US20080113696A1 - Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display - Google Patents

Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080113696A1
US20080113696A1 US11/938,186 US93818607A US2008113696A1 US 20080113696 A1 US20080113696 A1 US 20080113696A1 US 93818607 A US93818607 A US 93818607A US 2008113696 A1 US2008113696 A1 US 2008113696A1
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Prior art keywords
base array
gaming machine
array
side
side graphics
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Abandoned
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US11/938,186
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Clint A. Owen
Andrea R. Barton
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Multimedia Games Inc
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Multimedia Games Inc
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Priority to US11/938,186 priority patent/US20080113696A1/en
Assigned to MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC. reassignment MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BARTON, ANDREA R., OWEN, CLINT A.
Publication of US20080113696A1 publication Critical patent/US20080113696A1/en
Assigned to COMERICA BANK, A TEXAS BANKING ASSOCIATION reassignment COMERICA BANK, A TEXAS BANKING ASSOCIATION SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC. AND MULTIMEDIA GAMES HOLDING COMPANY, INC.
Assigned to MULTIMEDIA GAMES HOLDING COMPANY, INC., MGAM TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC., MEGABINGO INTERNATIONAL, LLC reassignment MULTIMEDIA GAMES HOLDING COMPANY, INC. RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: COMERICA BANK
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GLOBAL CASH ACCESS, INC., MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC.
Assigned to EVERI PAYMENTS INC. (F/K/A GLOBAL CASH ACCESS, INC.), EVERI GAMES INC. (F/K/A MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC.) reassignment EVERI PAYMENTS INC. (F/K/A GLOBAL CASH ACCESS, INC.) RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
Assigned to EVERI GAMES INC. (F/K/A MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC.), EVERI PAYMENTS INC. (F/K/A GLOBAL CASH ACCESS, INC.) reassignment EVERI GAMES INC. (F/K/A MULTIMEDIA GAMES, INC.) RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3267Game outcomes which determine the course of the subsequent game, e.g. double or quits, free games, higher payouts, different new games
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting

Abstract

A method includes operating a gaming machine in a first display mode in which a display device associated with the gaming machine displays a base array and side graphics and in which a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array and where the side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array. In response to detecting a trigger event, the gaming machine switches to a second display mode in which the display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics to replace that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location and in which a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine while operating in the second display mode is represented by a respective set of symbols included in the base array and each additional array location.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • The Applicants claim the benefit, under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e), of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/865,831 filed Nov. 14, 2006, and entitled “Method, Apparatus, and Program Product for Adding a Reel to a Game Display.” The entire content of this provisional application is incorporated herein by this reference.
  • A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any one of the patent documents or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all rights of copyright.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates to gaming systems and to gaming machines used to present gaming results. More particularly, the invention relates to methods for adding a reel to a base array for presenting gaming results to a player through a gaming machine.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • A large number of different gaming machines have been developed to provide various formats and graphic presentations for conducting games and presenting game results. For example, numerous mechanical reel-type gaming machines, also known as slot machines, have been developed with different reel configurations, reel symbols, and paylines. More recently, gaming machines have been developed with video monitors that are used to produce simulations of mechanical spinning reels. These video-based reel-type gaming machines may use one or more video monitors to provide a wide variety of graphic effects in addition to simulated spinning reels, and may also provide secondary/bonus games using different reel arrangements or entirely different graphics. Video-based gaming machines may also be used to show card games or various types of competitions such as simulated horse races in which wagers may be placed. Game manufacturers are continuously pressed to develop new game formats and game graphics in an attempt to provide high entertainment value for players and thereby attract and keep players.
  • Gaming machines and video-based gaming machines typically have a base array of three or five spinning reels that can be stopped to display an array made up of three rows of game symbols. This base array of game symbols shown when the reels stop either shows a result of the game or correlates to a result in the game. Although the base array typically takes up most of the area of the gaming machine display, some gaming machines may include side graphics in border areas outside of the area reserved for the base array area. In mechanical reel-type gaming machines the base array and the side graphics, if any, are essentially fixed and cannot be changed in the course of play at the gaming machine. In video-based gaming machines, both the base array and the side graphics may be revised by providing different driving signals to the video monitor. As used herein the term “side graphics” includes all the graphics displayed around the base array whether on the sides, top, or bottom of the base array display.
  • U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005-0159208-A1 discloses a reel-type video-based gaming machine with an expandable reel array. According to this publication, additional video simulated reels may be added to the ends of the original base array or somewhere in-between columns of the original base array by resizing or redistributing the original base array to create a “secondary” array. Because the elements of the display in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005-0159208-A1 are resized to accommodate the new reel, the addition of the new reel does not affect any side graphics in the display.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention includes a highly entertaining method of presenting game results. The entertainment value is achieved by the graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics shown on a video-based reel-type gaming machine so as to create at least one array location in addition to the array locations included in the base array. The present invention also encompasses methods for operating a gaming machine as well as both apparatus and program products for implementing the gaming machine operation methods.
  • A method embodying principles of the invention may be implemented in a gaming machine using one or more display devices such as CRTs, LCDs, plasma displays, or other types of video display devices. The display device or devices are used to show graphic elements according to the invention. As used in this disclosure and the accompanying claims, the designations “gaming machine” will refer to any gaming machine through which the present invention may be implemented regardless of the specific type or location of video display devices included in the gaming machine to show results to the player.
  • One preferred method embodying the principles of the invention includes operating a gaming machine in a first display mode in which a video display device associated with the gaming machine displays a base array and side graphics. In this first display mode, a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array and the side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two adjacent sides of the base array. In response to detecting a trigger event, this particular method includes switching to a second display mode at the gaming machine. In the second display mode, the video display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics, and ultimately replaces that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location. The symbols included in the base array and the additional symbols provided by each additional array location may then be used to show results for game plays initiated through the gaming machine while the gaming machine is operating in the second display mode.
  • The base array and side graphics in the first display mode are characterized by side graphics that provide a “continuous graphical theme.” As used herein, a continuous graphical theme is a visual representation that is connected by a continuity between adjacent graphical elements in artwork and/or figures. For example only, and not by way of limitation, FIGS. 4-10 described further below illustrate a continuous graphical theme including a fishing shack surrounded by a scene of water and woodlands. This continuous graphical theme shown in the example of FIGS. 4-10 is to be distinguished from a display in which the area for the array includes one or more blank areas in which additional array elements may be added. Obviously, any other theme is possible so long as the side graphics that are used present a theme that is consistent throughout the side graphics portion of the display. In this regard, the side graphics may consist entirely of abstract artwork and colors. Further, the side graphics may be one or more repeating figure or design.
  • In some preferred forms of the present invention, the graphical transformation may include a graphical element that appears to swing out from the area of the base array into the area of side graphics on one lateral side of the base array. In these preferred forms of the invention, the graphical element may appear to swing out from behind the base array or from the front of the base array. Alternatively, some graphical element may appear to swing or otherwise move down from above the side graphics, or a graphical element may appear to swing or otherwise move up from below the side graphics. Further, a graphical transformation according to the present invention may include some graphical element that appears to come from beyond the plane of the display or appears to move the base array without resizing so as to accommodate the at least one additional array location. In yet other forms of the invention the graphical transformation may include some graphical element on a lateral side of the base array that appears to move to a different location or disappear to expose or reveal at least one additional array location. Further, the side graphics area may include one or more controls that appear to be covered as a result of the graphical transformation or that are moved as a result of the graphical transformation.
  • One preferred apparatus according to the invention includes a video display device and a player input device associated with a gaming machine. This preferred apparatus also includes a presentation controller which may or may not be located at the gaming machine. The presentation controller is responsible for displaying the graphical transformations of at least a part of the side graphics as described above. In particular, the presentation controller causes the display device to display a base array and side graphics in a first display mode. In this first display mode a result for a respective game play is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array while the side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array. In response to a trigger event, the presentation controller causes the video display device to switch to a second display mode. In the second display mode the video display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics. The graphical transformation replaces that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location. Once the graphical transformation is complete in the second display mode, a result for a respective game play is represented by a respective set of symbols included in the base array and each additional array location.
  • A program product embodying the principles of the invention includes first display mode program code, second display mode program code, and display mode control program code. The first display mode program code is executable to cause a video display device to display the base array and side graphics in a first display mode as described above. The second display mode program code is executable to cause the video display device to operate in a second display 2 mode, producing the graphical transformation described above and showing results with a combination of the symbols included in the base array and the symbols included in the additional array location(s). The display mode control program code is executable to cause the video display device to switch from the first display mode to the second display mode in response to the trigger event.
  • These and other advantages and features of the invention will be apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments, considered along with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine that may be used to present gaming results to a player according to the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic representation of a gaming machine and gaming system that may be used to implement methods according to the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a flow chart showing a method embodying the principles of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a representation of a graphic display having a base array and side graphics with a continuous graphical theme according to the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 is a representation of a graphic display showing a portion of a graphical transformation according to the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a representation of a graphic display showing the completed state of the graphical transformation started as shown in FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 7 is a representation of a graphic display at the conclusion of an alternate graphical transformation within the scope of the present invention.
  • FIG. 8 is a representation of a graphic display in a first play mode that includes a control in the side graphics at one lateral side of the base array.
  • FIG. 9 is a representation of a graphic display similar to FIG. 8, but with a control having been moved as a result of the graphical transformation associated with a second play mode.
  • DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The claims at the end of this document set out novel features which the Applicants believe are characteristic of the invention. The various advantages and features of the invention together with preferred modes of use of the invention will best be understood by reference to the following description of illustrative embodiments read in conjunction with the drawings introduced above.
  • FIG. 1 shows a gaming machine 100 that may be used to present game results according to the present invention. The block diagram of FIG. 2 shows further details of gaming machine 100 connected in a gaming system together with a local area server 200 and a central server 201.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, a gaming machine 100 includes a cabinet 101 having a front side generally shown at reference numeral 102. A video display device 104 is mounted in a central portion of the front surface 102, with a ledge 106 positioned below the video display device 104 and projecting forwardly from the plane of video display device 104. Video display device 104 may be used to produce the graphic components to show a result for a given play initiated through gaming machine 100. For example, video display device 104 may be used to show a reel-type graphic display such as that shown in FIGS. 4-10, in which the result of each play is shown as a particular combination of reel symbols aligned along one or more paylines. Top glass display 107 and bottom glass display 108 included in gaming machine 100 may be used to show static graphics related to the result indicating graphics for the game. For example, top glass display 107 may show a pay table and bottom glass display 108 may show various theme graphics.
  • Gaming machine 100 illustrated in FIG. 1, includes mechanical player control buttons or other input devices 109 mounted on ledge 106. Other forms of the invention may include switches, joysticks, or other player input devices mounted on ledge 106.
  • Gaming machine 100 also includes additional player interface devices 110 on a lower portion of cabinet 101. These additional player interface devices 110 may comprise for example, a player card reader, a voucher or ticket reader/issuer, a currency acceptor/validator, and/or a coin or token acceptor/dispenser.
  • It should be noted that the present invention is by no means limited to implementation with a gaming machine having a single video display device such as gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 1. A game result presentation arrangement according to the present invention may employ any gaming machine that includes a player interface for enabling a player to make direct inputs, and one or more video display devices. Gaming machine 100 is merely shown as an example of a gaming machine through which the invention may be implemented. For example, a gaming machine may include a spinning wheel to show results in addition to a video display device. A gaming machine that may be used to implement the present invention may include any manner of player controls and other player interface devices, and is not limited to the arrangement of controls 109 and other interface devices 110 shown in FIG. 1. It should also be noted that video display device 104 used in gaming machine 100, or some other gaming machine implementing the invention, may comprise any suitable type of video display device including a cathode ray tube, liquid crystal display, plasma display, LED display, or any other type of video display currently known or that may be developed in the future.
  • FIG. 2 provides a block diagram showing various electronic components of gaming machine 100 together with gaming system components external to the gaming machine. In particular, FIG. 2 shows gaming machine 100 connected for communication with local area server 200 and central server 201. Local area server 200 and central server 201, or both servers, may cooperate to identify results that are provided to gaming machine 100 in response to a game play entered (initiated) at the gaming machine. That is, local area server 200 and/or central server 201, or more particularly, one or more processing devices associated with local area server 200 and/or central server 201 may serve as a result controller for identifying game results achieved for a particular play in a game. Even where gaming machine 100 implements a result controller to identify a result for a game play initiated at the gaming machine, local area server 200 and/or central server 201 may be used to provide player tracking and accounting services for the gaming machines included in the gaming system.
  • The gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 2 includes a central processing unit (CPU) 205 along with random access memory 206 and nonvolatile memory or storage device 207. All of these devices are connected on a system bus 208 with an audio interface device 209, communications interface 210, and a serial interface 211. A graphics processor 215 is also connected on bus 208 and is connected to drive the video display device 104 (mounted on cabinet 101 as shown in FIG. 1). As shown in FIG. 2, gaming machine 100 also includes a touch screen controller 217 connected on system bus 208. Touch screen controller 217 is also connected to receive signals from a touch screen element associated with video display device 104. It will be appreciated that the touch screen element itself comprises a thin film that is secured over the display surface of video display device 104. The touch screen element itself is not illustrated or referenced separately in the figures although the connection between the touch screen element and touch screen controller 217 is shown generally by line 218.
  • Those familiar with gaming machines and data processing devices will appreciate that other basic components will be included in gaming machine 100 such as a power supply, cooling systems for the various system components, audio amplifiers and speakers, and other devices that are common in gaming machines. These additional devices are omitted from the drawings so as not to obscure the present invention in unnecessary detail.
  • All of the elements 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, and 211 shown in FIG. 2 are elements commonly associated with a personal computer. These elements may be mounted on a standard personal computer chassis and housed in a standard personal computer housing which is itself mounted in cabinet 101 shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the various electronic components may be mounted on one or more circuit boards housed within cabinet 101 without a separate enclosure such as those found in personal computers. Those familiar with data processing systems and the various data processing elements shown in FIG. 2 will appreciate that many variations on this illustrated structure may be used within the scope of the present invention. For example, since serial communications are commonly employed between a main processing device for a computer system and a touch screen controller, a system according to the invention may include a touch screen controller that communicates with the system through serial interface 211. The serial interface 211 may be any suitable peripheral interface such as a USB controller or a IEEE 1394 controller. It will also be apparent to those familiar with personal computers that the various components shown in FIG. 2 may not be connected directly to system bus 208 as indicated in the figure. Rather, any of the devices shown in FIG. 2 may be connected directly to an intermediate bus which is connected to the system bus 208 through a suitable controller. For example, non-volatile memory/storage device 207 may be connected via a serial ATA controller, and audio interface 209 may be connected through a suitable expansion bus and expansion bus controller such as a PCI bus and PCI bus controller. Numerous other variations in the gaming machine 100 internal structure and system may be used in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • It will also be appreciated that although separate graphics processor 215 is shown for controlling video display device 104, CPU 205 may control the video display device directly without any intermediate graphics processor. The invention is not limited to any particular arrangement of graphics processors for controlling the video display device or devices that may be included in the particular gaming machine.
  • In the illustrated gaming machine 100, CPU 205 executes software which ultimately controls the entire gaming machine including the receipt of player inputs and the presentation of the graphic symbols at the various symbol locations displayed according to the invention through the video display device 104 associated with the gaming machine. Thus, CPU 205 either alone or in combination with graphics processor 215 serves as the presentation controller according to the invention. CPU 205 may also execute software to perform accounting functions associated with game play and/or identify or generate a result for each game play initiated through gaming machine 100. Random access memory 206 provides memory for use by CPU 205 in executing its various software programs while the nonvolatile memory or storage device 207 provides storage for programs not in use or for other data generated or used in the course of operation of gaming machine 100. Communications interface 210 provides an interface to other components of a gaming system that may be involved in game play or data collection, such as local area server 200 and/or central server 201.
  • It should be noted that the invention is not limited to gaming machines employing the personal computer-type arrangement of processing devices and interfaces shown in example gaming machine 100. Other gaming machines may include one or more special purpose processing devices (for example, application specific integrated circuits) to perform the various processing steps for implementing the present invention. Unlike general purpose processing devices such as CPU 205, these special purpose processing devices may not employ operational program code to direct at least some of the processing steps.
  • FIG. 3 comprises a process flow chart showing the operation of a gaming machine according to one form of the present invention. The gaming machine may be of the type shown as gaming machine 100 in FIGS. 1 and 2, for example. The process begins with a player login as shown at process block 301 in FIG. 3. Once a player logs in to the gaming machine or otherwise activates the gaming machine to allow game play, the gaming machine operates in a first display mode to present a base array and side graphics to the player as indicated at process block 302. The gaming machine may operate in this first display mode for a number of plays in the game until some trigger event occurs in the first play mode. As long as a trigger event has not occurred as indicated by a negative result at decision block 303, then the process returns to a point above process block 302 and the gaming machine continues to operate in the first mode of play for game play requests initiated through the gaming machine. However, if a trigger event has occurred as indicated by a positive result at decision block 303, the gaming machine switches from the first display mode to the second display mode as shown at process block 304, and the gaming machine begins operating in the second display mode as shown at process block 305. As with the first play mode, the gaming machine continues to operate in the second play mode for subsequent plays until a return event is detected. If a return event has not occurred as indicated by a negative result at decision block 306, the gaming machine continues to operate in the second display mode. However, if a return event has occurred, the gaming machine switches back to the first display mode as shown at process block 307.
  • The operation of the gaming machine as shown at process block 302 itself generally includes a series of steps representing a single game cycle to present a game result to the player. The game cycle will typically include some player input representing a game play request at the gaming machine to initiate a game play. This input may be entered in any suitable fashion at the gaming machine and may include one or more separate inputs. For example, a particular gaming machine could require that a player make some input to select one or more paylines to place in play, select a wager level per line, and then actually initiate the play. All of these inputs are entered at one or more input devices at the gaming machine, such as input devices 109 shown in FIG. 1 and/or touch screen controls (virtual buttons) associated with a display device such as video display device 104 discussed above in connection with FIG. 2. Other implementations of the invention employ a much more streamlined input procedure for initiating a game play. For example, a given game play may be initiated by simply activating a “play” button included in player input devices such as input devices 109 in FIG. 1 and/or included in a touch screen display device.
  • Regardless of the manner in which a game play is initiated in a game cycle at process block 302 in FIG. 3, a result for the game play is ultimately displayed at the gaming machine operating in the first display mode. According to the present invention, the result will be displayed at least partially through a set of symbols that form a base array. Side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array as will be described more fully with regard to FIG. 4. In one preferred form of operation according to the invention, a presentation controller either located at the gaming machine (such as gaming machine 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) or located at a local area server or central server (such as servers 200 and 201, respectively, in FIG. 2), causes a display device to display the base array and side graphics in the first display mode.
  • Referring again to the flow chart shown in FIG. 3, any suitable event may be employed as a trigger event which may be detected as indicated at decision block 303 to cause the gaming machine 100 to switch from the first display mode to the second display mode as shown at process block 304. A certain pattern of symbols in the base array, result level, location in the base array, or some number of consecutive losing plays, or winning plays, or any other characteristic associated with one or more plays in the first display mode may be used as a trigger event. In other forms of the invention a trigger event may be some event unrelated to a play in the first display mode. For example, a trigger event for a given gaming machine may be generated randomly at the gaming machine or elsewhere, or produced according to some schedule based on time or the number of plays at the gaming machine or some group of such machines.
  • Regardless of the trigger event used in the decision indicated at decision block 303 in FIG. 3, the switching of modes indicated at process block 304 is preferably performed in response to a trigger event signal generated as appropriate for the particular trigger event. For example, where three wins in a row at the first display mode represent a trigger event, the gaming machine processor such as processor 205 in FIG. 2, or some other processing device such as local area server 200 or central server 201 includes a process that counts the number of consecutive wins and generates a trigger event signal when the desired number of consecutive wins occurs at the gaming machine. This trigger event signal, which may be a code or any other signal as appropriate to the processing device that generates the signal, is communicated to the component that serves as the presentation controller so that the presentation controller can switch display modes at or for the particular gaming machine. This switch results in displaying a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics along with the replacement of that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array. That is, the second display mode includes displaying both the graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics during transformation and the resulting transformed graphics.
  • The process of operating the gaming machine 100 in the second display mode as indicated at process block 305 in FIG. 3 may be substantially the same as the operation described above in connection with process block 302. However, when operating in the second display mode, a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine is represented by a combination of the respective set of symbols displayed in the base array and the respective symbol displayed at each additional array location.
  • All of the variations described above in connection with the trigger event are also applicable to the return event which results in the gaming machine switching from the second display mode back to the first display mode. Regardless of the specific event or series of events that may be chosen to serve as a return event, an appropriate component at the gaming machine or elsewhere preferably generates a suitable return event signal and communicates the return event signal as necessary to the system component serving as the presentation controller. The presentation controller then responds to the return event signal by switching from the second display mode to the first display mode as indicated at process block 307 in FIG. 3. The switch back to the first display mode is accomplished according to the invention by switching back to the base array and side graphics so that the base array alone displays results for subsequent game plays.
  • FIG. 4 shows a representation of a graphic display 400 that may be produced in a method embodying the principles of the invention when the gaming machine is operating in the first display mode. The graphic display shown in FIG. 4 is a video reel-type display that includes a number of reel symbols 401. Such a graphic display may be generated on a video display device such as video display device 104 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in connection with example gaming machine 100. The reel symbols 401 are arranged vertically in columns 403, 404, 405, 406 and 407, and each column simulates a spinnable reel such as a mechanical reel on a mechanical reel-type gaming machine (slot machine). The reel simulations may be stopped to show reel symbols 401 also arranged in horizontal rows 408, 409 and 410. This combination of five columns and three rows represents a base array 412. It will be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to any particular size of base array and that the three by five base array 412 is shown only as an example.
  • A result in a given game play initiated through a gaming machine employing graphic display 400 is shown by first causing the simulated reels defined by columns 403, 404, 405, 406 and 407 to appear to spin and then come to rest with a particular set of reel symbols 401 and/or blanks lined up along one or more pay lines defined through the base array 412. For example, the reel symbols aligned along the middle row 409 of base array 412 may represent a pay line. Reel symbols 401 that line up along the pay line(s) indicate the result for the game play. A pay line may be defined in any manner including two or more adjacent symbols in the base array. Results can also be displayed by “scatter” symbols displayed anywhere in the base array and not necessarily in any line or set relationship.
  • In addition to base array 412, the graphic display image shown in FIG. 4 also includes additional graphic elements around the periphery of the base array. In particular, side graphics shown generally at reference number 414 illustrate a “continuous graphical theme” in the form of a fishing shack, located on a body of water and adjacent to trees. The fishing shack portrayed by the side graphics includes a corrugated metal roof, wooden signs hanging from the front porch, and a play button in the form of a float or buoy in the water in front of the shack. All of the side graphics are consistent with the graphic theme. Obviously, any other theme is possible and the side graphics need not be present on all sides of the base array as shown in the example of FIG. 4. In some forms of the invention, the side graphics may consist entirely of abstract artwork and colors or one or more repeating figures or designs.
  • In the example graphic display 400, “Play” button 418 (represented as a float or buoy) may be invoked by a player to initiate a game play at the gaming machine. “Select Lines” button 420 may be invoked to select pay lines for a given play in the game while, “Bet Per Line” button 422, and “Max Bet” button 424 may be invoked to choose a bet level in the process of initiating a game play at the gaming machine employing graphic display 400. FIG. 4 also shows a “Cash Out” button 425 and a “Help Pays” button 426 to invoke other common functions available in gaming machine 100 and other types of gaming machines. All of the buttons 418, 420, 422, 424, 425, and 426 are touch screen icons that may be touched to invoke the particular function.
  • FIG. 5 shows a representation of a graphic display 500 that may be produced when the gaming machine (such as gaming machine 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) is showing a graphic transformation to reach a second display mode according to the present invention. Graphic display 500 is similar to graphic display 400 with a number of reel symbols 501 arranged in five columns 503, 504, 505, 506, and 507, each representing a spinnable reel. Three rows 508, 509, and 510 are also displayed. The base array 512 is the same base array 412 as in FIG. 4; however, FIG. 5 shows that an additional graphic element is being added in the form of an additional reel simulation 513 that appears to be on a door swinging out from the side of the fishing shack representation. The addition of this additional graphic element, which is facilitated by the use of a video display to generate graphic display 500, involves the graphical transformation of at least part of the side graphics 514. In particular, comparing FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 it can be seen that the graphical representation of the hollow tree to the right side of base array 414 in FIG. 4 together with the image between the hollow tree and base array 412 are changed or transformed to show the additional reel simulation 513 swinging into place in FIG. 5. The side graphics of the hollow tree and surrounding image in FIG. 4 is essentially covered by the additional reel representation 513 partially swung into place and showing multiplier symbols “3×”, “5×” and “10×” in additional array locations.
  • It will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to graphical transformations in which an additional reel representation appears to swing out from the side of the base array as shown in FIG. 5. Other embodiments of the invention may include the graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics 514 by the addition of an additional reel as if swinging from the front of base array 512. In other embodiments, an additional reel such as reel 513 may appear to swing down from above side graphics 514 or swing up from below side graphics 514. In still other embodiments, an additional reel such as reel 513 may appear to come from beyond the display plane in which the display device produces graphic display 500, or may appear to move up from a lower portion of the side graphics 514, or may appear to move down from an upper portion of the side graphics 514. In another embodiment, it may appear that the graphical transformation is in the form of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array appearing to be pulled back or otherwise moved to show an additional reel representation which was previously obscured by the elements making up the side graphics. Each of these embodiments includes a graphical transformation of at least part of the side graphics 414 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 514 in FIG. 5, in order to produce the appearance of the additional array locations provided by additional reel 513.
  • FIG. 6 shows a representation of a graphic display 600 that may be produced when the gaming machine (such as gaming machine 100 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) has fully completed the graphical transformation in the second display mode according to the present invention. Graphic display 600 is similar to graphic displays 400 and 500 with a number of reel symbols 501 arranged in five columns 503, 504, 505, 506, and 507, each representing a spinnable reel. Three rows 508, 509 and 510 are also displayed. However, additional reel representation 513 is shown having fully transitioned to an operating position. The base array 612 is the same as in FIGS. 4 and 5, but additional array locations have been added showing the three multiplier symbols “3×,” “5×,” and “10×.” With the addition of reel 513, a result for a respective game play initiated while the gaming machine is operating in the second display mode is represented by the combination of the respective set of reel symbols 501 included in the base array 612 and the symbols added in the three additional array locations provided by additional reel 513.
  • In the example game shown in FIG. 6, winning combinations on any of the 5-reel pay lines defined through base array 612, if any, are multiplied by the multiplier provided at the right end of the respective payline by the additional reel 513. For example, where a winning combination of reel symbols 501 appear at the payline made up of the bottom row 510 of symbols in columns 503, 504, 505, 506, and 507 for a given play in the game in the second display mode, the winning amount provided by that winning combinations of reel symbols is multiplied by the multiplier shown in the adjacent location on reel 513. Thus, according to the invention, the graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics results in a bonus play situation in the second display mode. Second display mode play situations are not limited to bonus situations of course and any desired second display mode found useful or entertaining may be used according to the present invention.
  • At some point, the gaming machine in the second display mode shown in FIG. 6 switches back to first display mode shown in FIG. 4. This switch back to the first display mode is performed in response to a return event as discussed above in connection with FIG. 3. For example, the game shown in FIG. 6 may transition back to the first display mode shown in FIG. 4 in response to the completion of a certain number of free spins in the second display mode.
  • FIG. 7 shows graphic display 700 representing an alternate second display mode for the first display mode shown in FIG. 4. The graphical transformation required for this particular second display mode shifts the base array 512 from left to right in the direction of arrow 716 such that the base array 512 covers up a part of the side graphics. In particular, the right-shifted base array 512 appears to completely cover the hollow tree shown in the example first display mode of FIG. 4. The additional reel 513 is added to the left of the base array 512 in the display area vacated when the base array shifted to the right. The graphical transformation from the first display mode shown in FIG. 4 to the second display mode shown in FIG. 7 may include the additional reel representation 513 appearing to push base array 512 over from the left, or may include any other graphical technique for shifting the base array to the right and placing the additional reel representation 513 in the position shown in FIG. 7.
  • FIG. 8 shows graphic display 800 that may represent a first display mode according to the present invention. In the case of graphic display 800, a “Help-Pays” virtual (video generated) control button 826 is located in the side graphics 814. In particular, the “Help-Pays” button 826 in graphic display 800 appears as a sign hanging from a representation of a tree shown in the side graphics. It should be noted that the “Help-Pays” control button 826 is shown only for purposes of example and that any type of touch screen control button/icon for any type of control function may be included in the side graphics of a given graphic display in a first display mode according to the present invention. Also, although only one control button is shown immediately to the right of the base array 812 in the example of FIG. 8, any number of controls may be located in this region of the side graphics.
  • FIG. 9 shows graphic display 900 representing a second display mode produced after a graphical transformation from the first display mode shown in the graphic display 800 of FIG. 8. The graphical transformation in the form of the invention represented by FIG. 9 includes moving control 826 that had been located in one position in the side graphics 814 as illustrated in FIG. 8. That is, control 826 has been moved from its side graphics position in FIG. 8 to a different side graphics position below base array 812 in order to accommodate the addition of the additional reel representation 813. It should be appreciated that alternatively to moving a touch screen control as shown in FIG. 9, the graphical transformation may cover up one or more controls in the side graphics of the given display.
  • The return event for the examples shown in FIGS. 6, 7, and 9 may be simply a loss in the second display mode. That is, in the event that the play in the second display mode produces an arrangement of reel symbols that is not correlated to any winning result, that result in the game is considered a return event and the graphic for the game is switched back to the first display mode as indicated at process block 307 in FIG. 3. The return event might alternatively comprise the completion of a number of regular plays or free plays (“free spins”) in the second display mode. For example, the trigger event may not only cause the game display to switch to the second display mode as shown at process block 304 in FIG. 3, but also may give the player a number of free plays in the second display mode. The player need not place a bet for a free play but merely activate the control, such as “Play” button 418 in FIG. 6, to cause the simulated reels to begin spinning. Any other suitable event may be employed as a return event according to the present invention.
  • The example displays shown in FIGS. 4-9 are shown only as convenient examples for describing the principles of the invention. Many variations on these basic examples may be employed within the scope of the present invention. In particular, the invention is not limited to any particular manner for displaying the results for the game play. Other graphic displays may include more or fewer reel simulations or one or more different paylines. Furthermore, other forms of the present invention may allow only a single bet level and may not provide different prizes based on different wager/bet levels.
  • It should be noted that restrictions may be placed on bet levels available in display modes that are more favorable to the player. In particular, a gaming machine implementing the present invention may be programmed or otherwise operated to prevent a player from increasing their bet level when play is switched to a display mode that is more favorable to the player. In one arrangement for preventing an increase of bet levels in a more player-favorable display mode, the presentation controller may take an increased bet level in a player-favorable display mode as a return event to cause play to switch back to the less favorable display mode. The player may be warned through a video display included in the gaming machine, before switching back to the less favorable display mode, and allowed an opportunity to withdraw the increased bet. Alternatively, the gaming machine may simply not accept an input that attempts to increase the bet level in the more player-favorable display mode, and/or may lock the bet level in to the bet level in effect at the time of the trigger event for all game plays initiated in the more player-favorable second display mode produced in response to the trigger event.
  • In forms of the invention implemented through general purpose processing devices such as the devices shown in the example gaming machine 100 of FIG. 2, the various steps shown in FIG. 3 are performed under the control of operational program code. One preferred form of the invention executes first display mode program code to cause gaming machine 100 to operate in the first display mode. The gaming machine executes second display mode program code to cause the gaming machine to operate in the second display mode. Play mode control program code is executed to cause the gaming machine to switch from the first display mode to the second display mode in response to the trigger event, and to cause the gaming machine to switch from the second display mode to the first display mode in response to a return event. All of this program code may be executed by processor associated with the gaming machine such as central processing unit 205 shown in FIG. 2. In this case, central processing unit 205 represents the presentation controller included in the invention. As indicated previously however, the invention is not limited to a presentation controller comprising a general purpose processing device, and is not limited to a presentation controller implemented at the gaming machine. Rather, the functions of the presentation controller described above particularly in connection with FIG. 3, may be performed at a processing device remote from the gaming machine. For example, local area server 200 or central server 201 shown in FIG. 2 may represent the presentation controller according to some preferred forms of the invention. The presentation controller functions may also be split between multiple processing devices within the scope of the present invention.
  • As used herein, whether in the above description or the following claims, the terms “comprising,” “including,” “carrying,” “having,” “containing,” “involving,” and the like are to be understood to be open-ended, that is, to mean including but not limited to. Only the transitional phrases “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of,” respectively, shall be considered exclusionary transitional phrases, as set forth, with respect to claims, in the United States Patent Office Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (Eighth Edition, August 2001 as revised September 2007), Section 2111.03.
  • Any use of ordinal terms such as “first,” “second,” “third,” etc., in the claims to modify a claim element does not by itself connote any priority, precedence, or order of one claim element over another, or the temporal order in which acts of a method are performed. Rather, unless specifically stated otherwise, such ordinal terms are used merely as labels to distinguish one claim element having a certain name from another element having a same name (but for use of the ordinal term).
  • The above described preferred embodiments are intended to illustrate the principles of the invention, but not to limit the scope of the invention. Various other embodiments and modifications to these preferred embodiments may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Claims (20)

1. A method including:
(a) operating a gaming machine in a first display mode in which a display device associated with the gaming machine displays a base array and side graphics and in which a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array, wherein the side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array;
(b) detecting a trigger event; and
(c) in response to the trigger event, switching the gaming machine to operate in a second display mode in which (i) the display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics to replace that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location, and in which (ii) a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine is represented by a combination of a respective symbol in each additional array location and a respective set of symbols included in the base array.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and the graphical transformation includes a graphic element that appears to move out from the area of the base array.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein the display device displays the base array and side graphics in a display plane and wherein the graphical transformation includes a graphic element that appears to come from outside of the display plane.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the graphical transformation appears to move the base array so as to accommodate the at least one additional array location.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array that appears to have obscured the at least one additional array location such that the at least one additional array location is revealed upon completion of the graphical transformation.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein the side graphics area includes one or more controls that appear to be covered as a result of the graphical transformation.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein one or more controls included in the area of the side graphics are moved to a different location of the display device as a result of the graphical transformation.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and the graphical transformation includes a graphic element that appears to move vertically into the area of the side graphics on the lateral side of the base array.
9. An apparatus including:
(a) a display device;
(b) a player input device; and
(c) a presentation controller, the presentation controller for (i) causing the display device to display a base array and side graphics in a first display mode in which a result for a respective game play is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array, the side graphics providing a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array, and for (ii) in response to a trigger event, causing the display device to switch to a second display mode in which the display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics to replace that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location, wherein a result for a respective game play while operating in the second display mode is represented by a combination of a respective symbol in each additional array location and a respective set of symbols included in the base array.
10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and includes a graphic element that appears to move out from the area of the base array.
11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and includes a graphic element that appears to move vertically into the area of the side graphics on that lateral side of the base array.
12. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the display device displays the base array and side graphics in a display plane and wherein the graphical transformation includes a graphic element that appears to come from outside of the display plane.
13. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the graphical transformation appears to move the base array so as to accommodate the at least one additional array location.
14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array that appears to have obscured the at least one additional array location such that the at least one additional array location is revealed upon completion of the graphical transformation.
15. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the side graphics area includes one or more controls that appear to be covered as a result of the graphical transformation.
16. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein one or more controls included in the area of the side graphics are moved to a different location of the display device as a result of the graphical transformation.
17. A program product embodied in one or more computer readable media, the program product including:
(a) first display mode program code executable to cause a gaming machine to operate in a first display mode in which a display device associated with the gaming machine displays a base array and side graphics, wherein a result for a respective game play initiated through the gaming machine while operating in the first display mode is represented by a set of symbols included in the base array, and wherein the side graphics provide a continuous graphical theme on at least two sides of the base array;
(b) second display mode program code executable to cause the gaming machine to operate in a second display mode in which the display device displays a graphical transformation of at least a part of the side graphics to replace that part of the side graphics with at least one additional array location, and wherein a result for a respective game play initiated at the gaming machine while operating in the second display mode is represented by a combination of a respective symbol in each additional array location and a respective set of symbols included in the base array; and
(c) display mode control program code executable to cause the gaming machine to switch from the first display mode to the second display mode in response to a trigger event.
18. The program product of claim 17 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and the graphical transformation includes a graphic element that appears to move out from the area of the base array.
19. The program product of claim 17 wherein the graphical transformation is of a part of the side graphics on a lateral side of the base array and includes a graphic element that appears to move vertically into the area of the side graphics on that lateral side of the base array.
20. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein the graphical transformation appears to move the base array so as to accommodate the at least one additional array location.
US11/938,186 2006-11-14 2007-11-09 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display Abandoned US20080113696A1 (en)

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US86583106P true 2006-11-14 2006-11-14
US11/938,186 US20080113696A1 (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-09 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display

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US11/938,186 US20080113696A1 (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-09 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display
PCT/US2007/084437 WO2008061062A2 (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-12 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display
CA 2669681 CA2669681A1 (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-12 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display
MX2009005130A MX2009005130A (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-12 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display.
AU2007319325A AU2007319325B2 (en) 2006-11-14 2007-11-12 Method, apparatus, and program product for adding a reel to a game display

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MX2009005130A (en) 2009-09-18
WO2008061062A2 (en) 2008-05-22
AU2007319325B2 (en) 2012-08-09
WO2008061062A3 (en) 2008-10-09
AU2007319325A1 (en) 2008-05-22

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