US20080146347A1 - Game apparatus - Google Patents

Game apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080146347A1
US20080146347A1 US11877961 US87796107A US2008146347A1 US 20080146347 A1 US20080146347 A1 US 20080146347A1 US 11877961 US11877961 US 11877961 US 87796107 A US87796107 A US 87796107A US 2008146347 A1 US2008146347 A1 US 2008146347A1
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Prior art keywords
station
server
game
sub
stations
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11877961
Inventor
Kazuo Okada
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Universal Entertainment Corp
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Universal Entertainment Corp
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/10Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network
    • H04L67/1002Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for accessing one among a plurality of replicated servers, e.g. load balancing
    • H04L67/1004Server selection in load balancing
    • H04L67/1008Server selection in load balancing based on parameters of servers, e.g. available memory or workload
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/10Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network
    • H04L67/1002Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for accessing one among a plurality of replicated servers, e.g. load balancing
    • H04L67/1034Reaction to server failures by a load balancer
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L69/00Application independent communication protocol aspects or techniques in packet data networks
    • H04L69/40Techniques for recovering from a failure of a protocol instance or entity, e.g. failover routines, service redundancy protocols, protocol state redundancy or protocol service redirection in case of a failure or disaster recovery
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/10Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network
    • H04L67/1002Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications in which an application is distributed across nodes in the network for accessing one among a plurality of replicated servers, e.g. load balancing

Abstract

A game apparatus according to one embodiment of the invention is provided with a server that controls progress of a game, and at least one station which is connected to the server via a signal line, has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute the game and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and operates based on a command from the server. A plurality of communication connections is established between the server and the station, and when a failure occurs in one of the communication connections, data to cause the game to progress is communicated using the other communication connection.

Description

  • [0001]
    The present disclosure relates to subject matter contained in Japan Patent Application No. 2006-301703 filed on Nov. 7, 2006, which is expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entireties.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to a game apparatus for establishing a communication channel between a server and a station or sub-station to communicate data for progress of a game.
  • [0003]
    Generally, in a table game apparatus, a server that controls progress of a game and a plurality of stations where players play the game are connected via a communication medium such as Ethernet (registered trademark) or the like (for example, see U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 20060084506). A form of connection between the server and stations is the so-called star topology, and such a communication scheme is adopted that when a data exchange between the server and one of the stations is finished, the server establishes connection with another station to execute a data exchange, and then, similarly switches between stations sequentially whenever completing the data exchange.
  • [0004]
    Thus, the server is controlled not to shift to communications with another station until communications of required data with a single station is completed, and is thereby prevented from undergoing excessive loads.
  • [0005]
    However, in the above-mentioned game apparatus, when communications are not normally completed due to trouble of the communications between the server and a single station, the server cannot shift to communications with another station, and there is a problem that a failure occurs in progress of the game.
  • [0006]
    Accordingly, a game apparatus is required that is capable of preventing the game apparatus from halting its operation and of maintaining progress of a game even when a failure occurs between a server and a station or when a server becomes excessive load conditions.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    To achieve the above-mentioned object, a game apparatus according to the present invention comprises a server that controls progress of a game, and at least one station which is connected to the server via a signal line, has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute the game and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and operates based on a command from the server. A plurality of communication connections is established between the server and the station. When a failure occurs in one of the communication connections, data to cause the game to progress is communicated using the other communication connection.
  • [0008]
    Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out hereinafter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING
  • [0009]
    The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention, and together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 1 is a network configuration diagram to explain the number of communication channels and alternative paths in a network comprised of a server, a plurality of stations and a plurality of sub-stations constituting a game apparatus according to one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0011]
    FIG. 2 is a network configuration diagram to explain a case of constructing an alternative path via a sub-station in one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 3 is a network configuration diagram to explain a case of constructing an alternative path through from a sub-station to a station in one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 4 is a network configuration diagram to explain a case of stacking from a station to another station or sub-station in one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 5 is a network configuration diagram to explain a case of stacking from a sub-station to another sub-station or station in one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 6 is a network configuration diagram illustrating a configuration with double signal lines in a network comprised of a server, a plurality of stations and a plurality of sub-stations constituting a game apparatus according to one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 7 is an appearance view of a game apparatus according to one embodiment of the invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary view of a terminal section constituting the game apparatus;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of an internal configuration of the game apparatus;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 10 is a block diagram of the game apparatus with the server centered; and
  • [0020]
    FIG. 11 is a block diagram of the game apparatus with the station or sub-station centered.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0021]
    A game apparatus according to the invention will specifically be described below with reference to accompanying drawings.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating a network configuration formed of components such as a server 100, a plurality of stations 101A and a plurality of sub-stations 101B included in the game apparatus according to the invention. The server 100 is comprised of a computer for controlling progress of a game and the like. A plurality of stations, S1,S2 and S3, is shown in the figure, and an appropriate number of, for example, five stations 101A can be provided. Each of the stations 101A has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute a game, and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and is connected to the server 100 via a signal line L1, L2 or L3. Each station 101A is connected to at least one of the other stations 101A via a signal line L4 or L5. A single station 101A may be connected to a plurality of the other stations 101A in parallel with one another via the signal line.
  • [0023]
    Further, a plurality of sub-stations, SS1, SS2, SS3 and SS4, is shown in the figure, and an appropriate number of, for example, ten sub-stations 101B can be provided. The sub-stations 101B are connected to the server 100 via signal lines L6 to L9, respectively. Each of the sub-stations 101B has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute a sub-game, and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and the player is capable of performing a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of a player playing in the station 101A. Each sub-station 101B is connected to at least one of the other sub-stations 101B via a signal line. A single sub-station 101A may be connected to a plurality of the other sub-stations 101A in parallel with one another via the signal line.
  • [0024]
    In the above-mentioned network configuration, a plurality of communication connections, ch1 and ch2, is established between the server 100 and station 101A. When a failure occurs in one communication connection ch1, it is possible to communicate data to cause the game to progress using the other communication connection ch2.
  • [0025]
    Further, when it is detected that a failure occurs in the signal line L1 between the server 100 and the station (S1), an alternative path is constructed by the station (S1), another station (S2) and server 100. The server 100 and station (S1) communicate the data to cause the game to progress with each other according to the above-mentioned alternative path.
  • [0026]
    By constructing the alternative path as described above, even when a failure occurs in the signal line L1 between the server 100 and station 101A, the data required for progress of the game to be communicated between the server 100 and station (S1) is reliably delivered and received through the alternative path.
  • [0027]
    In addition, in the above-mentioned game apparatus, when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the station, data transmission from the station to the server may be temporarily avoided to wait until the load of the server returns to normal conditions. Thus, when an excessive load occurs in the server, data transmission from the station to the server is temporarily avoided to wait until the load of the server returns to normal conditions. Therefore, the load of the server is reduced, and can be restored to the normal conditions early.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 2 is a diagram showing an example of constructing an alternative path including the sub-station 101B when it is detected that a failure occurs in the signal line L1 between the server 100 and station (S1). The station (S1) is connected to the sub-stations (SS1) and (SS2) respectively via signal lines L10 and L11. Accordingly, it is possible to construct an alternative path such that the station (S1) is connected to the sub-station (SS1) via the signal line L10 and further connected to the server 100 via the signal line L6. Further, it is possible to construct another alternative path such that the station (S1) is connected to the sub-station (SS2) via the signal line L11 and further connected to the server 100 via the signal line L7. In other words, it is possible to construct alternative paths without passing through another station (S2).
  • [0029]
    FIG. 3 is a diagram showing an example of constructing an alternative path including the station 101A when it is detected that a failure occurs in the signal line L7 between the server 100 and sub-station (SS2). The sub-station (SS2) is connected to the stations (S1) and (S2) respectively via signal lines L11 and L12. In the example as shown in FIG. 3, an alternative path is constructed such that the sub-station (SS2) is connected to the station (S2) via the signal line L12 and further connected to the server 100 via the signal line L2. Further, it is possible to construct another alternative path such that the sub-station (SS2) is connected to another sub-station (SS3) via the signal line L16 and further connected to the server 100 via the signal line L8. In other words, it is possible to construct alternative paths without passing through the station (S2).
  • [0030]
    By constructing such alternative paths, even when a failure occurs in the signal line L7 between the server 100 and sub-station 101B, the data required for progress of the game to be communicated between the server 100 and sub-station (SS2) is reliably delivered and received through the alternative path.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating load reduction measures in the case of the server 100 under excessive load conditions. It is assumed that the server 100 becomes the excessive load conditions during transmission of the data required for progress of the game from the station S1 to the server 100 via the signal line L1. In this case, the station S1 stacks the data required for progress of the game into another station (S2) connected via the signal line L4 or the sub-station (SS1) connected via the signal line L10. For example, the station S1 monitors the response time from the server 100, detects load conditions of the server 100, and when detecting an excessive load, transfers the data to the beforehand determined stack. By this means, the server 100 is capable of temporarily avoiding the processing associated with data reception from the station S1, while the station S1 is capable of finishing the current processing, and it is possible to avoid trouble that the processing is halted in both the server 100 and station S1.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating load reduction measures in the case that the server 100 becomes excessive load conditions during communications with the sub-station 101B. It is assumed that the server 100 becomes the excessive load conditions during transmission of the data required for progress of the game from the sub-station SS2 to the server 100 via the signal line L7. In this case, the sub-station SS2 stacks the data required for progress of the sub-game into the station (S2) connected via the signal line L12 or another sub-station (SS2) connected via the signal line L17. The sub-station SS2 detects load conditions of the server 100 in the same way as described above. By this means, the server 100 is capable of temporarily avoiding the processing associated with data reception from the sub-station SS2, while the sub-station SS2 is capable of finishing the current processing, and it is possible to avoid trouble that the processing is halted in both the server 100 and sub-station SS2.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating a network configuration for doubling signal lines for connecting the server 100, stations 101A and sub-stations 101B. For example, the server 100 and station S1 are connected with two signal lines L1A and L1 B in parallel with each other. Further, one station S1 and another station S2 are connected with two signals lines L4A and L4B in parallel with each other. Furthermore, the station S1 and sub-station SS1 are connected with two signal lines L10A and L10B in parallel with each other. Still furthermore, one sub-station SS2 and another sub-station SS3 are connected with two signal lines L16A and L16B in parallel with each other. Moreover, the server 100 and sub-station SS3 are connected with two signal lines L8A and L8B in parallel with each other. The other signal lines are also doubled. In addition, all the signal lines may not be doubled, and only paths requiring high reliability may be doubled.
  • [0034]
    Thus, by doubling signal lines for connecting the server 100, stations 101A and sub-stations 101B, even when one of the signal lines is disconnected, it is possible to avoid a situation that the communication is completely disabled, by switching the signal line used in data communication to the other signal line.
  • [0035]
    A configuration of each section in the game apparatus implementing the network configuration as described above will specifically be described below.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 7 is an appearance view of the game apparatus according to one embodiment of the invention. As shown in FIG. 7, the game apparatus 10 has a main game apparatus 100A, and two sub-game apparatuses 100B connected with the main game apparatus 100A to be able to communicate with the apparatus 100A.
  • [0037]
    The main game apparatus 100A has the server 100 that controls progress of the game, five stations 101A that are arranged substantially in shape of a sector and that are referred to as satellites, and a panel section 103 installed forward of the stations 101A as viewed from operators (players) of the stations 101A. Five sub-stations 101B are incorporated into each of left and right sub-game apparatuses 100B.
  • [0038]
    In addition, in the following descriptions, a player that is an operator of the station 101A is referred to as a main player, and a player that is an operator of the sub-station 101B is referred to as a sub-player. In this embodiment, the main player plays a main game (including all the games carried out in the so-called casino and games such as, for example, card games such as blackjack, baccarat, poker and the like, table games such as a card game, roulette and the like, and so on), and the sub-player plays a sub-game for betting a game value on a result of the main game played by the main player.
  • [0039]
    The panel section 103 has a front display 104 that is a display device such as a liquid crystal display device, speakers 105, lamps 106 and LEDs 107. The front display 104 notifies each player of common information on the entire game in which main players and/or sub-players participate. For example, notification of start or end of bet reception time, notification of victory or defeat of the game and the like is displayed by animation of a dealer 108. The speakers 105, lamps 106 and LEDs 107 perform representation on the game according to image display of the front display 104 or independently of image display of the front display 104. For example, the representation is performed by outputting BGM, sound effects, turning on/off the light and the like.
  • [0040]
    FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary view showing an appearance of the station 101A. The station 101A has a liquid crystal display 210 on its top face to provide the player with information on the game. The liquid crystal display 201 is covered with a transparent touch panel 202. At the front of the liquid crystal display 201 is arranged a button group 203 comprised of a plurality of buttons, such as a PAYOUT button, BET button and the like, used by a player in the game. To the right of the button group 203 is provided a coin insertion portion 204 for the player to insert a game value medium (hereinafter, simply referred to as a “coin”) such as a coin, medal, chip and the like. The coin insertion portion 204 is provided with a coin sensor (not shown in the figure) for detecting an inserted coin. On the lower side of the coin insertion portion 204 is provided a bill insertion portion 205 for the player to insert a bill. The bill insertion portion 205 is provided with a bill sensor (not shown in the figure) for detecting an inserted bill.
  • [0041]
    A coin payout outlet 206 is provided at the front lower portion of the station 101A. In the station 101A, it is configured that in response to player's operation of pressing the PAYOUT button contained in the button group 203, a number of coins in accordance with all or part of a credit value owned by the player stored in the station 101A are discharged from the coin payout outlet 206.
  • [0042]
    A transparent acrylic panel 207 is provided forward of the liquid crystal display 201 (on the panel section 103 side) substantially in the shape of an inverse U, and a three-dimensional model chip presenting portion 208 is provided in a region surrounded by the transparent acrylic panel 207. The three-dimensional model chip presenting portion 208 is comprised of three-dimensional model chips 209, a presenting portion plate 211 provided with openings 210 through which the three-dimensional model chips extrude outside from the inside of the player terminal 101 and which store the protruding three-dimensional model chips 209 inside the player terminal 101, and a lifting/lowering mechanism (not shown in the figure) to lift and lower the three-dimensional model chips 209.
  • [0043]
    Each of the three-dimensional model chips 209 is a model of a mountain of chips, and manufactured by molding a resin or the like. The three-dimensional model chip presenting portion 208 has a plurality of three-dimensional model chips 209 with different units. For example, prepared are a mountain of chips of one credit per coin, a mountain of chips of ten credits per coin, and a mountain of chips of hundred credits per coin. By seeing heights of the three-dimensional model chips 209 protruding from the presenting portion plate 211, all the players are capable of grasping the player owned credit value promptly through intuition, and feeling a sense of realism as if chips are actually increased and/or decreased in front of the player.
  • [0044]
    In addition, as described previously, the sub-station 101B is different from the station 101A in a target to bet a game value, but is the same as the station 101A in its appearance and configuration, and specific descriptions thereof are omitted.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of an internal configuration of the game apparatus 100 according to this embodiment. As shown in the figure, the main game apparatus 100A is provided with the server 100 having a main control section 301 as a main component. The main control section 301 is comprised of an information processing apparatus to execute a game program, peripheral apparatuses and the like, and connected to each of the stations 101A and sub-stations 101B to be able to perform bidirectional communication. The main control section 301 receives notification of the number of bet chips, target for a bet and the like from each of the stations 101A and sub-stations 101B, and when predetermined conditions are met, starts executing the game. Then, the main control section 301 determines victory and defeat of the main game and sub-game, and notifies the results to each of the stations 101A and sub-stations 101B. Further, the main control section 301 performs output control of image signals to display in the front display 104, driving control of the lamps 106 and LEDs 107, and driving control of the speakers 105.
  • [0046]
    Each station 101A increases or decreases a credit value owned by the main player, according to notification from the main control section 301. For example, when the main player wins a main game, each station 101A adds a credit value corresponding to the number of acquired chips to the owned credit value to store again, according to notification from the main control section 301. Meanwhile, when the main player loses a main game, each station 101A subtracts a credit value corresponding to the number of bet chips from the owned credit value to store again, according to notification from the main control section 301.
  • [0047]
    Each sub-station 101B also operations on the sub-game in the same way as the station 101A. In other words, each sub-station 101B increases or decreases a credit value owned by the sub-player, according to notification from the main control section 301. For example, when a sub-player wins a sub-game, the sub-station 101B of the sub-player adds a credit value corresponding to the number of acquired chips to the owned credit value to store again, according to notification from the main control section 301. Meanwhile, when the sub-player loses a sub-game, each sub-station 101B subtracts a credit value corresponding to the number of bet chips from the owned credit value to store again, according to notification from the main control section 301. The data required for progress of the game is comprised of the data exchanged between the server 100 and station 101A and between the server 100 and sub-station 101B in each phase during progress of the main game and sub-game as described above.
  • [0048]
    The station 101A has a terminal control section 304A comprised of an information processing apparatus and peripheral apparatuses, a lifting/lowering mechanism 302A connected to the terminal control section 304A, and a light source section 303A. The lifting/lowering mechanism 302A is means for lifting and lowering three-dimensional model chips 209A, and in this embodiment, has a stepping motor as power for lifting and lowering. In addition, as the power for lifting and lowering, the mechanism is not limited thereto, and may have an ordinary motor in combination with a position control mechanism and the like. The light source section 303A is comprised of a circuit having a light-emitting source such as a plurality of LEDs or the like, and functions as a light source capable of emitting different colors (for example, red, blue, green, white and the like) and changing their brightness. The light emitted from the light source section 303A is guided by the acrylic panel 207A, and output outside the game apparatus 100, particularly, in the direction in which the player visually identifies the light.
  • [0049]
    The sub-station 101B has a terminal control section 304B comprised of an information processing apparatus and peripheral apparatuses, a lifting/lowering mechanism 302B connected to the terminal control apparatus 304B, and a light source section 303B. The lifting/lowering mechanism 302B operates three-dimensional model chips 209B, and the light source section 303B performs emission control of the acrylic panel 207B. The lifting/lowering mechanism 302B, light source section 303B, acrylic panel 207B and three-dimensional model chips 209B are the same as in the station 101A, and specific descriptions thereof are omitted.
  • [0050]
    A configuration example of the server 100 will be described below with reference to FIG. 10. FIG. 10 is a block diagram with the main control section 301 of the server 100 centered.
  • [0051]
    The main control section 301 is comprised of a microcomputer 405, as a core, which is basically formed of a CPU 401, RAM 402, ROM 403 and bus 404 for transferring data among the CPU, RAM and ROM. The CPU 401 is connected to the ROM 403 and RAM 402 via the bus 404. The ROM 403 stores various kinds of programs for performing the processing required to control the game apparatus 100, data tables and the like. Meanwhile, the RAM 402 is a memory to temporarily store a variety of data computed by the CPU 401.
  • [0052]
    The microcomputer 405 (more specifically, the CPU 401) is connected to an image processing circuit 407 via an I/O interface 406. The image processing circuit 407 is connected to the front display 104 to control driving of the front display.
  • [0053]
    The image processing circuit 407 is comprised of a program ROM, image ROM, image control CPU, work RAM, VDP (Video Display Processor), video RAM and the like. The program ROM stores an image control program on display in the front display 104 and various kinds of selection tables. The image ROM stores, for example, dot data to form an image in the front display 104. Based on parameters set by the CPU 401, the image control CPU determines an image to display in the front display 104 from among the dot data beforehand stored in the image ROM, according to the image control program beforehand stored in the program ROM. The work RAM is configured as temporal storage means when the image control CPU executes the image control program. The VDP forms the image data corresponding to details of display determined by the image control CPU to output to the front display 104. In addition, the video RAM is configured as temporal storage means when the VDP forms an image.
  • [0054]
    Further, the microcomputer 405 (more specifically, the CPU 401) is connected to the speakers 105 via an audio circuit 408. Based on an output signal from the audio circuit 408, the speakers 105 generate various sound effects, BGM and the like when various kinds of representation are performed.
  • [0055]
    The microcomputer 405 (more specifically, the CPU 401) is further connected to the lamps 106 and LEDs 107 via a lamp driving circuit 409. A number of lamps 106 and LEDs 107 are disposed at the front of the game apparatus 100, and are controlled to be turned on/out by the lamp driving circuit 409 based on a driving signal from the CPU 401, when various kinds of representation are performed.
  • [0056]
    Further, the microcomputer 405 (more specifically, the CPU 401) is connected to each player terminal (station 101A and sub-station 101B) via a communication interface 410 to enable the CPU 401 and the player terminal to perform bidirectional communication with each other. Particularly, the present invention actualizes independent data communication for each communication channel, while establishing two communication channels at the same time. Further, when abnormal conditions occur on the communication channel being used in communication of data required for progress of the game, data to restore the communication channel undergoing occurrence of the failure is exchanged by data communication using the other communication channel. In the specification of the invention, the data required for progress of the game that is communicated on the other communication channel includes the data to restore the communication channel undergoing occurrence of the failure. In other words, the other communication channel may exchange any data including the data indirectly associated with progress of the game such as the data to restore the communication channel undergoing occurrence of the failure, and the data directly associated with progress of the game such as the number of bet chips, bet target, increase/decrease of the credit value and the like.
  • [0057]
    The CPU 401 is capable of transmitting and receiving a command, request and the like to/from each station 101A with the communication interface 410, and the main control section 301 and station 101A jointly perform progress control on the main game. Similarly, the microcomputer 405 (more specifically, the CPU 401) is capable of transmitting and receiving a command, request and the like to/from each sub-station 101B via the communication interface 410, and the main control section 301 and sub-station 101B jointly perform progress control on the sub-game. Particularly, it is configured in the invention that a plurality of communication channels (ch1 and ch2) is established with the player terminal (station 101A and sub-station 101B) to communicate the data required for progress of the game as described above.
  • [0058]
    A configuration example of a control system of the station 101A will be described below with reference to FIG. 11. FIG. 11 is a functional block diagram showing an example of the control system of the station 101A. In addition, a configuration of a control system of the sub-station 101B adopts the same configuration as that of the station 101A, and is added in the functional block diagram as shown in FIG. 11, and specific descriptions thereof are omitted.
  • [0059]
    The core of the station 101A (sub-station 101B) is the terminal control section 304A (terminal control section 304B), and the terminal control section 304A (terminal control section 304B) is comprised of a microcomputer 505, as a core, which is basically formed of a CPU 501, RAM 502, ROM 503 and bus 504 for transferring data among the CPU, RAM and ROM. The CPU 501 is connected to the ROM 503 and RAM 502 via the bus 504. The ROM 503 stores various kinds of programs for performing the processing required to control the player terminal, for example, operation control of the lifting/lowering mechanism 302A, control for lighting on/out the light source section 303A, and the like, data tables and the like. Meanwhile, the RAM 502 is a memory to temporarily store a variety of data computed by the CPU 501.
  • [0060]
    The microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is connected to a liquid crystal panel driving circuit 507 via an I/O interface 506. The liquid crystal panel driving circuit 507 is connected to the liquid crystal display 201, and controls driving of the liquid crystal display 201.
  • [0061]
    The microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is connected to a touch panel driving circuit 508 via the I/O interface 506. The touch panel driving circuit 508 outputs coordinate data of a contact position on the touch panel 202.
  • [0062]
    Further, the microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is connected to a hopper 514 via a hopper driving circuit 509. When the CPU 501 outputs a driving signal to the hopper driving circuit 509, the hopper 514 pays out a predetermined number of coins from the coin payout outlet 206. The CPU 501 is further connected to a coin detecting section 515 via a payout completion signal circuit 510. The coin detecting section 515 is disposed inside the coin payout outlet 206. When detecting that a predetermined number of coins are paid out, the coin detecting section 515 outputs a coin payout detection signal to the payout completion signal circuit 510, and based on the signal, the payout completion signal circuit 510 outputs a payout completion signal to the CPU 501.
  • [0063]
    The microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is further connected to a motor driving circuit 511 for driving and rotating the stepping motor to drive the lifting/lowering mechanism 302. When the CPU 501 outputs a motor driving signal to the motor driving circuit 511, the stepping motor is driven to rotate by the motor driving circuit 511. The lifting/lowering mechanism 302 thus operates, and performs operations for lifting/lowering the three-dimensional model chips 209.
  • [0064]
    Further, the microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is connected to an LED driving control circuit 512 to drive the light source section 303. In this embodiment, the light source section 303 is comprised of a plurality of LEDs, and in response to an LED driving command from the CPU 501, the LED driving control circuit 512 supplies driving power to an LED targeted for the driving command among all the LEDs. By this means, it is possible to perform control for lighting on/out the LED in a desired form under the control of the CPU 501.
  • [0065]
    The microcomputer 505 (more specifically, the CPU 501) is further connected to the main control section 301 via a communication interface 513, and the CPU 510 and the main control section 310 of the server 100 are capable of establishing a plurality of communication connections (ch1 and ch2) to perform bidirectional communication with each other on each channel. The CPU 501 transmits and receives a command, request, data and the like to/from the main control section 301, and the main control section 301 and station 101A (sub-station 101B) are thereby capable of jointly controlling progress of the main game (sub-game).
  • [0066]
    In this embodiment configured as described above, communications of the data required for the game to progress are performed sequentially between the server 100 and a plurality of stations 101A or sub-stations 101B. For example, the main control section 301 of the server 100 establishes a plurality of communication channels (ch1 and ch2) with the terminal control section 304A of the station S1, and requests the data required for progress of the game such as the number of bet chips, target for the bet and the like. The terminal control section 304A of the station S1 detects the content of the operation of the player on the touch panel 202 by the touch panel driving circuit 508, and acquires the data required for progress of the game such as the number of bet chips, target for the bet and the like. The terminal control section 304A transmits these kinds of data using the communication channel established between the section 304A and server 100. When acquiring the necessary data from the station S1, the main control section 301 of the server 100 closes the communication channel established between the server and station S1, and establishes a communication channel between the server and adjacent station S2 to acquire the data required for progress of the game in the same way as described above. The server 100 similarly establishes communication channels with a plurality of sub-stations 101B sequentially to acquire the data required for progress of the game.
  • [0067]
    As shown in FIG. 1, it is assumed that a failure occurs on communication channel ch1 on which the station S1 transmits the data required for progress of the game to the server 100. For example, when such a transmission failure occurs that data transmission from the station S1 is not finished for a long time, the terminal control section 304A of the station S1 or main control section 301 of the server 100 detects the communication failure. The terminal control section 304A or main control section 301 is capable of detecting the state that data transmission is continued after a lapse of predetermined time as the communication failure. The communication failure can be detected using another method.
  • [0068]
    When the communication failure is detected, in order to avoid the occurring failure (communication failure) not to halt the progress of the game, avoidance measures are taken using the other communication channel ch2. It is possible to exchange data indicating that the current data communication of the communication channel ch1 is once halted, using the other communication channel ch2. Either of the terminal control section 304A and the main control section 301 may transmit a command to halt the data communication and a command to retry the data communication. When transmitting or receiving a halt command of the data communication, the terminal control section 304A of the station S1 stops the data transmission, and starts establishing communication channel ch1 from the beginning to perform again the data transmission from the beginning.
  • [0069]
    Meanwhile, when such a failure occurs that the signal line L1 is disconnected, the data communication becomes impossible. In this embodiment, when the data communication becomes impossible between the station 101A and server 100, an alternative path is constructed as shown in FIG. 1, 2 or 3, and the station 101A notifies the server 100 of the data required for progress of the game through the alternative path. Various techniques are applicable to construct the alternative path. For example, an alternative path is beforehand determined for each station 101A, and the path is set on the station 101A or sub-station 101B on the alternative path. For example, in the example as shown in FIG. 1, when a failure occurs in the signal line L1, such an alternative path is beforehand set that the station S1 is connected to the server 100 through the signal line L4, station S2 and signal line L2. When a failure occurs in the signal line L1, the station S1 transmits data to the station S2, and the station S2 transfers the data to the server 100 together with information indicating that the data is of the station S1. On the data transmitted from the server 100 to station S1, the server 100 transmits the data to the station S2 together with information indicating that the data is to transmit to the station S1, and the station S2 transfers the data to the station S1 together with information indicating that the data is of the station S1. Further, a spanning tree technique can be adopted to construct an alternative path. The spanning tree technique enables detection of a failure of the path, and is a technique suitable for construction of an alternative path.
  • [0070]
    In the spanning tree technique, the server 100, station 101A and sub-station 101B are assumed to belong to respective independent segments, and a switch or bridge is disposed to connect signal lines between segments in the communication interface 410 of the server 100 and communication interfaces 513 of the station 101A and sub-station 101B. A broadcast frame is set on the assumption that each segment is a broadcast domain. A switch receiving a broadcast frame transmits the broadcast frame to all the ports connected to the switch, while blocking a specific port on a loop, thereby preventing formation of the loop. Further, as well as the function of preventing formation of a loop, the spanning tree technique is used as means for reserving redundancy of the network for automatically switching between paths when a failure occurs. More specifically, respective switches of the segments mutually exchange BPDU (Bridge Protocol Data Unit), and determine a single switch to be a center of the spanning tree as a root bridge (Procedure 1). Each switch grasps a network topology within the broadcast domain by exchange of the BPDU (Procedure 2). The BPDU includes a bridge ID and path cost, the bridge IDs of all the switches are compared with one another, and a switch with the smallest bridge ID is selected as a root bridge. Next, for each switch, a port to open and a port to close are determined (Procedure 3). A role of each port is determined with the root bridge centered. A port nearest the root bridge in each segment is made a designated port, a port nearest the root bridge in each switch is made a root port, and a port with which the communication is blocked is made a blocking port. Next, it is monitored whether a problem occurs in the currently configured network topology (Procedure 4). Since the BPDU is normally exchanged every several seconds on the path determined by the spanning tree technique, when the BPDU is not sent from a communicating switch within this determined time, it is possible to determine that some failure occurs. The switch detecting the failure of the path transmits TCN BPDU (Topology Change Notification BPDU) to all the switches forming the spanning tree, and the path used up to this point is abandoned. When a problem occurs in the network topology being monitored, the flow returns to Procedure 1 as described above, and a path is constructed again (Procedure 5).
  • [0071]
    Further, when excessive load conditions occur in the server 100, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the station 101A or station 101B communicating the data required for progress of the game with the server 100 executes the processing of temporarily stacking the transmission data into another station 101A or sub-station 101B to reduce the load on the server 100. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, it is assumed that the server 100 is found to be under excessive load conditions when the station 101A and server 100 communicate the data required for progress of the game with each other. The excessive load conditions in the server 100 can be detected by monitoring a response speed from the server 100. When the station S1 determines that an excessive load is imposed on the server 100, the station S1 establishes a communication channel with another station S2, the nearest sub-station SS1 or the like, and transmits a data stack request. Upon receiving an OK response from another station S2 or sub-station SS1, the station S1 transmits the data to be transmitted to the server 100 to another station S2 or sub-station SS1 to stack. When another station S2 or sub-station SS1 receiving the data stack request receives the stack data from the station S1 that is the stack request source, the station S2 or sub-station SS1 captures the data inside the microcomputer 505 from the I/O interface 506 to store in the RAM 502.
  • [0072]
    By this means, the station S1 having not completed communications with the server 100 is able to formally complete the processing of transmitting the data required for progress of the game to the server 100 and shifting to next processing. In the server 100, since data reception from the station S1 is eliminated, the load is reduced.
  • [0073]
    In addition, the data stacked in the RAM 502 of another station S2 or sub-station SS1 is sent back to the station S1 from another station S2 or sub-station SS1 after a lapse of predetermined time, and the station S1 is capable of transmitting the data to the server 100 restored to normal conditions. Alternately, instead of the station S1, another station S2 or sub-station SS1 with the stacked data may transmit the data to the server 100 in subsequently communicating with the server 100 restored to normal conditions.
  • [0074]
    As noted above, a game apparatus according to the present invention is characterized by having a server that controls progress of a game, and at least one station which is connected to the server via a signal line, has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute the game and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and operates based on a command from the server, where a plurality of communication connections is established between the server and the station, and when a failure occurs in one of the communication connections, data to cause the game to progress is communicated using the other communication connection.
  • [0075]
    According to the game apparatus, a plurality of communication connections is established between the server and the station, and when a failure occurs in one of the communication connections, data to cause the game to progress is communicated using the other communication connection. Therefore, even when a failure occurs between the server and the server, it is possible to maintain progress of the game.
  • [0076]
    In the above-mentioned game apparatus, when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the station, data transmission from the station to the server is temporarily avoided to wait until the load of the server returns to normal conditions.
  • [0077]
    Therefore, when an excessive load occurs in the server, data transmission from the station to the server is temporarily avoided to wait until the load of the server returns to normal conditions. Therefore, the load of the server is reduced, and can be restored to the normal conditions early.
  • [0078]
    Further, the game apparatus is characterized in that while a plurality of stations is provided and each of the stations is connected to the server independently of one another via each signal line, one of the plurality of stations is connected to another station via a signal line, and when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transmits data to the server through the another station.
  • [0079]
    Therefore, when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and the station, the station transmits the data to the server through another station. Therefore, even when a failure occurs between the server and the station, it is possible to maintain progress of the game.
  • [0080]
    Further, the game apparatus is characterized in that while a plurality of stations is provided and each of the stations is connected to the server independently of one another via each signal line, one of the plurality of stations is connected to another station via a signal line, and when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transfers data to be transmitted to the server to the another station to temporarily stack.
  • [0081]
    Therefore, when an excessive load occurs in the server, the one of the stations transfers the data to be transmitted to the server to another station to stack, and it is thereby possible to reduce the load on the server under excessive load conditions and to prevent the game apparatus from halting its operation.
  • [0082]
    The game apparatus is further characterized in that the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and one of the stations, the one of the stations transmits data to the server through the sub-station connected via the signal line as an alternative path.
  • [0083]
    Therefore, when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and one of the stations, the one of the stations transmits the data to the server through the sub-station connected via the signal line as an alternative path, and it is thereby possible to maintain communications between the server and the station to cause the game to progress without being affected by the failure of the communication connection established between the server and the station.
  • [0084]
    The game apparatus is further characterized in that the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transfers data to be transmitted to the server to the sub-station connected via the signal line to temporarily stack.
  • [0085]
    Therefore, when an excessive load occurs in the server, the one of the stations transfers the data to be transmitted to the server to the sub-station connected via the signal line to temporarily stack, the load of the server is thereby reduced, and it is possible to restore the server to normal conditions at an early stage.
  • [0086]
    The game apparatus is further characterized in that the server and each of the stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  • [0087]
    Therefore, when the signal line connecting between the server and the station is disconnected or another failure occurs in the line, data communication can be performed by switching to another signal line for redundancy, and it is possible to maintain progress of the game.
  • [0088]
    The game apparatus is further characterized in that the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  • [0089]
    Therefore, when the signal line connecting between the server and the sub-station is disconnected or another failure occurs in the line, data communication can be performed by switching to another signal line for redundancy, and it is possible to maintain progress of the game.
  • [0090]
    The game apparatus is further characterized in that the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  • [0091]
    Therefore, even when the above-mentioned communication failure occurs in providing the sub-station with the sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in the station, it is possible to keep data communication between the server and the sub-station to maintain progress of the game.
  • [0092]
    As noted above, according to the game apparatus of the invention, it is possible to provide the game apparatus capable of preventing the game apparatus from halting its operation and of maintaining progress of a game even when a failure occurs between the server and the station or when the server becomes excessive load conditions.
  • [0093]
    It should be noted that the present invention is usable in game apparatuses that a server for controlling progress of a game is connected to a plurality of stations or sub-stations for players to play the game via a communication medium.
  • [0094]
    Additional advantages and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details and representative embodiments shown and described herein. Accordingly, various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the general inventive concept as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A game apparatus comprising:
    a server that controls progress of a game; and
    at least one station which is connected to the server via a signal line, has an operation section for a player to perform operations to execute the game, and a display section that displays details of the game executed by the player in the operation section, and operates based on a command from the server,
    wherein a plurality of communication connections is established between the server and the station, and when a failure occurs in one of the communication connections, data to cause the game to progress is communicated using the other communication connection.
  2. 2. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the station, data transmission from the station to the server is temporarily avoided to wait until the load of the server returns to normal conditions.
  3. 3. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein while a plurality of stations is provided and each of the stations is connected to the server independently of one another via each signal line, one of the plurality of stations is connected to another station via a signal line, and
    when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transmits data to the server through the another station.
  4. 4. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein while a plurality of stations is provided and each of the stations is connected to the server independently of one another via each signal line, one of the plurality of stations is connected to another station via a signal line, and
    when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transfers data to be transmitted to the server to the another station to temporarily stack.
  5. 5. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when a failure occurs in the communication connection established between the server and one of the stations, the one of the stations transmits data to the server through the respective one of the sub-stations connected via the signal line as an alternative path.
  6. 6. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in one of the communication connections established between the server and the one of the stations, the one of the stations transfers data to be transmitted to the server to the respective one of the sub-stations connected via the signal line to temporarily stack.
  7. 7. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when a failure occurs in the signal line between the server and one of the sub-stations, the one of the sub-stations transmits data to the server through the respective one of the stations connected via the signal line as an alternative path.
  8. 8. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the server is connected to a plurality of sub-stations via respective signal lines, each of the stations is connected to respective one of the sub-stations via a signal line, and when an excessive load occurs in the server during data communication in the signal line between the server and the one of the sub-stations, the one of the sub-stations transfers data to be transmitted to the server to the respective one of the stations connected via the signal line to temporarily stack.
  9. 9. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the server and each of the stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  10. 10. The game apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  11. 11. The game apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  12. 12. The game apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  13. 13. The game apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  14. 14. The game apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the server and each of the sub-stations are connected with a plurality of signal lines for redundancy.
  15. 15. The game apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  16. 16. The game apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  17. 17. The game apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  18. 18. The game apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  19. 19. The game apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
  20. 20. The game apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the server provides each of the sub-stations with a sub-game for betting a game value on a game result of the player playing in any one of the stations.
US11877961 2006-11-07 2007-10-24 Game apparatus Abandoned US20080146347A1 (en)

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