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Publication numberUS20070275778 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/561,802
Publication dateNov 29, 2007
Filing dateNov 20, 2006
Priority dateOct 15, 1999
Also published asUS20110159946, WO2001028646A1
Publication number11561802, 561802, US 2007/0275778 A1, US 2007/275778 A1, US 20070275778 A1, US 20070275778A1, US 2007275778 A1, US 2007275778A1, US-A1-20070275778, US-A1-2007275778, US2007/0275778A1, US2007/275778A1, US20070275778 A1, US20070275778A1, US2007275778 A1, US2007275778A1
InventorsColin Fong, Philippa Graham
Original AssigneeColin Fong, Philippa Graham
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming machine with improved display
US 20070275778 A1
Abstract
A method for use with a gaming machine. The gaming machine presents symbols on a display in an array of symbol positions and evaluates the selected symbols for winning combinations in pay lines in the array. The symbols are selected for the display positions independently and at least one line in the array is selected by a player using a player interface by selecting individual symbol display positions. One pay line may only trigger feature games and/or the feature game that is awarded may be determined dependent on the symbols presented in another pay line. The game played by the gaming machine may also present first and second game symbols in the same display position and the presented first and second symbols are evaluated for the occurrence of a winning combination.
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Claims(39)
1. A method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:
defining at least one line in an array of symbol display positions;
independently selecting a symbol for display in each symbol display position in the array;
evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination; and
if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding an award;
wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from a player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions and defining the line so as to traverse the selected individual display positions.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that do not span the array in any direction.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that are not linearly disposed.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein the array is a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns and defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions in two columns separated by at least one intermediary column in which no symbol display positions have been selected.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the array is a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns, and defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that occupy two adjacent symbol positions in a row and two adjacent symbol positions in a column.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that do not span the array in either a horizontal or a vertical direction.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises allocating each selected symbol position an order in the line according to defined rules that determine the position in the line of a selected symbol dependent on the location of the symbol in the array relative to the other selected symbols and wherein evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination comprises evaluating whether a particular symbols occurred in a defined order in the line.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises allocating each selected symbol position an order in the line according to the order of selection of individual symbol display positions received from the player interface and wherein evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination comprises evaluating whether a particular symbols occurred in a defined order in the line.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises defining a line that traverses every display symbol position in the array.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein defining at least one line in an array of symbol display positions comprises defining a first line that traverses a first number of symbol display positions and defining a second line that traverses a second number of symbol display positions and wherein the method comprises at least one of evaluating the first line and second line for the occurrence of a winning combination according to different criteria, and awarding a different award for the same winning combination occurring in the first line as the second line.
11. The method of claim 10, further comprising defining at least one said line as a trigger line, wherein every possible award that may be awarded if a winning combination occurs in the trigger line is an award of a feature game.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the array is a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns, and every said line that traverses one and only one symbol display position in each row of the matrix is defined as a trigger line.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein every said line that traverses one and only one symbol display position in each column of the matrix is defined as a payline wherein every possible award that may be awarded if a winning combination occurs in the trigger line is an award other than a feature game.
14. The method of claim 11, further comprising defining the at least one said line as a trigger line dependent on a selection received from a player interface.
15. The method of claim 10, wherein lines that traverse more symbol positions over time pay larger prizes less frequently relative to lines that traverse less symbol positions.
16. The method of claim 1, wherein a number of said lines defined and evaluated for the occurrence of a winning combination is dependent on an input received from the player interface.
17. The method of claim 1, wherein a wager required to play the game is dependent on a length of the line or a number of lines selected.
18. The method of claim 1, wherein a wager required to play the game is dependent on a number of lines selected.
19. A method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:
selecting and presenting first and second game symbols in an array of a plurality of display positions wherein each second game symbol is displayed in the same display position as a first game symbol and wherein the process of selecting involves an independent selection process for each symbol position;
evaluating the selected first symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols and if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of first symbols occurred, awarding a first award;
evaluating the selected second symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of second symbols and if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of second symbols occurred, awarding a second award.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein evaluating the selected first symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols comprises evaluating the symbols selected for each of at least one payline defined through the array.
21. The method of claim 19, wherein evaluating the selected second symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols comprises evaluating whether the symbols selected define a defined two-dimensional pattern in the array.
22. The method of claim 19, wherein awarding a second award comprises awarding a feature game.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein the method comprises awarding a feature games on the occurrence of every possible winning combination of second symbols.
24. A method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:
defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions;
independently selecting a symbol for display in each symbol display position in the array;
evaluating the selected symbols in the at least two lines in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination; and
if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding an award;
wherein for at least one of the lines, every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination comprises a feature game.
25. The method of claim 24, wherein the array is a matrix comprising columns and rows of symbol display positions and wherein defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions comprises defining at least one line extending across the matrix and at least one line extending down the matrix, wherein the at least one line for which every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination comprises a feature game is a line extending down the matrix.
26. The method of claim 25, wherein the at least one line for which every award that is awardable is a feature game comprises a line traversing every symbol position in a first column of the matrix and no symbol in any other column of the matrix.
27. The method of claim 24, wherein for lines extending across the matrix, every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination is an award other than a feature game.
28. The method of claim 24, further comprising receiving from a player interface a wager selection and defining said at least two lines in the array only for particular wagers.
29. The method of claim 24, wherein defining the at least two lines in the array of symbol display positions comprises receiving from a player interface signals for the purchase of each of the at least two lines.
30. The method of claim 29, wherein receiving from the player interface signals for the purchase of each of the at least two lines comprises detecting operation of a line selector for each said line.
31. The method of claim 24, wherein defining the at least two lines in the array of symbol display positions comprises receiving from a player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions and defining the lines so as to traverse the selected individual display positions.
32. The method of claim 31, further comprising presenting a plurality of second game symbols in the array and evaluating the selected second symbols for the occurrence of a winning combination of second symbols and, if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of second symbols occurred, awarding an award.
33. The method of claim 24, wherein for at least one of the lines for which every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination is a feature game, there are a plurality of possible winning combinations, each associated with a distinct feature game, and wherein the process of awarding an award comprises awarding the feature game associated with the winning combination that occurred.
34. A method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:
defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions;
selecting symbols for display in the array;
evaluating the selected symbols in one of the lines for the occurrence of a winning combination;
if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding one of a plurality of feature games;
wherein the feature game that is awarded is determined dependent on an evaluation of the selected symbols in another one of the lines for at least one of a defined symbol and a defined combination of symbols.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein selecting symbols for display in the array comprises independently selecting a symbol for display in each display position in the array.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein the array comprises a matrix and wherein evaluating the selected symbols in one of the lines for the occurrence of a winning combination and evaluating the selected symbols in another one of the lines both comprise evaluating a line extending through rows of the matrix.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein each line extending through the rows of the matrix extends through the display positions in one column only of the matrix.
38. A method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:
defining at least a first line and a second line in an array of symbol display positions;
selecting symbols for display in the array;
evaluating the selected symbols in the first line for the occurrence of a winning combination;
if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding one of a plurality of feature games;
receiving from a player interface a signal indicating that the second line is to be active in the game;
wherein if the second line is active, the feature game that is awarded is determined dependent on an evaluation of the selected symbols in the second line for at least one of a defined symbol and a defined combination of symbols and is otherwise determined independently of the selected symbols in the second line.
39. The method of claim 38, wherein the array comprises a matrix and wherein selecting symbols for display in the array comprises independently selecting a symbol for display in each display position in the array and wherein the first and second lines are both lines that extend through the display positions in one column only of the matrix.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/110,901, filed Aug. 30, 2002, which is a National Stage application of International Application Number PCT/AU00/01232, filed Oct. 11, 2000, which claims the benefit of Australian Application Number PQ3461, filed Oct. 15, 1999, which are all hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a gaming machine of the type known as a slot machine or fruit machine. More particularly, the invention relates to a gaming machine having an improved display.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Players repeatedly playing gaming machines can quickly tire of particular games. Therefore, it is desirable for manufacturers of these machines to develop inventive game features which add interest to the games provided on such machines in order to keep the players entertained and willing to continue to play the games.

Gaming machines of the type described are popular nationally and internationally and substantial amounts of money are wagered on these machines. In the state of New South Wales of Australia, there is a growing tendency to legalise the use of these machines by licensing operators with resultant revenue gains being achieved through license fees and the taxation of monies invested. The licensed operation of gaming machines is generally the subject of legislation and regulation. Amongst the items that may be regulated is the percentage payout for a gaming machine. For example, in New South Wales, Australia, a minimum of 85% of monies invested must be returned as winnings and manufacturers of gaming machines must therefore design their machines around these regulatory controls.

With the growth that has occurred in the gaming machine market, there is intense competition between manufacturers to supply the various existing and new venues. When selecting a supplier of gaming machines, the operator of a venue must pay close attention to the popularity of various games with their patrons. Therefore, gaming machine manufacturers are keen to devise games that are popular with players as a mechanism for improving sales and for maintaining player interest. In this regard, various strategies have been tried in the past to make games more enticing to players including an increase in the number of physical reels or video simulations of such reels. It has become almost standard practice for a gaming machine to have five spinning reels or video simulations thereof.

By altering the display of a gaming machine of the type in question, various additional combinations can be provided which should maintain player interest for longer, entice new players and allow the introduction of new features.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:

defining at least one line in an array of symbol display positions;

independently selecting a symbol for display in each symbol display position in the array;

evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination; and

if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding an award;

wherein defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from a player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions and defining the line so as to traverse the selected individual display positions.

Defining at least one line in the array may comprise receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that do not span the array in any direction. Defining at least one line in the array may also comprise receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that are not linearly disposed. The array may be a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns and defining at least one line in the array comprises receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions in two columns separated by at least one intermediary column in which no symbol display positions have been selected.

The array may be a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns, and defining at least one line in the array may comprise receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that occupy two adjacent symbol positions in a row and two adjacent symbol positions in a column. Defining at least one line in the array may also comprise receiving from the player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions that do not span the array in either a horizontal or a vertical direction.

Defining at least one line in the array may comprise allocating each selected symbol position an order in the line according to rules that determine the position in the line of a selected symbol dependent on the location of the symbol in the array relative to the other selected symbols and wherein evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination comprises evaluating whether a particular symbols occurred in a defined order in the line.

Defining at least one line in the array may comprise allocating each selected symbol position an order in the line according to the order of selection of individual symbol display positions received from the player interface and wherein evaluating the selected symbols in the at least one line in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination comprises evaluating whether a particular symbols occurred in a defined order in the line.

Defining at least one line in the array may comprise defining a line that traverses every display symbol position in the array.

Defining at least one line in an array of symbol display positions may comprise defining a first line that traverses a first number of symbol display positions and defining a second line that traverses a second number of symbol display positions and wherein the method comprises at least one of evaluating the first line and second line for the occurrence of a winning combination according to different criteria, and awarding a different award for the same winning combination occurring in the first line as the second line. The method may further comprise defining at least one said line as a trigger line, wherein every possible award that may be awarded if a winning combination occurs in the trigger line is an award of a feature game. The array may be a matrix having at least three rows and at least three columns, and every said line that traverses one and only one symbol display position in each row of the matrix is defined as a trigger line. Every said line that traverses one and only one symbol display position in each column of the matrix may be defined as a payline and every possible award that may be awarded if a winning combination occurs in the trigger line may be an award other than a feature game.

The method may further comprise defining a said line as a trigger line dependent on a selection received from a player interface.

In one embodiment lines that traverse more symbol positions may over time pay larger prizes less frequently relative to lines that traverse less symbol position.

The number of said lines defined and evaluated for the occurrence of a winning combination is dependent on an input received from the player interface.

The wager required to play the game may be dependent on the length of the line or lines selected. The wager required to play the game may also be dependent on the number of lines selected.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:

selecting and presenting first and second game symbols in an array of a plurality of display positions wherein each second game symbol is displayed in the same display position as a first game symbol and wherein the process of selecting involves an independent selection process for each symbol position;

evaluating the selected first symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols and if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of first symbols occurred, awarding a first award;

evaluating the selected second symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of second symbols and if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of second symbols occurred, awarding a second award.

Evaluating the selected first symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols may comprise evaluating the symbols selected for each of at least one payline defined through the array.

Evaluating the selected second symbols in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination of first symbols may comprise evaluating whether the symbols selected define a predefined two-dimensional pattern in the array.

Awarding a second award may comprise awarding a feature game. A feature game may be awarded on the occurrence of every possible winning combination of second symbols.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:

defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions;

independently selecting a symbol for display in each symbol display position in the array;

evaluating the selected symbols in the at least two lines in the array for the occurrence of a winning combination; and

if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding an award;

wherein for at least one of the lines, every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination is a feature game.

The array may be a matrix including columns and rows of symbol display positions and defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions defining at least one line extending across the matrix and at least one line extending down the matrix, wherein the at least one line for which every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination is a feature game. The at least one line for which every award that is awardable is a feature game may be a line traversing every symbol position in a column of the matrix and no symbol in any other column of the matrix.

For each said line extending across the matrix, every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination may be an award other than a feature game.

The method may further comprise receiving from a player interface a wager selection and defining said at least two lines in the array only for particular wagers.

Defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions may comprise receiving from a player interface signals for the purchase of each of the at least two lines. Receiving from a player interface signals for the purchase of each of the at least two lines may comprise detecting operation of a line selector for each said line.

Defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions may comprise receiving from a player interface a selection of individual symbol display positions and defining the line so as to traverse the selected individual display positions. The method may further comprise presenting a plurality of second game symbols in the array and evaluating the selected second symbols for the occurrence of a winning combination of second symbols and if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination of second symbols occurred, awarding an award.

For at least one of the lines for which every award that is awardable on the occurrence of a winning combination is a feature game, there may be a plurality of possible winning combinations, each associated with a distinct feature game, and the process of awarding an award may comprise awarding the feature game associated with winning combination that occurred.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:

defining at least two lines in an array of symbol display positions;

selecting symbols for display in the array;

evaluating the selected symbols in one of the lines for the occurrence of a winning combination;

if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding one of a plurality of feature games;

wherein the feature game that is awarded is determined dependent on an evaluation of the selected symbols in another one of the lines for at least one of a defined symbol and a defined combination of symbols.

Selecting symbols for display in the array may comprise independently selecting a symbol for display in each display position in the array. The array may be a matrix and the processes of evaluating the selected symbols in one of the lines for the occurrence of a winning combination and evaluating the selected symbols in another one of the lines both comprise evaluating a line extending through the rows of the matrix. Each line extending through the rows of the matrix may extend through the display positions in one column only of the matrix.

According to one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for use with a gaming machine that is arranged to select symbols, present the selected symbols on a display in an array and evaluate the selected symbols for winning combinations, the method comprising:

defining at least a first line and a second line in an array of symbol display positions;

selecting symbols for display in the array;

evaluating the selected symbols in the first line for the occurrence of a winning combination;

if the evaluation indicates that a winning combination occurred, awarding one of a plurality of feature games;

receiving from a player interface a signal indicating that the second line is to be active in the game;

wherein if the second line is active, the feature game that is awarded is determined dependent on an evaluation of the selected symbols in the second line for at least one of a defined symbol and a defined combination of symbols and is otherwise determined independently of the selected symbols in the second line.

The array may be a matrix and selecting symbols for display in the array comprises independently selecting a symbol for display in each display position in the array and the first and second lines are both lines that extend through the display positions in one column only of the matrix.

One embodiment includes a gaming machine which includes:

a display including a plurality of discrete display positions at each of which at least one symbol is to be displayed; and

a controller for controlling operation of the display of symbols in the display positions of the display, the display positions being arranged in a matrix having m rows and n columns, where m is greater than 1 and m does not equal n to provide for m length award lines and n length award lines, a symbol occurring at one display position in the matrix being independent of, and unassociated with, the occurrence of symbols at any other display position in the matrix.

The display may comprise a video simulation of spinning reels with only one position from each reel being shown at each display position. It will be appreciated that, conventional spinning reel-type games have reel strips which carry symbols thereon so that the position of one symbol is always fixed relative to its adjacent symbol on that reel strip.

Accordingly, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, it is to be understood that what is meant by “independent of, and unassociated with the occurrence of symbols at any other display position in the matrix” means that the symbol appearing at one position is not governed by symbols appearing at adjacent positions in a column on the display.

At least certain of the award lines may be in the form of paylines of a spinning reel game with the occurrence of determined combinations of symbols on any such payline awarding a prize.

Instead, or in addition, others of the award lines, when determined combinations of symbols occur thereon, may form a trigger condition for a particular award. The trigger condition may commence a feature of some sort. The feature may be any kind of variance from the standard game such as a series of free games, a second screen animation which results in prizes being given, the payment of bonus amounts, or the like. For example, horizontal and criss-cross award lines may be conventional paylines with vertical award lines being trigger conditions upon occurrence of a determined combination of symbols. By “horizontal” is meant a payline extending parallel to the rows of the matrix while by “vertical” is meant paylines extending parallel to columns of the matrix.

Further, it will be appreciated that the vertical award lines may also function as conventional paylines, a paytable associated with said vertical award lines differing from a paytable associated with said horizontal and criss-cross paylines. Thus, in one embodiment, the gaming machine effectively embodies variable length paylines.

The gaming machine may include a selector for enabling a player to create award lines.

An award line selected by the player may pass through at least one of m display positions and n display positions. When the selected award line passes through m display positions, it may pass through every position in one of the columns and, when the award line selected passes through n display positions, it may pass through only one position from each column. Instead, an award line selected by the player may have n display positions through which it passes.

For example, a payline may be five symbols long and the player may choose the positions on the screen through which the player wants the payline to pass. This may also be applied without player choice or intervention where, by staking more credits, positions on the screen are bought rather than lines passing through positions.

The symbols in predetermined positions in the matrix may determine a feature which is to be awarded. For example, if a determined number of symbols appear in a first column of the matrix, a free game feature may be triggered where all standard wins are repeated by the number of a second type of symbol appearing in the second column. It will be appreciated that various other embodiments of this type may be incorporated in the controller of the machine.

Each symbol, or at least certain of them may be superimposed on a part of a pattern. Accordingly, each display position may display two items of information. More particularly, the two items of information may, firstly, be the symbol and, secondly, a part of the pattern. Then, once all the reels have been “spun-up” and the pattern is completed, this may trigger a special prize or feature.

Thus, it will be appreciated that participating symbols, in one embodiment, perform two functions, being the usual payout for combinations of symbols, if in a prize winning combination, as well as the trigger condition resulting from completion of the pattern.

One embodiment includes a gaming machine which includes:

a display including a plurality of discrete display positions at each of which at least one symbol is to be displayed; and

a controller for controlling operation of the display of symbols in the display positions of the display, the display positions being arranged in a matrix where a symbol occurring at one display position in the matrix is independent of, and unassociated with, the occurrence of symbols at any other display position in the matrix and each symbol is superimposed on a secondary symbol where, if the secondary symbols are arranged in a determined order, a special award is made.

The secondary symbol may be a part of a pattern and said determined order can be on order in which the parts are so arranged as to complete the pattern.

The special award may be a bonus prize or a trigger condition for a feature.

The display may comprise a video simulation of spinning reels with only one position from each reel being shown at each display position.

At least certain of the award lines may be in the form of paylines of a spinning reel game where occurrence of predetermined combinations of symbols on any such payline awards a prize. Other of the award lines, when determined combinations of symbols occur thereon, may form a trigger condition for a particular game.

Said at least certain of the award lines may be horizontal and criss-cross paylines and said others of the award lines may be vertical award lines. The vertical award lines may also function as paylines, a paytable associated with said vertical award lines differing from a paytable associated with said horizontal and criss-cross paylines.

The gaming machine may include a selector for enabling a player to create award lines.

An award line selected by the player may pass through at least one of m display positions and n display positions, where m is the number of rows in the matrix and n is the number of columns in the matrix. When the selected award line passes through m display positions, it may pass through every position in one of the columns and, when the award line selected passes through n display positions, it may pass through only one position from each column. Instead, an award line selected by the player may have an equal number of display positions through which it passes as there are columns in the matrix. In a further embodiment of the invention, symbols in determined positions in the matrix may determine a feature which is awarded.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is now described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a three dimensional view of a gaming machine;

FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a control circuit of a gaming machine;

FIG. 3 shows a schematic representation of one embodiment of images that may be displayed on a display of a gaming machine;

FIG. 4 shows a schematic representation of a further embodiment of images that may be displayed on a display of a gaming machine.

FIG. 5 shows a schematic representation of a further embodiment of images that may be displayed on a display of a gaming machine.

FIG. 6 shows a schematic representation of a further embodiment of images that may be displayed on a display of a gaming machine.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In FIG. 1, reference numeral 10 generally designates a gaming machine, which is suitable to implement a game in accordance with embodiments of the invention. The machine 10 includes a console 12 having a video display unit 14. The video display unit 14 includes a screen 16. A matrix of fifteen discrete reels 18 is simulated on the screen 16. A keypad 20 is provided on the console 12. The keypad 20 comprises two or more keys for enabling a player of the machine 10 to select various options, as will be described in greater detail below. One button or key of the keypad 20 is provided for causing a spinning simulation of the reels 18 to occur upon actuation of that button.

The machine 10 includes a top box 22 on which paytables 24 are displayed. The top box 22 may include a video display unit to display the paytables 24 and/or other images.

A coin tray 26 is mounted beneath the console 12 for cash payouts from the machine 10.

As shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings, a control system 30 is illustrated. A program which implements the game and user interface is run on a processor 32 of the control system 30. The processor 32 forms part of a controller 34. The controller 34 drives the screen 16 of the video display unit 14 and receives input signals from sensors 36. The sensors 36 include sensors associated with the buttons of the keypad 20 and/or touch sensors mounted in the screen 16.

The controller 34 also receives input pulses from a mechanism 38 indicating that a player has provided sufficient credit to begin playing. The mechanism 38 may be a coin input chute, a bill collector, a credit card reader or any other type of validation device. Finally, the controller 34 drives a payout mechanism 39 which, for example, may be a coin hopper for feeding coins to the coin tray 26 to pay out a prize once a determined combination of symbols carried on the reels 18 appears on the screen 16.

As shown in FIG. 3, in which an example of a screen 16 is shown, the reels 18 are arranged in an mn matrix where m=3 and n=5. Award lines 40, being horizontal lines link the rows of reels 18 in the matrix.

Additional award lines 42, in a criss-cross pattern, link the fifteen reels 18. The lines 40 and 42 serve as conventional paylines for the machine 10. In other words, when a determined combination of symbols appears on any of the paylines 40 or 42 which are active, i.e., in respect of which a bet has been staked, a prize will be paid in accordance with the paytable 24.

With the provision of discrete mini reels 18, the reels 18 in the columns are also interconnected by vertical, shorter award lines 44. These lines 44 operate as trigger condition lines and, optionally, as paylines. Where the lines 44 operate as paylines, a different paytable may be applicable to that applicable in respect of the paylines 40 and 42. As an example, a combination of five kings on one of the paylines 40 or 42 may pay 500 credits, four kings may pay 50 credits and three kings may pay 15 credits whereas, on the vertical paylines 44, the combination of three kings may pay 100 credits.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that most standard games involve winning combinations in two forms. Firstly, there are conventional prize combinations where, as described above, specific combinations pay a prize, be it a fixed prize or a variable prize. Secondly, there are feature trigger combinations. This is where specific combinations commence a feature of some sort. It is envisaged that, in certain embodiments, the vertical lines 44 will serve as the award lines on which the trigger combinations are active. The features which are triggered could be any kind of variance from the standard game such as a series of free games, a second screen animation which results in prizes being given, bonus awards, or the like.

With the gaming machine 10 of one embodiment, a player may be given a choice of options as to which features will be operable. Skill may be a factor in determining whether or not a prize is awarded from the feature or the size of the prize that will be awarded from it.

The commencement of the feature may change the form of the game such that for the next determined number of games, for example, ten games, every time a certain symbol is spun up a bonus amount is paid.

Feature trigger combinations may or may not be prize combinations in themselves and the features that they trigger also may or may not pay a prize.

Where the vertical lines 44 serve as the trigger lines, an embodiment of the invention would be for different lines 40,42 and 44 to actually make up different games. This could apply to all lines 40, 42 and 44 but, preferably, the standard paylines 40,42 will, as described above, have the same paytable apply to them. In contrast, for each vertical line 44 that is bought by the player the game rules will change. This embodiment of the game can be implemented in various ways. For example, on the first vertical line 44 three of a symbol could buy a free game feature where all standard wins could be multiplied by the number of a different symbol appearing on the second vertical line. Instead, different symbols could be used to make up the reels that make up each vertical line. In other words, symbol A may only appear on the reel strips applicable to the three reels that make-up the first column or line 44 where symbol B may only appear on those reels in the second column or line 44. Other symbols could be common to the vertical lines 44.

Yet a further embodiment of the invention is to buy positions instead of fixed paylines. This embodiment can be considered as, the player will be making up their own paylines. There could be a fixed length where each payline comprises of a determined number of symbols, for example, five symbols or variable payline lengths could be allowed where different rules would apply for the different lengths of lines.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment where the player can make up their own paylines. The player may select the reels 18 that make up a particular payline using a player interface to the gaming machine. Use of the touch screen sensors of the gaming machine may be particularly suited to the formation of paylines by a player, as the player could touch the reels that they want to include in a payline.

Where the game requires that the paylines are of a fixed length of five symbol positions the player may be constrained to select one reel from each column in the matrix to form a payline. The player may, for example, make up three paylines A-C, which traverse the matrix of reels 18 from left to right. The game may also pay on right to left combinations, perhaps with the requirement that the player wager an additional amount to be eligible for right to left combinations, or may pay for poker-style combinations, where the order and location of the symbols along a payline does not affect the prize paid for the combination. Where the game also allows paylines of three symbol positions, the player may be constrained to form a payline by selecting one reel 18 from each row of the matrix. For example, the player may create paylines D and E, which comply with this constraint.

In one embodiment, the lines that traverse five symbol positions (lines A to C shown in FIG. 5) may be used as conventional paylines that pay an award in the form of credits when a winning combination of symbols or particular winning symbol occurs in the payline, and paylines that traverse three symbol positions (paylines D and E shown in FIG. 5) may be used as trigger lines that result in the award of a feature game when a particular symbol or combination of symbols occurs in a trigger line. The paylines and trigger lines may be purchased by the player individually, independently of each other, with the player paying the same amount or different amounts for paylines and trigger lines. Alternatively, groups of paylines and/or trigger lines may be purchased, for example three of each, with the player then defining what reels 18 make up the six paylines. A feature may also be able to won on the occurrence of a particular combination of symbols in a five symbol position payline. If the combination of symbols is the same as for the trigger lines, then the game rules may be set to make the probability of triggering a feature on the five symbol paylines substantially equal to, or less then the probability of triggering on a trigger line, for example, for a trigger combination of three symbols, by requiring that the combination occur in the first three columns of the matrix defined by the reels 18. Similarly, some credit wins may be able to be won on the occurrence of a specific symbol or combination of symbols in a three symbol line.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment where the player can create paylines, in this example in a 3 by 4 matrix defined by reels 18. Aspects of the embodiment shown in FIG. 6 and other embodiments of the invention may also be applied to non-rectangular arrays and to square matrices.

In the embodiment represented in FIG. 6, the player is not constrained to select one symbol position from each column or row of the matrix. In addition, the player is not constrained to select paylines that have the same number of symbol positions as there are columns or rows in the matrix. Therefore, by way of example, a player may define the three lines F-H.

Line F traverses five symbol positions, namely all the symbols in leftmost column of the matrix and three of the four positions in the lowest row of the matrix. The paytable 24 and/or the game rules would define particular combinations and associated prizes or awards for those combinations when they occur in a line consisting of five symbol positions. The paytable may define at least one combination as a winning combination that uses all five symbol positions.

Line G traverses four symbol positions consisting of the four symbol positions in the upper right hand corner of the matrix. Where the prizes are paid for combinations in a particular order, then the paylines may be automatically set according to determined rules. For examples, the paylines may commence from the symbol closest to the top left corner of the matrix and end at the symbol closest to the bottom right corner of the matrix, with priority given to travelling first across the array over down the array. Alternatively, the player may designate the order of the payline, for example by selecting the symbol positions in a particular order. Line G therefore does not extend fully across the matrix in any direction. Again, the paytable and/or game rules will define what combinations are winning combinations when they occur in a four symbol line.

Line H traverses three symbol positions including the middle symbols in the leftmost column and third column of the matrix and the symbol in the lower right hand corner of the matrix. The paytable and/or game rules will define the winning combinations for a three symbol line.

More generally, the player may be able to select lines that traverse anywhere from one symbol position up to all symbol positions in the matrix. However, in most implementations it is expected that paytables would only be defined for some length lines. For example in a game with a three by four matrix, paytables may be defined for lines that traverse 3, 4, 5, and 12 symbol positions.

In a further embodiment, the player may select a number of symbol positions, for example five symbol positions in the matrix and select a line length, following which the game is played with all possible three symbol paylines that can be defined using the five selected symbol positions. Where there are no constraints on the paylines, then the gaming machine would therefore evaluate eight paylines, which may require a wager of eight credits, one credit per line.

The winning of prizes such as credits or goods or services and the winning of feature games may be separated to specific length lines. Taking the example where 3, 4, 5 and 12 symbol lines are able to be defined, the 3 symbol line may operate solely as a trigger line for a feature and the 4, 5 and 12 symbol lines may operate solely as paylines for prizes. The player could then control both what lines they purchase and what symbol positions those lines traverse. The player could play solely for prizes, solely for feature games (which will result in the award of prizes), or a combination of both.

When defining the paytables and configuring the reels, the game designer could specify that smaller awards that occur more often are generally associated with lines of one length and larger awards that occur less often are generally associated with lines of another length. It is anticipated that this could be most readily achieved by having the longer paylines associated with the larger awards. The player could then control the frequency of the wins and the size of the wins, by selecting solely short lines, solely long lines, or a mixture of the two. For example, all, or a high proportion of winning combinations for the lines may require every symbol position in the line. Therefore, a three symbol position line may require three matching symbols to pay a prize whereas a five symbol position line may require either four or five matching symbols to pay a prize. The prize for five matching symbols may be larger than the prize for four matching symbols, which may be larger than the prize for three matching symbols. The relative size of the prizes may approximately match the relative frequency of occurrence of the winning combinations.

Different length lines may require a different wager amount to purchase. For example, the prize for all matching symbols in a line may be the same regardless of the length of the line, but a larger wager may be required to purchase a shorter line. Alternatively, some lines may have a higher pay rate than others and may require a larger wager to purchase to keep the return to player of the various length lines equal or at least approximately equal.

Referring now to FIG. 4 of the drawings, a further embodiment of the invention is illustrated. In this embodiment of the invention, each reel 18 incorporates a symbol 46 such as a king, ace or other special symbol such as symbol A, symbol B or symbol C. The symbol 46 is superimposed on a part 48 of a background pattern illustrated generally at 50. Hence, it will be appreciated that each reel 18 incorporates two different things, the symbol 46 and the part 48 of the background pattern 50. Thus, the symbols 46, in their usual way, make up winning combinations on the award lines 40, 42 and 44.

When a certain pattern 50 appears a special prize or feature will be awarded to the player. One embodiment is for the feature to be triggered by the occurrence of a specific pattern 50 over all fifteen of the reels. The completion of the pattern triggers the commencement of the special bonus feature regardless of whether any prize winning combinations of symbols 46 occurs.

Hence, it is an advantage of the invention that a gaming machine 10 is provided which has more versatility than other gaming machines of which the applicant is aware. In particular, dual functions can be imparted to the reels 18 to serve as parts of trigger conditions and payline combinations.

Also, as in the last embodiment described above, each reel 18 carries two representations of symbols thereon to serve the dual purpose of forming payline combinations and contributing to a trigger condition.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.

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US20120178520 *Mar 20, 2012Jul 12, 2012Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty LimitedGaming system and a method of gaming
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/20
International ClassificationA63F1/00, G07F17/34, G07F17/32, A63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2001/008, G07F17/34
European ClassificationG07F17/34
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 16, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, AUSTRAL
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FONG, COLIN;GRAHAM, PHILIPA;REEL/FRAME:019706/0799;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070814 TO 20070815