AU2016250486B2 - Game interruption and reconnection management - Google Patents

Game interruption and reconnection management Download PDF

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AU2016250486B2
AU2016250486B2 AU2016250486A AU2016250486A AU2016250486B2 AU 2016250486 B2 AU2016250486 B2 AU 2016250486B2 AU 2016250486 A AU2016250486 A AU 2016250486A AU 2016250486 A AU2016250486 A AU 2016250486A AU 2016250486 B2 AU2016250486 B2 AU 2016250486B2
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game
game session
gaming machine
set
client
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Ulf Larsson
Jan Otterling
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Abstract

1/$ 26 GDK CLIENT 26 API MODULE 1 SERVER REQUEST ACGDKU__ FLIP 16 API MODULE 8 =O A method, system and computer program product for managing interruption and reconnection of a game session in a 5 computer based gaming system having a computerized gaming machine devised for executing a game and being communicatively connected to a remote data storage, wherein: the execution of a game comprises at least one instance of determining a set of associated game session 10 data; an identity code is reserved for identification of each execution instance of a game; each determined set of associated game session data is associated with said identity code and stored in the remote data storage; and if an interruption occurs in the execution of a game, then 15 the identity code for the current game execution instance is associated with a status indicator indicating that said game execution has been interrupted. 8325755_1 (GHMatters) P88068.AU.5 28/10/16

Description

Game Interruption and Reconnection Management

Technical Field

The present invention relates in general to the management of interruption and reconnection of a computerized game of chance operated in a gaming system configured with a gaming machine connected to remote data storage .

Background

In computerized gaming, a game session can be interrupted for various reasons for example due to failure in electric power supply or data communications, machine error, operating error or intentional interruption by the player. In gaming, involving casino game or lottery game types, there is usually a bet and a possible winning prize payback at stake. A player may be about to win when interruption occurs and thus may be deprived of his winning play or his payout if the game is lost. Gaming systems are usually also subject to strict control from authorities that require game record keeping for audit purposes, and it is not acceptable for game records to deviate from factual payouts. It is therefore important for the credibility of the gaming operator to manage interruption and game resumption in a secure and correct manner .

Traditionally, each game must handle its own interruption and reconnection management. It is a current trend that gaming systems run gaming software from different independent game developers. Since reconnection is a complex and error prone procedure there is a risk for instability in the gaming system if reconnection is handled in a non-uniform way.

Prior Art

Examples of prior art is found in the following patent publications. US 5395242 shows a computer simulation playback method that includes the steps of recording commands entered during use of a simulation, operating the simulation with the recorded commands and allowing new commands to be entered at any point during the step of operating the simulation with the recorded commands. More specifically, the method runs a simulation on a computer system that includes a user input device and a visual display. Images are shown on the display and the person using the simulation enters commands through the user input device. The commands affect the images shown on the visual display and are recorded in the sequence that they were entered. The method then runs the simulation again and automatically enters the recorded commands in the same sequence that they were recorded so that substantially the same images that were produced when the commands were initially entered are displayed again. During that step, new commands can be entered. Once certain new commands are entered, the recorded commands are pre-empted and the user can use the simulation anew from the point where the new commands were entered.

This piece of prior art is directed to computer games, e.g. an Airplane dogfight, and allows for recording player inputs, replay and add new inputs. The system is configured to record all user inputs to the game software during execution. The system is further configured to simulate a first game software execution by inputting said recorded non deterministic inputs to said game software during a second execution. The purpose is to enable the player to alter the action and outcome of the game at any desired point. US 4342454 discloses a method and system wherein instant replay for microprocessor-controlled video games is provided by storing and retaining for a period of time in a random access memory the results of microprocessor polling of each of the player command entry devices. In a memory conserving embodiment only newly entered player commands and the times when such commands are entered need be stored and retained. It is further shown that user inputs are recorded and sampled with a certain sampling frequency. The disclosed system is configured to record non-deterministic user inputs to the game software during execution. Also in this piece of prior art the system is configured to simulate a first game software execution by inputting said recorded non-deterministic inputs to said game software during a second execution. The purpose is to enable replay of a game for freeze frame and slow motion presentation .

Summary of the Invention A mechanism is provided that enables reconstruction of a game session up to the point of an interruption. Each game session is assigned an identity code for reconnection, in short called reconnect identity code, for the case that an interruption occurs during execution of the game session. Each reconnect identity code identifies a specific game session and the reconnect identity code is stored in remote data storage that is communicatively connected to the gaming machine. Game session data is stored in a manner that is independent of the specific game as well as of the specific gaming machine. More specifically, critical game session data that is necessary for the reconstruction of a game session is stored associated with the reconnect identity code in the remote data storage. If a game session is interrupted, an indication of this fact is stored with the associated reconnect identity code. An interruption of a game session can in this context occur in different ways. The interruption may be intentional or unintentional as a result of a player action, may be due to a system operation action in response to monitored parameters or due to gaming machine failure, data communications failure or other system failure.

In order to reconnect and resume the game session, the reconnect identity code is identified in a suitable manner dependent on the implementation and configuration of the gaming system and the associated game session data is retrieved from the remote data storage. The thus retrieved game session data is used for reconstruction of the game session up to the point of interruption and from there the game is continued in a normal manner operated by a player on a gaming machine.

The reconnect identity code that is associated with a specific game session is, as mentioned above, identified in a manner that depends on the implementation and configuration of the gaming system. This identification is based on the right of a specific player to a specific interrupted game session, and therefore the identification should preferably be possible to couple to or to communicate to a specific player. In many gaming systems the coupling to the person who is the player must be indirect, since the player may be anonymous or player is identified via an identified physical device or an identified user account.

In one embodiment the reconnect identity code may be coupled to an identity of the specific gaming machine upon which the gaming activity takes place. In this instance the gaming machine identity is stored associated with the reconnect identity code. This embodiment is useful in gaming systems in which the player can reasonably prove that he or she played on a specific gaming machine at the time when an interruption occurred. In a further developed variety of this embodiment, the reconnect identity code may be stored in local data storage on the gaming machine in addition to being stored in the remote data storage. When a game session is interrupted, indicium that represents the reconnect identity code is output from the gaming machine via a suitable medium. In an advantageous embodiment, the gaming machine prints the indicium that represent the reconnect identity code on a voucher in the shape of for example a piece of paper and outputs it to the player. This voucher is a token of value and represents the right to an interrupted game session and is used to reconnect the game session. Such a reconnect voucher would preferably be printed with said indicium that represents the reconnect identity code in a machine readable form, e.g. a bar code, as well as with human readable information, e.g. a text or an image. A player in possession of a reconnect voucher would use this by inputting the reconnect identity code carried on the reconnect voucher to the gaming system typically via a gaming machine that is connected to the remote data storage, possibly but not necessarily the same gaming machine that was interrupted and produced the reconnect voucher. The information on the reconnect voucher thus including the reconnect identity code is read by the gaming machine, the game session data is retrieved from the remote data storage dependent on the reconnect identity code and the game is reconstructed up to the point where it was interrupted as described above. From thereon the player continues his play as before the interruption .

In an embodiment applied in a gaming system that operates with player cards provided with portable storage means that is accessible from the gaming machine, the indicium that represents the reconnect identity code is stored on the portable storage means of the player card and is otherwise used in a manner similar to the reconnect voucher described above. In another embodiment applied in a gaming system that operates with player accounts, the reconnect identity code is stored associated with the player account. A player then has his balance of reconnect rights on his player account records, and inputs the reconnect identity code to the gaming system and activates a reconnect procedure from the account.

In other varieties the reconnect identity code is communicated between the player and the gaming system by means of short range radio frequency communications such as via a Bluetooth device or an RFID (radio frequency identification) device. There are also combinations wherein the reconnect identity code is output by a first type of communication means, such as via a reconnect voucher, and input via a second type of communication means, for example via a keyboard interface that e.g. may be realised on a touch screen.

In one embodiment a gaming system concept based in client-server architecture is provided. A game application program comprises a game specific client module executed in a client gaming machine provided with a game application program interface and a game specific server module executed in a gaming server also provided with a game application program interface. The gaming machine as well as the gaming server comprises general gaming functions that are available as services for different games executed by the respective gaming specific client and server modules. In the client gaming machine there are general client gaming functions such as a graphical user interface, a cashbox, sound presentation means, buttons and data communications means typically devised for providing an interface between the player and the specific game as well an interface between the specific game and the server. In the gaming server there are general server gaming functions in particular a random number generator, a database and a gaming application program interface via which the gaming specific server module calls the general gaming functions upon a request from the client module.

The database in the server is thus the remote database from the point of view of the client gaming machine.

It will be understood that, given the same initial state, a certain sequence of input will always produce the same sequence of output and the same resulting game state. The system may be configured to record, in the server database, non-deterministic inputs to the game software during execution. More specifically, user inputs and all random numbers that occur during the execution of a game are stored in the server database with an associated game session identity code and an associated reconnect identity code. In this context, the stored user input should be understood to mean a selection of the actual user input, the received user input signal, a representation of the user input or the response by the game application program on a user input.

After a game session has been interrupted, the game session is reconnected and resumed by retrieving the game session information from the server database in response to inputting the reconnect identity code, e.g. by inserting a reconnect voucher into the same or a different client gaming machine. The game session may be reconstructed by initiating a new execution of the game and executing the game with the stored series of user inputs and random numbers from the retrieved game session information. The game is thus re-played by means of a replay mechanism up to the state where it was interrupted and the player can continue from there with all stakes and game states preserved. The arrangement enables a game to be resumed from any client gaming machine in the gaming system.

The interruption, reconnection and reconstruction of a game session may be handled by separate control units that are independent from the game application program. This entails that the interruption and reconnection management procedures are handled in a uniform manner and therefore higher robustness is achieved in the gaming system. This also has the effect that game development and system testing is faster and less costly, due to lower complexity in game development. Furthermore, the number of lost games and helpdesk calls is reduced since a large degree of bets and stakes can be retained despite any possible interruptions in the game sessions.

There is also disclosed a method for managing interruption and reconnection of a game session in a computer based gaming system having a first and a second computerized gaming machine devised for executing a game and being communicatively connected to a remote data storage, wherein: the execution of a game comprises at least one instance of determining a set of associated game session data on the first computerized gaming machine; an identity code is reserved for identification of each execution instance of a game; each determined set of associated game session data is associated with said identity code and stored in the remote data storage, the set of associated game data comprising a bet value, a random number and a first win value; a confirmation of successful storage message is generated by the remote data storage if storage of the associated game session data is successful and wherein if the confirmation successful storage message is not received by the first computerized gaming machine, the reconnection is failed; when an interruption occurs in the execution of a game on the first computerized gaming machine, then the identity code for the current game execution instance is associated with a voucher indicating that said game execution has been interrupted; in response to presentation of the voucher at the second computerized gaming machine, the second computerized gaming machine retrieves the game session data associated with the identity code and the voucher and, using the game session data as input, reconstructs the gaming session, wherein the bet value and the random number is used to determine an outcome and a second win value .

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for managing interruption and reconnection of a game session in a computer based gaming machine, the method comprising: executing a game playable on the gaming machine, wherein execution comprises at least one instance of determining a set of associated game session data on the computerized gaming machine, the set of game session data comprising a bet value, a random number and a first outcome; communicating the set of game session data to a remote data storage; receiving a confirmation from the remote data storage that the set of game session data was stored on the remote data storage successfully; in response to receiving the confirmation, presenting a result due to execution of the game associated with the set of game session data; obtaining from an external input of the gaming machine data associated with a voucher presented to the external input, and retrieving the set of game session data from the remote data storage; reconstructing the game session based on the received set of game session data, wherein the bet value and the random number associated with the retrieved set of game session data is used to determine a second outcome; continuing to a next game phase of the game session .

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a computer based gaming machine comprising a graphical user interface, user input interface, and a data processor, the gaming machine communicatively coupled to a remote data storage, the gaming machine configured to: execute a game playable on the gaming machine, wherein execution comprises at least one instance of the data processor determining a set of associated game session data on the computerized gaming machine, the set of game session data comprising a bet value, a random number and a first outcome; communicate the set of game session data to the remote data storage; receive a confirmation from the remote data storage that the set of game session data was stored on the remote data storage successfully; in response to receiving the confirmation, present a result due to execution of the game associated with the set of game session data; obtain from an external input of the gaming machine data associated with a voucher presented to the external input, and retrieve the set of game session data from the remote data storage; reconstruct the game session based on the received set of game session data, wherein the bet value and the random number associated with the retrieved set of game session data is used to determine a second outcome; continue to a next game phase of the game session.

Further embodiments will be evident from the following description and the appended claims.

Brief Description of Accompanying Drawings

The inventive concept is further explained by means of examples and in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig 1 shows a schematic outline of a client-server based gaming system according to an embodiment of the invention. Fig 2 shows a flow chart of a simple example of a gaming application .

Fig 3 shows a variety of the gaming system in accordance with the invention.

Fig 4 shows a schematic view of different phases of a game .

Fig 5 shows a schematic sequence diagram.

Detailed Description of Embodiments of the Invention

The Figures illustrate the configuration of a gaming system as well as a method for operating a gaming application, a method for developing a gaming application and a computer program product in accordance with the invention .

General setting

Fig 1 shows schematically a client and server based computerised gaming system with a gaming machine 2, herein also called a video lottery terminal, set up as a client gaming machine 2 and a gaming server 4 that are communicatively coupled. The gaming machine 2 and the gaming server 4 are provided with data processors, memory means, data communications interfaces, control programs, user input/output interfaces etc. in a per se well known manner. Different functions and features that are specific for the present invention are preferably realised by means of software computer program code executed on data processing means comprised in the server and in the client respectively, or by means of specifically designed electronic components, or by means of combinations of software and electronic components. In the example of Fig 1 there is only a single client gaming machine but of course a number of client gaming machines can be and is normally connected to a server. In this context a server generally means hardware and software units in a central system that comprises and provides server functions, database functions and other centralised functions to connectable client gaming machines.

The server 4 is provided with a game application program interface, in short called server game API 6, enabling communication between a server module of a specific game application program 8 and general server gaming functions 10,12,14,16 installed on the server. The general server gaming functions are provided to be available for any specific game application program independently of the specific game content. These general server gaming functions are typically critical functions such as a database 10, a random number generator 12, an account service function 14, a log service function 16, or other functions that beneficially are shared and used by different specific game application programs.

The client gaming machine 2 is also provided with a game application program interface, in short called client game API 20, enabling communication between a client game module 18 of the specific game application program and general client gaming functions 22,24,26,28 installed on the client gaming machine 2 and used by different client game modules. The general client gaming functions are designed for assisting in implementing and executing a specific game on the client gaming machine 2 and are available for the client game module 18. These general client gaming functions are in different embodiments a selection of a graphical user interface GUI 22, a cashbox function 24, a sound function 26, user input interface function, for example buttons, 28, data storage 29, a printer 3, a bar code reader 33 and other functions that are related to the performance of a game. The client game module 18 is communicatively coupled to the corresponding server game module 8 for communicating requests 9 and responses 11 in order to utilize the general gaming functions provided in the server. For each game a message protocol for communication between the client module and the server module is generated, the protocol is for example based on XML and is shared by the client and the server . A specific game application program comprises a server game module 8 and a client game module 18 that communicate either directly or via an application program interface on the client side and the server side respectively as shown in Fig 1 and Fig 3. The client game module 18 uses a selection of general client gaming functions that are available in the client gaming machine, whereas the server module 8 uses a selection of general server gaming functions 10,12,14,16 that are commonly used by different game applications and that are provided and available centrally in the server 4.

Fig 3 shows a more detailed view of the configuration of a client and a server in a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention and similar to that of Fig 1. In the gaming server 4 the server game module 8 is embedded behind an application program interface called server game API 6 through which all communication of the server game module 8 takes place. The gaming server 4 further comprises a server application program interface in short called server API 40 through which all communication with the general server gaming functions 10,12,14,16 from the part of the server game API 6 as well as from the part of other server functions and external communication takes place. The server 4 is further provided with a server reconnect handler 32 that in a preferred embodiment is integrated with the server game API 6. The server reconnect handler 32 comprises functional means devised to manage game session information relating to a reconnect identity code and devised to communicate inputs to and outputs from the server game module 8 for the purpose of re-executing the game session up to the point of interruption. This functionality realises a replay function and substitutes the client functionality during reconstruction of a game session .

The gaming server 4 is also provided with further server function modules, in the exemplifying embodiment more specifically comprising a client handler 36 that is communicatively coupled to the server API 40. The client handler 36 manages, inter alia handles and serves, communications and functions of the client 2 other than the specific game applications. As illustrated in the drawing with a double arrow, communications with the client gaming machine 2 takes place via the server API 40 and a similar client API 38 provided in the client gaming machine 2 .

In a manner similar to that described above, the communication with the general client gaming functions is carried out via the client API 38. The client gaming machine 2 comprises a client control module 34 that controls communications and general functions of the client gaming machine other than the specific game applications and communicates via the client API 38. In the gaming client 2 the client game module 18 is, similar to the configuration of the server, embedded behind an application program interface called client game API 20 through which all communication of the client game module 18 takes place. The client 2 is further provided with a client reconnect handler 30 that in a preferred embodiment is integrated with the client game API 6. The client reconnect handler 30 comprises functional means devised to manage game session information relating to a reconnect identity code and devised to communicate inputs to and outputs from the client game module 8 for the purpose of re-executing the game session up to the point of interruption. This functionality realises a replay function and substitutes the client functionality during reconstruction of a game session. In one embodiment, the replay is executed in the server after having retrieved stored game session information from the database to the server reconnect handler. In another embodiment, the replay is executed in the client after having retrieved the stored game session information from the database and communicated said information to the client reconnect handler. In yet another embodiment, a part of the replay is executed in the server and a part is executed in the client. The latter variety allows for replaying overlapping or entire parts of the replay in the server and in the client, and to verify that the respective replay execution is correct.

Fig 2 shows schematically a simple example of a portion of a gaming application, more particularly a flip coin game of chance. The game is run by executing the client game module 18 and the general client gaming functions of the flip coin gaming application in a client gaming machine in step 202. In step 204 the player is presented a message asking the player to bet on heads or tails. The player places a bet 206 and a result is calculated in 208. Step 208 involves the client game module 18 sending a request to the server game module 8 to generate an outcome of the game. The server game module in its turn calls the random number generator 12 and receives a random number in return. The server game module calculates an outcome according to predetermined rules for the game and dependent on the returned random number. Thereafter, a response with the outcome Win or Lose is communicated back to the client game module. If the outcome is Lose 210 the player is presented a message showing that player lost 212, and the game is ended in 214. If, on the other hand the outcome is Win 216 the player is presented a message asking player to collect the prize or double a bet again 218. If the player inputs a request to Double 224, a new result is calculated in 208 in the above manner. If on the other hand the player inputs a request to Collect 219, the prize, usually in the form of cash or credit money, is paid to the player and the game ends in 222. The payout of a prize again preferably involves requesting services from the server game module and for example utilizing the general server gaming functions account function 16 and database function 10 .

Preferred Embodiment of Interruption and Reconnect Management

Interruption or abnormal termination of a player session during playing a game is handled by means of a reconnect function. The reconnect function is managed by storing the previous game configuration in the server database at the beginning of each game round. All user interactions and inputs that occur during the game round as well as the random numbers that were generated are stored in the server database. When a player session is terminated due to an interruption a reconnect voucher is created by the client gaming machine and output to the user. The voucher comprises a reconnect identity code used to identify the interrupted game and preferably also account balance information. The player can thereafter request a reconnect by inputting the voucher to the same or to another gaming machine.

The game is initialised with the game session properties that were stored at the beginning of the round and retrieved from the database by means of the voucher identity code, and is brought up to and presented to the player at the point of interruption. Thus the reconnect function enables the player to continue the game at the same stage as when interrupted.

Fig 4 illustrates schematically the lifecycle of a game in accordance with an embodiment of the invention drawn in relation to a timeline 424. A player session 401 is initiated by a player by inputting start commands via a user interface of the gaming machine. The player initiates a game and inputs a bet in terms of a monetary value by means of some kind of payment method such as coins or an account transaction and thereby starts a first game session 402. The game session progresses in discrete steps herein called game rounds and exemplified with a first round 404 and a second round 410. Each round in turn progresses in discrete steps called game phases. So for example, round 404 comprises three game phases 406,407 and 408. The transition between game phases is driven by game round events which in different embodiments may have different content and different triggering mechanisms. A game round event is triggered by an input that starts the generation of a set of associated elements of critical game session data that defines a game result preferably comprising the current bet value, a current generated random number and a current win value. The game round event would usually be triggered by a player making an input through an I/O interface such as a push button that conveys game commands like "Deal cards!" in a poker game .

In a simple embodiment of the invention the game session data that defines a game result is generated in a gaming machine and this game session data is stored in remote data storage. The game round event is triggered whereupon the generation of this set of game session data is executed and the data set is completed and stored in the remote data storage. A confirmation of successful storage is generated, a presentation of the game result is output to the player and the game phase is ended. In another embodiment based on the client-server architecture described above, the client game module contacts the server game module with a request in response to the triggering of a game round event. The server game module executes the request and creates game result defining game session data for the current game phase. This data is stored in the server database and a response comprising the game result defining data is transmitted to the client whereupon a presentation of the game result is output to the player and the game phase is ended. The presentation of the game result to the player typically comprises updating a screen display of the gaming machine.

At the beginning of each game phase, in Fig 4 illustrated with time indicators A, B, C, D, the gaming machine, e.g. the client game module, is set in a waiting mode waiting for input from the player. When a game round event is triggered by the player, the gaming machine, e.g. the client game module and the server game module executes the game rules, moves the game process to the beginning of the next phase, stops and again goes into the waiting mode to wait for player input. From a gaming system macro perspective the execution of a game progresses in discrete steps where the game phases are the smallest units of execution.

An interruption of a game session can, as mentioned above, occur or is triggered in different ways and in different situations. The interruption can occur or be triggered at any point in time and may be intentional or unintentional as a result of a player action, may be due to a system operation action in response to monitored parameters or due to gaming machine failure, data communications failure or other system failure. An interruption can be defined as the event that the gaming machine loses contact with the remote data storage, or as the case may be in a client-server gaming system with the server, for a predetermined amount of time during a game session. The predetermined amount of time may depend on a configuration parameter that is selected for example based on a time delay in game response that is assumed to be acceptable or convenient for the player. Other monitored parameters used to trigger an interruption can be selected based for example on total player session time, total value of bets or total value of prize or other statistics parameter. Monitored parameters can also relate to hardware or software properties such as temperature or execution delay time.

Fig 5 shows a schematic sequence diagram that illustrates communications between a client game module 502 of a gaming machine and a remote data storage and server game module 504, as well as executed steps occurring during a game phase depicted in relation to time lines 520. The current game phase starts at 506 Time A and a waiting mode is entered and lasts until there is a game round event 512 comprising transmitting a request 512 from the gaming machine/client game module 502. The request is received at the remote data storage/server game module 504 whereupon in step 514 the request is executed and resulting game session data is stored in a database residing in the data storage. In the simpler embodiment not involving a client-server configuration, a procedure call to generate the game result defining data would correspond to the request. The execute and storage step 514 is completed at 508 Time A1 and thereafter in step 516 a response comprising resulting game session data is transmitted from the remote data storage/server game module 504 to the gaming machine/client game module 502. After receipt of the response the gaming machine/client game module 502 presents an output, e.g. an animation of a game outcome via the display screen dependent on the result of the execution in the game round event, which is terminated at 510 Time B with a transition into the next game phase. The execution and storage step 514 is treated to be atomic in the sense that either it is completed or it is entirely failed. A game phase is considered to be complete when the execution and storage step 514 has been completed, i.e. at 508 Time Al, whether or not the following steps 516,518 up to 510 Time B have been completed when an interruption occurs.

The problem of proving the right of a player to a certain interrupted game session is in one embodiment of the invention handled by issuing a reconnect voucher when a game session is interrupted. Each new player session, i.e. each execution instance of a game, is given a reserved reconnect identity code when it is initiated and, as previously mentioned, the stored non-deterministic inputs and execution results and outcomes make up game session data that are associated with the reconnect identity code. The reconnect identity code is preferably stored in a local data storage comprised in the client gaming machine as well as in a remote data storage comprised in the server or provided at the server side. When a game session is interrupted the client gaming machine retrieves the reserved and stored the reconnect identity code preferably from the local data storage but possibly from the remote data storage, and then prints out a reconnect voucher with machine readable and/or human readable indicium that represent the reconnect identification code that identifies this specific interrupted game session. This reconnect voucher is a value token representing the right of a player to the interrupted game session and is also the key for identifying and retrieving the stored game session data. A game session is reconnected and resumed by inputting the indicium via a reconnect voucher interface provided on the client gaming machine. For the case that the client gaming machine is incapable of printing out a reconnect voucher, for example due to a hardware or software breakdown, a possibility is provided to print out a reconnect voucher on a separate gaming administration machine connected to the gaming system. In this case the proper reconnect identity code is found in the server database by means of the client identification and point in time for the interruption. The indicium is in one embodiment printed and read in a bar code format, but other indicium formats are of course conceivable. The printed reconnect voucher is useful when the players are anonymous. In other embodiments where the identity of the player is known, for example using player card or player accounts it is convenient to store the reconnect identity code associated to the player together with account information in a database or on a writable data storage means on a player card.

An interruption can occur in different stages or states of a player session and a game. Therefore, the voucher or the corresponding carrier of information is preferably, in addition to the reconnect identity code provided with a machine readable status indicator. The client control module 34 monitors the client gaming machine and handles this kind of information. The status indicator indicates the following states: 1. Monetary credit only. This indicates the state that the player has an outstanding credit but there is no game result that belongs to the player. In this case there is no un-responded request registered by the client control module . 2. There is an unsynchronized monetary credit. This indicates that the player has entered money to the gaming machine or the game but they have not been registered with the server database in a request and response cycle. 3. There may be an interrupted game. In this case there is an un-responded request registered by the client control module. However, on the server side the execution and storage step may have been completed, and may have resulted in two different cases 2A. There is an outcome that means that there is a monetary credit only, or 2B. There is an outcome that is intermediate and entails the right to continue the game with some monetary credit.

The communication between the gaming machine and the remote data storage as well as other steps that are performed for realising the invention are described in the following exemplifying embodiment based on the client-server configuration. Reference is made to Fig 1-4. The numbered list below is merely for reference purpose and does not necessarily mean that the steps are performed in a sequence corresponding to the indicated numerical order. 1. A player initiates a player session 401 on the client gaming machine 2 by inputting a start command to the client game module 18 via an I/O-interface (22,24,28) which may be a traditional button or a button field on a touch screen. The initiation of a player session would preferably also comprise a monetary transaction for bets in the game, for example by the player adding a coin to a cash box 24 or by means of an account transaction. 2. The client reconnect handler 30 comprised in the client gaming machine 2 transmits a request for the reservation of a reconnect identity code together with a client identification code for identification of the specific gaming machine to the server. This request is received by the server reconnect handler 32 similarly comprised in the gaming server 4. 3. The request is executed by the server reconnect handler 32 whereby a reconnect identity code is generated and stored associated with the client identification code in a database 10. 4. A player session identity code is generated and associated with the reconnect identity code in the database 10, and a player session 402 is established. 5. The reconnect identity code is transmitted to the client reconnect handler 30 and is stored in local data storage 29 in the client gaming machine 2 for the purpose of enabling communication of the reconnect identity code to the player. 6. A selected game is started by the player inputting a game start command to the game client module 18 via the game application program interface 20 of the client gaming machine 2, and a request to start a game session is transmitted to the gaming server 4. 7. A game session identity code is generated and stored associated with the player session identity code, a game session 402 is established and a game phase 406 of a game round 404 is entered. 8 . The player triggers a game round event by giving a game related input to the client game module 18 whereupon a request for a service is transmitted to the server game module 8. 9. The request is executed by the server game module 8 with the aid of the service functions of the server. The execution of this request would typically comprise the generation of a random number RNG and the determination of an outcome dependent on the RNG. 10. Execution steps that are performed by the server game module 8 for each request as well as results and outcomes of the execution make up game session data, i.e. information that applies to the currently ongoing game session. A subset of the game session data is the result of a game round event and applies to the current game phase. A selection of these game session data are compiled and cashed, i.e. temporarily stored in data storage of the server 8. The selection may vary in different execution cases and embodiments, and would preferably comprise: the bet value, the random number and the win value that are valid for the current game phase. The selection of game session data may also comprise optional pieces of information regarding the sequence of events called event history, each request and response, a pot at stake, the request, the response to the client gaming machine, game configuration information and a status indicator devised to indicate whether the game session has been completed or interrupted e.g. indicating last event = true/false. 11. The selection of game session data is stored in the database 10 and is transmitted with a response to the client gaming machine 2. The received selection of game session data is cashed, i.e. temporarily stored in data storage of the client gaming machine 2. 12. The outcome of the game round event is presented to the player for example via image output on a presentation screen of the client gaming machine 2. 13. The steps 8-12 are normally repeated until a game round is ended for example by the fact that a bet monetary balance has been consumed, or the player selects a new game to play. 14. If an interruption occurs, for example triggered when the client loses contact with the server, then the reconnect identity code for the current game execution instance is in the server database associated with a status indicator indicating that the game execution has been interrupted. The reserved reconnect identity code that is temporarily stored in the storage 29 of the client gaming machine 2 is printed out on a piece of paper or other suitable carrier to make up a reconnect voucher output to the player. The reconnect voucher is in a currently preferred embodiment printed with a bar code comprising the reconnect identity code and a status indicator for the interrupted game, and some text information for example about the gaming venue.

For the purpose of reconnecting the game and resume the game session the interrupted game is found by means of the reconnect identity code as a key input to the gaming system. The reconnect procedure is here explained by way of example with the reconnect voucher embodiment in which the player enters a reconnect voucher in a bar code reader of a client gaming machine of the gaming system. It should be understood that also other means of conveying the reconnect identity code to the gaming system are within the inventive concept. The reconnect voucher can for example be inserted in the same gaming machine in which the game was interrupted, a different gaming machine or in an administrative client terminal. The administrative client terminal is preferably devised only to be able to refund money or issue a monetary credit.

The procedure for reconnection comprises in one embodiment a selection of the following steps. 1. If the client gaming machine in which the game was interrupted logs in with the gaming server and a new player session is initiated, the client handler 36 of the gaming server detects in a check procedure that this particular client gaming machine has had an interrupted game. The client identification code is associated with the previous reconnect voucher for that specific client and the stored game session data, and a new reconnect identification code is reserved and transmitted to the client gaming machine to replace the previous and active reconnect identity code. 2. If a player starts a player session in a different client gaming machine, a new reconnect identification code is reserved in the normal manner. 3. The player inputs a reconnect voucher into the bar code reader of the client gaming machine, and the information on the reconnect voucher is read and treated under the control of the client control module 34 and the client reconnect handler 30. The information on the reconnect voucher is transmitted with a request to the gaming server. 4. The gaming server checks the status of the reconnect voucher and determines by means of the status indicator and information stored in the server database whether there is an interrupted game session. 5. If there is a monetary credit only, the money is credited to the player for a new game or as a refund. 6. If there is un-synchronized money, a synchronization procedure is executed. 7. If there is an interrupted game, the game is reconstructed and presented to the player in the state in which it was interrupted.

The reconstruction of an interrupted game can be implemented in various manners. One embodiment comprises of the following steps. 1. With the reconnect identity code as a key, the associated game session data is retrieved from the server database under the control of the server reconnect handler 30 . 2. The server reconnect handler 30 uses the retrieved game session data as input to the server game module 8 and generates the last response from the server game module that should have been transmitted to the client gaming machine unless the interruption had occurred. 3. Reconnect information comprising game session data is compiled and transmitted to the client reconnect handler 30 of the client gaming machine. In one embodiment this reconnect information comprises the game identifications for the server game module and the client game module, game session data including an initial monetary balance, all requests and all responses of the event history. 4. In the client gaming machine, the client game module is initiated and the game is executed by the client reconnect handler 30 using the game session data as input up to the last completed game phase before the point of interruption, called the reconnect target point. In contrast with the normal execution of a game, the requests that are generated in the reconnect execution are discarded and after each request the game is presented with the corresponding response from the game session data. Since the client reconnect handler 30 has access to all the requests as well as the responses to the requests it is enabled that a check of a proper reconstruction of the game session can be performed. Preferably, the game is executed up to the reconnect target point without presenting the intermediate results to the player in order to speed up the execution and avoid confusing the player. 5. After the last event and thereby the last completed game phase has been executed, the corresponding result and state of the game is presented to the player via the graphical user interface and the game enters a waiting mode waiting for the next input from the player. 6. The game continues in a normal manner. Embodiments of the invention have the effect that the game application program and its developers do not have to deal with the problem of reconnect or reconstruction of a game. Instead the framework around the game application program controls its execution and the input for reconstruction of a game. The invention has been described by way of exemplifying embodiments, but naturally there are various manners of realising the invention within the scope of the claims .

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, 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.

It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.

Claims (9)

  1. The claims defining the invention are as follows:
    1. A method for managing interruption and reconnection of a game session in a computer based gaming machine, the method comprising: executing a game playable on the gaming machine, wherein execution comprises at least one instance of determining a set of associated game session data on the computerized gaming machine, the set of game session data comprising a bet value, a random number and a first outcome; communicating the set of game session data to a remote data storage; receiving a confirmation from the remote data storage that the set of game session data was stored on the remote data storage successfully; in response to receiving the confirmation, presenting a result due to execution of the game associated with the set of game session data; obtaining from an external input of the gaming machine data associated with a voucher presented to the external input, and retrieving the set of game session data from the remote data storage; reconstructing the game session based on the received set of game session data, wherein the bet value and the random number associated with the retrieved set of game session data is used to determine a second outcome; continuing to a next game phase of the game session.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, wherein each instance of determining a set of associated game session data comprises determining a bet value, generating a random number, determining an outcome dependent on said random number and determining a win value dependent on said outcome and said bet value.
  3. 3. The method of any one of the previous claims, further comprising the step of the game machine producing the voucher in response to interruption of a game session, the voucher comprising an indicium configured to enable the remote data storage to provide the set of game session data.
  4. 4. The method of claim 3, wherein the voucher is produced via a step of printing by the gaming machine.
  5. 5. A method of any one of the preceding claims, further including a computer program product comprising computer program code portions devised to control a data processing means .
  6. 6. A computer based gaming machine comprising a graphical user interface, user input interface, and a data processor, the gaming machine communicatively coupled to a remote data storage, the gaming machine configured to: execute a game playable on the gaming machine, wherein execution comprises at least one instance of the data processor determining a set of associated game session data on the computerized gaming machine, the set of game session data comprising a bet value, a random number and a first outcome; communicate the set of game session data to the remote data storage; receive a confirmation from the remote data storage that the set of game session data was stored on the remote data storage successfully; in response to receiving the confirmation, present a result due to execution of the game associated with the set of game session data; obtain from an external input of the gaming machine data associated with a voucher presented to the external input, and retrieve the set of game session data from the remote data storage; reconstruct the game session based on the received set of game session data, wherein the bet value and the random number associated with the retrieved set of game session data is used to determine a second outcome; continue to a next game phase of the game session.
  7. 7. The computer based gaming machine of claim 6, wherein for each instance of determining a set of associated game session data, the computer based gaming machine is configured to determine a bet value, generating a random number, determine an outcome dependent on said random number and determine a win value dependent on said outcome and said bet value.
  8. 8. The computer based gaming machine of claim 6 or claim 7, further configured to produce a voucher in response to interruption of a game session, the voucher comprising an indicium configured to enable the remote data storage to provide the set of game session data.
  9. 9. The computer based gaming machine of claim 8, wherein the voucher is produced a printer of the gaming machine.
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AU2014200113A AU2014200113A1 (en) 2004-11-12 2014-01-09 Game interruption and reconnection management
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Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20010046893A1 (en) * 2000-03-31 2001-11-29 Giobbi John J. System and method for saving status of paused game of chance
US6811486B1 (en) * 2000-12-20 2004-11-02 Sierra Design Group Method and apparatus for enhancing game play through savable game play state

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20010046893A1 (en) * 2000-03-31 2001-11-29 Giobbi John J. System and method for saving status of paused game of chance
US6811486B1 (en) * 2000-12-20 2004-11-02 Sierra Design Group Method and apparatus for enhancing game play through savable game play state

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