AU2012202626B2 - A gaming system and a method of gaming - Google Patents

A gaming system and a method of gaming Download PDF

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Publication number
AU2012202626B2
AU2012202626B2 AU2012202626A AU2012202626A AU2012202626B2 AU 2012202626 B2 AU2012202626 B2 AU 2012202626B2 AU 2012202626 A AU2012202626 A AU 2012202626A AU 2012202626 A AU2012202626 A AU 2012202626A AU 2012202626 B2 AU2012202626 B2 AU 2012202626B2
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symbols
gaming system
symbol
game
special symbol
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AU2012202626A1 (en
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Amanda Jane Schofield
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2009201929A priority patent/AU2009201929A1/en
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Priority to AU2012202626A priority patent/AU2012202626B2/en
Publication of AU2012202626A1 publication Critical patent/AU2012202626A1/en
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Abstract

Abstract A gaming system is disclosed which comprises a symbol selector arranged to select a plurality of symbols for display at a plurality of display positions, an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the selected 10 symbols correspond to a winning outcome, and a replicator arranged to replicate a symbol aspect when a winning outcome occurs such that all symbols forming part of the winning outcome acquire the symbol aspect. The system is arranged so as to retain the replicated symbol aspect 15 until after at least one subsequent selection of symbols. A corresponding method is also disclosed. 3341415_1 (GHMMtter) P77353AU2 Prize allocator Outcome generator Function 00Display allocator controller RNse cymol dereier P Replicator 22 20 :]24 42 1-'Symbols Functions Game instructions 18 Fig. 2

Description

AUSTRALIA Patents Act 1990 COMPLETE SPECIFICATION Standard Patent Applicant: Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited Invention Title: A GAMING SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF GAMING The following statement is a full description of this invention, including the best method for performing it known to us: - 1 A GAMING SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF GAMING Field of the Invention 5 The present invention relates to a gaming system and to a method of gaming. Background of the Invention 10 It is known to provide a gaming system which comprises a game controller arranged to randomly display several symbols from a predetermined set of symbols and to determine a game outcome such as a game win based on the displayed symbols. In some arrangements, a win outcome is 15 defined on the basis of occurrence of symbols along defined win lines which may be preselected or selected by a player prior to display of symbols by the gaming system. Such gaming systems may commonly be implemented as a 20 stepper machine provided with reels with each reel carrying several symbols of the set, or a video machine wherein selected symbols are displayed on virtual reels on a graphical display device. 25 However, while such gaming systems provide users with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment. Summary of the Invention 30 In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming system comprising: a trigger determiner arranged to determine whether a trigger condition exists and to cause the gaming system to 35 implement special game mode when a trigger condition has been determined, the special game mode comprising a series of feature games; a symbol selector arranged to select a 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 2 plurality of symbols for display at respective ones of a plurality of display positions in each feature game of the series of feature games, the plurality of symbols to be selected from a set of available symbols comprising at 5 least one special symbol having enhanced functionality in comparison to other symbols making up the set of available symbols; an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the selected symbols in a feature game of the series of 10 feature games correspond to a winning outcome and to determine whether the winning outcome includes the at least one special symbol; and a replicator arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol in response to 15 determining that a winning outcome including the at least one special symbol occurs in the feature game such that all symbols forming part of the winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality of the special symbol; the system being arranged such that symbols acquiring 20 the enhanced functionality of the special symbol are retained in the set of available symbols during play of the series of feature games. In one embodiment, the replicator is arranged to replicate 25 a representation of the special symbol which may be displayed at one of the display positions. In one embodiment, the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a 30 winning outcome including at least one special symbol and at least one other symbol occurs. The special symbol may be a WILD symbol or a symbol having an associated WILD function. 35 In one arrangement, the winning combination which causes replications to occur is any winning combination. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 3 Alternatively, the winning combination which causes replications to occur is one or more specific winning combinations. 5 Alternatively, the gaming system may be arranged to randomly select, or to facilitate selection by a player of one or more specific winning combinations, or winning combinations including a specific randomly or player selected symbol, and the replicator is caused to replicate 10 the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when the specific winning outcome occurs or a winning outcome including the selected symbol occurs. In one embodiment, the replicator is caused to replicate 15 the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome occurs in conjunction with a game event, which may be a simultaneously occurring secondary winning outcome, occurrence of a specific symbol in the display area, or any other game event. 20 Alternatively, the gaming system is arranged to randomly select, or to facilitate selection by a player of one or more win lines, and the replicator arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol only if a 25 winning combination appears on a selected win line. In one embodiment, the symbols which have acquired the enhanced functionality themselves become special symbols in a subsequent game. 30 The gaming system may further comprise a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize to a player when a winning outcome exists. The gaming system may be arranged to operate in normal 35 game mode wherein at least one base game is implemented and special game mode wherein the series of feature games is implemented. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG The gaming system may be arranged to commence special game mode when a specific game outcome occurs. In addition or alternatively, the gaming system may be 5 arranged to commence special game mode on the basis of a game event occurring during a game such as display of a particular symbol, in response to player input, based on the amount or type of bet placed, or when a special game is purchased by a player. 10 The gaming system may be implemented as a stand alone gaming machine or across a network. In one embodiment, one or more of the symbol selector, win 15 replicator, prize allocator and the outcome evaluator is constituted, at least in part, by a processor executing program code stored in a memory. In one embodiment, the gaming system comprises a game play 20 mechanism operable to place a wager and the outcome evaluator evaluates the outcome based on the wager. In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of gaming 25 comprising: implementing special game mode when a trigger condition has been determined, the special game mode comprising a series of feature games; selecting a plurality of symbols for display at 30 respective ones of a plurality of display positions in each feature game of the series of feature games, the plurality of symbols to be selected from a set of available symbols comprising at least one special symbol having enhanced functionality in comparison to other 35 symbols making up the set of available symbols; 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 5 determining whether the selected symbols in a feature game of the series of feature games correspond to a winning outcome; determining whether the winning outcome includes the 5 at least one special symbol; replicating the enhanced functionality of the special symbol in response to determining that a winning outcome including the at least one special symbol occurs in the feature game such that all symbols forming part of the 10 winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality of the special symbol; and retaining the symbols retaining the replicated enhanced functionality of the special symbol in the set of available symbols during play of the series of feature 15 games. In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer program arranged when loaded into a computer to instruct the computer to 20 operate in accordance with a gaming system in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention. In accordance with a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer readable medium 25 having computer readable program code embodied therein for causing a computer to operate in accordance with a gaming system in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention. 30 In accordance with a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a data signal having computer readable program code embodied therein for causing a computer to operate in accordance with a gaming system in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention. 35 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 6 Brief Description of the Drawings The present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, 5 in which: Figure 1 is a schematic block diagram of core components of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of functional 10 components of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; Figure 3 is a diagrammatic representation of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention with the gaming system implemented in the form 15 of a stand alone gaming machine; Figure 4 is a schematic block diagram of operative components of the gaming machine shown in Figure 3; Figure 5 is a schematic block diagram of components of a memory of the gaming machine shown in Figure 3; 20 Figure 6 is a schematic diagram of a gaming system in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention with the gaming system implemented over a network; Figure 7 is a flow diagram illustrating game play of 25 a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; Figures 8 to 12 are diagrammatic representations of example symbols displayed by a gaming system in a display area in accordance with an embodiment of the present 30 invention during implementation of a game; and Figures 13 to 17 are diagrammatic representations of example symbols displayed by a gaming system in a display area in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention during implementation of a game. 35 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG Description of an Embodiment of the Invention The present gaming system operates such that during implementation of a game by the gaming system, a plurality 5 of symbols are selected from a set of symbols for display in a display area, in the present embodiment by providing a plurality of symbol reels and spinning and subsequently stopping the reels. If the symbols displayed in the display area correspond to a winning symbol combination, a 10 prize is allocated to a player. At least during some game implementations, when a particular winning outcome occurs, such as an outcome including a special symbol and at least one other symbol, 15 an enhanced functionality of the special symbol, is replicated such that each of the other symbols acquires the enhanced functionality. The acquired functionality remains at least until completion of a subsequent game so that the replicated functionality can potentially 20 influence the outcome of the subsequent game(s). In one embodiment, the enhanced functionality is a WILD function such that symbols which acquire the enhanced functionality also acquire the WILD function. 25 It will be understood that since the replicated functionality remains for at least one subsequent game, the likelihood of the player obtaining a winning outcome potentially increases with each subsequent game and as a 30 consequence player enjoyment is enhanced. Referring to the drawings, there is shown a schematic block diagram of a gaming system 10 arranged to implement a probabilistic game of the type wherein several symbols 35 from a set of symbols are randomly displayed, and a game outcome is determined on the basis of the displayed symbols. The system may have a single mode of operation 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 8 or may be of the type including multiple game modes such as operable in normal game mode wherein a base game is implemented and special game mode wherein a feature game is implemented. 5 With some such probabilistic games, the set of symbols used during normal game mode include standard symbols and function symbols, and the game outcome is determined on the basis of the displayed standard symbols and the 10 function associated with any displayed function symbol. For example, standard symbols may resemble fruit such as apples, pears and bananas with a win outcome being determined when a predetermined number of the same fruit appear on a display along a win line, or are displayed 15 according to defined outcome patterns such as scattered, and so on. The function associated with a function symbol may be for example a wild function wherein display of the function symbol is treated during consideration of the game outcome as any of the standard symbols. A function 20 symbol may be represented as the word "WILD", a star, or by any other suitable word or symbol. Other functions are also envisaged such as scatter functions, multiplier functions, repeat win functions, jackpot functions and feature commencement functions. 25 Referring to Figure 1, a schematic diagram of core components of a gaming system 10 in accordance with the present embodiment is shown. The core components comprise a player interface 30 and a game controller 32. The 30 player interface 30 is arranged to enable interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes input/output components required for the player to enter instructions and play the game. 35 Components of the player interface 30 may vary but will typically include a credit mechanism 34 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 9 36 which may comprise a touch screen, and a game play mechanism 38 arranged to enable a player to input game play instructions. 5 The game controller 32 is in data communication with the player interface 30 and typically includes a processor 40 arranged to process game play instructions and output game player outcomes to the display 36. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 10 42 that can also be hardwired. It will be understood that in this specification the term "processor" is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions and may include a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other 15 computational device such as a personal computer or a server. A functional diagram illustrating operative components of the game controller 32 is shown in Figure 2. 20 The memory 42 is arranged to store symbols data 14 indicative of a plurality of symbols, in the present example associated with a plurality of reels, function data 16 indicative of one or more functions allocatable to 25 the symbols, and game instruction data 18 indicative of game instructions usable by the gaming machine 10 to control operation of the game. The game controller 32 includes a symbol selector 20 which 30 is arranged to select several symbols from the available symbols 15 for display to a player in a plurality of display positions, in this example by spinning reels containing the symbols and stopping the reels so as to display at least one symbol on each reel. In this 35 example, the selection carried out by the symbol selector 20 is made using a random number generator 22. The selected symbols are communicated to a display controller 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 10 23 which controls a display so that the selected symbols are displayed in a display area. It will be appreciated that the random number generator 22 5 may be of a type which is arranged to generate pseudo random numbers based on a seed number, and that in this specification the term "random" will be understood accordingly to mean truly random or pseudo random. 10 With this embodiment, the game controller 32 also comprises a trigger determiner 24 arranged to determine whether a trigger condition exists and to cause the game controller 32 to implement special game mode when a trigger condition has been detected. Such a trigger 15 condition may be display of a particular symbol or combination of symbols. During special game mode, a feature game is implemented which for example is of a type wherein a player is 20 provided with several free games. When special game mode is implemented the trigger determiner 24 communicates that special game mode has commenced to the replicator 27. The replicator 27 then 25 replicates an enhanced functionality of a symbol if a winning outcome occurs, and in some embodiments if a special symbol appears in the winning outcome. Replication is such that all symbols in the winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality. If any 30 replications occur and if more games are to be implemented during special game mode, the replicator 27 modifies the symbols 14 stored in the memory 42 so that symbols which have acquired the enhanced functionality are available for selection by the symbol selector 20 in subsequent games 35 during special game mode. The replicator 27 also communicates the replication(s) to the display controller 23 which controls the display so that the replications are 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 11 displayed in the display area. In the present example, the replicated functionality is derived from the special symbol, although it will be understood that the replicated functionality may be predefined or derived from any other 5 symbol. The replicator may be caused to replicate an enhanced functionality of a symbol when a winning outcome occurs in conjunction with a game event, which may be a 10 simultaneously occurring secondary winning outcome, occurrence of a specific symbol in the display area, or any other game event. The winning combination which causes replications to occur 15 may be any winning combination, may be one or more specific winning combinations, or the gaming system may be arranged to randomly select, or to facilitate selection by a player of one or more specific win combinations, or win combinations including a specific randomly or player 20 selected symbol. Alternatively, the gaming system may be arranged to randomly select, or to facilitate selection by a player of one or more win lines, and the replicator arranged to 25 replicate the enhanced functionality only if a winning combination appears on a selected win line. In some embodiments, the symbols which have acquired the enhanced functionality themselves become special symbols 30 in subsequent games during special game mode such that the new special symbols have the ability to trigger replication of symbols in a winning outcome when the new special symbol appears in the winning outcome. 35 In this example, the game controller 32 also comprises a function allocator 26 arranged to select and allocate one or more functions to one or more symbols. Such functions 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 12 include a wild function, a scatter function, or any other function which may be applied to a symbol or to the game. The game controller 32 also comprises an outcome evaluator 5 28 which in accordance with the game instructions 18 determines game outcomes based on the symbols selected for display to the player by the symbol selector 20 and during special game mode including any replications carried out by the replicator 27. 10 The game controller 32 also comprises a prize allocator 29 arranged to allocate a prize to a player when a winning outcome exists, the type of prize being dependent on the winning outcome. 15 Game outcomes may be evaluated by the outcome evaluator and prizes allocated if appropriate before any replications of the enhanced functionality occur, before and after any replications occur, or only after 20 replications have occurred. In the embodiments described below, the symbol selector 20, the display controller 23, the trigger determiner 24, the replicator 27, the function allocator 26, the outcome 25 evaluator 28, and the prize allocator 29 are at least partly implemented using the processor 40 and associated software, although it will be understood that other implementations are envisaged. 30 The gaming system 10 can take a number of different forms. In a first form, a stand alone gaming machine is provided wherein all or most components required for implementing the game are present in a player operable gaming machine. 35 In a second form, a distributed architecture is provided wherein some of the components required for implementing 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 13 the game are present in a player operable gaming device and some of the components required for implementing the game are located remotely relative to the gaming device. For example, a "thick client" architecture may be used 5 wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable gaming terminal 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 10 operable gaming terminal is used only to display audible and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player. However, it will be understood that other arrangements are 15 envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming device is networked to a gaming server and the respective functions of the gaming device and the gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming 20 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 skilled in the art. 25 A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 50 is illustrated in Figure 3. The gaming machine 50 includes a console 52 having a display 54 on which is displayed representations of a game 56 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 60 of the gaming machine 50 30 houses a bank of buttons 62 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during gameplay. The mid-trim 60 also houses a credit input mechanism 64 which in this example includes a coin input chute 64A and a bill collector 64B. Other credit input 35 mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 14 A top box 66 may carry artwork 68, including for example 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 5 panel 69 of the console 52. A coin tray 70 is mounted beneath the front panel 69 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 50. The display 54 is in the form of a video display unit, 10 particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 54 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, or any other suitable video display unit. The top box 66 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same 15 type as the display 54, or of a different type. The display 54 may comprise a touch screen usable by a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. 20 The display 54 in this example is arranged to display representations of several reels, each reel of which has several associated symbols. Typically 3, 4 or 5 reels are provided. During operation of the game, the reels first appear to rotate then stop with typically three symbols 25 visible on each reel. Game outcomes are determined on the basis of the visible symbols together with any special functions associated with the symbols. A player marketing module (PMM) 72 having a display 74 is 30 connected to the gaming machine 50. The main purpose of the PMM 72 is to allow the player to interact with a player loyalty system. The PMM has a magnetic card reader for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. However other 35 reading devices may be employed and 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 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 15 reading device. In this example, the PMM 62 is a Sentinel III device produced by Aristocrat Technologies Pty Ltd. Figure 4 shows a block diagram of operative components of 5 a gaming device 100 which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine shown in Figure 3. The gaming device 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control 10 operation of the processor 102 in accordance with the present invention are stored in a memory 103 which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming device 100 will include both 15 volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103. Figure 5 shows a block diagram of the main components of 20 an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 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 25 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 or elsewhere. 30 The gaming device has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/0) interface 105 for communicating with a player interface 120 of the gaming 35 device 100, the player interface 120 having several peripheral devices. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 16 their own memory for storing associated instructions and data 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. 5 In the example shown in Figure 4, the peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 comprise one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or bank of buttons 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 10 109, 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 machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation. 15 In addition, the gaming device 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information 20 to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or database. It is also possible for the operative components of the 25 gaming device 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 may be provided remotely from the game controller 101. Figure 6 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, a LAN or a WAN. In this example, three banks 203 of two gaming devices 202 are connected to the network 201. The gaming devices 202 provide a player operable interface and 35 may be the same as the gaming machines 40,100 shown in Figures 3 and 4, or may have simplified functionality depending on the requirements for implementing game play. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 17 While banks 203 of two gaming devices are illustrated in Figure 6, banks of one, three or more gaming devices are also envisaged. 5 One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. The displays 204 may, for example, be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming devices. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming devices 202, 10 and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material. In a thick client embodiment, a game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming device 15 202 and the gaming device 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server 205 and the gaming device 202 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 monitor and carry out the Jackpot game. 25 In a variation of the above thick client embodiment, the gaming device 202 is a gaming machine arranged to implement the game, with the game server 205 functioning merely to serve data indicative of a game to the gaming 30 machine 202 for implementation. With this implementation, a data signal containing a computer program usable by the gaming machine to implement the gaming system may be transferred from the game server 35 to the client terminal, for example in response to a request by the gaming machine. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 18 In a thin client embodiment, the game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming terminal 202 and the gaming terminal 202 essentially provides only the player interface. With this 5 embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming terminal will receive player instructions, and pass the instructions to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming terminal for display. In a thin client 10 embodiment, the gaming terminal could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard computer input and output components. 15 Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming system 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 20 210 is provided to allow an administrator to monitor the network 201 and the devices connected to the network. The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks such as a corporate network, 25 and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided. 30 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 35 separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random number generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 19 could be provided. Examples of specific implementations of the gaming system will now be described in relation to a stand alone gaming 5 machine 10, 40, 100 although it will be understood that implementation may also be carried out using other gaming system architectures such as a network architecture of the type shown in Figure 6. 10 In this example, the gaming system is operable in normal game mode and special game mode and the gaming system comprises five reels, each of which has an associated set of symbols. 15 The reels comprise standard symbols and optionally one or more function symbols and win outcomes are determined on the basis of the symbols visible at the display positions when the reels stop rotating. 20 Typically, a player will purchase or otherwise obtain win entitlements such as several win lines which are used in the game to determine win outcomes. If the displayed symbols on the reels have symbols associated with a winning combination such as disposed on a win line, the 25 player wins a prize. The gaming system may be arranged to commence special game mode when a predetermined game outcome occurs, and special game mode may comprise one or more free games. Special 30 game mode may commence automatically on the basis of a game event occurring during a game such as display of a particular symbol, based on game outcomes determined by the gaming system, or may be prompted by a player pressing a button on the gaming system 10, 40, 100 after the player 35 has identified that a game outcome corresponding to special game mode requirements has occurred. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 20 The gaming system 10, 40, 100 may also be arranged so as to determine eligibility for special game mode, for example based on the amount or type of bet placed, based on certain time periods and so on. 5 Special game mode may also be arranged to commence when a special game is purchased by a player. A specific example will now be described in relation to 10 flow diagram 250 shown in Figure 7 which illustrates steps 252 to 264 of a method of gaming implemented by the gaming system according to the present embodiment. In this example, five virtual reels are provided and, as 15 such, representations of the reels are displayed on a graphical display device 44. During implementation of a game, the reels are spun and subsequently stopped in order to display a plurality of 20 symbols in a display area, in this example three symbols from each reel. If a trigger condition exists, for example appearance of a particular combination of symbols such as a scattered combination of symbols, special game mode commences which causes implementation of a special 25 feature. During special game mode, if a winning outcome occurs and a special symbol, in this example a WILD symbol, is present in the winning outcome, all other symbols present 30 in the winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality of the special symbol. For example, the other symbols may acquire a function associated with the special symbol or the other symbols may be substituted for a symbol corresponding to the special symbol. In one embodiment, 35 the special symbol is a WILD symbol and accordingly a WILD function may be acquired by the other symbols in the 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 21 winning outcome, or the other symbols may be replaced by a WILD symbol. In the example shown in Figures 8 to 12, a set of symbols 5 is provided which includes normal symbols 302 and special symbols 304 which in this example are DOG symbols corresponding to a WILD function. Special game mode is triggered by appearance of 3 scattered CAT symbols and during special game mode 5 free games are implemented. 10 As shown in Figure 8, after special game mode commences, the reels are spun and subsequently stopped to reveal a display area 300 including normal symbols 302 and a special symbol 304 in the from of a DOG symbol. The DOG 15 symbol 304 corresponds to a WILD function, and accordingly the displayed symbols correspond to a winning outcome including 3 ACE symbols on the top line. The player is awarded a prize according to a winning combination including 3 ACE symbols. 20 Since the special symbol 304 occurs in a winning combination, the other symbols in the combination, that is the ACE symbols appearing on the top line in reels 1 and 2, acquire the WILD function associated with the special 25 symbol. In this example, the ACE symbols are replaced with DOG symbols to indicate that the WILD function has been acquired by the symbol positions previously occupied by the ACE symbols. 30 The additional DOG symbols then remain and the reels spun and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in display area 310 shown in Figure 9. However, no winning outcomes are present so no prizes are awarded to the player. 35 The reels are then spun again and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in a display area 314 shown in 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 22 Figure 10. The displayed symbols correspond to a winning outcome including 3 JACK symbols on the bottom line and a winning outcome including 3 KING symbols disposed diagonally. The player is awarded a prize according to a 5 winning combination including 3 JACK symbols and 3 KING symbols. Since the winning outcomes include a special symbol 304, the other symbols in the winning combinations, that is the 10 JACK symbols appearing on the bottom line in reels 1 and 2 and the KING symbols appearing in the top line of reel 1 and the middle line of reel 2, acquire the WILD function associated with the special symbol. In this example, the JACK and KING symbols are replaced with DOG symbols to 15 indicate that the WILD function has been acquired by the symbol positions previously occupied by the JACK and KING symbols. The additional DOG symbols then remain and the reels spun 20 and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in display area 320 shown in Figure 11. However, no winning outcomes are present so no prizes are awarded to the player. 25 The reels are then spun again and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in a display area 324 shown in Figure 12. The displayed symbols correspond to a winning outcome including 3 QUEEN symbols on the top line, 3 10 symbols on the middle line, 3 JACK symbols on the bottom 30 line, 3 QUEEN symbols extending diagonally and 3 JACK symbols extending diagonally. The player is awarded a prize according to the winning combinations. Since this is the last free game, no further normal symbols are converted to DOG symbols. 35 The game then reverts to normal game mode and all converted symbols revert back to the original symbols. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 23 In the example shown in Figures 13 to 17, a set of symbols is provided which includes normal symbols 302 and special symbols 304 which in this example are DOG symbols corresponding to a WILD function. As with the example 5 described in relation to Figures 8 to 12, special game mode is triggered by appearance of 3 scattered CAT symbols and during special game mode 5 free games are implemented. Operation is similar to the embodiment shown in Figures 8 10 to 12 in that normal symbols appearing in a winning combination including a special symbol 304 are converted to the special symbol and remain converted for the remainder of special game mode. However, with this embodiment, winning outcomes occur when a specific number 15 of symbols are disposed anywhere in defined win lines. As shown in Figure 13, after special game mode commences, the reels are spun and subsequently stopped to reveal a display area 400 including normal symbols 302 and a 20 special symbol 304 in the form of a DOG symbol. The DOG symbol 304 corresponds to a WILD function, and accordingly the displayed symbols correspond to winning outcomes including 3 ACE symbols on the top line, 3 10 symbols extending diagonally and 3 JACK symbols extending 25 diagonally. The player is awarded a prize according to the winning combinations. Since the special symbol 304 occurs in all winning combinations, the other symbols in the combinations, that 30 is the ACE symbols, the 10 symbols and the JACK symbols appearing in the winning combinations, acquire the WILD function associated with the special symbol. In this example, the ACE, 10 and JACK symbols are replaced with DOG symbols to indicate that the WILD function has been 35 acquired by the symbol positions previously occupied by the symbols. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 24 The additional DOG symbols then remain and the reels spun and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in display area 410 shown in Figure 14. However, no winning outcomes are present so no prizes are awarded to the 5 player. The reels are then spun again and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in display area 420 shown in Figure 15. The displayed symbols correspond to a winning 10 outcome including 3 JACK symbols on the bottom line and a winning outcome including 4 KING symbols disposed in a V shaped win line. The player is awarded a prize according to a winning combination including 3 JACK symbols and 4 KING symbols. 15 Since the winning outcomes include a special symbol 304, the other symbols contributing to the winning combinations, that is the JACK symbols and the KING symbols contributing to the winning outcome appearing on 20 the bottom line in reels 1 and 2 and the KING symbols appearing in the top line of reel 1 and the middle line of reel 2, acquire the WILD function associated with the special symbol. In this example, the JACK and KING symbols are replaced with DOG symbols to indicate that the 25 WILD function has been acquired by the symbol positions previously occupied by the JACK and KING symbols. The additional DOG symbols then remain and the reels spun and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in 30 display area 430 shown in Figure 16. The displayed symbols correspond to a winning outcome including 4 10 symbols. The player is awarded a prize according to a winning combination including 4 10 symbols. 35 Since the winning outcome includes a special symbol 304, the other symbols contributing to the winning combination, that is the 10 symbols contributing to the winning 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 25 outcome, acquire the WILD function associated with the special symbol. In this example, the 10 symbols are replaced with DOG symbols to indicate that the WILD function has been acquired by the symbol positions 5 previously occupied by the 10 symbols. The reels are then spun again and subsequently stopped to reveal the symbols shown in display area 440 shown in Figure 17. The displayed symbols correspond to a winning 10 outcome including 3 QUEEN symbols, 3 10 symbols and 3 KING symbols on the top line; 3 10 symbols, 3 9 symbols and 3 JACK symbols on the middle line; 3 JACK symbols, 3 QUEEN symbols and 3 ACE symbols on the bottom line; 3 QUEEN symbols, 3 9 symbols and 3 KING symbols disposed in a V 15 shaped line; and 3 JACK symbols, 3 9 symbols and 3 ACE symbols disposed in an inverted V-shaped line. The player is awarded a prize according to the winning combinations. Since this is the last free game, no further normal symbols are converted to DOG symbols. 20 The game then reverts to normal game mode and all converted symbols revert back to the original symbols. In the claims of this application and in the description 25 of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the words "comprise" or variations such as "comprises"! or "comprising"! are used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features 30 but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention. It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute 35 an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 26 Modifications and variations as would be apparent to a skilled addressee are deemed to be within the scope of the present invention. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG

Claims (43)

1. A gaming system comprising: a trigger determiner arranged to determine whether a 5 trigger condition exists and to cause the gaming system to implement special game mode when a trigger condition has been determined, the special game mode comprising a series of feature games; a symbol selector arranged to select a plurality of 10 symbols for display at respective ones of a plurality of display positions in each feature game of the series of feature games, the plurality of symbols to be selected from a set of available symbols comprising at least one special symbol having enhanced functionality in comparison 15 to other symbols making up the set of available symbols; an outcome evaluator arranged to determine whether the selected symbols in a feature game of the series of feature games correspond to a winning outcome and to determine whether the winning outcome includes the at 20 least one special symbol; and a replicator arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol in response to determining that a winning outcome including the at least one special symbol occurs in the feature game such that 25 all symbols forming part of the winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality of the special symbol; the system being arranged such that symbols acquiring the enhanced functionality of the special symbol are retained in the set of available symbols during play of 30 the series of feature games.
2. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the replicator is arranged to replicate a representation of the special symbol. 35
3. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 28 functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome including at least one special symbol and at least one other symbol occurs. 5
4. A gaming system as claimed in claim 3, wherein the special symbol is a WILD symbol or a symbol having an associated WILD function.
5. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 4 to 10 7, wherein a symbol which has acquired the enhanced functionality becomes a special symbol in a subsequent game.
6. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the 15 preceding claims, wherein the winning combination which causes replication to occur is any winning combination.
7. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the winning combination which causes 20 replication to occur is one or more specific winning combinations.
8. A gaming system as claimed in claim 7, wherein the gaming system is arranged to randomly select one or more 25 specific winning outcomes, and the replicator is caused to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when the or each selected winning outcome occurs.
9. A gaming system as claimed in claim 7, wherein the 30 gaming system is arranged to facilitate selection by a player of one or more specific winning combinations, and the replicator is caused to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when the or each selected winning outcome occurs. 35
10. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the replicator is arranged to replicate the 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 29 enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome including a specific randomly selected symbol occurs. 5
11. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the gaming system is arranged to facilitate selection by a player of a symbol, and the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome including a player 10 selected symbol occurs.
12. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the special symbol 15 when a winning outcome occurs in conjunction with a specific game event.
13. A gaming system as claimed in claim 12, wherein the game event is a simultaneously occurring secondary winning 20 outcome.
14. A gaming system as claimed in claim 12, wherein the game event is occurrence of a specific symbol in the display area. 25
15. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the gaming system is arranged to randomly select one or more win lines, and the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced functionality of the 30 special symbol only if a winning combination appears on the selected one or more win lines.
16. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the gaming system is arranged to facilitate 35 selection by a player of one or more win lines, and the replicator is arranged to replicate the enhanced 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 30 functionality of the special symbol only if a winning combination appears on the selected one or more win lines.
17. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the 5 preceding claims, further comprising a prize allocator arranged to allocate a prize to a player when a winning outcome exists.
18. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the 10 preceding claims, wherein the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode when a specific game outcome occurs.
19. A gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 15 17, wherein the gaming system is arranged to commence special game mode on the basis of a game event occurring during a game such as display of a particular symbol, in response to player input, based on the amount or type of bet placed, or when a special game is purchased by a 20 player.
20. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the gaming system is implemented as a stand alone gaming machine or across a network. 25
21. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, comprising a game play mechanism operable to place a wager and the outcome evaluator evaluates the outcome based on the wager. 30
22. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the gaming system comprises a gaming machine. 35
23. A gaming system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, comprising a gaming terminal and a 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 31 gaming server in networked communication with the gaming terminal.
24. A method of gaming comprising: 5 implementing special game mode when a trigger condition has been determined, the special game mode comprising a series of feature games; selecting a plurality of symbols for display at respective ones of a plurality of display positions in 10 each feature game of the series of feature games, the plurality of symbols to be selected from a set of available symbols comprising at least one special symbol having enhanced functionality in comparison to other symbols making up the set of available symbols; 15 determining whether the selected symbols in a feature game of the series of feature games correspond to a winning outcome; determining whether the winning outcome includes the at least one special symbol; 20 replicating the enhanced functionality of the special symbol in response to determining that a winning outcome including the at least one special symbol occurs in the feature game such that all symbols forming part of the winning outcome acquire the enhanced functionality of the 25 special symbol; and retaining the symbols acquiring the replicated enhanced functionality of the special symbol in the set of available symbols during play of the series of feature games. 30
25. A method as claimed in claim 24, wherein the step of replication comprises replicating a representation of the special symbol. 35
26. A method as claimed in claim 24 or 25, comprising replicating the enhanced functionality when a winning 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 32 outcome including at least one special symbol and at least one other symbol occurs.
27. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 26, 5 wherein the special symbol is a WILD symbol or a symbol having an associated WILD function.
28. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 27, comprising defining symbols which have acquired the 10 enhanced functionality as special symbols in a subsequent feature game.
29. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 28, comprising defining the winning combination which causes 15 replication to occur as any winning combination.
30. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 28, comprising defining the winning combination which causes replication to occur as one or more specific winning 20 combinations.
31. A method as claimed in claim 30, comprising randomly selecting one or more specific winning outcomes, and replicating the enhanced functionality of the special 25 symbol when the or each selected winning outcome occurs.
32. A method as claimed in claim 30, comprising facilitating selection by a player of one or more specific winning combinations, and replicating the enhanced 30 functionality of the special symbol when the or each selected winning outcome occurs.
33. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 28, comprising replicating the enhanced functionality of the 35 special symbol when a winning outcome including a specific randomly selected symbol occurs. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 33
34. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 28, comprising facilitating selection by a player of a symbol, and replicating the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome including a player selected 5 symbol occurs.
35. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 34, comprising replicating the enhanced functionality of the special symbol when a winning outcome occurs in 10 conjunction with a specific game event.
36. A method as claimed in claim 35, wherein the game event is a simultaneously occurring secondary winning outcome. 15
37. A method as claimed in claim 35, wherein the game event is occurrence of a specific symbol in the display area. 20
38. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 37, comprising randomly selecting one or more win lines, and replicating the enhanced functionality only if a winning combination appears on the selected one or more win lines. 25
39. A method as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 37, comprising facilitating selection by a player of one or more win lines, and replicating the enhanced functionality only if a winning combination appears on the selected one or more win lines. 30
40. A computer program arranged when loaded into a computer to instruct the computer to operate in accordance with a gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 23. 35
41. A computer readable medium having computer readable program code embodied therein for causing a computer to 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG - 34 operate in accordance with a gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 23.
42. A data signal having computer readable program code 5 embodied therein for causing a computer to operate in accordance with a gaming system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 23.
43. A gaming system or a method of gaming substantially 10 as hereinbefore described with reference to, and as shown in, the accompanying drawings. 5660237_1 (GHMatters) P77353.AU.2 ROSG
AU2012202626A 2008-05-23 2012-05-04 A gaming system and a method of gaming Active AU2012202626B2 (en)

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AU2009201929A AU2009201929A1 (en) 2008-05-23 2009-05-15 A gaming system and a method of gaming
AU2012202626A AU2012202626B2 (en) 2008-05-23 2012-05-04 A gaming system and a method of gaming

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Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0070679A2 (en) * 1981-07-16 1983-01-26 Bell-Fruit Manufacturing Company Limited Gaming and amusement machines
EP1197932A2 (en) * 2000-10-13 2002-04-17 International Game Technology Gaming device

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0070679A2 (en) * 1981-07-16 1983-01-26 Bell-Fruit Manufacturing Company Limited Gaming and amusement machines
EP1197932A2 (en) * 2000-10-13 2002-04-17 International Game Technology Gaming device

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