by selecting a “Cash Out” button, the controller 100 may dispense value to the player at block 262 based on the outcome of the game(s) played by the player. The operation may then return to block 202. If the player did not wish to quit as determined at block 260, the routine may return to block 208 where the game-selection display may again be generated to allow the player to select another game.

It should be noted that although five gaming routines are shown in FIG. 4, a different number of routines could be included to allow play of a different number of games. The gaming unit 20 may also be programmed to allow play of different games.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an alternative main operating routine 300 that may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. The main routine 300 may be utilized for gaming units 20 that are designed to allow play of only a single game or single type of game. Referring to FIG. 5, the main routine 300 may begin operation at block 302 during which an attraction sequence may be performed in an attempt to induce a potential player in a casino to play the gaming unit 20. The attraction sequence may be performed by displaying one or more video images on the display unit 70 and/or causing one or more sound segments, such as voice or music, to be generated via the speakers 62.

During performance of the attraction sequence, if a potential player makes any input to the gaming unit 20 as determined at block 304, the attraction sequence may be terminated and a game display may be generated on the display unit 70 at block 306. The game display generated at block 306 may include, for example, an image of the casino game that may be played on the gaming unit 20 and/or a visual message to prompt the player to deposit value into the gaming unit 20. At block 308, the gaming unit 20 may determine if the player requested information concerning the game, in which case the requested information may be displayed at block 310. Block 312 may be used to determine if the player requested initiation of a game, in which case a game routine 320 may be performed. The game routine 320 could be any one of the game routines disclosed herein, such as one of the five game routines 210, 220, 230, 240, 250, or another game routine.

After the routine 320 has been performed to allow the player to play the game, block 322 may be utilized to determine whether the player wishes to terminate play on the gaming unit 20. If the player wishes to stop playing the gaming unit 20, which wish may be expressed, for example, by selecting a “Cash Out” button, the controller 100 may dispense value to the player at block 324 based on the outcome of the game(s) played by the player. The operation may then return to block 302. If the player did not wish to quit as determined at block 322, the operation may return to block 308.

Video Poker

FIG. 6 is an exemplary display 350 that may be shown on the display unit 70 during performance of the video poker routine 210 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 6, the display 350 may include video images 352 of a plurality of playing cards representing the player's hand, such as five cards. To allow the player to control the play of the video poker game, a plurality of player-selectable buttons may be displayed. The buttons may include a “Hold” button 354 disposed directly below each of the playing card images 352, a “Cash Out” button 356, a “See Pays” button 358, a “Bet One Credit” button 360, a “Bet Max Credits” button 362, and a “Deal/Draw” button 364. The display 350 may also include an area 366 in which the number of remaining credits or value is displayed. If the display unit 70 is provided with a touch-sensitive screen, the buttons 354, 356, 358, 360, 362, 364 may form part of the video display 350. Alternatively, one or more of those buttons may be provided as part of a control panel that is provided separately from the display unit 70.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of the video poker routine 210 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 8, at block 370, the routine may determine whether the player has requested payout information, such as by activating the “See Pays” button 358, in which case at block 372 the routine may cause one or more pay tables to be displayed on the display unit 70. At block 374, the routine may determine whether the player has made a bet, such as by pressing the “Bet One Credit” button 360, in which case at block 376 bet data corresponding to the bet made by the player may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. At block 378, the routine may determine whether the player has pressed the “Bet Max Credits” button 362, in which case at block 380 bet data corresponding to the maximum allowable bet may be stored in the memory of the controller 100.

At block 382, the routine may determine if the player desires a new hand to be dealt, which may be determined by detecting if the “Deal/Draw” button 364 was activated after a wager was made. In that case, at block 384 a video poker hand may be “dealt” by causing the display unit 70 to generate the playing card images 352. After the hand is dealt, at block 386 the routine may determine if any of the “Hold” buttons 354 have been activated by the player, in which case data regarding which of the playing card images 352 are to be “held” may be stored in the controller 100 at block 388. If the “Deal/Draw” button 364 is activated again as determined at block 390, each of the playing card images 352 that was not “held” may be caused to disappear from the video display 350 and to be replaced by a new, randomly selected, playing card image 352 at block 392.

At block 394, the routine may determine whether the poker hand represented by the playing card images 352 currently displayed is a winner. That determination may be made by comparing data representing the currently displayed poker hand with data representing all possible winning hands, which may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. If there is a winning hand, a payout value corresponding to the winning hand may be determined at block 396. At block 398, the player's cumulative value or number of credits may be updated by subtracting the bet made by the player and adding, if the hand was a winner, the payout value determined at block 396. The cumulative value or number of credits may also be displayed in the display area 366 (FIG. 6).

Although the video poker routine 210 is described above in connection with a single poker hand of five cards, the routine 210 may be modified to allow other versions of poker to be played. For example, seven card poker may be played, or stud poker may be played. Alternatively, multiple poker hands may be simultaneously played. In that case, the game may begin by dealing a single poker hand, and the player may be allowed to hold certain cards. After deciding which cards to hold, the held cards may be duplicated in a plurality of different poker hands, with the remaining cards for each of those poker hands being randomly determined.

Video Blackjack

FIG. 7 is an exemplary display 400 that may be shown on the display unit 70 during performance of the video blackjack routine 220 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 7, the display 400 may include video images 402 of a pair of playing cards representing a dealer's hand, with one of the cards shown face up and the other card being shown face down, and video images 404 of a pair of playing cards representing a player's hand, with both the cards shown face up. The “dealer” may be the gaming unit 20.

To allow the player to control the play of the video blackjack game, a plurality of player-selectable buttons may be displayed. The buttons may include a “Cash Out” button 406, a “See Pays” button 408, a “Stay” button 410, a “Hit” button 412, a “Bet One Credit” button 414, and a “Bet Max Credits” button 416. The display 400 may also include an area 418 in which the number of remaining credits or value is displayed. If the display unit 70 is provided with a touch-sensitive screen, the buttons 406, 408, 410, 412, 414, 416 may form part of the video display 400. Alternatively, one or more of those buttons may be provided as part of a control panel that is provided separately from the display unit 70.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart of the video blackjack routine 220 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 9, the video blackjack routine 220 may begin at block 420 where it may determine whether a bet has been made by the player. That may be determined, for example, by detecting the activation of either the “Bet One Credit” button 414 or the “Bet Max Credits” button 416. At block 422, bet data corresponding to the bet made at block 420 may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. At block 424, a dealer's hand and a player's hand may be “dealt” by making the playing card images 402, 404 appear on the display unit 70.

At block 426, the player may be allowed to be “hit,” in which case at block 428 another card will be dealt to the player's hand by making another playing card image 404 appear in the display 400. If the player is hit, block 430 may determine if the player has “bust,” or exceeded 21. If the player has not bust, blocks 426 and 428 may be performed again to allow the player to be hit again.

If the player decides not to hit, at block 432 the routine may determine whether the dealer should be hit. Whether the dealer hits may be determined in accordance with predetermined rules, such as the dealer always hit if the dealer's hand totals 15 or less. If the dealer hits, at block 434 the dealer's hand may be dealt another card by making another playing card image 402 appear in the display 400. At block 436 the routine may determine whether the dealer has bust. If the dealer has not bust, blocks 432, 434 may be performed again to allow the dealer to be hit again.

If the dealer does not hit, at block 436 the outcome of the blackjack game and a corresponding payout may be determined based on, for example, whether the player or the dealer has the higher hand that does not exceed 21. If the player has a winning hand, a payout value corresponding to the winning hand may be determined at block 440. At block 442, the player's cumulative value or number of credits may be updated by subtracting the bet made by the player and adding, if the player won, the payout value determined at block 396. The cumulative value or number of credits may also be displayed in the display area 418 (FIG. 7).

Slots

FIG. 10 is an exemplary display 450 that may be shown on the display unit 70 during performance of the slots routine 230 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 10, the display 450 may include video images 452 of a plurality of slot machine reels, each of the reels having a plurality of reel symbols 454 associated therewith. Although the display 450 shows ten reel images 452 on two geometric planes, each of which may have three reel symbols 454 that are visible at a time, other reel configurations could be utilized. In particular, additional three-dimensional reel configurations may be used as described in detail below.

To allow the player to control the play of the slots game, a plurality of player-selectable buttons may be displayed. The buttons may include a “Cash Out” button 456, a “See Pays” button 458, a plurality of payline-selection buttons 460 each of which allows the player to select a different number of paylines prior to “spinning” the reels, a plurality of bet-selection buttons 462 each of which allows a player to specify a wager amount for each payline selected, a “Spin” button 464, a “Max Bet” button 466 to allow a player to make the maximum wager allowable, and a “3D Options” button 467

FIG. 12 is a flowchart of the slots routine 230 shown schematically in FIG. 10. Referring to FIG. 12, at block 470, the routine may determine whether the player has requested payout information, such as by activating the “See Pays” button 458, in which case at block 472 the routine may cause one or more pay tables to be displayed on the display unit 70. At block 474, the routine may determine whether the player has pressed one of the payline-selection buttons 460, in which case at block 476 data corresponding to the number of paylines selected by the player may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. At block 478, the routine may determine whether the player has pressed one of the bet-selection buttons 462, in which case at block 480 data corresponding to the amount bet per payline may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. At block 482, the routine may determine whether the player has pressed the “Max Bet” button 466, in which case at block 484 bet data (which may include both payline data and bet-per-payline data) corresponding to the maximum allowable bet may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. At block 483, the routine may determine whether the player has pressed the “3D options” button 467, in which case at block 485 the routine may cause 3D data to be stored in the memory of the controller 100. As discussed below, selection of the “3D options” button 467 may allow further player interaction for selecting three-dimensional options such as how many play layers to include in the game, which three-dimensional positions are “staked,” which game evaluation methods to use, and/or which three-dimensional display modes to use.

If the “Spin” button 464 has been activated by the player as determined at block 486, at block 488 the routine may cause the slot machine reel images 452 to begin “spinning” so as to simulate the appearance of a plurality of spinning mechanical slot machine reels. At block 490, the routine may determine the positions at which the slot machine reel images will stop, or the particular symbol images 454 that will be displayed when the reel images 452 stop spinning. At block 492, the routine may stop the reel images 452 from spinning by displaying stationary reel images 452 and images of three symbols 454 for each stopped reel image 452. The virtual reels may be stopped from left to right, from the perspective of the player, or in any other manner or sequence.

The routine may provide for the possibility of a bonus game or round if certain conditions are met, such as the display in the stopped reel images 452 of a particular symbol 454. If there is such a bonus condition as determined at block 494, the routine may proceed to block 496 where a bonus round may be played. The bonus round may be a different game than slots, and many other types of bonus games could be provided. If the player wins the bonus round, or receives additional credits or points in the bonus round, a bonus value may be determined at block 498. A payout value corresponding to outcome of the slots game and/or the bonus round may be determined at block 500. The payout value may depend on three-dimensional game options as described in detail below. At block 502, the player's cumulative value or number of credits may be updated by subtracting the bet made by the player and adding, if the slot game and/or bonus round was a winner, the payout value determined at block 500.

Video Keno

FIG. 11 is an exemplary display 520 that may be shown on the display unit 70 during performance of the video keno routine 240 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 11, the display 520 may include a video image 522 of a plurality of numbers that were selected by the player prior to the start of a keno game and a video image 524 of a plurality of numbers randomly selected during the keno game. The randomly selected numbers may be displayed in a grid pattern.

To allow the player to control the play of the keno game, a plurality of player-selectable buttons may be displayed. The buttons may include a “Cash Out” button 526, a “See Pays” button 528, a “Bet One Credit” button 530, a “Bet Max Credits” button 532, a “Select Ticket” button 534, a “Select Number” button 536, and a “Play” button 538. The display 520 may also include an area 540 in which the number of remaining credits or value is displayed. If the display unit 70 is provided with a touch-sensitive screen, the buttons may form part of the video display 520. Alternatively, one or more of those buttons may be provided as part of a control panel that is provided separately from the display unit 70.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart of the video keno routine 240 shown schematically in FIG. 4. The keno routine 240 may be utilized in connection with a single gaming unit 20 where a single player is playing a keno game, or the keno routine 240 may be utilized in connection with multiple gaming units 20 where multiple players are playing a single keno game. In the latter case, one or more of the acts described below may be performed either by the controller 100 in each gaming unit or by one of the network computer 22, 32 to which multiple gaming units 20 are operatively connected.

Referring to FIG. 13, at block 550, the routine may determine whether the player has requested payout information, such as by activating the “See Pays” button 528, in which case at block 552 the routine may cause one or more pay tables to be displayed on the display unit 70. At block 554, the routine may determine whether the player has made a bet, such as by having pressed the “Bet One Credit” button 530 or the “Bet Max Credits” button 532, in which case at block 556 bet data corresponding to the bet made by the player may be stored in the memory of the controller 100. After the player has made a wager, at block 558 the player may select a keno ticket, and at block 560 the ticket may be displayed on the display 520. At block 562, the player may select one or more game numbers, which may be within a range set by the casino. After being selected, the player's game numbers may be stored in the memory of the controller 100 at block 564 and may be included in the image 522 on the display 520 at block 566. After a certain amount of time, the keno game may be closed to additional players (where a number of players are playing a single keno game using multiple gambling units 20).

If play of the keno game is to begin as determined at block 568, at block 570 a game number within a range set by the casino may be randomly selected either by the controller 100 or a central computer operatively connected to the controller, such as one of the network computers 22, 32. At block 572, the randomly selected game number may be displayed on the display unit 70 and the display units 70 of other gaming units 20 (if any) which are involved in the same keno game. At block 574, the controller 100 (or the central computer noted above) may increment a count which keeps track of how many game numbers have been selected at block 570.

At block 576, the controller 100 (or one of the network computers 22, 32) may determine whether a maximum number of game numbers within the range have been randomly selected. If not, another game number may be randomly selected at block 570. If the maximum number of game numbers has been selected, at block 578 the controller 100 (or a central computer) may determine whether there are a sufficient number of matches between the game numbers selected by the player and the game numbers selected at block 570 to cause the player to win. The number of matches may depend on how many numbers the player selected and the particular keno rules being used.

If there are a sufficient number of matches, a payout may be determined at block 580 to compensate the player for winning the game. The payout may depend on the number of matches between the game numbers selected by the player and the game numbers randomly selected at block 570. At block 582, the player's cumulative value or number of credits may be updated by subtracting the bet made by the player and adding, if the keno game was won, the payout value determined at block 580. The cumulative value or number of credits may also be displayed in the display area 540 (FIG. 11).

Video Bingo

FIG. 14 is an exemplary display 600 that may be shown on the display unit 70 during performance of the video bingo routine 250 shown schematically in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 14, the display 600 may include one or more video images 602 of a bingo card and images of the bingo numbers selected during the game. The bingo card images 602 may have a grid pattern.

To allow the player to control the play of the bingo game, a plurality of player-selectable buttons may be displayed. The buttons may include a “Cash Out” button 604, a “See Pays” button 606, a “Bet One Credit” button 608, a “Bet Max Credits” button 610, a “Select Card” button 612, and a “Play” button 614. The display 600 may also include an area 616 in which the number of remaining credits or value is displayed. If the display unit 70 is provided with a touch-sensitive screen, the buttons may form part of the video display 600. Alternatively, one or more of those buttons may be provided as part of a control panel that is provided separately from the display unit 70.

FIG. 15 is a flowchart of the video bingo routine 250 shown schematically in FIG. 4. The bingo routine 250 may be utilized in connection with a single gaming unit 20 where a single player is playing a bingo game, or the bingo routine 250 may be utilized in connection with multiple gaming units 20 where multiple players are playing a single bingo game. In the latter case, one or more of the acts described below may be performed either by the controller 100 in each gaming unit 20 or by one of the network computers 22, 32 to which multiple gaming units 20 are operatively connected.

Referring to FIG. 15, at block 620, the routine may determine whether the player has requested payout information, such as by activating the “See Pays” button 606, in which case at block 622 the routine may cause one or more pay tables to be displayed on the display unit 70. At block 624, the routine may determine whether the player has made a bet, such as by having pressed the “Bet One Credit” button 608 or the “Bet Max Credits” button 610, in which case at block 626 bet data corresponding to the bet made by the player may be stored in the memory of the controller 100.

After the player has made a wager, at block 628 the player may select a bingo card, which may be generated randomly. The player may select more than one bingo card, and there may be a maximum number of bingo cards that a player may select. After play is to commence as determined at block 632, at block 634 a bingo number may be randomly generated by the controller 100 or a central computer such as one of the network computers 22, 32. At block 636, the bingo number may be displayed on the display unit 70 and the display units 70 of any other gaming units 20 involved in the bingo game.

At block 638, the controller 100 (or a central computer) may determine whether any player has won the bingo game. If no player has won, another bingo number may be randomly selected at block 634. If any player has bingo as determined at block 638, the routine may determine at block 640 whether the player playing that gaming unit 20 was the winner. If so, at block 642 a payout for the player may be determined. The payout may depend on the number of random numbers that were drawn before there was a winner, the total number of winners (if there was more than one player), and the amount of money that was wagered on the game. At block 644, the player's cumulative value or number of credits may be updated by subtracting the bet made by the player and adding, if the bingo game was won, the payout value determined at block 642. The cumulative value or number of credits may also be displayed in the display area 616 (FIG. 14).

Multilayer Gaming

According to the present disclosure, a method and apparatus are provided for gaming using a plurality of gaming layers. As explained in greater detail below, the layers may be represented visually in such a manner that symbols, etc. associated with a first layer may appear to be in a different plane than symbols, etc. associated with a second layer, although the layers may also be represented such that elements of each layer are presented so that the symbols, etc. associated with each layer may be differentiated from the symbols, etc. of other layers, but all layers appear visually to be in a common plane. The gaming layers may be included, for example, in response to a player request or input (player-initiated), although the gaming layers may be included in response to a game event or a condition of a gaming apparatus (game-initiated), or in response to an entity other than the player or the gaming apparatus (externally-initiated). As explained in greater detail below, the layers may interact with each other, and may do so in a deterministic or a dynamic fashion.

FIGS. 16-23 illustrate a plurality of embodiments of a multiple layer, or multilayer, game. The features of the individual embodiments are not exclusive to only those embodiments, and, indeed, features of one embodiment may be used in combinations with the features of other embodiments disclosed herein. Nor are these embodiments exclusive of other embodiments that may also fall within the scope of the claims recited below.

FIG. 16 illustrates but one embodiment of a multiple layer game and its display according to the present disclosure. According to this embodiment, the multiple layer game may include three gaming layers 700, 800, 900, each having a plurality of symbol positions in at least one plane. As illustrated the gaming layers 700, 800, 900 each may have a single plane, the layers 700, 800, 900 being displayed so as to appear multi-dimensional such that the planes associated with the layers 700, 800, 900 are not coplanar. As is also illustrated, the symbol positions are arranged in into matrices 702, 802, 902. According to this embodiment, each of the matrices 702, 802, 902 is a 3×5 matrix, and each of the symbol positions may have a numeral associated therewith for purposes of identification and discussion, starting at the uppermost left-hand corner, then proceeding from left to right along each row, to the lowermost right-hand corner. Thus, for example, the first row of the matrix 702 for the first layer 700 starts with a symbol position 704, and the proceeds to symbol positions 706, 708, 710, 712, before starting over with a symbol position 714 in the leftmost position on the second row, and so on. The other matrices 802, 902 would be numbered similarly, with the initial symbol positions 804, 904 illustrated for the matrices 802, 902, respectively. Not all symbol positions have been numbered to improve the clarity of the individual figures.

According to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 16, the 3×5 matrices 702, 802, 902 may represent, for example, a set of five slots reels, each with three symbol positions showing. Alternatively, each of the 3×5 matrices 702, 802, 902 may represent a set of three 5-card hands of cards, for purposes of playing poker, for example. As a further alternative, each of the matrices 702, 802, 902 may be used for playing still other games, such as bingo, etc. Thus, the present disclosure is not limited to any particular game or group of games.

In an embodiment wherein each of the 3×5 matrices 702, 802, 902 represent a plurality of slot reels, each of the matrices 702, 802, 902 may have one or more paylines associated therewith. For example, one such payline may include the symbol positions 704-706-708-710-712. Another payline may be made of the symbol positions immediately below these positions (e.g., 714-716-718-720-722), again running from one edge of the matrix 702 to the other. However, other combinations of symbol positions may be defined between the leftmost edge and the rightmost edge of the matrix 702 that do not define a horizontal combination of symbol positions, symbol positions 704-716-728-720-712, for example.

Moreover, in those implementations where the display is a video representation, and thus the symbols assigned to each position in each row (which represents a reel) may be independent of each other, it may also be possible to define paylines that run from an uppermost edge of the matrix to the lowermost edge of the matrix. Thus, a payline may include symbol positions 704, 714, 724, for example.

In addition to the paylines defined using the symbol positions of the matrices 702, 802, 902 individually, other paylines may be defined using the symbol positions from combinations of the matrices 702, 802, 902. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 16, a payline may be defined by including symbol position 704 of matrix 702, symbol position 804 of matrix 802, and symbol position 904 of matrix 902. As was the case with the paylines discussed above relative to matrix 702, the paylines using symbol positions from a combination of the matrices 702, 802, 902 need not be limited to horizontal combinations of symbol positions, but may include combinations at an angle, for example.

In fact, as illustrated in FIG. 17, the symbol positions along a payline using symbol positions from two or more layers 700, 800, 900 may include more than one symbol position in each of the matrices 702, 802, 902 of each of the layers 700, 800, 900. For example, the payline illustrated in FIG. 17 includes at least two symbol positions from the matrices 702, 802: specifically, 708, 710, 712 of matrix 702 and symbol positions 808, 818, 824, 826 of matrix 802, defining a payline that may run 824-826-818-808-708-710-712. After this fashion, paylines longer than those achievable with a standard five-reel slot machine may be achieved by utilizing multiple layers. According to the payline illustrated, a payout may be associated with, for example, seven-of-a-kind if the same symbol (or a combination of the same symbol and wild, or special, symbols) may be found along the combination of symbol positions 824-826-818-808-708-710-712.

To the extent that paylines may suggest an option for selecting a static, or predetermined, combination of symbol positions for determination of a winning combination, it will be recognized that the embodiments of the present disclosure are not so limited. For example, rather than the symbol positions 824-826-818-808-708-710-712 representing a payline, which payline may be selected by a player or associated with the player according to a game event (e.g., display of a bonus round trigger in an active or non-active payline), the positions 824-826-818-808-708-710-712 may represent a combination of symbols (or symbols and wild, or special, symbols) in contiguous symbol positions that comes about during play of the game, and is then considered as a set for purposes of determining a payout to the player. For example, the set of symbols may be formed when the same symbol (or a combination of the same symbol and wild, or special, symbols) is displayed in contiguous symbol positions.

As still another embodiment, the positions 824-826-818-808-708-710-712 may represent a combination of positions considered as a set because, for example, a trigger symbol may appear in one of the symbol positions along the combination of positions 824-826-818-808-708-710-712. For example, a trigger symbol may appear at symbol position 712, which trigger symbol may be located on an active or a non-active payline. The trigger symbol may then move along a path through the symbol positions of one or more layers. For example, the trigger symbol, which may be referred to as a moving or roving symbol, may follow the path of symbol positions 712-710-708-808-818-826-824.

The set of symbol positions 712-710-708-808-818-826-824 thus defined may be used in a variety of manners. According to one embodiment, the symbols found in symbol positions 712-710-708-808-818-826-824 may be examined to determine if a combination of symbols may be located in those symbol positions such that a payout may be provided to the player. Alternatively, according to another embodiment, it may have already been determined that a payout is to be awarded to the player, and the path of symbol positions 712-710-708-808-818-826-824 is displayed as an indication to the player that a payout will be awarded. As a variation on either of these alternative embodiments, the roving symbol may interact with the symbols in the symbol positions 712-710-708-808-818-826-824 to cause certain of the symbols to change, or morph, into wild, or special, symbols, or other symbols, with the determination or indication being based on symbols already present and/or the changed or morphed symbols.

The present disclosure is not, however, limited to embodiments wherein the various layers in a multiple layer game have the same number of matrix positions. For example, a first alternative embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 18. According to this embodiment, the first layer 950 may include a 3×5 matrix 952, similar to the matrices 702, 802, 902 discussed above relative to the embodiments of FIGS. 16 and 17. However, each of the other layers 1000, 1050 may include a 1×5 matrix 1002, 1052. These matrices 1002, 1052 may represent, for example, a five-reel slot game with a single position showing for each of the reels, while the matrix 952 may represent, for example, a five-reel slot game with a three positions showing for each of the reels.

According to certain embodiments, the matrices 1002, 1052 may have both been aligned with a single row of the matrix 952. However, it will be recognized that each of the matrices 1002, 1052 is not aligned with the same row of the matrix 952 as illustrated in FIG. 18. Instead, the matrix 1052 may be aligned with the topmost row of the matrix 952, while the matrix 1002 may be aligned with the centermost row of the matrix 952. Paylines, sets of symbol positions or sets of symbols may be defined using symbol positions from each of the layers 950, 1000, 1050.

The present disclosure is also not limited to layers wherein each layer defines at least one row of symbol positions, such as shown in FIGS. 16-18. Still other variations are possible. As examples of such additional variations, a series of layers 1100, 1150, 1200 is illustrated in FIG. 19.

Layer 1100, similar to layers 700, 800, 900, 950, may have a 3×5 matrix 1102 of symbol positions. However, the layers 1150, 1200 may have matrices 1152, 1202 that are different than the other matrices illustrated in FIGS. 16-18. For example, the layer 1150 may include a matrix 1152 defined by a column of symbol positions. According to such an embodiment, the matrix 1152 may represent a single reel of a multiple reel slot game, with multiple positions showing. Alternatively, the matrix 1152 may represent a single card position in a plurality of card hands. By contrast, the layer 1200 may include a single-position matrix 1202. The single position matrix 1202 may represent, for example, a single card or reel position that may interact with the symbols in corresponding symbol positions on the matrix 1202. Alternatively, the matrix 1202 could be combined with symbol positions in the matrix 1102 to define tunnel-like paylines, sets, paths, etc.

One such embodiment using a single-position layer in multiple dimensions is illustrated in FIGS. 20-22. This embodiment also includes a layer 1300 with a 3×5 matrix 1302. The second layer 1350 in this multiple layer game includes a single-position matrix 1352, which single-position matrix 1352 may be aligned with the centermost symbol position 1308 of the matrix 1302.

This embodiment may also illustrate two other aspects of the present disclosure.

The first aspect of the disclosure may be referred to as a four-dimension multiple layer game. That is, that the various layers 1300, 1350 may be displayed as to appear three-dimensional visually. Moreover, the various layers 1300, 1350 may be displayed to appear to vary with time (i.e., the fourth-dimension). In this regard, only the layer 1300 may be displayed at a first time, as in FIG. 20. In response to a player-selection, a game event, or a determination external to the player or the game, for example, the layer 1350 may be displayed with the layer 1300 at a second time, as shown in FIGS. 21 and 22.

The second aspect of the disclosure may be a variation wherein the layers 1300, 1350 interact or are considered as a group other than in regard to defining a new payline, set of symbols positions, path of symbol positions, or set of symbols. Instead, as illustrated in the variations between FIGS. 21 and 22, a symbol may be displayed in the symbol position 1352 which interacts with various symbols in various symbol positions in the matrix 1302 of the layer 1300. According to this embodiment, the symbol may “bleed through” from the layer 1350 to the layer 1300. In this fashion, for example, the symbol in symbol position 1352 may replace the symbols in symbol positions 1308, 1318, 1320, 1326, 1332. Alternatively, the symbol in symbol position 1352 may appear to change, or morph, the symbols 1308, 1318, 1320, 1326, 1332, in their appearance or in their behavior.

As merely one example of such an embodiment, a sponsor, such as a soft-drink manufacturer, may sponsor a “surprise” bonus round to be implemented on a gaming machine at a particular time of day. The layer 1350 may appear behind the layer 1300 in which the player may already be playing a game, for example a five-reel slots game, at the particular time of day designated, as illustrated by the change in the illustration between that of FIG. 20 and that of FIG. 21. The symbol in the single-position matrix 1352 may be a bottle of a soft-drink manufactured by the sponsor, for example. The symbol may then animate so as to appear to tip over, for example. The symbol may then “bleed through” to the layer 1300, and appear to change the symbols in various symbol positions in the matrix 1302. As one example, the symbols in symbol positions 1308, 1318, 1320, 1326, 1332 may appear to smile, and the symbols may then retain their smiles and be carried over in other spins of the game in layer 1300 in the positions 1308, 1318, 1320, 1326, 1332 as long as their smile lasts (i.e., as long as the special event is determined to last, for example, by the soft-drink manufacturer/sponsor or according to the funding provided by the sponsor for the awarding of payouts). These smiling symbols may then be combined with the symbols in other symbol positions in subsequent games, as the symbol itself or as a wild, or special, symbol, for example.

Having thus described a number of multiple layer games and their displays wherein all of the active layers are arranged one behind the next to provide a three-dimensional appearance visually, it will be recognized that all of the layers need not be displayed as illustrated in FIGS. 16-22. While still further embodiments will be discussed below, one embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 23, as an alternative to the embodiment shown in FIG. 18, in which all of the layers are not aligned one behind the next. According to this embodiment, the layers 1000, 1050 may be displayed above the layer 950. While the layers 1000, 1050 are displayed one behind the other above the layer 950, and thus, collectively, the group of layers 950, 1000, 1050 appears three-dimensional, the layers 1000, 1050 may be displayed so as to appear to lie in a common plane. While the layers 1000, 1050 may be displayed one above the other in a common plane, as will be apparent according to other embodiments discussed below, the layers 1000, 1050 in a common plane may overlap visually as well.

It will also be recognized that any of the game displays illustrated in FIGS. 16-22 may be modified to improve the visibility of the layers to the player. For example, the displays may allow the player to rotate the layers about an axis or to change perspective so that the player may more easily visualize the included layers. As another alternative, the order of the layers may be changed. For example, referring to FIG. 16, the order of the layers 700, 800, 900 may be changed so that the layer 900 is displayed in front of the layer 700, such that the layers are ordered 900, 800, 700. This change in ordering may be purely cosmetic, to allow the player to visualize aspects of the layers 800, 900 that are obscured in whole or in part when the layers are ordered 700, 800, 900. Alternatively, the change in ordering may modify the determinations made in each of the layers 700, 800, 900, as discussed in greater detail below.

A method of playing a multiple layer game, such as those discussed above and below, may now be discussed with reference to the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 24. This method may be carried out by the gaming apparatus, discussed above, and in particular by a controller (which may include both processor and memory) programmed to carry out the method as one or more routines, programs, etc. Alternatively, the method may be carried out by a system including the gaming apparatus, discussed above, and one or more servers, in which case parts of the method may be carried out by a controller of the gaming apparatus while parts of the method may be carried out by one of the one or more servers, with the storage of the routines, programs, etc. also shared between the gaming apparatuses and the servers, or concentrated in one location or the other. As a still further alternative, the method may be carried out by a system including two or more gaming apparatuses, each of the gaming apparatuses (or, more particularly, the controller) programmed to carry out a portion of the gaming method.

According to the method of FIG. 24, the method may begin at a block 1402, with a determination as to whether a trigger has occurred or been received, which trigger may initiate a game with multiple layers. If the determination is made that no such trigger has been occurred or been received, then the method may continue to a block 1404. If a determination is made that a trigger has occurred or has been received, the method may continued to a block 1406.

As indicated above, the trigger may be received from the player. That is, the player may depress a button to signal or indicate to the gaming apparatus (or system) the player's desire to play a multiple layer game. Alternatively, the signal or indication that the player desires to play a multiple layer game may be based on the size of the wager made by the player. That is, if a player wagers an amount below a threshold amount, a single layer game may be initiated. However, if the player wagers the threshold amount or greater, a multiple layer game may be initiated. As a further alternative, the multiple layer game may be provided only to players who also are members of a players' club, and indicate their presence at a gaming apparatus (and, thus, their desire to play a multiple layer game) by presenting their players' club card to a card reader associated with the gaming apparatus. As a further alternative, the player-selected preferences for extra layers may be written or stored in the form of instructions on a programmable device (“smart” card, personal data assistant, mobile phone, etc.) or a code on a disposable instrument, such as a ticket, for example, useful with a system such as the IGT EZ-Pay ticket in-ticket out system. It will be recognized that still other methods for a player-initiated trigger are possible.

In the alternative to or combination with the player-initiated trigger are triggers based on game events. For example, the trigger to play a multiple layer game may result from the presence of a trigger symbol on an active or non-active payline. It will be recognized that it may or may not be possible to form a winning combination utilizing the trigger symbol. As an alternative, the trigger may result from the presence of a combination of symbols, which combination acts as a trigger. As a further alternative, a number of consecutive wins above a threshold amount may result in a trigger. Still further, the trigger may be based on a particular outcome in a bonus game, the bonus game may be triggered in turn by a particular symbol or set of symbols being displayed on an active or a non-active payline in a primary, or base, game.

External triggers may also be used, in the combination with or the alternative to the player-initiated or game-initiated triggers discussed above. For example, an external trigger may be based on the time of day, of the day of the week, month or year. Alternatively, an external trigger may refer to a trigger established by an entity, such as a casino operator or sponsor. Such a trigger may still rely upon a player activity (e.g., indicating the player's presence via a player tracking system) or a game event (triggering of a bonus game), but the trigger will not be a traditional part of the operation of the gaming apparatus. The external trigger may be administered by a server located at a casino or under the control of a casino operator, or may be administered by a third-party separate from the casino operator, who operates the gaming apparatus, or a sponsor, who may provide the financial backing for the payouts to be provided during the multiple layer game.

As mentioned above, the various triggers may act in the alternative or in combination. That is, according to one embodiment, a player-initiated trigger may define a layer having two columns (or reels) of symbol positions that may be substituted for those in another layer. The player-trigger may further define a layer having a row (or multiple-reel slots game) that may be combined with a row of another layer for additional paylines. In response to a bonus game trigger symbol appearing in one of the layers, all of the symbols in the single row layer may be converted to wild, or special, symbols, which wild symbols are then used for the determinations of the paylines using the symbol positions from the single row layer and other layers, and are then also used in the determinations of the paylines in the other layers with the symbols aligned with the multiple layer paylines replaced by the wild symbols. Alternatively, the presence of the extra layer(s) may be triggered by an external source, such as a sponsor, but the nature of the layer(s) may be left for the player to determine from, for example, a list of possible options.

If a trigger is received, as determined at the block 1402, then the method may proceed to a block 1406. At the block 1406, a determination may be made as to whether preconditions have been met for the multiple layer game to proceed. The block 1406 may be optional, in that not all multiple layer games may require preconditions to be met before the game is played; it may be sufficient in such games that it is determined at the block 1402 that the trigger has been received. However, it is also the case that, for example, when the player initiates or triggers the multiple layer game, as determined at the block 1402, that additional conditions must be met before the game can continue. As one exemplary embodiment of a precondition that may needed to be met before the game may proceed, if the player selects a multiple layer game having three layers, the player may need to place at least a base wager in regard to each of the layers or in regard to the interaction of the layers. According to such an embodiment, the method may not proceed past the block 1406 until at least the base wagers are received.

As a further alternative, an additional wager or stake may need to be received from the player for each decision, or certain decisions, made by the player. As one example, a first wager may be required to include an extra layer, the extra layer including a single symbol position, the single symbol position and the symbol appearing therein being substitutable for one of the symbols in an aligned symbol position in another layer. Using the game illustrated in FIG. 19, the single symbol position matrix 1202 associated with the layer 1200 may initially be positioned to visually represent that the matrix 1202 may be aligned with one of the positions in the rightmost column of the matrix 1102 of the layer 1100. In this position, the fact that a symbol displayed in the matrix 1202 may replace a symbol in one of the symbol positions in the rightmost column of the matrix 1102 may actually have little effect on the overall paytable of the game of matrix 1102, if the combinations are read from left to right to determine if the combination is a winning combination, such that a payout is to be provided. It would require at least four of the same symbol (or a combination of symbols and wild, or special, symbols) to be formed before the fact that a symbol may be transferred from the layer 1200 to the layer 1100 would have an effect. However, if the player was allowed to move the matrix 1202 to the left, then with each move, the potential for affecting the combinations formed, and thus the payouts awarded, would be increased, as fewer and fewer symbols would need to be arranged along a payline before the substitution of the symbol from the layer 1200 would have an effect on the determinations made in the layer 1100. As a consequence, it may be that a second wager is required to move the matrix 1202 one symbol position to the left, the amount of the second wager being greater than that of the first wager, and so on.

Similarly, the wager required for substituting a reel of symbols from a layer, such as the layer 1150 to that of layer 1100 in FIG. 19, may be larger than the wager required for including a single symbol position matrix layer, such as layer 1200. Further, the wager required for substituting an entire set of symbol positions representing a single-position five reel slots game, such as represented in FIG. 18 by either layer 1000 or 1050, may be larger than that required for a layer, such as layer 1150, wherein a set of symbol positions representing a reel with three positions showing is included. Also, the operation of the symbol positions in the extra layers may require varying additional wagers—for example, a symbol position with a particular symbol selected from all of the symbols possible in the base game may require a lesser wager than a symbol position with a wild, or special, symbol, which may used in place of any of the symbols possible in the base game. Varying wagers may also be required for an “area of effect” of a symbol in a symbol position. As an example of this concept, a symbol displayed in a layer in the central most symbol position may be substituted for a symbol in the same symbol position in another layer for a first wager, for those symbols in the same column for a second wager, for those symbols in the same row for a third wager, and for any symbol in any contiguous (up-down, side-to-side, or diagonal) symbol position for a fourth wager. Further alternatives in wagering and symbol position selection may also be recognized.

Assuming that any preconditions have been met, the method may continue to a block 1408, wherein the interactions between the layers may be determined. In the first pass, the interactions in a first extra layer may be defined. These interactions may be defined according to the selection of one or more paylines, for example, wherein the game of the first extra layer is a slots game. These interactions may also be defined between the first extra layer and another layer that defines the base game, and hence is referred to as the base layer. A determination is then made at a block 1410 if all layers have been defined. If so, the method proceeds to the block 1404. If not, the method returns to the block 1408.

The extra layers may also be defined as games different than the game played in the base layer, playable for reasons or payouts different than the base layer, or playable by players other than those played in the base layer. For example, an extra layer may be defined as a tournament layer, or paylines including symbol positions in the base layer and the extra layer may be defined as tournament paylines. It will be recognized that the payouts for winning combinations for these tournament layers or paylines will be different than the payouts for winning combinations in the base layer, in that the payouts for the tournament layers or paylines will be for tournament points, while payouts in the base layer may be for monetary credits or game credits, which game credits may be redeemable for monetary credits. Further, the extra layer may be defined as a group or communal game layer, or paylines including symbol position in the base layer and the extra layer may be defined as group or communal paylines, where in the group is defined as a number of players playing on different gaming apparatuses or a number of different gaming apparatuses (such as, for example, a bank of gaming apparatuses). As another alternative for the group or communal layer, the players of the communal layer may, upon receiving a symbol in the base layer, be able to transfer the symbol to the group or communal layer for use by others in the group, either by drawing the symbol from the communal layer into their base layer, after which the symbol no longer may be used by other members of the group, or drawing the symbol from the communal layer into their base layer, after which other members of the group may also be able to draw the symbol into their own base layers.

If the determination is made at the block 1402 that no multiple game trigger has been received, or if the determination is made that the layer definition is complete at the block 1410, then the method proceeds to the block 1404. At the block 1404, the base layer game may be performed. For example, wherein the base game is a slots game, the performance of the base layer game at block 1404 may include receipt of a wager, receipt of a selection of paylines, receipt of a game initiator, and determination of a payout, if any. After the completion of the performance of the base layer game at the block 1404, the method may continue to the block 1412.

At the block 1412, a determination may be made if a multiple layer game is to be played. This determination may be made based on the same triggers noted above (player-initiated, game initiated, or externally-initiated). Alternatively, this determination may be based on a flag, event, etc. that is set, initiated, etc. when the determination is made at block 1402 that a trigger has been received. For example, a flag may be set if a trigger is received to play a multiple layer game. If the determination is made at the block 1412 that a multiple layer game is not to be played, the method may proceed to the block 1414. If the determination is made at the block 1412 that a multiple layer game will be played, then the method may proceed to a block 1416.

At the block 1416, the determination may be made as to a game outcome for the first layer of the multiple layer game, and determinations may be made as to multilayer game outcomes for any additional layers or for combinations of layers. This determination may, as seen relative to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17, related to one or more paylines connecting the base layer and the first extra layer. Alternatively, the layer determination may include consideration of the effect of a symbol displayed in the first extra layer relative to the symbols of in the base layer, as illustrated in FIGS. 20-22. Still other interactions may be possible in keeping with the method of playing multilayer games described above.

After the determination(s) is/are made at the block 1416, then the method may proceed to a block 1418. Similar to the determinations made at the block 1410, a determination may be made at as to whether determinations have been performed as to all extra layers. If the determination is made that other layer determinations need to be performed, the method may return to the block 1416, and may repeat the blocks 1416, 1418 as often as required to complete the necessary determinations.

If the determination is made at the block 1412 that the present game is not a multiple layer game, or if the determination is made at the block 1418 that the determinations for all included extra layers have been performed, then the method may proceed to the block 1414. At the block 1414, a determination may be made whether the player is finished playing the game, in regard to the base layer, or both the base and extra layers. If the player is not finished, then the method may return to block 1402. If the player is finished, then the method may proceed to a block 1420, and a payout may be provided according to the game outcomes and multilayer game outcomes for the first layer, the additional layers and/or combinations thereof. The payouts may be provided individually for each of the outcomes, and accumulated for presentation to the player as a single payout, or the payouts may be provided according to the accumulated outcomes.

FIG. 25 illustrates an alternative method for playing a multiple layer game. Unlike the method of FIG. 24, the alternative method of FIG. 25 assumes the game to be a multiple layer game. As such, there is no determination as to whether a multiple layer game trigger has been received, but rather, at a block 1452, a determination may be made as to whether necessary preconditions, if any, have been met. For example, in a multiple layer game, it may be necessary to receive a wager at least sufficient for a single layer to be active. Until the base wager is received, the method may not proceed. Other preconditions may include age and location (either of the player, the gaming apparatus, or both).

If it is determined at the block 1452 that the preconditions are met, the method may proceed to a block 1454, where the layers may be defined. A determination may be made at a block 1456 whether all active layers have been defined. If not, the method may return to the block 1454 and may repeat blocks 1454, 1456 until all active layers have been defined.

In regard to the definition of the layers at block 1454, this activity may assume a variety of steps. For example, for instance, the definition may represent the setting of paylines, if the game is a slots game, within the individual layer. Where more than one layer is included and each layer includes symbol positions from a slots game, the definition of the layers may include the setting of paylines including symbol positions from two or more of the layers included. Further, the definition of the layers may take the form of setting rules for interaction between the layers, or the timing of the appearance of the layers. The definition of the layers may also include reference to rules established external to the player or the gaming apparatus, the exclusion of which may be done by referencing an external database or at the instruction of an external source.

An embodiment of present invention concerning the method and apparatus by which interactions may be defined between and in the various layers may be explained with reference to FIG. 26. As illustrated in FIG. 26, a game may include three layers 1510, 1520, 1530. One of these layers, layer 1510, may be defined as a base layer, while the layers 1520, 1530 may be defined as extra layers. As illustrated, the three layers 1510, 1520, 1530 may be displayed so that each layer appears to lie in a plane that is different than that of the other layers relative to an axis extending out of the page. However, it will be recognized that the layers 1510, 1520, 1530 may be arranged so that the layers overlap, for example, in one of the manners described below.

A game structure may be associated with each of the layers 1510, 1520, 1530. In particular, the structure 1512 may be associated with the layer 1510, the structure 1522 may be associated with the layer 1520, and the structure 1532 may be associated with the layer 1530. One of these structures, the structure 1512, may be defined as a base structure, and the layer 1510 associated with the structure 1512 may be defined as the base layer. It will be recognized that any of the other layers 1520, 1530 and associated structures 1522, 1532 may have been designated as base layer and base structure instead.

Each structure 1512, 1522, 1532 defines all allowable actions to be taken or events to occur on or in the layer 1510, 1520, 1530. For example, the actions or events could include simple line interactions (paylines), the presence (or absence) of wild, or special, symbols, the inclusion (or exclusion) of progressive links (both external and internal), etc.

According to this embodiment, there is also provided one or more inputs 1540. These inputs may be received from one or more of the input/output devices described above for manipulation by the player. Alternatively, the inputs 1540 may be defined by signals, etc. received from external sources, such as a server or database, for example.

Also according to the embodiment, there is a collection of statistical rules 1550. This collection 1550 includes statistical rules relating all of the actions and events described in the structures 1512, 1522, 1532. These rules may be expressed in the form of tables, equations, definitions (in the form of pure set theory), routines, scripts, etc. The collection 1550 may be stored, for example, in a database.

The structures 1512, 1522, 1532 expressing the actions and events of each layer 1510, 1520, 1530, the inputs 1540 received from the player/gaming apparatus and/or external sources, and the rules 1550 are processed by a modifier ratification and verification process 1560. This process 1560 not only implements the required dynamics used as various inputs 1540 are received, the process 1560 also verifies dynamically that the defined/approved regulatory rules are followed (e.g., a set return percentage is met).

From the foregoing, the modular nature of the approach will be appreciated. Different layers may be added by including structures that express the actions and events of the layer, along with additions to the collection 1550 to express the rules for the actions and events. The process 1560 then ratifies and verifies the same, rather than placing that emphasis in the definitions of the layers themselves, such as may be expressed by static paytables.

In doing so, the result of the process 1560 is a new game structure 1570, which is the result of the structures 1512, 1522, 1532, the inputs 1540, and the rules 1550. This new game structure 1570 may be implemented directly according to the steps of the methods discussed in, for example, FIG. 25. It should be noted that according to other embodiments, the win evaluation may be performed iteratively by the process 1560.

Returning then to FIG. 25, after defining the layers included in the multiple layer game, the method may proceed to the blocks 1458, 1460. At the blocks 1458, 1460, the determinations may be made according to the definitions established at the block 1454. Similar to the blocks 1454, 1456, the determinations at the block 1458 may be repeated until it is determined that the determinations for all layers are completed. Once the determination is made that the determinations for all layers are completed, at the block 1460, the method may proceeds to a block 1462, wherein a determination may be made whether the player is finished playing the game.

If the determination is made at the block 1462 that the player is finished playing the game, then the method may proceeds to a block 1464, and a payout may be provided to the player. Alternatively, the method may return to the block 1452.

Having thus discussed a number of embodiments for the multiple layer game and the method of playing a multiple layer game, still further embodiments are discussed below with reference to FIGS. 27-36.

One embodiment of the present disclosure is illustrated in FIG. 27. According to this embodiment, a gaming method is illustrated wherein the plurality of layers are included in response to a player request or input. Further, the plurality of layers may interact, in ways discussed above, as well as in other manners, as described herein. Further, according to this embodiment, the plurality of layers may be illustrated as above where the individual layers appear to be in different planes, or, as also illustrated above, in a common plane.

According to this embodiment, the player is permitted the options, such as how many “Z” layers 1602 to include in the game in addition to the “base layer” 1604. According to this embodiment, as above, a “base layer” 1604 may be a game surface depicted on a video display in a well known manner. For example, a typical video slot machine depicts a single game surface which includes five reels with three symbols showing on each reel. A “Z” layer 1602 may then be an additional game surface depicted on a video display in a way that makes at least a portion of the additional game surface appear on a different plane from the plane of the base layer 1604. For example, in a video slot machine, the player may select four layers of reels (i.e. one base layer 1604 and three “Z” layers 1602). In this manner, a pay line 1606 may be formed in the third dimension. Although a video slot machine is used in this description, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that any casino game may include three-dimensional options as described herein.

Player selectable game options may also include which three-dimensional reel positions are “staked” (i.e., which reel positions the player would like to wager money on). For example, in a video slot machine, the player may place a transparent stake indicator over one or more reel positions. FIG. 28 is a symbolic diagram illustrating an exemplary three-dimensional play mode where a player may customize game play by covering one or more reel positions 1702 with transparent selectors 1704. Using these selectors 1704, a player may choose to play only selected reel positions 1702 in the third dimension. The player may move the selectors 1704 using a touch screen device or any other user input device. The selectors 1704 may be moved to any reel position 1702. Multiple selectors 1704 may be placed on a single reel, and/or multiple reel positions may be covered by a single selector. A selector 1704 may be positioned by dragging the selector 1704 along a positioning bar 1706. Selectors 1704 may be positioned by dragging the selectors 1704 from the side of the game display, and/or selectors 1704 may be pulled down from the reel top and placed in any reel position 1702. Selectors 1704 may cover an entire reel, and/or selectors 1704 may be individually placed. In addition, one or more selectors 1704 may dynamically “chase” a certain symbol according to player selected options.

The player selected game options may determine one or more game evaluation methods and display modes. For example, the player may choose whether “Z” layer reels are to be played separate from other layers, linearly combined with other layers, non-linearly combined with other layers, only used for free game opportunities, only used for bonus multipliers, only used for progressives, etc. After one or more random numbers are generated, the outcome of the game is displayed three-dimensionally to the player based on the selected game evaluation methods and display modes. Many different game evaluation methods (described in detail below) are possible with the addition of “Z” layers.

FIG. 29 is a more detailed flowchart of the “update 3D data” routine 485 shown schematically in FIG. 12. The routine 485 may be embodied in a software program which is stored in the program memory 102 of a gaming unit 20 and executed by the microprocessor 104 in a well known manner. However, some or all of the blocks of the routine 485 may be performed manually and/or by another device. Although the routine 485 is described with reference to the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 29, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that many other methods of performing the acts associated with routine 485 may be used. For example, the order of many of the blocks may be changed without departing from the scope or spirit of the present invention. In addition, many of the blocks described are optional. Although this description focuses on a video slot machine, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the teachings described herein may be applied to any type of gaming unit 20 without departing form the scope and spirit of the present invention.

Generally, the routine 485 causes the gaming unit 20 to allow a player to select one or more game options. These game options include three-dimensional options such as how many “Z” layers to include in the game in addition to the “base layer” and which reel positions are “staked.” A “base layer” is a game surface depicted on a video display in a well known manner. For example, a typical video slot machine depicts a single game surface which includes five reels. A “Z” layer is an additional game surface depicted on a video display in a way that makes the additional game surface appear on a different plane from the plane of the base layer. The player's selections determine one or more game evaluation methods and display modes. For example, the player may choose to put money on a particular pay line which includes one or more “Z” layers (i.e., the player may “stake” a three-dimensional pay line). After one or more random numbers are generated, the outcome of the game is displayed to the player based on the selected game evaluation methods and display modes. Many different game evaluation methods (described in detail below) are possible with the addition of “Z” layers.

The routine 485 begins when the player selects one or more play options (block 1802). For example, the player may select a number of play layers. Play layers include the base layer and any “Z” layers. For example, by selecting one play layer, the player is indicating he wishes to play a typical (e.g., 3×5) reel layout (i.e., just the base layer). By selecting two play layers, the player is indicating that he would like to play with one “base” layer and one “Z” layer. Similarly, by selecting three play layers, the player is indicating that he would like to play with one “base” layer and two “Z” layers. In addition, the player may choose various three-dimensional payout options. For example, the player may choose whether “Z” layer reels are to be played separate from other layers, linearly combined with other layers, non-linearly combined with other layers, only used for free game opportunities, only used for bonus multipliers, only used for progressives, etc. These three-dimensional payout options are described in detail below.

After the player selects one or more play options, the video slot machine controller 100 checks any three-dimensional selections for allowability (block 1804). For example, at a one dollar slot machine with three play layers selected, the option to play each layer separately selected, and the option to linearly combine the three play layers selected, the player may be required to have at least four dollars in the machine. If the three-dimensional selections are allowable (block 1806), the controller 100 checks if the player has enough credits wagered to play the selected options (block 1808). In the example above, the player must wager four dollars. If the player has enough credits wagered (block 1810), the controller 100 waits for an input from the player to initiate play (block 1812). For example, the player may pull a traditional slot machine lever or push a button to initiate play.

Subsequently, the slot machine controller 100 determines the “Z” interaction types from the player selections. In this embodiment, the controller begins this sub-process by initializing a “Z” variable (e.g., Zflag=0000) (block 1814). Next, the controller 100 may determine if any “Z” layer options were selected by the player (block 1816). If at least one “Z” layer option was selected by the player, the controller 100 determines if the player selected an option which includes interaction between the base layer and one or more “Z” layers (block 1818). For example, the player may choose to play three completely independent layers with no interaction between the single base layer and the two “Z” layers. Alternatively, the player may select an option which includes pay lines that cross through different play layers (e.g., three of a kind with one matching symbol in each layer).

If the player selected an option which includes interaction between the base layer and one or more “Z” layers, the controller 100 may modify the “Z” variable accordingly (e.g., Zflag=0001) (block 1820). Similarly, if the player selected base layer interaction with more than one “Z” layer (block 1822), the controller may modify the “Z” variable to reflect this player selection (e.g., Zflag=0011) (block 1824). If the player also selected “Z” layer payouts (i.e., wins are possible from layer interaction) (block 1826), the controller may further modify the “Z” variable accordingly (e.g., Zflag=0111) (block 1828). Subsequently, the routine 485 exits.

FIG. 30 is a more detailed flowchart of the “determine payout” routine 500 shown schematically in FIG. 12. The routine 500 may be embodied in a software program which is stored in the program memory 102 of a gaming unit 20 and executed by the microprocessor 104 in a well known manner. However, some or all of the blocks of the routine 500 may be performed manually and/or by another device. Although the routine 500 is described with reference to the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 30, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that many other methods of performing the acts associated with routine 500 may be used. For example, the order of many of the blocks may be changed without departing from the scope or spirit of the present invention. In addition, many of the blocks described are optional. Although this description focuses on a video slot machine, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the teachings described herein may be applied to any type of gaming unit 20 without departing form the scope and spirit of the present invention.

The routine 500 begins when the video slot machine controller 100 selects one or more “Z” layer win evaluation methods based on the state of the “Z” variable. If no “Z” layer interaction types are selected by the player (e.g., Zflag=0000) (block 1930), no “Z” layer win evaluation methods are used by the controller 100. If the player selected base layer interaction with at least one “Z” layer (e.g., Zflag=0001) (block 1932), the controller 100 selects a single “Z” layer win evaluation method (block 1934), determines a single “Z” interaction style (block 1936), and flags a special mode single layer “Z” evaluation code (block 1936). In this manner, an appropriate evaluation routine may be selected for single “Z” layer interaction. The flagged win evaluation routine may determine what symbol combinations form predefined wins and award the associated prize(s).

If the player selected base game interaction with more than one “Z” layer (e.g., Zflag=0011) (block 1938), the controller 100 selects a multiple “Z” layer win evaluation method (block 1940), determines a multiple “Z” interaction style (block 1942), flags a special mode multiple layer “Z” evaluation code (block 1942), and overrides the single layer “Z” evaluation code (block 1942). In this manner, an appropriate evaluation routine may be selected for multiple “Z” layer interaction. The flagged win evaluation routine may determine what symbol combinations form predefined wins and award the associated prize(s). If the player also selected “Z” layer payouts (e.g., Zflag=0111) (block 1944), the controller adds a “Z” layer win evaluation code to the current evaluation method (block 1946).

Next, the controller 100 performs a win evaluation using either standard methods (i.e., one dimension) or extended methods (i.e., three dimensions) depending on the modes selected by the player (block 1950). The game must always have a payout which is statistically provable and within predetermined limits (e.g., 90% return to player). Therefore, if player selections change the structure of the game, certain variables within the game must also change to keep the payout substantially constant.

Specifically, depending on the “Z” interaction, the game style and the game mode, the win evaluation process may select certain pay tables, reel strip layouts, and/or game rules from a plurality of preprogrammed pay tables, reel strip layouts, and/or game rules. Pay tables contain the credit values that can be won for a particular symbol combination. An exemplary pay table 2000 is illustrated in FIG. 31. Reel strip layouts determine game operation by defining the symbol combinations for the game. An exemplary reel strip layout 2100 is illustrated in FIG. 32. Letters 2102 and numbers 2104 in the reel strip layout 2100 represent various pictures and symbols which characterize the game. In this example, the “Z” symbol 2106 appears twice in the first reel, twice in the second reel, once in the third reel, once in the fourth reel, and once on the fifth reel. Of course, any number and combination of symbols may be used to control the overall return percentage of the game. The “Z” symbol 2106 may represent a free game, a bonus, an interaction with other layers, etc. In addition, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the reel strip layout 2100 may be linked to special modifier tables that have algorithmic rules attached. The pay table(s), 2000 reel strip layout(s) 2100, and game rule(s) determine the games overall percentages return structure.

Many modifications to the pay table(s) 2000, reel strip layout(s) 2100, and game rule(s) which affect the overall percentages return structure of a game are well known. By adding a “Z” dimension, additional modifications to the pay table(s) 2000, reel strip layout(s) 2100, and game rule(s) which affect the overall percentages return structure of a game are provided. For example, each play layer may be evaluated separately using traditional methods, and then the individual results may be combined. In this embodiment, transparent overlays or “symbol within symbol” graphics may be used to present the layers to the player.

A flowchart illustrating one embodiment of this individual layer evaluation method 2200 is illustrated in FIG. 33. First, the controller 100 activates the base layer XY game and allows player interaction (block 2202). For example, the player may change the number of pay lines, the number of credits to bet, or activate a layer via a user input device. The controller 100 then performs “normal” XY game evaluations and processes the results (block 2204). For example, three of a kind (in this layer) might pay one hundred credits. Next, the controller 100 activates the “Z” layer XY game and allows player interaction (block 2206). The controller 100 then performs additional “Z” evaluations and processes the results (block 2208). For example, “Z” layer symbols may be combined with base layer symbols to create a pay line which crosses between the two layers Of course, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that more than two layers may be evaluated in this manner. The results of the individual determinations are then combined into one win statement which is presented to the player (block 2210). For example, if the player won one hundred credits from the base layer and one thousand credits from the “Z” layer the player may be informed that he won eleven hundred credits.

In another multi-layer win evaluation method, one or more “Z” layers may extend a base layer as illustrated in FIG. 34. In this example, traditional 3×5 base layer symbols 2302 are extended to a 3×10 reel layout by adding “Z” layer symbols 2304. As a result, new win evaluation methods such as six of a kind, seven of a kind, eight of a kind, nine of a kind, and ten of kind are possible. Of course, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that any number of layers and n-kind extensions are possible. As a result, extremely large prizes are possible for players wishing to gamble at higher levels. In this embodiment, both layers may be viewed simultaneously by overlaying “Z” layer symbols 2304 inside of base layer symbols 2302. Specifically, a portion of a base layer symbol 2302 may be obstructed by a relatively smaller version of a “Z” layer symbol 2304. Optionally, the overlaid “Z” layer symbols 2304 may be semi-transparent.

In yet another multi-layer win evaluation method, one or more “Z” layers may interact with the base layer. For example, if a five of a kind win occurs on the base layer, one additional occurrence of the same symbol on the “Z” layer may be used to multiply the five of a kind payout by two. Two additional occurrences may multiply the five of a kind payout by three. Three additional occurrences may multiply the five of a kind payout by four. Four additional occurrences may multiply the five of a kind payout by five. Five additional occurrences may multiply the five of a kind payout by six. In the same embodiment, one additional occurrence of the same symbol on the “Z” layer may be used to turn a four of a kind win on the base layer into a five of a kind win. Two additional occurrences may be used to turn a four of a kind win on the base layer into a five of a kind win and multiply the five of a kind win by two. A person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that this scheme may be easily extended to additional combinations of base layer wins and “Z” add-ons. For example, as shown in FIG. 35, a three of a kind scatter win 2402 on the base layer 1604 with four additional scatters symbols 2406 on the “Z” layer 2302 may result in a five of a kind win multiplied by three.

A symbolic representation of additional “Z” layer win evaluation methods is illustrated in FIG. 36. In this example, three “Z” layer win evaluation methods are shown. A three of a kind win 1602 in the “Z” dimension is shown. In some embodiments, this type of three of a kind win 2502 may require a “special modifier symbol.” A special modifier symbol is a symbol which transforms one or more underlying symbols into substitute symbols and/or scatter symbols. A four of a kind win 2504 in the “Z” dimension, and a two of a kind win 2506 in the “Z” dimension are also shown in FIG. 36.

In addition, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that many other multi-layer win evaluation methods are possible within the scope and spirit of the present invention. For example, a “Z” overlaid symbol matching a base layer symbol may provide a free game and/or some other prize. One or more “Z” overlaid symbols forming a pay line with one or more base layer symbols may provide a free game and/or some other prize. One or more “Z” overlaid symbols which are substitutes for one or more base layer symbols may provide a free game and/or some other prize. Substitute symbols “stand in” for other symbols according to predefined game rules. For example, a “wild card” symbol may be substituted for any “cherry” symbol. A “Z” overlaid symbol above a special (e.g., animated) base layer symbol may provide a free game and/or some other prize.

Still further, extended progressive win evaluation methods are possible within the scope and spirit of the present invention. For example, a “Z” overlaid symbol matching a base layer symbol may indicate a progressive win. A “Z” overlaid symbol may indicate a chance at a progressive win, while the base layer provides the win/loss. The base layer may provide a progressive win, and the “Z” layer may indicate a win multiplier or a progressive game level.

When a plurality of “Z” levels are presented, additional win evaluation methods are possible within the scope and spirit of the present invention. For example, a three of a kind win 1606 completely in the “Z” dimension is possible (see FIG. 27). Of course, any number of n-kind wins (e.g., four of a kind, five of a kind, etc.) may be extended in the “Z” dimension. In one embodiment, symbols from different layers may be threaded together to form pay lines.

Returning to FIG. 30, once the win evaluation is performed, the controller 100 graphically presents the win/loss to the player (block 1952). Depending on the game mode, the graphical display may take on a variety of forms. For example, credits won on each layer and total credits may be displayed separately. Of course, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that many different ways of displaying the win/loss to the player may be used without departing from the scope or spirit of the present invention. Subsequently, the routine 500 exits.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6517433 *May 22, 2001Feb 11, 2003Wms Gaming Inc.Reel spinning slot machine with superimposed video image
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8496519 *Jul 30, 2008Jul 30, 2013IgtGaming system and method for providing a bonus event triggered by a continuous communal game
US8585485 *Mar 1, 2012Nov 19, 2013Wms Gaming Inc.Community game using optimal outcome from individual portion in subsequent community portion
US8727864 *Jan 16, 2007May 20, 2014Aristocrat Technologies Austrualia Pty. Ltd.Gaming machine with transparent symbol carriers
US20070111788 *Jan 16, 2007May 17, 2007Helen BucknallGaming machine with transparent symbol carriers
US20080132321 *Nov 13, 2007Jun 5, 2008Edgar PauGaming appratus and method having a game with a variable reel feature game
US20100029363 *Jul 30, 2008Feb 4, 2010IgtGaming system and method for providing a bonus event triggered by a continuous communal game
US20120231868 *Mar 1, 2012Sep 13, 2012Wms Gaming Inc.Community game using optimal outcome from individual portion in subsequent community portion
US20130029749 *Dec 12, 2011Jan 31, 2013Konami Gaming, Inc.Gaming machine and method of providing an electronic game
US20130102377 *Aug 10, 2012Apr 25, 2013Jonathan BalloneGaming device having additional play opportunities from an initial wager
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/12
International ClassificationA63F3/06, A63F1/00, G07F17/32, A63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3244, A63F3/0645, A63F2001/008, G07F17/3211, G07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32C2F, G07F17/32K, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 18, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MUIR, DAVID H.;REEL/FRAME:018770/0739
Effective date: 20061013