AU2008261124A1 - A method of gaming, a game controller and gaming system - Google Patents

A method of gaming, a game controller and gaming system Download PDF

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Publication number
AU2008261124A1
AU2008261124A1 AU2008261124A AU2008261124A AU2008261124A1 AU 2008261124 A1 AU2008261124 A1 AU 2008261124A1 AU 2008261124 A AU2008261124 A AU 2008261124A AU 2008261124 A AU2008261124 A AU 2008261124A AU 2008261124 A1 AU2008261124 A1 AU 2008261124A1
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AU
Australia
Prior art keywords
game
symbols
modification
display positions
game controller
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Abandoned
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AU2008261124A
Inventor
Jon Mcnair Leupp
Christopher Michael Stevens
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Priority to US1556007P priority Critical
Priority to US61/015,560 priority
Application filed by Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd filed Critical Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
Publication of AU2008261124A1 publication Critical patent/AU2008261124A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3262Player actions which determine the course of the game, e.g. selecting a prize to be won, outcome to be achieved, game to be played
    • G07F17/3265Influencing the position of stopped moving members to achieve a winning arrangement, e.g. nudging, shuffling, holding

Description

AUSTRALIA Patents Act 1990 COMPLETE SPECIFICATION Standard Patent Applicant(s): Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited Invention Title: A METHOD OF GAMING, A GAME CONTROLLER AND A GAMING SYSTEM The following statement is a full description of this invention, including the best method for performing it known to me/us: P74424.AU Pa1_SetFihng AppIcation 2008-12-8 doc (M) -2 Title A METHOD OF GAMING, A GAME CONTROLLER AND A GAMING SYSTEM 5 Field The present invention relates to a method of gaming, a game controller and a gaming system. 10 Background It is known to provide a gaming machine having a spinning reel type game where when a wild symbol appears in a centre position on a centre reel of five spinning reels, 15 the symbols above and below it are changed to be wild symbols and the three wild symbols are used in evaluating the outcome of that spin. In one variation, the wild symbol is displayed as "expanding" so that a single, enlarged wild symbol takes the place of all symbols on 20 that reel. While such gaming systems provide users with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment. 25 Summary of the Invention In a first aspect, the invention provides a method of gaming comprising: 30 generating game outcomes for game rounds by selecting symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on a display, the display positions being divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions 35 being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol sets; and making a modification to generation of the game N:\Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAPdAoc 19/12/08 - 3 outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions 5 while continuing to select symbols for the other subsets. In an embodiment, the modification is a first modification made in response to a first condition and the method comprises making a second modification to generation of a 10 game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second condition is met, the second modification comprising causing a second designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. 15 In an embodiment, the subsets are columns of display positions that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels such that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of 20 symbols. In an embodiment, when symbols are selected for display, they are selected by selecting a stop position for each reel. 25 In an embodiment, the designated set of symbols is displayed as a spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols. 30 In an embodiment, each of the designated symbols is a special symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols. In an embodiment, the special symbol is a wild symbol. 35 In an embodiment, the method comprises making a third modification of generation of a game outcome for at least N:\Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.A U\Specis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 4 one subsequent game round in response to determining that a third condition is met, the modification comprising causing a third designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. 5 In an embodiment, the method comprises evaluating for each game round whether the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes. 10 In an embodiment, evaluations are performed in a designated order of symbol sets, and modification occurs in the opposite order. In an embodiment, winning outcomes are evaluated on a left 15 to right basis and reels are replaced right to left. In an embodiment, there are five sets of display positions. 20 In an embodiment, each set of display positions has three display positions. In an embodiment, symbols are selected using a random number generator. 25 In an embodiment, any modification is also applied to the current game round. In a second aspect, the invention provides a game 30 controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to: generate game outcomes for game rounds by selecting symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on a display, the display positions being divided into a 35 plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol N \Melboume\Cases\Patcnt\74000-74999\P74424.AUASpcis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 -5 sets; and modify generation of the game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a 5 designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions while continuing to select symbols for the other subsets. In an embodiment, the game controller comprises an outcome 10 generator arranged to generate game outcomes. In an embodiment, the outcome generator comprises a symbol selector for selecting symbols. 15 In an embodiment, the outcome generator comprises a modification implementer arranged to cause a designated set of symbols to be displayed. In an embodiment, the modification is a first modification 20 made in response to a first condition and the game controller is arranged to make a second modification to generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second condition is met, the second modification comprising 25 causing a second designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. In an embodiment, the subsets are columns of display positions that correspond to respective ones of a 30 plurality of reels such that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols. In an embodiment, the when symbols are selected for 35 display, the game controller selects a stop position for each reel. N \Mclboumc\Cases\Patent\740O0-74999\P74424.AL\Spccis\P74424.AU CAP do 19/12/08 - 6 In an embodiment, the designated set of symbols is displayed under control of the game controller as a spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols. 5 In an embodiment, each of the designated symbols is a special symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols. In an embodiment, the special symbol is a wild symbol. 10 In an embodiment, game controller is arranged to make a third modification of generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a third condition is met, the modification comprising 15 causing a third designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. In an embodiment, the game controller comprises a prize evaluator arranged to evaluate for each game round whether 20 the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes. In an embodiment, evaluations are performed in a designated order of symbol sets, and modification occurs 25 in the opposite order. In an embodiment, winning outcomes are evaluated on a left to right basis and reels are replaced right to left. 30 In an embodiment, there are five sets of display positions. In an embodiment, each set of display positions has three display positions. 35 In an embodiment, the game controller comprises a random number generator employed in selecting the symbols. N \Melbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424 AU CAPdoc 19/12/08 - 7 In an embodiment, modification is also applied to the current game round. 5 In an embodiment, the game controller is implemented by a memory and processor arranged to generate the game outcomes based on program code stored in the memory. In a third aspect, the invention provides a gaming system 10 comprising: a display; and a game controller arranged to: generate game outcomes for game rounds by selecting symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on is the display, the display positions being divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol sets; and 20 modify generation of the game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions while continuing to select 25 symbols for the other subsets. In an embodiment, the game controller comprises an outcome generator arranged to generate game outcomes. 30 In an embodiment, the outcome generator comprises a symbol selector for selecting symbols. In an embodiment, the outcome generator comprises a modification implementer arranged to cause a designated 35 set of symbols to be displayed. In an embodiment, the modification is a first modification N \Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Spcis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12108 - 8 made in response to a first condition and the game controller is arranged to make a second modification to generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second 5 condition is met, the second modification comprising causing a second designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. In an embodiment, the subsets are columns of display 10 positions that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels such that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols. 15 In an embodiment, when symbols are selected for display, the game controller selects a stop position for each reel. In an embodiment, the designated set of symbols is displayed under control of the game controller as a 20 spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols. In an embodiment, each of the designated symbols is a special symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols. 25 In an embodiment, the special symbol is a wild symbol. In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to make a third modification of generation of a game outcome for 30 at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a third condition is met, the modification comprising causing a third designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. 35 In an embodiment, the game controller comprises a prize evaluator arranged to evaluate for each game round whether N:Melbounme\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 9 the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes. In an embodiment, evaluations are performed in a 5 designated order of symbol sets, and modification occurs in the opposite order. In an embodiment, winning outcomes are evaluated on a left to right basis and reels are replaced right to left. 10 In an embodiment, there are five sets of display positions. In an embodiment, each set of display positions has three 15 display positions. In an embodiment, the gaming system comprises a random number generator employed in selecting the symbols. 20 In an embodiment, any modification is also applied to the current game round. In an embodiment, the gaming system comprises a memory and processor arranged to execute program code stored in the 25 memory to implement the game controller. In an embodiment, the gaming system comprises a game play mechanism operable by a player at least to initiate a play of the game. 30 In a fourth aspect, the invention provides computer program code which when executed implements the above method. 35 In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a computer readable medium comprising the above program code. N \Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/1 2/08 - 10 In a sixth aspect, the invention provides a data signal comprising the above program code. In a seventh aspect, the invention extends to transmitting 5 the above program code. Brief Description of Drawings An exemplary embodiment of the invention is described in io relation to the following drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a block diagram of the core components of a gaming system. 15 Figure 2 is a perspective view of a stand alone gaming machine; Figure 3 is a block diagram of the functional components of a gaming machine; 20 Figure 4 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory; Figure 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming 25 system; Figure 6 is a further block diagram of a gaming system; Figure 7 is a flow chart of an embodiment; and 30 Figures 8A to 8E are exemplary symbol displays of a first example. Detailed Description 35 Referring to the drawings, there is shown a gaming system having a game controller arranged to implement a game of N \eiboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Spcis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 11 the type where symbols are selected for display at a plurality of subsets of symbol positions, such as a spinning reel type game, wherein each reel corresponds to a subset of the symbol positions. If a first condition is 5 met, a designated set of symbols is displayed in one of the subsets in a subsequent game round. In a spinning reel embodiment, this can be achieved by replacing all of the symbols of a reel with special symbols (e.g. wild symbols) for the subsequent game round. Symbols are selected for 10 the other subsets in the normal manner. If a second condition is met a further designated set of symbols is displayed at a further one of the subsets in a further subsequent game round. Accordingly, in a spinning reel type embodiment, two or more reels may become wild. 15 General construction of gaming system The gaming system can take a number of different forms. In a first form, a stand alone gaming machine is provided 20 wherein all or most components required for implementing the game are present in a player operable gaming machine. In a second form, a distributed architecture is provided wherein some of the components required for implementing 25 the game are present in a player operable gaming machine and some of the components required for implementing the game are located remotely relative to the gaming machine. For example, a "thick client" architecture may be used wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable 30 gaming machine and part of the game is executed remotely, such as by a gaming server; or a "thin client" architecture may be used wherein most of the game is executed remotely such as by a gaming server and a player operable gaming machine is used only to display audible 35 and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player. N:\Melbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 12 However, it will be understood that other arrangements are envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming machine is networked to a gaming server and the respective functions of the gaming machine and the 5 gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming machine mode, "thick client" mode or "thin client" mode depending on the game being played, operating conditions, and so on. Other variations will be apparent to persons 10 skilled in the art. Irrespective of the form, the gaming system comprises several core components. At the broadest level, the core components are a player interface 50 and a game controller is 60 as illustrated in Figure 1. The player interface is arranged to enable manual interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes the input/output components required for the player to enter instructions and play the game. 20 Components of the player interface may vary from embodiment to embodiment but will typically include a credit mechanism 52 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 54, a game play 25 mechanism 56 that enables a player to input game play instructions (e.g. to place bets), and one or more speakers 58. The game controller 60 is in data communication with the 30 player interface and typically includes a processor 62 that processes the game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and outputs game play outcomes to the display. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 64 but can also be hardwired. 35 Herein the term "processor" is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a N \Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Spccis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12108 - 13 microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server. 5 A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in Figure 2. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which are displayed representations of a game 16 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism 24 which in this example includes a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. Other credit input 15 mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. A player marketing module (not shown) having a reading device may also be provided for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a 20 loyalty program. The player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device. A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example 25 pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts 30 from the gaming machine 10. The display 14 shown in Figure 2 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid 35 crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 may also include N:\Melbourne\CasePatent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAPdoc 19/12/08 - 14 a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type. 5 Figure 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of Figure 2. The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 10 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each is type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103. The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring 20 player credit, an input/output (I/0) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data 25 for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers. 30 In the example shown in Figure 3, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 and comprises one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107, a card and/or ticket 35 reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming N.\Melboume\Caes\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AJ\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 15 machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation. In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a 5 communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or 10 database. Figure 4 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM is 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the 20 integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere. It is also possible for the operative components of the 25 gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 to be provided remotely from the game controller 101. Figure 5 shows a gaming system 200 in accordance with an 30 alternative embodiment. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in Figure 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player 35 operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 10,100 shown in Figures 2 and 3, or may have simplified functionality depending on the requirements for N.\Melboume\Cases\Paten\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 16 implementing game play. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in Figure 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged. 5 One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, 10 and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material. In a thick client embodiment, game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 15 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server and the gaming device implement part of the game, they collectively provide a game controller. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs 20 and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty 25 program server 212 may also be provided. In a thin client embodiment, game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 essentially 30 provides only the player interface. With this embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming machine will receive player instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for 35 display. In a thin client embodiment, the gaming machines could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard N.\Mcibounc\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19112/08 - 17 computer input and output components. Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming network 200, including for 5 example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network. 10 The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211. 15 Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements 20 may be run as a single "engine" on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided. Further, persons skilled in the art 25 will appreciate that a plurality of game servers could be provided to run different games or a single game server may run a plurality of different games as required by the terminals. 30 Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method of the preferred embodiment could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could 35 replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by downloading it from a server). N Melboune\Cases\Patent\740O0-74999\P74424 ALSpecis\P74424.AU CAP.doc l9/12/OS - 18 Further detail of gaming system Referring to Figure 6, it will be appreciated that the processor 62 implements a number of modules 621-625 based 5 on computer program code stored in memory 64 of controller 60. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that some of these modules could be implemented differently, for example as dedicated hardware modules. 10 To play the gaming system, a player operates instruction input mechanism 56 to make an input or inputs (typically a wager) which will specify their win entitlement 645 for a game. The instruction input mechanism, thus providing a mechanism that enables game play. 15 Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the nature of a win entitlement which the player can establish will vary from game to game and may or may not be dependent on player selections. In most spinning reel games, it is 20 typical for the player's entitlement to be affected by the amount they wager and selections they make (i.e. the nature of the wager). For example, a player's win entitlement may be based on how many lines they will play in each game - i.e. a minimum of one line up to the 25 maximum number of lines allowed by the game (noting that not all permutations of win lines may be available for selection. In many games, the player's win entitlement is not strictly limited to the lines they have selected, for example, "scatter" pays are awarded independently of a 30 players selection of pay lines and are an inherent part of the win entitlement. Persons, skilled in the art, will appreciate that in other embodiments, the player may obtain a win entitlement by 35 selecting a number of reels to play. Such games are marketed under the trade name "Reel Power" by Aristocrat Leisure Industries Pty Ltd. The selection of the reel N:\Mlbourn\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19112/08 - 19 means that each symbol of the reel can be substituted for a symbol at one or more designated display positions. In other embodiments a player win entitlement may be s defined by purchasing access to particular pay tables e.g. a first bet amount entitles the player to wins including cherries and a second amount entitles them to wins including plums. The win entitlement is not always purchased - e.g. a series of free games may be awarded. 10 Once the win entitlement has been established it is stored in memory 64 as win entitlement data 645 so that it can be used by the prize evaluator 623 to determine whether the player has achieved any winning outcomes to be paid from 15 the prize table 646. Game rules 644 specify how the players input is converted to a win entitlement, for example, by specifying the combinations of symbol positions which make up a win line that the player has selected. 20 In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 6, it is envisaged that the game is implemented as a feature game with a number of bonus rounds and accordingly, a bonus round controller 624 employs a condition monitor 624A to monitor 25 for conditions specified by condition data 643 occurring in the game carried out by the game controller 60 in order to start the feature. When a feature game trigger condition occurs as monitored by the condition monitor 624A, the bonus round controller 624 conducts a series of 30 bonus game rounds. During normal game rounds, the outcome generator 622 generates game outcomes by selecting symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on display 50, the 35 display positions are divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions is made from different ones of N:\Melbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Spccis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 20 a plurality of symbol sets specified by the symbol data 641. Outcomes and other aspects of game play are displayed on display 54 under controller of display controller 625 which may incorporate an appropriate driver 5 for display 54. In an embodiment, when the feature game starts the generation of outcomes is modified for at least one subsequent game round by causing a designated set of 10 symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets display positions. To this end, the outcome generator 622 includes a symbol selector 622A which uses random number generator 621 to select symbols from symbol data 641 during normal game rounds and a designated symbol 15 controller 622B which controls the generation of subsequent outcomes such that the designated symbols specified by designated symbol data 642 are displayed in one of the subsets of displays positions. In such game rounds, the symbol selector 622A will select symbols using 20 random number generator 621 from the symbol data for the remaining subsets of display position. In an alternative embodiment, the generation of outcomes is not modified in the first round of the feature game and 25 it is not until a condition specified by condition data 643 is monitored as occurring by the condition monitor 624A during a bonus game round that a modification is made to outcome generation such that the designated symbol controller 622B is employed as described above. In one 30 embodiment, the designated symbols are also replaced for the current game round such that the prize evaluation by the prize evaluator 623 on a modification of the selected symbols where symbols of one symbol set are replaced by the designated symbol controller 622B. In other 35 embodiments the designated symbols are not employed in prize evaluation until a subsequent game round. NMelbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12108 - 21 The length of the series of game rounds may be controlled in a number of different manners, including by a specific number of game rounds being specified in the game rules 644 or by a value of prizes won, or if a specific prize is 5 won, etc. In a specific embodiment, a second subset of symbols can be controlled such that only designated symbols are displayed in a subsequent game round in response to a second condition being met. In this embodiment, one option is for second subset to be one 10 which neighbours the initial subset. Further subsets may also be controlled in response to further conditions being met. Subsets may also be selected in alternative ways, fro example, the player may be entitled to select the subset to be replaced, the subset that is selected may depend on 15 the amount wagered, or the subset may be chosen randomly. In one embodiment, the subsets are columns of display positions that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels in a spinning reel type game such that 20 modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols. In such embodiments, the symbol selector 622A selects symbols by selecting stop positions for each of the plurality of reels. In such embodiments, the symbol data 641 specifies the symbol 25 sequence for each reel such that selecting the stop position is determinative of the symbols which will appear on the display. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a weighting may be applied to particular stop positions or symbols in order to increase the chance 30 of particular stop positions being selected by the random number generator 621. In one embodiment, the designated symbols may be displayed as a spinning reel consisting solely of the designated set 35 of symbols. The designated symbols may be the same symbol for example, a special symbol which has an additional play characteristic relative to other symbols. Such symbols NAielbournc\Cases\Patent\740O0-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 22 include, for example a wild symbol which has the additional play characteristic that is able to replace other symbols or a multiplier symbol which has the characteristic that it multiplies the value of symbol 5 combinations. Other special symbols are known to persons skilled in the art. Alternatively, the designated symbol may be one to which high value awards are related. In one embodiment, evaluation of whether a symbol 10 combination is a winning outcome is performed in a designated order of symbol sets and the modifications occurs in the opposite order. This has particular application in a spinning reel embodiment. In such an embodiment if symbol combinations are evaluated left to 15 right then it is possible for example to modify the right most reel first and then if the subsequent modification is required modify the next most right reel. Alternatively, in such an embodiment, as modifying a reel will have a greater benefit the closer it is to the left, the reel 20 that is modified can depend on a factor related to the benefit intended to be provided to the player, for example, the left most reel might be modified if the player is playing max bet or if there are multiple trigger conditions and a less likely trigger occurs. 25 In one specific embodiment there are five sets of display positions (e.g. five reels) in each set of display positions has three display positions (e.g. three displayed symbols per reel). 30 The method 700 of the invention is summarised in Figure 7. A feature trigger occurs 710. The outcome generator then selects symbols 720. It is then determined whether a condition is met 730 and if not, the method proceeds to 35 evaluating the outcome 750. If a condition is met symbols are replaced for a subset of symbols 740. Then the game outcome is evaluated 750. It is then determined whether N \Melboume\Cascs\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12108 - 23 to generate a further game outcome in which case the replaced symbols are held 765 on the display and symbols are only selected for non held positions. That is for example, by only spinning a subset of the reels in a spin s reel embodiment. If a further game outcome is met, the feature ends 770. Further aspects of the method will be apparent from the above description of the gaming system. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that other 1o implementations are possible, for example if the replaced symbols are wild symbols, the game can be implemented on a stepper machine by providing three consecutive wild symbols on each reel for which the symbols can be replaced. The stopping positions of these reels are then 15 controlled such that the wild symbols are displayed at the relevant position. Example 1 20 Referring to the figures 8A to 8E there is shown an example where once a feature game is triggered, the entire right most reel will become wild. That is all positions on the reel are treated as wild. This can be displayed in a number of manners either changing all symbols on the 25 reels as turning symbols turning into wild symbols at both visible and non visible positions and subsequently spinning the reel or by simply holding that reel in place such that, in effect, the game controller 60 causes wild symbols to be continued to be displayed at the display 30 positions while subsequent game rounds in the forms of further spins are played. In this example, symbol combinations pay left to right and the trigger for turning a reel wild is the first time a 35 wild symbol occurs on the right most reel during a triggered feature game. The feature itself can be triggered in accordance with any techniques known in the N.\Melbournc\Cases\Paent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 24 art including based on turnover, based on a signal from a system, based on a particular symbol combination etc. In a five reel game, the addition of the wild reel greatly 5 improves the odds of earning a five kind win in subsequent spins. The wild reel is designed to persist for a time, for example, for the duration of the feature game which may have a designated number of games, for example five games. While the fifth reel is wild, additional 10 conditions such as a feature re-trigger or wild anywhere on the fourth reel turns the entire fourth reel wild. Thus the wild reels "creep" or "spread" from right to left increasing the chances of five of a kind type wins provided in the pay table. 15 Figures 8A to 8E show an example where there are three pay lines 821, 822, 823 and five reels 811 to 815. In the first spin of the feature, all symbols on the fifth reel turn 815 turn wild and only reels 1 to 4 811 to 814 are 20 spun subsequently. As is shown in Figure 8A, the centre line 822 has a win for five queens and a prize is paid by the prize evaluator 623 for five queens. In the second feature spin again only reels 1 to 4, 811 to 814 spin. After this spin a prize is paid for five jacks on the top 25 line 821 and three kings on bottom line 823. Note that the wild in the bottom position on reel three has no persistent effect because reel four is not wild. A third feature spin is shown in Figure 8C. While there 30 are wilds on reel 1 and reel 4, the effects are different and the wild symbol causes all symbols on the fourth reel 814 to be modified such that the game will change to show the symbols shown in Figure 8D and pay for five aces on the bottom reel on the bottom line 823. A further spin is 35 conducted and it will be seen from Figure 8E that the wild reel is held for the fourth reel 814 and five tens are paid for by the prize evaluator 623 in respect of the N:\Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 25 middle line 822. Example 2 5 In a further example, a game is triggered in accordance with one of the known trigger conditions such as the occurrence of a symbol combination the outcome of a feature game, the passage of time, a system, machine or operator event, a prize value being awarded, a special bet 10 being placed or an event related to a player loyalty card. The duration of the game is controlled by the bonus controller 624, and the end can be in accordance with any of the known techniques in the art. Including the is expiration of a fixed number of games, the expiration of a special criteria, the occurrence of a symbol or combination of symbols, time elapsing or a prize value being won. 20 In some embodiments there may be an extension to the period. The extension can include other reels of additional criteria. The additional criteria can be the same as the criteria which commenced the change or can be other criteria. In this example, once a player has 25 entered the feature sequence, during the feature the number of symbols of a particular type, in this example "chilli" symbols which stop in any of the display positions are counted and a tally is kept. When the tally reaches a specified number, all symbols on the last reel 30 change to become wild. In this example pays are evaluated left to right. These symbols remain wild until the feature sequence is completed. The tally continues and if the tally reaches a second 35 specified number (and hence a further condition is met) all symbols on the second last reel become wild. Again, these symbols remain wild until the feature sequence is N \Melboume\Cases\Patent\7400O74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12108 - 26 completed. The tally continues and if the tally reaches a third specified number, all symbols on the third last reel will 5 become wild. These symbols remain wild until the feature sequence is completed. It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without 10 departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, that features of various embodiments described above can be combined to form further embodiments. It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication 15 is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country. 20 In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word "comprise" or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising" is used in an inclusive sense, 25 i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention. N.\Mclboume\Cases\Paten\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08

Claims (58)

1. A method of gaming comprising: generating game outcomes for game rounds by selecting 5 symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on a display, the display positions being divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol 10 sets; and making a modification to generation of the game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a designated set of symbols to be 15 displayed for one of the subsets of display positions while continuing to select symbols for the other subsets.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the modification is a first modification made in response to a 20 first condition and the method comprises making a second modification to generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second condition is met, the second modification comprising causing a second designated set of symbols to 25 be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions.
3. A method as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the subsets are columns of display positions that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels such 30 that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols.
4. A method as claimed in claim 3, wherein when symbols are selected for display, they are selected by selecting a 35 stop position for each reel.
5. A method as claimed in claim 3 or claim 4, wherein N:\Melboume\Cases\Patcnt\740O0-74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 28 the designated set of symbols is displayed as a spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols.
6. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, 5 wherein each of the designated symbols is a special symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols.
7. A method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the special io symbol is a wild symbol.
8. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 7, comprising making a third modification of generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in 15 response to determining that a third condition is met, the modification comprising causing a third designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. 20
9. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, comprising evaluating for each game round whether the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes. 25
10. A method as claimed in claim 9, wherein evaluations are performed in a designated order of symbol sets, and modification occurs in the opposite order.
11. A method as claimed in claim 10 as dependent on any 30 one of claims 3 to 5, wherein winning outcomes are evaluated on a left to right basis and reels are replaced right to left.
12. A method as claimed in any one of claim 1 to 11, 35 wherein there are five sets of display positions.
13. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 12, N \Melbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP.doc 19/12/08 - 29 wherein each set of display positions has three display positions.
14. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 13 5 wherein symbols are selected using a random number generator.
15. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein any modification is also applied to the current 10 game round.
16. A game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to: generate game outcomes for game rounds by selecting is symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on a display, the display positions being divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol 20 sets; and modify generation of the game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the 25 subsets of display positions while continuing to select symbols for the other subsets.
17. A game controller as claimed in claim 16 comprising an outcome generator arranged to generate game outcomes. 30
18. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, wherein the outcome generator comprises a symbol selector for selecting symbols. 35
19. A game controller as claimed in claim 17 or claim 18, wherein the outcome generator comprises a modification implementer arranged to cause a designated set of symbols N \Melbourne\Cass\Patent\74000-74999\P74424AJ\Specis\P74424AU CAPdoc 19/12/08 - 30 to be displayed.
20. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 19, wherein the modification is a first modification 5 made in response to a first condition and the game controller is arranged to make a second modification to generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second condition is met, the second modification comprising io causing a second designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions.
21. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 20, wherein the subsets are columns of display 15 positions that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels such that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols. 20
22. A game controller as claimed in claim 21, wherein the when symbols are selected for display, the game controller selects a stop position for each reel.
23. A game controller as claimed in claim 21 or claim 22, 25 wherein the designated set of symbols is displayed under control of the game controller as a spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols.
24. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 30 to 23, wherein each of the designated symbols is a special symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols.
25. A game controller as claimed in claim 24, wherein the 35 special symbol is a wild symbol.
26. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 N:\elbounme\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.A U\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/1 2/0 - 31 to 25, arranged to make a third modification of generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a third condition is met, the modification comprising causing a third designated set 5 of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions.
27. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 26, comprising a prize evaluator arranged to evaluate 10 for each game round whether the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes.
28. A game controller as claimed in claim 27, wherein evaluations are performed in a designated order of symbol 15 sets, and modification occurs in the opposite order.
29. A game controller as claimed in claim 28 when dependent on any one of claims 21 to 23, wherein winning outcomes are evaluated on a left to right basis and reels 20 are replaced right to left.
30. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 29, wherein there are five sets of display positions. 25
31. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 30, wherein each set of display positions has three display positions.
32. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 30 to 31 comprising a random number generator employed in selecting the symbols.
33. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 32, wherein any modification is also applied to the 35 current game round.
34. A game controller as claimed in any one of claims 16 N:\Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 32 to 33, implemented by a memory and processor arranged to generate the game outcomes based on program code stored in the memory. 5
35. A gaming system comprising: a display; and a game controller arranged to: generate game outcomes for game rounds by selecting symbols for display at a plurality of display positions on 10 the display, the display positions being divided into a plurality of subsets of display positions and the selection of symbols for each subset of display positions being made from different ones of a plurality of symbol sets; and 15 modify generation of the game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a condition is met, the modification comprising causing a designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions while continuing to select 20 symbols for the other subsets.
36. A gaming system as claimed in claim 35 wherein the game controller comprises an outcome generator arranged to generate game outcomes. 25
37. A gaming system as claimed in claim 36, wherein the outcome generator comprises a symbol selector for selecting symbols. 30
38. A gaming system as claimed in claim 36 or claim 37, wherein the outcome generator comprises a modification implementer arranged to cause a designated set of symbols to be displayed. 35
39. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 38, wherein the modification is a first modification made in response to a first condition and the game controller N:\Melbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 33 is arranged to make a second modification to generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining that a second condition is met, the second modification comprising causing a second 5 designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions.
40. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 39, wherein the subsets are columns of display positions 10 that correspond to respective ones of a plurality of reels such that modifying a game outcome corresponds to replacing a reel with a designated set of symbols.
41. A gaming system as claimed in claim 40, wherein when is symbols are selected for display, the game controller selects a stop position for each reel.
42. A gaming system as claimed in claim 40 or claim 41, wherein the designated set of symbols is displayed under 20 control of the game controller as a spinning reel consisting of the designated set of symbols.
43. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 42, wherein each of the designated symbols is a special 25 symbol having an increased play characteristic relative to other symbols.
44. A gaming system as claimed in claim 43, wherein the special symbol is a wild symbol. 30
45. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 44, wherein the game controller is arranged to make a third modification of generation of a game outcome for at least one subsequent game round in response to determining 35 that a third condition is met, the modification comprising causing a third designated set of symbols to be displayed for one of the subsets of display positions. N:\Mclbourne\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 AU\Spccis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 34
46. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 26, wherein the game controller comprises a prize evaluator arranged to evaluate for each game round whether 5 the generated game outcome includes one or more winning outcomes.
47. A gaming system as claimed in claim 46, wherein evaluations are performed in a designated order of symbol 10 sets, and modification occurs in the opposite order.
48. A gaming system as claimed in claim 47 when dependent on any one of claims 40 to 42, wherein winning outcomes are evaluated on a left to right basis and reels are 15 replaced right to left.
49. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 48, wherein there are five sets of display positions. 20
50. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 49, wherein each set of display positions has three display positions.
51. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 25 50 comprising a random number generator employed in selecting the symbols.
52. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 51, wherein any modification is also applied to the 30 current game round.
53. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to 52, comprising a memory and processor arranged to execute program code stored in the memory to implement the game 35 controller.
54. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 35 to N.\Melbournc\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424.AU\Specis\P74424.AU CAP doc 19/12/08 - 35 53 comprising a game play mechanism operable by a player at least to initiate a play of the game.
55. Computer program code which when executed implements 5 the method of any one of claims 1 to 15.
56. A computer readable medium comprising the program code of claim 55. 10
57. A data signal comprising the program code of claim 55.
58. Transmitting the program code of claim 55. N:\Melboume\Cases\Patent\74000-74999\P74424 ALSpecis\P74424 AU CAP doc 19/12/08
AU2008261124A 2007-12-20 2008-12-19 A method of gaming, a game controller and gaming system Abandoned AU2008261124A1 (en)

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