US20080153566A1 - Configurable user interface for a gaming apparatus - Google Patents

Configurable user interface for a gaming apparatus Download PDF

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US20080153566A1
US20080153566A1 US12042201 US4220108A US2008153566A1 US 20080153566 A1 US20080153566 A1 US 20080153566A1 US 12042201 US12042201 US 12042201 US 4220108 A US4220108 A US 4220108A US 2008153566 A1 US2008153566 A1 US 2008153566A1
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buttons
gaming machine
game
display
set
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US12042201
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Marijan Jon Kovacic
Martin Kenneth Leach
Lloyd Gilbert Sefton
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Marijan Jon Kovacic
Martin Kenneth Leach
Lloyd Gilbert Sefton
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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

Abstract

A gaming machine is disclosed. The gaming machine includes a controller that controls play of a game and selectively operates in a first mode and a second mode of operation. In the first mode of operation a user interface includes a combination of a touch screen on the display and physical buttons on the gaming apparatus. In the second mode of operation the user interface includes only physical buttons. The user interface is configurable to display buttons on the touch screen in different configurations.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to and benefit as a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/749,003, filed on May 15, 2007, entitled “Configurable User Interface for a Gaming Apparatus,” which claims priority to Australian Application No. 2006902600, filed on May 16, 2006, each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates to a gaming machines and apparatus and to methods of operating a gaming machine. In particular, the present invention relates to a user interface for a gaming machine and to methods of providing a user interface on a gaming machine.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • With the increase of gambling at gaming venues has come increased competition between gaming venues to obtain a larger share of the total gambling spend. Gaming venue operators have therefore continuously looked for new variations and types of games in order to attract both new and return customers to their venues.
  • In response to this need, suppliers of gaming devices and systems have attempted to provide the sought after variety. There has been a trend in recent years to provide increasing variations in the types of games offered on gaming machines and to provide games with more complex game play or options. Variation in the way that the games operate and are controlled requires the provision of different user interfaces for different games.
  • In addition, the variation in the user interface between games is a problem when multiple games are offered on a single gaming machine. This problem becomes even more apparent if the gaming apparatus is connected to a network and games can be downloaded from a game server, or played remotely, because potentially thousands of games could be available to be played at the gaming apparatus.
  • One solution to the problem of different games requiring a different user interface is to implement the user interface as a touch screen. When a touch screen is used, different games can display different indicia to represent the touch pads.
  • One problem with touch screens is that they are often not as comfortable or as easy to use as traditional push buttons. Another problem is that touch screens to date are generally not as reliable as physical push buttons and a player may experience frustration if a touch screen does not register all touches of the screen. In addition, there may be more probability of a player inadvertently touching an incorrect button when using a touch screen in comparison to when physical buttons are used, which for some games may lead to the player wagering an amount that they did not wish to risk. This may lead to the player experiencing frustration and bad will towards the gaming machine operator. A still further problem with touch screens is that they are relatively expensive to replace upon failure.
  • When a touch screen is used, there remains a need to provide the touch screen more effectively, at least from the player's perspective.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine including a user interface and a game controller that provides a game on the gaming machine, the game controller selectively operating in a first mode and a second mode of operation, wherein
  • when the game controller operates in the first mode of operation, the user interface includes a first set of buttons each implemented on a touch screen on a display and a second set of buttons each implemented as physical buttons, and
  • when the game controller operates in the second mode of operation, the user interface is implemented only as physical buttons.
  • In the first mode of operation the display may be configurable into a plurality of different configurations in which the buttons in the first set buttons are located in different configurations on the display.
  • In one configuration, the first set of buttons may be located near the left side of the display and in another said configuration the first set of buttons are located near the right side of the display. There may be at least two buttons in the first set of buttons and in one configuration, two of the buttons in the first set of buttons may be located near different sides of the display and in another configuration those two buttons may be located near the same side of the display. In one configuration, the first set of buttons may be located near a bottom edge of the display.
  • In the first mode of operation, the touch screen may implement game bet selectors and the physical buttons implement a game play activator. The game bet selectors may include a first group of selectors that are operable to select the number of outcomes on which to place a wager. A second group of selectors may be operable to select the magnitude of the wager on the selected number of outcomes. The first group of selectors and the second group of selectors may remain displayed together in each said configuration, and the first and second groups of selectors may be displayed in different locations with respect to each other in different said configurations.
  • The gaming machine may display on the display an icon that when pressed by a player causes the display to change configuration. Alternatively, the gaming machine may display on the display a menu from which the player can cause the display to change configuration. Alternatively, the touch screen may be operable by a player to drag the first set of buttons into said different configurations.
  • The gaming machine may be adapted so that a player can locate the first set of buttons at substantially any desired location within a constrained area on the display, the constrained area consisting of less than the entire area of the display. The constrained area may be an area outside of a game screen that displays symbols representing the outcome of the game. The constrained area may be an area outside of indicia that represents a credit balance on the gaming machine, a win amount resulting from a play of the game and/or a bet amount that indicates the bet made in a play of the game. The constrained area may be outside of indicia that represents a denomination of the gaming machine.
  • The game controller may instead or in addition move indicia that defines to one or more of a value of a credit meter of the gaming machine, a value of a win meter of the gaming machine, a value of an amount bet on the game and the denomination of the gaming machine in response to configuration of the buttons in the first set of buttons in a way that would otherwise obscure that indicia, or cause that indicia to obscure one or more buttons in the first set of buttons.
  • In one embodiment, the touch screen does not implement a game play activator.
  • According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine including a user interface and a game controller adapted to provide a game, wherein the user interface includes a combination of a first set of buttons comprising at least one button implemented on a touch screen on a display of the gaming console and a second set of buttons comprising at least one button implemented as a physical button on the gaming console, wherein the user interface is configurable into a plurality of different configurations in which the buttons in the first set buttons are located in different configurations on the display.
  • At least a portion of the first set of buttons may be displayed on the displays translucently or transparently.
  • The display may display a game screen in which the outcomes of the game are displayed and the first set of buttons is displayed around the game screen and wherein the game screen is displayed in the same location regardless of in which of the plurality of different configurations the display is in.
  • The first set of buttons may include a plurality of buttons and include all necessary buttons to enable a player to select a bet to place in the game.
  • The gaming machine may be adapted so that a player is able to locate the first set of buttons at substantially any desired location within a constrained area on the display, the constrained area consisting of less than the entire area of the display. The constrained area may be as described in the preceding paragraphs in relation to the first aspect of the invention.
  • Alternatively, or in addition, the game controller may move indicia that defines to one or more of a value of a credit meter of the gaming machine, a value of a win meter of the gaming machine, a value of an amount bet on the game and the denomination of the gaming machine in response to configuration of the buttons in the first set of buttons in a way that would otherwise obscure that indicia or cause that indicia to obscure one or more buttons in the first set of buttons.
  • In one embodiment, the first set of buttons does not include a game play activator.
  • Further aspects of the present invention and further embodiments of the aspects described in the preceding paragraphs will become apparent from the following description, given by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1: shows diagrammatically, a view of a gaming machine suitable for implementing embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B: show enlarged plan views of a sixteen button bank of buttons and a seven button bank of buttons respectively.
  • FIG. 3: shows a block diagram of gaming apparatus suitable for implementing embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4: shows a block diagram of components of the memory of the gaming apparatus represented in FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 5: shows diagrammatically, a network gaming system suitable for implementing embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 6 to 8: show exemplary screen shots displayed by a game in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9: shows a high level flow diagram of an exemplary game loading and play process according to certain embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 10: shows an example of a seven button bank of buttons including a game play activator button in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 11: shows an example screen display for a touch screen in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 12: shows another example screen display for a touch screen in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 13: shows another example screen display for a touch screen in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Throughout the following description and in the accompanying drawings, unless stated otherwise, like reference numerals refer to like components.
  • In FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings, one example of a gaming machine suitable for implementing certain embodiments of the present invention is generally referenced by arrow 10.
  • The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which is displayed representations of a game 16, that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to play the game 16. The bank of buttons 22 of the gaming machine 10 has fourteen buttons, which is common to gaming machines at present.
  • The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism 24 including a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example, pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on the front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the console 12 for cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.
  • The display 14 shown in FIG. 1 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. As explained in more detail herein, the display 14 may not include a touch screen, because the gaming machine 10 has a full set of buttons in its bank of buttons 22. However, the display 14 may be a touch screen. The top box 26 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or a different type of display.
  • FIG. 2A shows an expanded plan view of a bank of buttons 22A for an exemplary game playable on a gaming machine similar to the gaming machine 10 shown in FIG. 1, but with a sixteen button bank of buttons instead of a fourteen button bank of buttons. The bank of buttons 22A is suited for a gaming machine that provides a game having the following characteristics:
  • a) A twenty-five line spinning reel type game, with the number of lines played selected by pressing one of the buttons 79 to 83;
  • b) A maximum bet of five credits per game, with the bet per line selected by pressing one of the buttons 71 to 75;
  • c) A feature game, the commencement of the feature game controlled by the player by pressing button 84;
  • d) A reserve function, which is initiated by pressing button 70;
  • e) An option to perform a red/black gamble following a win, the option taken by pressing button 76;
  • f) Game play is initiated by placing a line bet.
  • In addition, the bank of buttons 22A includes a collect (button 78) and take win (button 77) buttons as well as an information button 85. Therefore, the bank of buttons 22A operates in a typical and known manner for a game having the characteristics described previously herein. Further selectors may be provided using a touch screen if one is provided and if additional selectors are implemented by the game being played by the gaming console.
  • FIG. 2B shows a bank of buttons 22B for an exemplary game playable on a gaming machine similar to the gaming machine 10 shown in FIG. 1, but with the bank of buttons 22 replaced with the bank of buttons 22B. The bank of buttons 22B has seven buttons and is suited for a gaming machine that having the following characteristics:
  • a) A multi-game machine, providing a choice of games, the player accessing a menu of available games by pressing button 93;
  • b) At least one of the games having a feature game, the commencement of the feature game controlled by the player by pressing button 96;
  • d) A reserve function, which is initiated by pressing button 91;
  • e) An option to perform a red/black gamble following a win, the option taken by pressing button 94;
  • f) Game play is initiated by placing a line bet.
  • As explained in more detail herein, if a gaming machine with the bank of buttons 22B is to play a game that is a 25 line spinning reel game with a maximum bet of five credits per line, then the game bet selection buttons would be implemented as a touch screen. For example buttons equivalent to buttons 71 to 75 and 79 to 83 of FIG. 2A would be provided on screen.
  • Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that the buttons provided and the functions performed by each button may vary, for example due to convention, regulations or other reasons in different jurisdictions, depending on the particular game being played or according to different manufacturer preferences or choices.
  • FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of a gaming machine, generally referenced by arrow 100, suitable for implementing embodiments of the present invention. The gaming machine 100 may, for example, operate as a standalone gaming machine of the type shown in FIG. 1. However, the gaming machine 100 may alternatively operate as a networked gaming machine, communicating with other network devices, such as one or more servers or other gaming machines. The gaming machine 100 may also have distributed hardware and software components that communicate with each other directly or through a network. Accordingly, different reference numerals have been used in FIG. 3 from FIGS. 1 and 2 for components that may be equivalent.
  • The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101, which in the illustrated example includes a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the computational device 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with or forms a part of the computational device 102. Typically, the gaming apparatus 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103. The instructions to cause the game controller 101 to implement embodiments of the present invention will be stored in the memory 103.
  • The game controller 101 may also include a random number generator 113, which generates a series of random numbers that determine the outcome of a series of random game events played as part of a game on the gaming machine 100.
  • The gaming machine 100 may include hardware meters 104 for the purposes of regulatory compliance and also include an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with the peripheral devices of the gaming apparatus 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for instructions and data.
  • In the example shown in FIG. 3, the peripheral devices that communicate with the controller are one or more displays 106, user interfaces 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. The display or displays 106 may include a touch screen 106A to provide part of the user interface 107. Additional devices may be included as part of the gaming apparatus 100, or devices omitted as required for the specific implementation.
  • In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card, may for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or database. As explained in more detail in relation to FIG. 5, the computational device 102 may include two or more controllers or processors, which may be local or remote from each other and the displays 106.
  • FIG. 4 shows an exemplary block diagram of the main components of the memory 103. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the computational controller 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the computational controller 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.
  • FIG. 5 shows a gaming system 200, which is an environment in which embodiments of the present invention may be implemented. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming devices 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming devices 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming devices 202 may be gaming machines 10, as shown in FIG. 1, or form part or all of another gaming apparatus 100. Single gaming devices 202 and banks 203 containing three or more gaming devices 202 may also be connected to the network 201.
  • One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. The displays 204 may, for example, be associated with a bank 203 of gaming devices 202. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming devices 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.
  • Servers may also be connected to the network 201. For example, a game server 205 may generate game outcomes for games played on the gaming devices 202, a database management server 206 may manage the storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A, and a jackpot server 207 may control one or more jackpots associated with the gaming devices 202.
  • Further servers may be provided to assist in the administration of the gaming system 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.
  • The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network and/or a wide area network such as the Internet through a firewall 211.
  • Exemplary screen shots S1 to S3 that are caused to be displayed by game programs in accordance with embodiments of the present invention are shown in FIGS. 6 to 8. The game programs may be stored in firmware, for example in the EPROM 103B on a gaming device 202, stored in mass storage device 103C, either on a gaming device 202, or remotely from the gaming device 202, for example in the database 206A. The game may be executed, for example, by the computational device 102, the game server 205, or by a combination thereof.
  • FIG. 6 shows a screen display S1 of a game 16 in a first mode of operation. The first mode of operation may be used, for example, when the game is to be executed by a gaming machine having a seven button bank of buttons 22B (see FIG. 2B). The bank of buttons 22B has an insufficient number of buttons to implement the game and the gaming machine has a display 14 with a touch screen 106A. Therefore, the game bet selection buttons are implemented using the touch screen 106A. The player of the game can therefore select the bet per line and the number of lines to play by selecting one of the five touch pads 25 and 26 respectively. Once the number of lines and bet per line has been selected the game either starts automatically, or the player then activates the game by selecting a “SPIN” button (see FIG. 10) in the bank of buttons. This will cause the reels 27A-27E to be represented on the display 14 as spinning reels, stopping in a position randomly determined by the computational controller 101, thereby revealing a random selection of symbols.
  • Screen display S1 shows an embodiment of the present invention, in which the user interface provides to the player distinct buttons for each bet option. This is in contrast to providing for example, two buttons; one for increasing a wager amount and the other for decreasing a wager amount. The applicant believes that the provision of distinct buttons may give the player an optimal feeling of easy and fast control over game play.
  • FIG. 7 shows a screen display of the game 16 in a second mode of operation. The game is played in the same manner as described herein above in relation to FIG. 6 except that the game selection buttons are not implemented on the touch screen. The game selection buttons are instead implemented elsewhere. Suitably, the game selection buttons may be implemented as part of the bank of buttons 22.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the gaming apparatus may have the bank of buttons 22B and a touch screen that is separate from the display 14. In this case, the operation of the game 16 is as described for the second mode of operation, the only difference being that the button depress signal for the game selection buttons comes from a touch screen instead of a physical button. Generally speaking, the game 16 operates in the second mode of operation when the user interface of the gaming apparatus has a touch screen and has insufficient physical buttons to adequately implement the game.
  • FIG. 8 shows a screen shot of another game 16A. This game operates by a player selecting combinations of reels instead of pay lines. The player can choose anywhere between one and all five reels using the touch pads 25A and can adjust the magnitude of the wager using the touch pads 26A. A winning combination can be formed by symbols appearing in any of the three displayed position on each reel. Therefore, if reel one is selected, then three combinations of symbols are formed, which are evaluated for a winning combination. If reels one and two are selected, nine combinations are formed, if reels one to three selected 27 combinations are formed, if reels one to four selected, 81 combinations are formed and if all five reels are selected, 243 combinations are selected. More details on this method of playing a game are provided in Australian patent number 684233.
  • The screen displays S1 to S3 all show a clock 31 and a denomination 32 of the game in addition to the game screen. Also, the game selection buttons, or at least the area surrounding the game selection buttons, are displayed so as to appear semi-transparent. This may be achieved by assigning an alpha value to the images. In this way, game selection buttons are automatically matched to a background scene B that may be provided behind the game screen G, due to the background scene being partially viewable through the game selection buttons. This may allow the software code for the game selection buttons to be readily used with multiple different game programs. The software that causes the display of the icons for the touch screen and the ability to turn this display on and off, may be contained in a self-contained piece of code. This may facilitate use of the same or similar code across multiple games.
  • The game screens G of different games preferably occupy the same area and location on the screen display and leave room for the game selection buttons to be displayed. This may avoid having to change the program code to resize the game screen G when a touch screen is required and allows game screens to be standardised.
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention will also have application to games where symbols are randomly selected and evaluated for a winning combination that are not spinning reel games. For example, certain embodiments of the present invention will also have application to card games, poker-style or otherwise, dice games, pin and ball style games and others.
  • FIG. 9 shows a flow chart of the steps performed to install and play game software of the present invention. In step 50, the game software, which if intended for a gaming machine is currently typically implemented in firmware, is fitted to the machine. The game software may include a plurality of games if the gaming machine is to be multi-game machine. Alternatively, where the gaming device is a networked gaming machine, console or other device, step 50 may include downloading the game to the gaming device or uploading a game from a database to a game server. FIG. 9 assumes that the game is implemented in firmware.
  • In step 51, the operator of the gaming device opens a set-up menu and in step 52 the operator determines whether the gaming device is one with seven physical buttons (or other number of buttons insufficient for play of a game required to be provided on the gaming device) and a touch screen, or sixteen physical buttons. This step may be performed automatically if the gaming device stores data, or has a jumper or other hardware, that indicates its configuration. If the game is downloaded to the gaming machine, or executed remotely, the configuration of the game may be performed remotely. The gaming machine may, in response to an interrogation, send information regarding its user interface to a download server so that the appropriate configuration may be made.
  • If the gaming device has seven buttons, the operator selects this option in the set up menu (step 53) and then completes the other necessary set-up (step 54) and exits the set-up menu. The gaming device then displays in the appropriate place icons for the touch pads, the denomination of the game, and a clock (step 55). The display of the clock may be omitted if the relevant gaming regulations permit this.
  • A player plays the game in steps 56 and 57 by first using the game bet selection buttons on-screen to specify the wager that they wish to make, and hitting a physical button in the bank of buttons 22B to commence play. The player can then repeat steps 56 and 57 for each play of the game, or simply repeat step 57 if they do not wish to change their wager.
  • If the gaming device has sixteen buttons, the operator selects the 16 button option in the set up menu (step 58) and then completes the other set-up action in step 59 and exits the set-up menu. The denomination of the game and a clock is displayed (step 60) in the same manner as for the seven button option, but icons for the touch screen are not displayed.
  • A player plays the game by using game bet selection buttons in the bank of buttons 22 (step 61), after which game play may commence automatically (step 62). The player can then repeat step 61 for each play of the game. If the gaming machine has a separate “spin” button, then pressing this button commences game play.
  • FIG. 10 shows a plan view of an example of a bank of buttons 22C that may be provided on a gaming machine 100 that provides games in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The bank of buttons 22C include buttons 1-6, which perform the same function as buttons 90-95 shown in FIG. 2B. Button 7 also operates to start a feature game, but in addition is a game play activator button (PLAY). When games are provided by the gaming machine with the bank of buttons 22C, which require game bet selectors, these are displayed on a display including a touch screen (see for example FIGS. 6 and 8). The player can then select the number of lines, number of reels or other indicator of the number of bets to place and/or select the amount staked per bet using the touch screen. Following this the player selects the PLAY button to initiate a game play with the selected bet and may continue playing games with the same wager option by repeatedly pressing the PLAY button. When the player wishes to change his or her bet selection, he or she presses one of the game bet selectors displayed on the display.
  • In one embodiment the PLAY button, being the game play actuator, may be an enlarged button in comparison to any other buttons in the bank of buttons 22C. As this button is usually the most often selected button, it may also be constructed so as to be the most durable button.
  • In one embodiment, the touch pads 25, 25A, 26, 26A may be provided in a fixed location on the display, for example along the bottom of the screen as shown in FIGS. 6 and 8. In another embodiment, the touch pads may be movable about the display at the option of the player and/or the provider of the gaming machine 100 on which the touch pads are displayed.
  • FIG. 11 shows another example of a game in which icons are displayed on a display to touch pads forming part of a touch screen 106A. In FIG. 11, touch pads 25B allow a player to select between one and all five reels to play and the touch pads 26B allow a player to adjust the magnitude of his or her wager. In addition, a further touch pad ‘Game Rules’ allows the player to operate the touch screen 106A to access the rules of the game provided by the gaming machine 100.
  • FIG. 12 shows an example of the same game, but with the touch pads 25B and 26B configured to be provided on the left of the reels. The game operates in the same manner, but may for example be more suited to left handed players whereas the configuration shown in FIG. 11 may be more suited to right handed players.
  • FIG. 13 shows an example of the same game as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, but with the touch pad 25B provided on the right side of the reels of the game and the touch pads 26B provided on the left side of the reels of the game. In another example the touch pads 25B and 26B may be provided on opposite sides to that shown in FIG. 13.
  • Referring to FIGS. 11 to 13, a player may be provided control over the configuration of the touch pads 25B, 26B by pressing an arrow icon 33, 33A, 33B. For example pressing the arrow icon 33 when the touch pads 25B, 26B are in their configuration shown in FIG. 11, may move the touch pads 25B, 26B to their configuration shown in FIG. 12. Pressing the arrow icon 33 when the touch pads 25B, 26B are in their configuration shown in FIG. 12 may move the touch pads 25B, 26B to their configuration shown in FIG. 13. Pressing the arrow icon 33A shown in FIG. 13 may result in the configuration shown in FIG. 11 and pressing the arrow icon 33B may result in the configuration shown in FIG. 12.
  • In some embodiments the touch pads 25B, 26B may cycle around a plurality of different configurations each time one of the arrow icons 33, 33A, 33B or similar is selected. The arrow icon may move with the touch pads 25B, 26B, or may be independent of the touch pads 25B, 26B, for example staying in the same position. While not shown in the accompanying figures, the touch pads 25B, 26B may be able to be configured at the bottom of the screen display in a similar manner to the touch pads 25A, 25B shown in FIG. 8. Generally, the touch pads 25B, 26B may be located near any edge of the display.
  • In another embodiment, the individual buttons in the touch pads 25B, 26B may be treated individually or in sub-groups and able to be configured in different configurations.
  • The player may move the touch pads 25B, 26B around the screen display using alternative methods. One alternative is to allow the player to drag the touch pads 25B, 26B about the screen display. This may be achieved by providing a certain location where the player is to place his or her finger and detecting the dragging of the finger across the screen. The touch pads 25B, 26B may move with this dragging motion. Alternatively, the player may select an icon that causes a menu to be displayed that allows the various configurations of the touch pads 25B, 26B to be selected. For example, the menu may display example screen displays or abstract versions of screen displays showing the configurations.
  • As is apparent from FIGS. 11 to 13, in one embodiment the game screen (the reels shown in these Figures) may move into one of three positions depending on the configuration of the touch pads 25B, 26B. Alternatively the game screen may be positioned and sized so that it does not move; there being sufficient space around all sides of the game screen to accommodate the touch pads 25B, 26B in all the available configurations.
  • As with the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 8, the touch pads 25B, 26B may be translucent or transparent to allow the background to the game screen to be at least partially visible there-through.
  • The touch pads 25B, 26B interface may be implemented as a floating interface, which allows the position and/or configuration of the interface to be changed by a user or as a toolbar. The concept of floating interfaces is known in other fields of technology (such as personal computer graphical user interfaces) and may be implemented in the present field of invention using similar programming techniques.
  • The floating interface may, however, be constrained in its movements. For example, the player may be able to operate the touch screen 106A to position the touch pads 25B, 26B anywhere on the screen outside of the area of the game screen that displays the symbols that represent the outcome of the game. In other words, the touch pads 25B, 26B may be constrained to be locatable only over a portion of the display that is displaying a background to the game screen.
  • Further constraints may apply, for example the touch pads 25B, 26B may not be able to be located so as to cover a display of the value of the credit meter, the amount bet or the win meter. In other embodiments the credit meter, amount bet and/or win meter may also move to different positions on the display so as to always be visible even when the touch pads 25B, 26B are located where these values are normally or currently displayed. The gaming machine 100 may also ensure that the game denomination is always visible to the player. If a button to enter an information screen, for example a screen containing the game rules is provided as a touch pad, then this button may also always be displayed to be visible to the player regardless of the location of the touch pads 25B, 26B.
  • Alternatively, the gaming machine 100 may move indicia representing the credit meter or other information deemed vital or important to the play of the game if the touch pads 25B, 26B are configured in a way that would otherwise obscure that indicia or cause that indicia to obscure one or more buttons in the first set of buttons. As previously described, the game screen itself may move to some degree depending on the configuration. In another embodiment, some indicia, like the credit meter, bet amount and win meter may have a fixed location with the touch pads 25B, 26B constrained not to be located there over, and other indicia may, like a menu access icon may move.
  • As described previously herein, in order to assist a drag and drop operation the game controller 101 may be configured with one or more standard interface configurations and locations. Such standard configurations and locations may include, for example, a horizontally configured interface appearing along the bottom of the screen, a horizontally configured interface appearing along the top of the screen, a vertically configured interface appearing along the left hand side of the screen, a vertically configured interface appearing on the right hand side of the screen. In this context a horizontally configured interface refers to a configuration where the buttons of the interface are arranged side by side in one or more horizontal rows and a vertically configured interface refers to a configuration where the buttons of the interface are arranged side by side in one or more vertical columns. If the method of movement is a dragging action, and if a user drags the interface within a certain proximity of one of the standard locations the game controller may be configured to interpret this as an indication that the user wishes to locate the interface in that location and automatically configures and arranges the interface accordingly.
  • The game controller may also be configured to arrange the interface in a default configuration for situations where the user drops the interface in a non-standard location, for example somewhere not immediately adjacent an edge of the display. The default configuration may, for example, be the arrangement of the interface buttons into a relatively compact square or rectangle. This compact arrangement may be displayed in a location inside any constraints (see herein above) that may be provided.
  • While the above has been discussed in relation to moving the user interface as a whole, the game controller could also be configured to enable the user to move and arrange the various buttons of the interface independently of each other. For example, the game controller may allow single buttons or groups of buttons to be selected by the user and moved to a location away from the other buttons. This would allow the user, if desired, to separate the buttons of the interface and, for example, have certain buttons at the top of the screen and certain buttons at the bottom of the screen (and/or on the left of the screen, the right of the screen, a location away from the edges of the screen, or any combination of the various locations available).
  • While the foregoing description has been provided by way of example of certain embodiments of the present invention as presently contemplated, which utilise gaming apparatus and machines, those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that the present invention also may have application to internet gaming, particularly where the gaming is performed using kiosks having various button configurations and/or have application to gaming over a telecommunications network, where handsets are used to display game outcomes and receive player inputs. In particular, for handsets with a touch screen, the user interface may be implemented in part by a touch screen and for those without a touch screen the user interface may be implemented using buttons provided on the handset.
  • Where in the foregoing description reference has been made to integers having known equivalents, then those equivalents are hereby incorporated herein as if individually set forth.
  • Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that modifications and additions to the embodiments of the present invention may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.
  • It will be understood that the invention disclosed and defined in this specification extends to all alternative useful combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the invention.

Claims (24)

  1. 1. A gaming machine including a user interface and a game controller that provides a game on the gaming machine, the game controller selectively operating in a first mode and a second mode of operation, wherein
    when the game controller operates in the first mode of operation, the user interface includes a first set of buttons each implemented on a touch screen on a display and a second set of buttons each implemented as physical buttons, and
    when the game controller operates in the second mode of operation, the user interface is implemented only as physical buttons.
  2. 2. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein in the first mode of operation the display is configurable into a plurality of different configurations in which the buttons in the first set buttons are located in different configurations on the display.
  3. 3. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein in one said configuration, the first set of buttons are located near the left side of the display and in another said configuration the first set of buttons are located near the right side of the display.
  4. 4. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein there are at least two buttons in the first set of buttons and in one said configuration, two of the buttons in the first set of buttons are located near different sides of the display and in another configuration those two buttons are located near the same side of the display.
  5. 5. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein in one said configuration, the first set of buttons is located near a bottom edge of the display.
  6. 6. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein in the first mode of operation, the touch screen implements game bet selectors and the physical buttons implement a game play activator.
  7. 7. The gaming machine of claim 6, wherein the game bet selectors include a first group of selectors that are operable to select the number of outcomes on which to place a wager and a second group of selectors that are operable to select the magnitude of the wager on the selected number of outcomes.
  8. 8. The gaming machine of claim 7, wherein the first group of selectors and the second group of selectors remain displayed together in each said configuration, and wherein the first and second groups of selectors are displayed in different locations with respect to each other in different said configurations.
  9. 9. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein the gaming machine displays on the display an icon that when pressed by a player causes the display to change configuration.
  10. 10. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein the gaming machine displays on the display a menu from which the player can cause the display to change configuration.
  11. 11. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein the touch screen is operable by a player to drag the first set of buttons into said different configurations.
  12. 12. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein a player is able to locate the first set of buttons at substantially any desired location within a constrained area on the display, the constrained area consisting of less than the entire area of the display.
  13. 13. The gaming machine of claim 12, wherein the constrained area is an area outside of a game screen that displays symbols representing the outcome of the game.
  14. 14. The gaming machine of claim 12, wherein the constrained area is an area outside of indicia that represents a credit balance on the gaming machine, a win amount resulting from a play of the game and/or a bet amount that indicates the bet made in a play of the game.
  15. 15. The gaming machine of claim 12, wherein the constrained area is outside of indicia that represents a denomination of the gaming machine.
  16. 16. The gaming machine of claim 2, wherein the game controller moves indicia that defines to one or more of a value of a credit meter of the gaming machine, a value of a win meter of the gaming machine, a value of an amount bet on the game and the denomination of the gaming machine in response to configuration of the buttons in the first set of buttons in a way that would otherwise obscure that indicia or cause that indicia to obscure one or more buttons in the first set of buttons.
  17. 17. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein the touch screen does not implement a game play activator.
  18. 18. A gaming machine including a user interface and a game controller adapted to provide a game, wherein the user interface includes a combination of a first set of buttons comprising at least one button implemented on a touch screen on a display of the gaming console and a second set of buttons comprising at least one button implemented as a physical button on the gaming console, wherein the user interface is configurable into a plurality of different configurations in which the buttons in the first set of buttons are located in different configurations on the display.
  19. 19. The gaming machine of claim 18, wherein at least a portion of the first set of buttons is displayed on the displays translucently or transparently.
  20. 20. The gaming machine of claim 18, wherein the display displays a game screen in which the outcomes of the game are displayed and the first set of buttons is displayed around the game screen and wherein the game screen is displayed in the same location regardless of in which of the plurality of different configurations the display is in.
  21. 21. The gaming machine of claim 18, wherein the first set of buttons includes a plurality of buttons and includes all necessary buttons to enable a player to select a bet to place in the game.
  22. 22. The gaming machine of claim 21, wherein the first set of buttons does not include a game play activator.
  23. 23. The gaming machine of claim 18, wherein a player is able to locate the first set of buttons at substantially any desired location within a constrained area on the display, the constrained area consisting of less than the entire area of the display.
  24. 24. The gaming machine of an claim 18, wherein the game controller moves indicia that defines to one or more of a value of a credit meter of the gaming machine, a value of a win meter of the gaming machine, a value of an amount bet on the game and the denomination of the gaming machine in response to configuration of the buttons in the first set of buttons in a way that would otherwise obscure that indicia or cause that indicia to obscure one or more buttons in the first set of buttons.
US12042201 2006-05-16 2008-03-04 Configurable user interface for a gaming apparatus Abandoned US20080153566A1 (en)

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US20080058103A1 (en) 2008-03-06 application
EP1860622B1 (en) 2015-09-02 grant
US8414394B2 (en) 2013-04-09 grant
EP1860622A3 (en) 2008-04-09 application
EP1860622A2 (en) 2007-11-28 application

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