AU2010251795A1 - A gaming system, a method of gaming and a bonus controller - Google Patents

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

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Publication number
AU2010251795A1
AU2010251795A1 AU2010251795A AU2010251795A AU2010251795A1 AU 2010251795 A1 AU2010251795 A1 AU 2010251795A1 AU 2010251795 A AU2010251795 A AU 2010251795A AU 2010251795 A AU2010251795 A AU 2010251795A AU 2010251795 A1 AU2010251795 A1 AU 2010251795A1
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AU
Australia
Prior art keywords
bonus award
gaming
gaming device
bonus
manner
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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AU2010251795A
Inventor
Sek Hwan Joung
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2009906074A priority Critical patent/AU2009906074A0/en
Priority to AU2009906074 priority
Application filed by Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd filed Critical Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
Priority to AU2010251795A priority patent/AU2010251795A1/en
Publication of AU2010251795A1 publication Critical patent/AU2010251795A1/en
Priority claimed from AU2013216613A external-priority patent/AU2013216613A1/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
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3283Games involving multiple players wherein the number of active machines is limited
    • 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
    • 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
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes

Abstract

Abstract A gaming system comprising: a plurality of gaming devices, each playable independently of one another; and a bonus 5 controller in data communication with each of the gaming devices, the bonus controller configured to determine whether to make a bonus award to one or more of the gaming devices upon a bonus condition being met, the gaming system configured to control the manner in which each 10 bonus award is made based on a current state of the respective gaming device. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 1 14/12110 0o co c a) c 0 C) 0 0, ci) o

Description

AUSTRALIA Patents Act 1990 COMPLETE SPECIFICATION Standard Patent Applicant: Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited Invention Title: A GAMING SYSTEM, A METHOD OF GAMING AND A BONUS CONTROLLER The following statement is a full description of this invention, including the best method for performing it known to me/us: -2 Title A GAMING SYSTEM, A METHOD OF GAMING AND A BONUS CONTROLLER 5 Field The present invention relates to a gaming system, a method of gaming and a bonus controller. 10 Background In some gaming systems, a player of an individual gaming machine can qualify to play a bonus game conducted by another gaming apparatus. For example, a particular gaming 15 outcome may entitle the player to the bonus game. In other gaming systems a plurality of players may qualify to play a bonus game where players compete against one another, with one or more players receiving an award based 20 on their placing in the bonus game. While such gaming systems provide players with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment. 25 Summary In a first aspect, there is provided a gaming system comprising: 30 a plurality of gaming devices, each playable independently of one another; and a bonus controller in data communication with each of the gaming devices, the bonus controller configured to determine whether to make a bonus award to one or more of 35 the gaming devices upon a bonus condition being met, the gaming system configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made based on a current state of 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 -3 the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, each gaming device is configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made by 5 determining a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the bonus award based on the current state. In an embodiment, the bonus award comprises a modification 1o to game play of the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, there are plurality of possible bonus awards, and wherein the gaming system is further configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is is made based on an identity of the bonus award. In an embodiment, at least two of the gaming devices provide different games and the gaming system is further configured to control the manner in which each bonus award 20 is made based on an identity of the game. In an embodiment, the gaming system is configured to apply each bonus award during game play on the respective gaming device. 25 In an embodiment, the gaming system is configured to apply each bonus award without stopping game play on the respective gaming device. 30 In an embodiment, each bonus award is a positive modification of game play on the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, the gaming system is further configured to determine that a state of the gaming device has changed 35 and alter the manner in which the bonus award is made based on the change in state. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 4 In an embodiment, the gaming system is further configured to determine that a state of the gaming device has changed and alter the bonus award which is made based on the change in state. 5 In an embodiment, the gaming system is configured to integrate each bonus award with the state of the gaming device. 10 In a second aspect, there is provided a method of gaming comprising: determining at a bonus controller to make a bonus award to one or more of a plurality of gaming devices, each playable independently of one another upon a bonus 15 condition being met; and controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made based on a current state of the respective gaming device. 20 In an embodiment, controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made comprises determining at each gaming device a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the bonus award based on the current state. 25 In an embodiment, the bonus award comprises a modification to game play of the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, there are plurality of possible bonus 30 awards, and the method comprises controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the bonus award. In an embodiment, at least two of the gaming devices 35 provide different games and the method comprises controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the game. 25077451 (GHMetters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 5 In an embodiment, the method comprises applying each bonus award during game play on the respective gaming device. 5 In an embodiment, the method comprises applying each bonus award without stopping game play on the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, each bonus award is a positive 10 modification of game play on the respective gaming device. In an embodiment, the method further comprises determining that a state of a gaming device has changed and altering the manner in which the bonus award is made based on the 15 change in state. In an embodiment, the method further comprises determining that a state of the gaming device has changed and altering the bonus award which is made based on the change 20 in state. In an embodiment, the method comprises integrating each bonus award with the state of the respective gaming device. 25 In a third aspect, there is provided a gaming device for a gaming system, the gaming device arranged to receive data indicative of the gaming device being required to make a bonus award 30 and to control the manner in which the bonus award is made based on a current state of the gaming device. In an embodiment, the gaming device is arranged to control the manner in which each bonus award is made by 35 determining a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the bonus award based on the current state. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12110 - 6 In an embodiment, the bonus award comprises a modification to game play of the respective gaming device. s In an embodiment, there are plurality of possible bonus awards, and the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the bonus award. In an embodiment, the manner in which each bonus award is 10 made based on an identity of the game. In an embodiment, the gaming device is configured to apply each bonus award during game play on the gaming device. 15 In an embodiment, the gaming device is configured to apply each bonus award without stopping game play. In an embodiment, each bonus award is a positive modification of game play on the respective gaming device. 20 In an embodiment, the gaming device is further configured to alter the manner in which the bonus award is made based on a change in state. 25 In an embodiment, the gaming device is further configured to alter the bonus award which is made based on a change in state. In an embodiment, the gaming device is configured to 30 integrate each bonus award with the state. In a fourth aspect, there is provided computer program code which when executed by components of a gaming system comprising a bonus controller and a plurality of gaming 35 devices each playable independently of one another implements the above method. 2507745_1 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 1 14/12/10 -7 In a fifth aspect, there is provided a tangible computer readable medium comprising the computer program code. In a sixth aspect, there is provided transmitting the 5 computer program code. Brief Description of Drawings An exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be 10 described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a block diagram of a gaming system with a bonus controller; 15 Figure 2 is a perspective view of a stand alone gaming machine; Figure 3 is a block diagram of the functional components 20 of a gaming machine; Figure 4 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory; 25 Figure 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming system; Figure 6 is a block diagram of a bonus controller; 30 Figure 7 is a functional block diagram of a bonus controller; Figure 8 is a flow chart of an embodiment; and 35 Figure 9 is a functional block diagram of a gaming device in the form of a standalone gaming machine. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 -8 Detailed Description 5 Overview of exemplary gaming system Figure 1 shows an exemplary gaming system 1 where a bonus controller 150 is in data communication over a network 2, such as an Ethernet, with a bank of five gaming devices in 10 the form of standalone gaming machines 10. The bonus controller 150 is arranged to communicate with the gaming devices to determine which gaming devices are eligible. When a bonus condition is met, the bonus game controller 150 makes a bonus award to one or more of gaming devices 15 10. The gaming system is arranged to apply the bonus award in dependence on the state of the gaming devices, for example the gaming devices 10 may be arranged to select a manner of applying the bonus award based on their own state. 20 Gaming devices Gaming devices capable of participating in the method of gaming of the embodiment can take any suitable form 25 including stand alone gaming machines and server based gaming terminals. A gaming device in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in Figure 2. The gaming machine 30 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 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during 35 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 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 -9 mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. Other gaming machines may be configured for ticket in that they have a ticket reader for reading tickets 5 having a value and crediting the player based on the face value of the ticker. 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 loyalty program. The player tracking 10 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. In some embodiments, the player marketing module may provide an additional credit mechanism, either by transferring credits to the gaming machine from credits 15 stored on the player tracking device or by transferring credits from a player account in data communication with the player marketing module. A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example 20 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 25 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 30 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 a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different 35 type. Figure 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 1 14/12/10 - 10 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 5 having a processor 102 mounted on a circuit board. 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 10 volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103. 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 15 include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server. That is a processor may be provided by any suitable logic circuitry for receiving inputs, processing them in accordance with 20 instructions stored in memory and generating outputs (for example on the display). Such processors are sometimes also referred to as central processing units (CPUs). Most processors are general purpose units, however, it is also know to provide a specific purpose processor using an 25 application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or a field programmable gate array (FPGA). The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring 30 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 35 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 2507745_1 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 11 skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers. In the example shown in Figure 3, a player interface 120 s includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 including one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107 (which provide a game play mechanism), a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a 10 coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation. For example, while buttons or touch screens are typically used in gaming machines to allow a 15 player to place a wager and initiate a play of a game any input device that enables the player to input game play instructions may be used. In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a 20 communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a bonus controller, central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the bonus 25 controller, central controller, server or database. In embodiments employing a player marketing module, communications over a network may be via player marketing module - i.e. the player marketing module may be in data communication with one or more of the above devices and 30 communicate with it on behalf of the gaming machine. 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 35 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 25077451 (GHMatters) PS2091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 12 some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B 5 or elsewhere. It is also possible for the operative components of the gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 to be 10 provided remotely from the game controller 101. In a client server architecture a gaming device is provided by a gaming client and game server (and optionally other gaming network components). A gaming is client has a similar outward appearance to gaming machine 10 but the game server implements most or all of the game and as such acts as the game controller while the terminal operated by the player essentially provides only the player interface. The gaming terminal receives player 20 instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. Further details of a client/server gaming architecture can be found in WO 2006/052213 and PCT/SE2006/000559, the disclosures of which are 25 incorporated herein by reference. In such an embodiment, a bonus controller can be provided, for example, by a dedicated server in data communication with the game server. 30 Figure 5 shows that a gaming device may be connected within a gaming network 200 which provides additional and/or enhanced functionality. The gaming network 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in 35 three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in Figure 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 13 the gaming machines 10,100 shown in Figures 2 and 3. 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 10 associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material. A bonus controller can be provided within such a network 15 200 by bonus server 205, such that the bonus server may implement a bonus for a plurality of different banks of gaming machines rather than a specific controller being provided for each bank of gaming machines. 20 A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs 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 25 be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided. Servers are also typically provided to assist in the 30 administration of the gaming network 200, including for 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 35 network 201 and the devices connected to the network. The gaming network 200 may communicate with other gaming 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 14 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. S 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 may be run as a single "engine" on one server or a 10 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 will appreciate that a plurality of game servers could be 15 provided to run different games or a single game server may run a plurality of different games as required by the terminals. Figure 9 is a functional block diagram of a gaming device 20 in the form of a stand alone gaming machine. The gaming device 900 may be the same or different to gaming machine 10,100 described above. The games played on the individual gaming devices may be the same or different and may be for example a spinning reel type game. The player 25 operates the game play mechanism 912 to specify a wager and hence the win entitlement which will be evaluated for this play of the game and initiates a play of the game. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a player's win entitlement will vary from game to game dependent on 30 player selections. In most spinning reel games, it is typical for the player's win 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 play in 35 each game - e.g. a minimum of one line up to the maximum number of lines allowed by the game (noting that not all permutations of win lines may be available for selection) 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 114112/10 - 15 and how much they wager per line. Such win lines are typically formed by a combination of symbol display positions, one from each reel, the symbol display positions being located relative to one another such that 5 they form a line. 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 10 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 15 selecting a number of reels to play and an amount to wager per reel. Such games are marketed under the trade name "Reel Power" by Aristocrat Leisure Industries Pty Ltd. The selection of the reel means that each displayed symbol of the reel can be substituted for a symbol at one or more 20 designated display positions. In other words, all symbols displayed at symbol display positions corresponding to a selected reel can be used to form symbol combinations with symbols displayed at a designated, symbol display positions of the other reels. For example, if there are 25 five reels and three symbol display positions for each reel such that the symbol display positions comprise three rows of five symbol display positions, the symbols displayed in the centre row are used for non-selected reels. As a result, the total number of ways to win is 30 determined by multiplying the number of active display positions of each reels, the active display positions being all display positions of each selected reel and the designated display position of the non-selected reels. As a result for five reels and fifteen display positions 35 there are 243 ways to win. In other embodiments a player win entitlement may be 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091 AU 1 14112/10 - 16 affected 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. 5 In Figure 9, the processor 930 of game controller 920 is shown implementing a number of modules based on program code and data stored in memory 940. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that various of the modules could 10 be implemented in some other way, for example by a dedicated circuit. The gaming device 900 includes a player interface 910 having a display 911 for displaying game outcomes to a 15 player and a game play mechanism 912 including input devices such as touch screen or buttons to enable the player to interact with the game by placing wagers and entering any other instructions required to play the game. Game play mechanism 912 also enables the player to 20 interact with the game to learn game rules etc. The player interface 910 includes a credit mechanism 913 allowing the player to input credit into the gaming device 900 and/or be paid out any winnings or remaining credit. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that other 25 components will be present in a gaming device 900 such as those described in relation to Figures 2 to 4 above. The memory 940 includes program code for implementing a game including game rule data 941 for implementing the rules of a game playable on the gaming device. 30 The processor 930 when executing the program code stored in memory 940 is arranged to generate outcomes of the game in response to the operation of the game play mechanism 912. The outcomes are generated with the outcome 35 generator 931. The outcome evaluator 932 evaluates the game outcomes that are generated based on the wager specified with the game play mechanism 912 and updates 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 17 credit data 942 which stores a credit meter and a win meter for the game. The processor 930 also implements a communication module 933 which is intended to communicate by communication interface 950 with a bonus controller. 5 As will be described in further detail below the communication module is arranged to indicate to the bonus controller whether the gaming device 900 is eligible to participate in a bonus game. 10 Accordingly, the communication module includes a eligibility module 933A which is intended to determine based on eligibility rule data whether the gaming device 900 is eligible to participate in the bonus. In one example, eligibility rule data 943 specifies a time period is and participation sub-module 933A determines whether a game has been concluded within a defined time period prior to receipt of a polling request from the bonus controller 150 (as described below). Alternatively, eligibility module 933A communicates when the last game is completed. 20 In this manner, the bonus controller 150 can determine whether the gaming device 900 is currently being played and is eligible to participate in the bonus game when it is initiated. In some embodiments, additional or different eligibility criteria may apply, for example the 25 player may have to place a maximum bet, play maximum lines, or place an ante bet in order to be eligible. In the embodiment, the bonus game is triggered by an outcome occurring on one of the gaming devices in data 30 communication with the bonus controller and accordingly, the outcome evaluator includes a trigger monitor 932A for monitoring that a trigger condition has been met by an outcome of the game generated by the outcome generator 932. When a trigger event occurs, the trigger monitor 35 communicates the trigger event to the communication module which outputs data indicative of the trigger event via communication interface 950. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 18 Bonus controller and its operation within the gaming system 5 Referring to Figure 6 there is shown further detail of the bonus controller 150. From Figure 6 it will be apparent that bonus controller 150 is in data communication with a communal display 160 which can be used to advertise the bonus game or indicate that the bonus game is in progress. 10 Referring to Figure 6, the constitution of the bonus controller 150 is similar to that of the gaming device illustrated in relation to Figures 2 to 4 and 9 in that it has a processor 151 arranged to implement the bonus based is on program code stored in memory 152 and a display driver 154 for driving the display 160 to show the bonus outcome. The bonus controller 150 also includes a communication interface 153 which is designed to enable the processor 151 to communicate with each of the gaming devices 10. 20 Persons skilled in the art will appreciate the above components are the core components for implementing a bonus but other components may be present in a bonus controller. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate 25 that the implementation of the bonus controller is analogous to the implementation of jackpot controllers in existing gaming systems and reference may be made to such jackpot controllers for further details of implementation. 30 Figure 7 is a functional block diagram of the bonus game controller 150 which shows that the processor 151 implements a number of modules in a similar manner to the processor of the gaming device shown in Figure 9. The processor 151 executes program code stored in memory 152 35 to instantiate a number of modules including trigger monitor 706 which monitors for trigger data transmitted from one of the gaming devices. Once a trigger is 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 19 received, trigger monitor activates bonus award controller 701 and an eligibility module 703 which communicates via data communication interface 153 with each of the gaming devices. In one example, this communication includes s polling each of the gaming devices. In another example this may be by listening to output on the network from each of the individual gaming devices. In any event, the eligibility module 703 determines which gaming devices are eligible. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that 10 there are other techniques for enforcing eligibility, for example, it may be that the gaming devices determine themselves whether they are eligible to apply a bonus award sent to them from the bonus controller. 15 That is, when the trigger is received by the trigger monitor 709, eligibility module 703 polls each of the gaming machines to determine whether they have been active within a defined period. The eligibility module 933A of each gaming device 900 outputs whether they are active at 20 the time based on the eligibility rule data 943 as well as data allowing the gaming device to be identified and data required to determine how to share any award (if necessary). From these responses, eligibility module 703 determines the identity and number of active gaming 25 devices. The award determiner 701A then determines which awards to make to the eligible gaming devices based on bonus award rule data 710 and random trials conducted by the random 30 number generator 705. For example, bonus awards may be made to all gaming devices in some embodiments, a random number of gaming devices, or at different levels to different devices or a combination thereof. If there are different levels, the award determiner includes a bonus 35 level determiner 701B which determines which level award is to be applied for each gaming device to which a bonus award is to be made. The bonus awards may be made in 2507745_1 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 20 response to the trigger (i.e. when the bonus event begins), or at varying times during the bonus event. In one exemplary embodiment, the bonus event is conducted 5 for a defined period. Accordingly, the bonus award controller 701 communicates bonus award data to each of the individual gaming devices 10 at which an award is to be provided. This communication being via data communication interface in the general manner of 10 communications described above. Each of the individual gaming devices confirm that they have received the bonus award data and that they are prepared to start the bonus award. A bonus event starter function 710C of the bonus award controller 701 then starts the bonus award sequence is by broadcasting to each of the gaming devices they should apply the bonus award. The bonus award controller also includes a bonus event ender 701D for communicating to each of the gaming devices that the bonus event is to be ended (in the above example when the defined time period 20 specified in bonus award rule data 710 has expired). It will be appreciated that in other embodiments, the bonus event may end in some other manner, for example it may end when another condition is met, for example a 25 particular game event occurring on one of the individual gaming devices. In such an embodiment, the occurrence of the event is communicated by the relevant gaming device to the bonus controller 701 and the bonus event ender 701D communicates the end of the bonus event to the other 30 gaming devices. A variation of the embodiment, a gaming device which produces the relevant game event ending the bonus award may communicate this directly to each of the other gaming devices by broadcasting it on the network. 35 Once the individual gaming devices 10 receive the bonus award data, this is passed by communication module 933 to a bonus award controller 934. The bonus award controller 2507745_1 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 21 includes a state determiner 934A which determines a current state of the gaming device and an award selector 934B which selects an award to apply from bonus award data 944 based on the state of the gaming device. In one 5 example, the game rule data 941 may provide for a base game which is conducted for each play of the game and a feature game which is conducted when a specific condition is met during the base game. An example of the state determiner 934A operating is for the state determiner to 10 determine whether a base game or a feature game is currently being played and for the award selector 934B to select a different award depending on whether the base game or feature game is the current state of the machine. There are many other examples of how the state may differ, 1 for example in some games, a player may accrue symbols which can be used during ongoing play of the game and the state could be dependant on the number of symbols which have been accrued. In any event, it will be appreciated that the bonus award controller 934 operates to integrate 20 the bonus award with the current state of the machine. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that there will be other variables for selecting the award including the identity of the game being played (where different games are played on the connected gaming devices, either because 25 the specific gaming devices offer different games or a player has selected from a plurality of different games playable on the gaming device) or the level of the award where different awards are available. 30 Once the bonus award controller 934 determines the award to be applied, it advises one or both of the outcome generator 931 and outcome evaluator 932 the modification of the game rule data to apply, for example by controlling which program code (of parts thereof) stored 35 in memory 940 is used. That is, either the manner in which outcomes are generated or the manner in which they are evaluated or both is changed by the bonus award 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 1 14/12110 - 22 controller 934. Each modification is intended to have a positive impact on game play, but persons skilled in the art will appreciate that it could be possible to have one or more "unlucky games" where the bonus award provides no 5 or a negative impact on game play. The outcome generator 931 continues to generate results after the modification in accordance with play of the game and these are evaluated by the outcome evaluator 932 and any awards to be made to the player are added to win meter stored as 10 meter data 942 and displayed to the player on display 911. The method of the embodiment is summarised in Figure 8. The method 800 involves, subsequent to a trigger occurring 810, determining which of the eligible gaming devices 10 15 are to receive a bonus award 820. In the example of Figure 8, the method involves determining the level of award 830. Any bonus awards are communicated to individual gaming devices 840 and it is determined what is the current state is of the gaming machine 850. The method then involves 20 selecting the manner in which the award is to be applied based on the state of the gaming device 860 and applying the award during game play 870. The bonus award is then applied until the bonus event 25 ends, at which time the bonus controller will stop the application of the modification. It will be appreciated that in the above embodiment one or more gaming devices will experience one or more positive 30 impacts on game play, the types of which will be identified by the game state they are in when the award is in progress. If a gaming device changes from one game state to another during a bonus award, for example if it moves from a base game to a feature game, the type of 35 positive impact can change according to the changed game state under the control of the bonus award controller 734. That is, the game controller can be arranged to change the 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091 AU 1 14/12110 - 23 bonus award which is applied or can be arranged to change the manner in which a bonus award is applied. As described above, when the bonus game award ceases, for example either randomly, via a special feature or through 5 one of the existing base game features, there will be no more positive impacts until the next bonus award. It will be appreciated that the bonus award length can also be determined randomly by time, be a defined time, based on turnover, number of feature games played, number of bonus io awards given, an amount of extra return to player awarded or a combination of some or all of those factors. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that while the above example describes the bonus being triggered, the is bonus could instead be carried out in response to some other bonus condition being met, for example, periodically with each gaming device that played in a previous time period being entitled to share in any awards the bonus. 20 Further aspects of the method will be apparent from the above description of the gaming system and that at least part of the method will be implemented digitally by a processor. Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate 25 that the method could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable storage medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by 30 transmitting it from a server). Persons skilled in the art, will appreciate that program code provides a series of instructions executable by the processor. Example 1 35 There is a linked bank of 6 eligible electronic gaming machines EGMs. Player 1 triggers the Bonus Event, and in 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 24 the process gets awarded a credit prize. Player 2 is playing the base game during the Bonus Event, and thus all wins (or some wins, randomly determined or 5 pre-determined) are multiplied by a random multiplier. Player 3 is playing the Free Game Feature during the Bonus Event, and thus gets awarded extra WILDs in the window for all (or some) spins for the duration of the Bonus Event. 10 Player 4 is playing the Match and Win Feature during the Bonus Event, and thus gets warded extra multipliers of extra Bonus symbols for the duration of the Bonus Event. 15 Player 5 is playing the base game, and because he is unlucky, does not receive any bonuses from the Bonus Event. Player 6 is playing the base game, and then gets awarded 20 the Jackpot Feature. He wins the Jackpot Progressive, and in the process, the Bonus Event ceases for the entire bank of linked EGMs. Example 2 - Jurassic Park 25 "Jurassic Park" is a game for a bank of linked EGMs with progressive Jackpots, all with the Jurassic Park theme. A bonus event can be triggered that has seamless 30 integration with the current game state in all (or some randomly selected) EGMs on the bank. The premise is that, like the movie of the same name, Jurassic Park has been built and is functioning as a 35 state-of-the-art theme park open for tourists and dinosaur lovers alike. But as with all theme parks, it's not totally without its "hiccups". 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14112/10 - 25 The game will have numerous features featuring each of the park's most spectacular attractions. 5 e T-Rex feeding feature " Velociraptor feature e Triceratops feature e Brontosaurus feature * Pterodactyl feature 10 Each of these features will have its unique mini-game where the player will win credit prizes (and maybe progressives). 15 But sometimes, during the T-Rex feeding feature the electric fence will malfunction and the T-Rex will become loose and roam around the park causing mayhem. This will trigger the T-REX BONUS EVENT which will be communicated throughout the whole bank via display 160 sequences, 20 sounds, music, lights and/or maybe a physical warning light/siren of top of the EGM. During the T-REX BONUS EVENT, the T-REX has the potential to come up to ANY eligible machine on the bank of EGMs and 25 help the player win credit prizes or progressives. Also T-REX could come up on a number of multiple EGMs for the duration of the T-REX BONUS EVENT until he is captured or subdued. 30 For example, if a player is playing the base game while the T-REX BONUS EVENT is in progress, the T-REX could appear on the game window and bite/stomp one or more of the "dinosaur" base game symbols and create bonus WILDs in the process. 35 In one example, the Pterodactyl feature has the player riding a flying dinosaur and the aim is to drop things 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 26 down and hit targets on the ground to win credit prizes and/or progressives. If the T-REX BONUS EVENT is triggered as the player is flying around trying to hit targets, the T-REX can be seen chasing some smaller s dinosaurs along the ground, stomping/hitting some of the targets and in the process, helping the player. In addition to these random T-REX sightings, in one example there is a special T-REX JACKPOT FEATURE where the io player would have to aid in the capture of the T-REX in order to win a Progressive Jackpot. If the player is not successful in capturing the T-REX, the T-REX BONUS EVENT will continue and another player (or the same player, determined by chance) would have a chance at subduing the 15 T-REX, this time for a bigger jackpot (higher progressive level). This BONUS EVENT would continue until a player is successful in capturing the T-REX. Once the T-REX has been captured, the T-REX BONUS EVENT 20 would cease until the T-REX has a chance to escape again. It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, in 25 particular it will be apparent that certain features of embodiments of the invention can be employed to form further embodiments. For example, the bonus controller 150 is shown in Figure 1 30 as a separate entity to the gaming devices 10. In an alternative embodiment, it could be provided by one of the gaming devices incorporating a server module arranged to implement the bonus controller in the manner described in Australian patent application 2008205413 filed 13 August 35 2008. It is to be understood that, if any prior art is referred 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU. 1 14112/10 - 27 to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the prior art forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art in any country. 5 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, 10 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. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10

Claims (36)

1. A gaming system comprising: a plurality of gaming devices, each playable 5 independently of one another; and a bonus controller in data communication with each of the gaming devices, the bonus controller configured to determine whether to make a bonus award to one or more of the gaming devices upon a bonus condition being met, 10 the gaming system configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made based on a current state of the respective gaming device.
2. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein each 15 gaming device is configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made by determining a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the bonus award based on the current state. 20
3. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the bonus award comprises a modification to game play of the respective gaming device.
4. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 25 3, wherein there are plurality of possible bonus awards, and wherein the gaming system is further configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the bonus award. 30
5. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein at least two of the gaming devices provide different games and the gaming system is further configured to control the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the game. 35
6. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, configured to apply each bonus award during game play 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091 AU.1 14112/10 - 29 on the respective gaming device.
7. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 6, configured to apply each bonus award without stopping 5 game play on the respective gaming device.
8. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein each bonus award is a positive modification of game play on the respective gaming device. 10
9. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, further configured to determine that a state of the gaming device has changed and alter the manner in which the bonus award is made based on the change in state. 15
10. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, further configured to determine that a state of the gaming device has changed and alter the bonus award which is made based on the change in state. 20
11. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 10, configured to integrate each bonus award with the state of the gaming device. 25
12. A method of gaming comprising: determining at a bonus controller to make a bonus award to one or more of a plurality of gaming devices, each playable independently of one another upon a bonus condition being met; and 30 controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made based on a current state of the respective gaming device.
13. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein controlling 35 the manner in which each bonus award is made comprises determining at each gaming device a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 30 bonus award based on the current state.
14. A method as claimed in claim 12 or claim 13, wherein the bonus award comprises a modification to game play of 5 the respective gaming device.
15. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 14, wherein there are plurality of possible bonus awards, and the method comprises controlling the manner in which each 10 bonus award is made based on an identity of the bonus award.
16. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 15, wherein at least two of the gaming devices provide 15 different games and the method comprises controlling the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the game.
17. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 16, 20 comprising applying each bonus award during game play on the respective gaming device.
18. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 16, comprising applying each bonus award without stopping game 25 play on the respective gaming device.
19. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 18, wherein each bonus award is a positive modification of game play on the respective gaming device. 30
20. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 19, further comprising determining that a state of a gaming device has changed and altering the manner in which the bonus award is made based on the change in state. 35
21. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 19, further comprising determining that a state of the gaming 2507745_1 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 31 device has changed and altering the bonus award which is made based on the change in state.
22. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 21, 5 comprising integrating each bonus award with the state of the respective gaming device.
23. A gaming device for a gaming system, the gaming device arranged to receive data indicative 10 of the gaming device being required to make a bonus award and to control the manner in which the bonus award is made based on a current state of the gaming device.
24. A gaming device as claimed in claim 23, arranged to 15 control the manner in which each bonus award is made by determining a current state of the gaming device and selecting a manner in which to apply the bonus award based on the current state. 20
25. A gaming device as claimed in claim 23 or claim 24, wherein the bonus award comprises a modification to game play of the respective gaming device.
26. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 25 25, wherein there are plurality of possible bonus awards, and the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the bonus award.
27. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 30 26, wherein the manner in which each bonus award is made based on an identity of the game.
28. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 27, configured to apply each bonus award during game play 35 on the gaming device.
29. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12/10 - 32 27, configured to apply each bonus award without stopping game play.
30. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 5 31, wherein each bonus award is a positive modification of game play on the respective gaming device.
31. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 30, further configured to alter the manner in which the io bonus award is made based on a change in state.
32. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 30, further configured to alter the bonus award which is made based on a change in state. 15
33. A gaming device as claimed in any one of claims 23 to 32, configured to integrate each bonus award with the state. 20
34. Computer program code which when executed by components of a gaming system comprising a bonus controller and a plurality of gaming devices each playable independently of one another implements the method of claim 12 to 22. 25
35. A tangible computer readable medium comprising the computer program code of claim 34.
36. Transmitting the computer program code of claim 34. 25077451 (GHMatters) P82091.AU.1 14/12110
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