US20080161081A1 - Sudoku-type gaming activity - Google Patents

Sudoku-type gaming activity Download PDF

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US20080161081A1
US20080161081A1 US12/002,522 US252207A US2008161081A1 US 20080161081 A1 US20080161081 A1 US 20080161081A1 US 252207 A US252207 A US 252207A US 2008161081 A1 US2008161081 A1 US 2008161081A1
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cells
symbols
plurality
regions
pay
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US12/002,522
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Bradley Berman
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KING SHOW GAMES Inc
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KING SHOW GAMES Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3286Type of games
    • G07F17/3295Games involving skill, e.g. dexterity, memory, thinking
    • 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

Providing a Sudoku-type gaming experience to a player involves presenting a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells. The playing field has one or more pay regions each including a predefined number of cells of the plurality of cells. Within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols is presented, and a monetary award is provided to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells with the same symbol

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/877,759, filed on Dec. 29, 2006, to which priority is claimed pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119(e), and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates in general to games, and more particularly to apparatuses and methods for Sudoku-type wagering games.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Casino games such as poker, slots, and craps have long been enjoyed as a means of entertainment. Almost any game of chance that can be played using traditional apparatus (e.g., cards, dice) can be simulated on a computer. The popularity of casino gambling with wagering continues to increase, as does recreational gambling such as non-wagering computer game gambling. It is also likely that most new games will be implemented, at least in part, using computerized apparatus.
  • One reason that casino games are widely implemented on computerized apparatus is that computerized games are highly adaptable, easily configurable and re-configurable, and require minimal supervision to operate. For example, the graphics and sounds included in such games can be easily modified to reflect popular subjects, such as movies and television shows.
  • Computer gaming devices can also be easily adapted to provide entirely new games of chance that might be difficult to implement using mechanical or discrete electronic circuits. Because of the ubiquity of computerized gaming machines, players have come to expect the availability of an ever wider selection of new games when visiting casinos and other gaming venues. Playing new games adds to the excitement of “gaming.” As is well known in the art and as used herein, the term “gaming” and “gaming devices” generally involves some form of wagering, and that players make wagers of value, whether actual currency or some equivalent of value, e.g., token or credit. Wagering type games usually provide rewards based on random chance as opposed to skill. In some jurisdictions, the absence of skill when determining awards during game play is a requirement.
  • Most wagering games require that rewards be based on chance instead of skill. Nonetheless, games of chance may be able to adapt thematic and game play elements from games of skill and thereby retain some of the features that make the underlying game of skill so popular. The present disclosure describes methods, systems, and apparatus that provide for new and interesting gaming experiences, and that provide other advantages over the prior art.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • To overcome limitations in the prior art described above, and to overcome other limitations that will become apparent upon reading and understanding the present specification, the present invention discloses apparatuses and methods for providing secondary gaming experiences to a player. In one embodiment, a method of providing a gaming experience to a player involves presenting a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells. The playing field has one or more predefined pay regions each including two or more cells of the plurality of cells. Within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols is presented, and a monetary award is provided to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells with the same symbol.
  • In more particular embodiments, the method involves generating a known solution where no two cells within any of the regions have the same symbol. In such a case, presenting the symbols within each of the cells involves presenting within a subset of the cells the symbols corresponding to the known solution, and presenting the symbols within each of the cells may also involve randomly assigning the symbols to cells of the plurality of cells that are not contained in the subset.
  • In more particular embodiments, the playing field includes a rectangular grid, and the plurality of cells include squares within the rectangular grid. In such a case, the playing field may include a nine-by-nine grid of squares. In this arrangement, the predefined pay regions may include any combination of lines formed by the squares and square regions formed by the squares. In another particular embodiment, one of the plurality of symbols is a wild symbol that results in the monetary award being provided to the player regardless of whether the at least one of the pay regions has two or more of the wild symbols.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, a casino gaming apparatus includes a processor and a human input and output coupled to the processor. A gaming program has instructions that that cause the processor to present, via the human input and output, a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells. The playing field has one or more predefined pay regions, each region including two or more cells of the plurality of cells. The instructions further cause the processor, for each of the cells, select a symbol from a plurality of symbols and present the selected symbol within the cell via the human input and output. The instructions further cause the processor to provide, via the human input and output, a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells with the same symbol.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The invention is described in connection with the embodiments illustrated in the following diagrams.
  • FIG. 1. is a block diagram of a gaming machine according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a sequence diagram illustrating Sudoku-type game play according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3A-F are block diagrams illustrating standard and alternate Sudoku-type payoff regions according to embodiments of the invention;
  • FIGS. 4A-B are block diagrams illustrating alternate Sudoku-type grids and associated solutions according to embodiments of the invention;
  • FIGS. 5A-C are block diagrams illustrating alternate Sudoku-type grids and associated solutions according to embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram of user interface of a reel-spinning Sudoku-type game according to another embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating a manner of providing Sudoku-type gaming according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 is a flow diagram illustrating an alternate manner of providing Sudoku-type gaming according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9 is a block diagram of a processor-implemented gaming machine according to an embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 10 is a block diagram illustrating software component interactions according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • In the following description of various exemplary embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration various embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized, as structural and operational changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.
  • Generally, the present invention relates to a wagering game that is based on aspects of Sudoku-type games of skill. Sudoku™ is a somewhat recently coined name for a type of logic game that involves the correct placement of numbers or other symbols on cells of a grid. A Sudoku puzzle us usually presented as a 9×9 grid partially filled with numbers. These numbers are referred to as the “givens.” The object of the puzzle is to fill the remaining cells of the grid with numbers so that every column, every row and every 3×3 box contains the digits 1 to 9, with no repeated digits in any of the regions. The givens are selected so that there is only one solution to the puzzle. The completed puzzle is a type of “Latin square,” which is a square grid of numbers where no row or column has two or more cells with the same symbol. A completed Sudoku puzzle contains an additional constraint on the contents of individual regions, in particular the 3×3 sub-grids that form the edges of the grid and the 3×3 sub-grid at the center of the grid.
  • Although the most popular versions of Sudoku use a 9×9 grid, other variants exist. Such variants include those that use square grids with less than or greater than nine divisions per side. For example, one variant uses a 4×4 grid whose solution requires unique symbols in all of the rows, columns, and 2×2 corner sub-grids. Other variants may use non-square grids, such as oblong, rectangular grids. A common theme in these puzzle variations is that the playing field is composed of a number of pre-defined regions. When the puzzle is solved, each of these predefined regions is filled with non-repeating characters or symbols.
  • In some embodiments of the present invention, the player need not attempt to form a complete puzzle solution, nor play the game by selecting and placing numbers in a playing field. Some aspects of wagering game play typically involves chance, therefore some parts of the puzzle grid according to embodiments of the invention may be filled in using random number generation. For example, a Sudoku-type grid could be partially filled with givens that correspond to a known solution. The remaining entries in the grid are randomly filled in during game play. The player may receive a payout for any regions (e.g., rows, columns, squares, etc.) that have non-repeating symbols. In some variations, the player may be able to provide input to increase their odds of winning and/or the value of their awards. For example, the player may able to pre-select some regions before or after the givens are displayed, and the player may win additional rewards, bonus rounds, or other benefits if the selected regions have a winning combination.
  • In reference now to FIG. 1, a gaming machine 100 is illustrated that provides Sudoku-type gaming experiences according to an embodiment of the invention. The illustrated gaming machine 100 may include a computing system (not shown) to carry out operations according described herein. The gaming machine 100 includes a display 102, and a user interface 104, although some or all of the user interface 104 may be provided via the display 102 in touch screen embodiments. The user interface 104 allows the user to control and engage in play of the gaming machine 100. The particular user interface mechanisms included with user interface 104 may be dependent on the type of gaming machine. For example, the user interface 104 may include one or more buttons, switches, joysticks, levers, pull-down handles, trackballs, voice-activated input, or any other user input system or mechanism that allows the user to play the particular gaming activity.
  • The user interface 104 may allow the user to enter coins, bills, or otherwise obtain credits through vouchers, tokens, credit cards, tickets, etc. Various mechanisms for entering such vouchers, tokens, credit cards, coins, tickets, etc. are known in the art. For example, coin/symbol input mechanisms, card readers, credit card readers, smart card readers, punch card readers, radio frequency identifier (RFID) readers, and other mechanisms may be used to enter wagers. It is through the user interface 104 that the user can initiate and engage in a gaming activity in accordance with the invention. While the illustrated embodiment depicts various buttons for the user interface 104, it should be recognized that a wide variety of user interface options are available for use in connection with the present invention, including pressing buttons, touching a segment of a touchscreen, entering text, entering voice commands, or other known data entry methodology.
  • The display device 102 may include one or more of an electronic display, a mechanical display, and fixed display information such as information such as paytable information associated with a glass/plastic panel on the gaming machine 100. The cards or other indicia associated with the play of the game may be presented on an electronic display device. Generally, the display 102 devotes the largest portion of viewable area to the primary gaming portion 106. The gaming portion 106 is generally where the visual feedback for any selected game is provided to the user. The gaming portion 106 may render graphical objects such as cards, slot wheels, dice, animated characters, and any other gaming visual known in the art. The gaming portion 106 also typically informs players of the outcome of any particular event, including whether the event resulted in a win or loss.
  • In the particular embodiments illustrated, the gaming portion 106 displays a playing field 108. The playing field 108 in this embodiment is a standard 9×9 Sudoku grid filled with numerals 1-9, although the grid could be increased or decreased to any mathematically viable size. In the illustrated field, the plain text grid element (e.g., element 110) represents givens that correspond to a known Sudoku solution. The solution need not be unique, although for programming ease it may be preferable to make ensure the solution is unique. Various techniques are known in the art for ensuring a unique solution for a predetermined number of givens, such as constraining the diagonals of the playing field 108 to also include no duplicate digits.
  • As part of game play, the field 108 may first show the given entries while leaving the other entries blank or indicating some sort of activity (e.g., simulating a spinning reel). These other entries will hereinafter be referred to as random entries, although it will be appreciated that not all of these later entries need be randomly generated. For example, the player may pay to have some additional givens be overlaid over a losing round to possibly produce a winning round. Although the location of such later givens may be randomly selected, the values are predetermined, assuming the solution to the grid is unique.
  • At some time after the first givens are shown, the remaining random entries are displayed in such a way so that it is apparent whether the player has won or lost. In the illustrated example, the random entries that correspond to the solution are indicated in bold face (e.g., entry 112) and those random entries that do not correspond to the solution are indicated in bold face and crossed out (e.g., entry 114). Other visual indications of a random entry's correctness may be used, including foreground and background color, line thickness, shadowing, transparency, icons, font effects (e.g., italicization, strikethough, underline, etc.) and any other means known in the art.
  • The primary gaming portion 106 may also include other indicia of game play, as represented by bet and payout portion 116. The primary game 106 is amenable to any manner of payout scheme known in the art, including fixed and/or progressive pay tables. In the illustrated gaming field 108, there are no rows, columns, or 3×3 sub-grids that are free of incorrect random entries, so the payout would be zero. However, the game designer must also take into account that erroneous entries for the full Sudoku solution may not be erroneous for a particular row, column, or sub-grid. For example, region 118 includes two entries that are erroneous when compared to the full grid solution, but the region itself contains no duplicate entries.
  • A more detailed example of the use of given and random entries is shown in the sequence diagram of FIG. 2. This sequence diagram illustrates various game play screens that might be seen in a gaming apparatus according to embodiments of the invention. Screen 202 represents a startup screen, which may be an attract mode animation, results of previous play, predefined grid, etc. When the player initiates game play, such as by pressing a button or lever, all of the grid squares spin or otherwise indicate activity, as shown in screen 204. After the passage of some time (usually a few seconds) the location of the given squares is randomly selected and these squares stop spinning as shown in screen 206. The non-given squares in screen 206 continue to spin for some amount of time, after which the values of the remaining squares are randomly selected and displayed as shown in screen 208.
  • The random squares in screen 208 are displayed differently depending on whether their values conform to the predetermined solution of the Sudoku grid, as discussed in greater detail with reference to FIG. 1. A determination is made that regions within the screen 208 include the requisite number of givens and random entries that match the solution, and those regions can be highlighted as shown in screen 210. In screen 210, two regions 212, 214 include no crossed out squares, and therefore the numerals within these regions satisfy the predetermined solution. As with the grid 108 in FIG. 1, other regions may also satisfy a Sudoku solution for that particular region, even if all of the squares within the region do not match the predetermined solution. For example, all of 3×3 sub-grids in screen 210 contain one each of digits 1-9 with no repeats. Therefore, the player might be informed of why these sub grids are not winners, or these regions would also provide a payout, possibly using a different pay table.
  • It will be appreciated that the probability of random entries matching the predetermined solution in a winning region is different than the probability of valid Sudoku regions that occur regardless of whether the random entries match the predetermined solution. Either probability may be empirically determined, and theoretical solutions may also be possible. The probabilities can be used to determine appropriate pay tables as is known in the art. These pay tables may also consider the probabilities of related outcomes, including the occurrence of multiple winning regions, overlapping winning regions, full solution, etc.
  • As seen in screen 210, the winning regions may overlap, as exemplified by regions 212, 214. In reference now to FIG. 3A-C, potentially overlapping regions that are analyzed in a traditional 9×9 Sudoku game to determine non-repeating symbols are illustrated. Embodiments of the invention may consider the occurrence of non-repeating symbols in these regions when determining payouts. In FIGS. 3A and 3B, the grids 302 and 304 respectively show column and row regions that require non-repeating symbols in a Sudoku solution, as well as in a Latin-squares solution. In FIG. 3C, the grid 306 includes highlighted 3×3 sub-grids correspond to regions that require non-repeating symbols for a Sudoku solution, although this constraint is not required for a Latin squares solution.
  • Other winning regions that do not correspond to typical Sudoku regions may also be defined or selected beforehand by the player. For example, FIG. 3D shows a grid 308 with diagonals highlighted. Although Sudoku does not require the diagonal lines include non-repeating symbols, puzzle writers may set such a constraint to ensure a unique solution corresponding to a set of givens. In another example, FIG. 3E shows a grid 310 with highlighted 3×3 sub-grids that do not correspond to a Sudoku solution region. It will be appreciated that the sub-grids highlighted in grid 310 are exemplary, and there are numerous other sub-grids not corresponding to Sudoku grids that may be considered when determining payouts. The regions in FIGS. 3D and 3E may be defined statically beforehand as payout regions, or be user selectable in embodiments of the invention. In reference to FIG. 3F, grid 312 has nine-element contiguous regions highlighted. The regions in grid 312 having no particular relevance to traditional Sudoku regions, but are examples of arbitrary regions that may be defined, for example, by a player via a user interface in embodiments of the invention.
  • The regions shown in FIGS. 3D-F may be considered instead of or in addition to the standard Sudoku regions. For example, the player may be given the opportunity (e.g., by wagering additional amounts or accepting an alternate pay table) in order to pre-select any region having a number of contiguous or non-contiguous squares that correspond to unique symbols in the display (in previous examples of FIGS. 1 and 2 there were nine unique symbols, digits 1-9). This user selected region may be defined before the user plays, and can thereafter be considered when determining winning events instead of or in addition to the usual Sudoku regions. The number of selected squares in a non-Sudoku region may be less than the number of unique symbols, with a correspondingly greater likelihood that such a region will not include repeating symbols. For example, the highlighted regions in FIG. 3F may include fewer than nine grid squares in some embodiments, although the payout would be lower for such regions because the chances are higher that the smaller regions would not have a repeat of the digits 1-9 used in the rest of the grid 312. Generally, it is not possible to satisfy non-repeating characters if the region includes more squares than unique symbols, unless additional, specialized symbols are used (e.g., wild symbols).
  • In various embodiments of the invention, the gaming displays are described in conjunction with the use of data in the form of “symbols.” In the context of this disclosure, a “symbol” refers to a collection of one or more arbitrary indicia or signs that have some conventional significance. In particular, the symbol represents values that can at least be used to determine whether to award a payout. A symbol may include numbers, letters, shapes, pictures, textures, colors, sounds, etc., and any combination therebetween. A win can be determined by comparing the symbol with another symbol. Generally, such comparisons can be performed via software by mapping numbers (or other data structures such as character strings) to the symbols and performing the comparisons on the numbers/data structures.
  • In reference now to FIG. 4A, a playing field 402 according to an embodiment of the invention is composed of a 4×4 grid using non-numeric symbols. The symbols correspond to playing card suits, with the solid symbols representing the givens, and the outlined symbols representing the randomly generated values. The symbols not corresponding to a Sudoku solution are crossed out. The illustrated grid 402 include three winning regions, the lower row 404, the left column 406, and the lower left 2×2 sub-grid 408. In this illustration, the distinction between regions 404, 406, 408 can be determined by the hatching. A similar effect can be obtained by filling in the regions with different colors, using different line colors/styles to highlight the regions, drawing pay lines in the regions, animating the regions, etc.
  • Although the previous examples show two-dimensional grids, the concepts described herein can be extended to three dimensions. For example, FIG. 4B show a three-dimensional playing field 410 according to an embodiment of the invention. The field 410 includes the surfaces of a cube that are individually divided into 3×3 grids. Two winning regions are shown, surface 412 and row 414. As can be seen, winning regions such as region 414 can extend across multiple surfaces, and may even extend to surfaces that are hidden in the view of FIG. 4B, such as the back-facing or interior surfaces of cube 410. The symbols in the cube 410 are non-numeric symbols, and may be randomly generated for each entry. For example, the grid elements on each face could randomly change in response to a user play event.
  • In other embodiments, the symbols on the cube 410 could be statically mapped to each surface, and the cube geometry undergoes a transformation in response to a play event. An example of this are rotations of solid-subsections of the cube 410 similar to a Rubik's™ cube. Alternatively, because computer generated objects are not restrained by mechanical considerations, each of the 26 sub-cubes having external-facing surfaces that defined by the grids on the cube could rotate individually in any of the three axes. In this latter arrangement, each sub-cube may have anywhere from three to five internally facing surfaces that are not in play, assuming the Sudoku solutions are applied only to the surfaces of the cube 410. It will be appreciated that the concepts described in relation to cube 410 are equally applicable to other three-dimensional constructs, including spheres, domes, pyramids, cylinders, cones, extrusions, prisms, hyperboloids, indexed face sets, octahedrons, dodecahedrons, geodesic domes/spheres, etc. Similarly, the two-dimensional playing fields as shown in the previous figures are generally formed from rectangular grids, although other geometric arrangements may be used, such as is shown in FIGS. 5A-C.
  • In FIG. 5A, a triangular playing field 502 is shown according to one embodiment of the invention. The playing field 502 uses nine symbols (e.g., digits 1-9) and can define a number of Sudoku style regions. As illustrated, the regions may include the edges as emphasized by dashed lines surrounding edge region 504, and corner sub-triangles such as region 506. In FIG. 5B, a honeycomb-type playing field 510 may utilize, for example, six symbols (e.g., digits 1-6) and have linear pay regions such as region 512, and symmetrical groups of hexagons such as region 514. In FIG. 5C, a playing field 520 is composed of a number of circles in a substantially rectangular pattern. Unlike a rectangular grid, each circle in this field 520 only touches at most four neighboring circles, and therefore a grouping of five using five unique symbols (e.g., digits 1-5) may be used. Example groupings for determining payouts include linear grouping such as region 522 and symmetrical groupings such as region 524. In any of these playing fields, the specific numerals may be provided as combinations of givens and randomly assigned numbers, or other manners described elsewhere herein may also be used.
  • As previously described in relation to FIG. 2, one manner of providing a Sudoku-type gaming experience is to select and present givens in parts of a grid, and then fill in the remaining grid elements with randomly generated symbols. Another example type of game play according to an embodiment of the invention is shown in the sequence diagram 600 of FIG. 6. The sequence diagram 600 involves a standard 9×9 Sudoku-type playing field 604 seen in screen 602, although the game play described in FIG. 6 may be applicable to other two- and three-dimensional playing fields.
  • The playing field 604 includes columns that each have non-repeating digits, such that the columns would not be considered when determining payouts. In this arrangement, the columns may include a fixed configuration, such the columns may act as circular reels, with the top of each column connected to the bottom of the column. The position of each digit may be randomly assigned within each reel, although the relative position of each digit relative to the digit above and below does not change for some predefined number of gaming events. As such, each column may be analogous to a reel as in a standard slot machine, albeit one where the values of every reel position are always shown in the playing field 604.
  • In one arrangement, the game may include a lever or similar input device to “spin” the columns of the playing field. The resulting arrangement may result in a number of Sudoku-type regions where a payoff is awarded due to the regions having no repeat symbols. In the illustrated screen 602, the arrangement of the field 604 has provided three winning regions 606, 608, and 610. As seen in a payout portion 612 of the screen 602, square regions and rows may pay a different amount. In this example, the squares pay $2 each and rows pay $10 each, therefore the player receives $6.
  • The gaming activities on an arrangement such as shown in screen 602 may include single spin events, where the player wins or loses based on one spin. The composition of the reels could remain constant, or change between spins. In one variation, the player may be able to try and increase their payout by spinning a selected number of the reels again. This may be facilitated, for example, by the “hold” control portion 614 of the screen 602. The hold controls 614 may operate similar to draw-type card games, where the player selects certain cards to keep and the rest are discarded and replaced from the deck.
  • In the illustrated screen 602, the player has selected to hold all of the columns except for the center column 618, as represented by deselected control 616. The player may then initiate another play (e.g., pull a lever), and the screen 620 may be displayed. The screen 620 includes a grid 604 a that is different than grid 604 in screen 602, at least in that column 618 a is now animated to simulate a spin, or provide some other indication that the column 622 is changing. When the column 622 stops spinning, screen 630 is seen, which includes grid 604 b having new center column 618 b. Note that the numbers in column 618 b include the same relative arrangement as in column 618 of screen 602, except that all the numerals below the “6” in column 618 are now shifted up three spaces in column 618 b, and all numeral above the “4” in column are now shifted down six spaces. This simulates a continuous strip of numbers, where the top number in the column is linked to the bottom number.
  • As seen in screen 630, the region of winning square 608 in screen 602 no longer satisfies the criteria, because this region now contains two instances of “1.” However, the row in region 632 now satisfies the winning criteria, and this causes an increased payout as seen in payout portion 612 b. It will be appreciated that the selection of a higher payout for rows that squares is arbitrary and for purposes of explanation. The relative payout values would be determined based on probabilities of particular regions satisfying the criteria of non-repeating numbers in a region given the dynamics of the game. However, even where there is no difference in payouts for different shaped regions, the ability to re-spin some of the columns may provide a more engaging playing experience.
  • It will be appreciated that there may be many alternatives to the specifics described in relation to FIG. 6. For example, other regions besides columns, could be rotated, translated, or otherwise changed for both the first spin and subsequent spins. These other regions may include rows, sub-grids, perimeter, diagonals, etc. In another arrangement, different types of spins could be applied during subsequent turns. For example, the first spin could spin the columns, and the player then given an opportunity to hold/or spin selected rows. In other arrangements, the columns (or other movable regions) need not be arranged as a fixed reel. For example, on a subsequent spin such as seen in screen 620, the numerals 1-9 may be randomly reassigned within the column 618 instead of retaining reel positions as described above.
  • In reference now to FIG. 7, an example procedure 700 is illustrated for providing a Sudoku-type gaming experience according to embodiments of the invention. A playing field is presented 702 that has a plurality of geometrically linked cells, and the playing field has one or more predefined pay regions each comprising two or more cells of the plurality of cells. Within each of the cells, a symbol is presented 704 that is selected from a plurality of symbols. A monetary award is provided 706 to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells with the same symbol. Optional features may include allowing the player to select 708 a subset of the cells, present 710 within this subset randomly selected symbols, and providing 712 a monetary award based on at least one of the selected subsets having no two cells with the same symbols.
  • In reference now to FIG. 8, another example procedure 800 is illustrated for providing a Sudoku-type gaming experience according to embodiments of the invention. A grid is presented 802 that has a plurality of cells and one or more predefined pay regions that include two or more cells. Each cell is capable of containing a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols. A solution is determined 804 for the grid where none of the predefined pay regions have repeated symbols within the respective pay region. A first set of the cells is selected and the symbols corresponding to the solution in each cell are displayed 806 in the first set of cells. A second set of cells is defined 808 as those cells of the grid not contained in the first set. For each cell of the second set of cells, a symbol of the plurality of symbols is randomly selected and displayed 810. A monetary award is provided 812 to the player based on at least one of the pay regions where all the cells satisfy the solution. Optionally, the player may receive 814 a monetary award based on at least one of the pay regions having no repeated symbols regardless of whether the symbols of the pay region satisfy the solution.
  • Embodiments of the present invention could be a bonus feature within a slot or other game and/or may be a standalone game. Betting by the player can occur in many ways, including but limited to: 1) allowing the player to increase the bet to make more rows, columns and regions available to win on, up to 27 for a 9×9 grid; 2) the player may increase the wager to increase the number of givens; 3) the player may increase a “Bet Multiplier” that would add to the total wager, but also increase the amount paid by any wins. Winning can occur in many ways, including but not limited to: 1) correctly completing rows, columns, and regions; 2) the player could be paid for any correct digits; 3) the player could be paid for any correct digits with a bonus pay for correctly completing rows, columns, and regions; 4) bonus pays (or bonus event initiation) could occur if a certain number of adjacent rows, regions, or columns are correctly completed; 5) instead of completing rows, columns, and regions with unique digits, the player could be paid for like digits. In the above example, the digits one through nine were used. However, any combination of nine or more unique letters, numbers, or graphical symbols may be used. In addition, “Wild” symbols may be added that would always be correct for any position.
  • As may now be readily understood, one or more devices may be programmed to play various embodiments of the invention. The present invention may be implemented as a casino gaming machine such as a slot machine or other special purpose gaming kiosk as described hereinabove, or may be implemented via computing systems operating under the direction of local gaming software, and/or remotely-provided software such as provided by an application service provider (ASP). The casino gaming machines utilize computing systems to control and manage the gaming activity. An example of a representative computing system capable of carrying out operations in accordance with the invention is illustrated in FIG. 9.
  • Hardware, firmware, software or a combination thereof may be used to perform the various gaming functions, display presentations and operations described herein. The functional modules used in connection with the invention may reside in a gaming machine as described, or may alternatively reside on a stand-alone or networked computer. The computing structure 900 of FIG. 9 is an example computing structure that can be used in connection with such electronic gaming machines, computers, or other computer-implemented devices to carry out operations of the present invention.
  • The example computing arrangement 900 suitable for performing the gaming functions in accordance with the present invention typically includes a central processor (CPU) 902 coupled to random access memory (RAM) 904 and some variation of read-only memory (ROM) 906. The ROM 906 may also represent other types of storage media to store programs, such as programmable ROM (PROM), erasable PROM (EPROM), etc. The processor 902 may communicate with other internal and external components through input/output (I/O) circuitry 908 and bussing 910, to provide control signals, communication signals, and the like.
  • The computing arrangement 900 may also include one or more data storage devices, including hard and floppy disk drives 912, CD-ROM drives 914, card reader 915, and other hardware capable of reading and/or storing information such as DVD, etc. In one embodiment, software for carrying out the operations in accordance with the present invention may be stored and distributed on a CD-ROM 916, diskette 918, access card 919, or other form of media capable of portably storing information. These storage media may be inserted into, and read by, devices such as the CD-ROM drive 914, the disk drive 912, card reader 915, etc. The software may also be transmitted to the computing arrangement 900 via data signals, such as being downloaded electronically via a network, such as the Internet. Further, as previously described, the software for carrying out the functions associated with the present invention may alternatively be stored in internal memory/storage of the computing device 900, such as in the ROM 906.
  • The computing arrangement 900 is coupled to the display 911, which represents a display on which the gaming activities in accordance with the invention are presented. The display 911 represents the “presentation” of the video information in accordance with the invention, and may be any type of known display or presentation screen, such as LCD displays, plasma display, cathode ray tubes (CRT), digital light processing (DLP), liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS), etc. Where the computing device 900 represents a stand-alone or networked computer, the display 911 may represent a standard computer terminal or display capable of displaying multiple windows, frames, etc. Where the computing device is embedded within an electronic gaming machine, the display 911 corresponds to the display screen of the gaming machine/kiosk. A user input interface 922 such as a mouse, keyboard/keypad, microphone, touch pad, trackball, joystick, touch screen, voice-recognition system, etc. may be provided. The display 911 may also act as a user input device, e.g., where the display 911 is a touchscreen device.
  • Chance-based gaming systems such as slot machines, in which the present invention is applicable, are governed by random numbers and processors, as facilitated by a random number generator (RNG). In particular, the fixed and dynamic symbols generated as part of a gaming activity may be produced using one or more RNGs. RNGs are known in the art, and may be implemented using hardware, software operable in connection with the processor 902, or some combination of hardware and software. The present invention is operable using any known RNG, and may be integrally programmed as part of the processor 902 operation, or alternatively may be a separate RNG controller 940.
  • The computing arrangement 900 may be connected to other computing devices or gaming machines, such as via a network. The computing arrangement 900 may be connected to a network server 928 in an intranet or local network configuration. The computer may further be part of a larger network configuration as in a global area network (GAN) such as the Internet. In such a case, the computer may have access to one or more web servers via the Internet.
  • Other components directed to gaming machine implementations include manners of gaming participant payment, and gaming machine payout. For example, a gaming machine including the computing arrangement 900 may also include a hopper controller 942 to determine the amount of payout to be provided to the participant. The hopper controller may be integrally implemented with the processor 902, or alternatively as a separate hopper controller 942. A hopper 944 may also be provided in gaming machine embodiments, where the hopper serves as the mechanism holding the coins/tokens of the machine. The wager input module 946 represents any mechanism for accepting coins, tokens, coupons, bills, electronic fund transfer (EFT), tickets, credit cards, smart cards, membership cards, etc., for which a participant inputs a wager amount. It will be appreciated that the primary gaming software 932 may be able to control payouts via the hopper 944 and controller 942 for independently determined payout events.
  • Among other functions, the computing arrangement 900 provides an interactive experience to players via input interface 922 and output devices, such as the display 911, speaker 930, etc. These experiences are generally controlled by gaming software 932 that controls a primary gaming activity of the computing arrangement 900. The gaming software 932 may be temporarily loaded into RAM 904, and may be stored locally using any combination of ROM 906, drives 912, or media player 914. The primary gaming software 932 may also be accessed remotely, such as via the server 928 or the Internet.
  • The primary gaming software 932 in the computing arrangement 900 according to embodiments of the present invention provides a Sudoku type gaming experience as defined hereinabove. For example, the software 932 may present, by way of the display 911, a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells. The playing field has one or more predefined pay regions each comprising two or more cells of the plurality of cells. The software 932 may present within each of the cells, by way of the display 911, a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols, and providing by way of the hopper controller 942, a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells with the same symbol.
  • The computing arrangement 900 may be implemented as a stand-alone gaming machine, such as where all of the functionality is contained within a single apparatus. In other arrangements, the computing arrangement 900 may be implemented as a system of computers, generally coupled together by a network.
  • It will be appreciated that the gaming functionality described herein may be implemented on any combination of hardware and software, as well as any combination of standalone apparatus and networked systems. A more particular description of the functionality according to an embodiment of the invention is shown in the software component diagram 1000 in FIG. 10. These components 1000 may be implemented as a single executable running on a single machine, or may be multiple processes/threads that are distributed over a local-area, wide-area, or global-area network.
  • The components 1000 include a primary game execution module 1002 that controls the event loops that govern game play, and implements the gaming logic. The game execution module 1002 interacts with a player by way of a game play user interface 1004 and represented by play events 1006. The game execution module 1002 may also interact with the player via a payout determination module 1008, which interfaces with a payout hardware interface 1010 and, optionally, separate payout indicator hardware 1012 (e.g., lights, sound generation hardware, mechanical indicators).
  • Generally, during game play, the game execution module 1002 causes the game play user interface 1004 to present to the player a Sudoku-style grid in some manner as described herein. The grid may have a predetermined solution that is obtained from a full grid solution generator 1014. For example, the game execution module 1002 may input grid and game parameters 1016 (e.g., grid shape, grid size, symbol set) and in response a solution 1018 is provided. The game execution module 1002 may input grid solutions 1022 to a given cell generator 1020 that determines a viable subset of the cell that are used as givens 1024. The givens 1024 are displayed in the game play user interface 1004 to the appropriate locations in the grid. The remaining cells of the grid are filled in with random symbols 1026, such as provided by a random symbol generator 1028. The resulting grid 130 is provided to the user interface 1004, and may also be used as input to the payout determinator 1008. The payout determinator 1008 may also take other factors into account when determining payoff amounts 1032, 1034, such as initial selections made by the player before the grid was generated, and represented by bonus selections 1036.
  • The foregoing description of the exemplary embodiments of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. For example, the present invention is equally applicable in electronic or mechanical gaming machines, and is also applicable to live table versions of the gaming activities. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not with this detailed description, but rather determined from the claims appended hereto.

Claims (24)

1. A method of providing a gaming experience to a player, comprising:
presenting a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells, wherein the playing field has one or more pay regions each comprising a predetermined number of cells of the plurality of cells;
presenting within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols; and
providing a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells that present the same symbol.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of symbols comprise a number of unique symbols, and wherein the number of unique symbols corresponds to the predetermined number of cells in the one or more pay regions.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising generating a known solution where no two cells within any of the pay regions have the same symbol, and wherein presenting the symbols within each of the cells comprises presenting within a subset of the cells the symbols corresponding to the known solution, and randomly assigning the symbols to cells of the plurality of cells that are not contained in the subset.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the monetary award is provided to the player based on all of the randomly assigned symbols corresponding to the known solution within at least one of the pay regions.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the playing field comprises a rectangular grid, and wherein the plurality of cells comprises squares within the rectangular grid.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the playing field comprises a nine-by-nine grid of the squares.
7. The method of claim 5, wherein the pay regions comprise lines formed by the squares.
8. The method of claim 5, wherein the pay regions comprise square regions formed by the squares.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein one of the plurality of symbols is a wild symbol that results in the monetary award being provided to the player regardless of whether the at least one of the pay regions has two or more of the wild symbols.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising facilitating user selection of the pay regions before the symbols are presented within the cells.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein facilitating user selection of the pay regions comprises facilitating user selection of one or more of a plurality of predefined pay regions.
12. The method of claim 10, wherein facilitating user selection of the pay regions comprises facilitating user selection of an arbitrary shape having the predetermined number of cells.
13. A casino gaming apparatus, comprising:
a processor;
a human input and output coupled to the processor; and
a gaming module that causes the processor to,
present, via the human input and output, a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells, wherein the playing field has one or more pay regions each comprising a predetermined number cells of the plurality of cells;
present, via the human input and output, within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols; and
provide a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells that present the same symbol.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the plurality of symbols comprise a number of unique symbols, and wherein the number of unique symbols corresponds to the predetermined number of cells in the one or more pay regions.
15. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the gaming module further causes the processor to generate a known solution where no two cells within any of the pay regions have the same symbol, and wherein presenting the symbols within each of the cells comprises presenting within a subset of the cells the symbols corresponding to the known solution, and randomly assigning the symbols to cells of the plurality of cells that are not contained in the subset.
16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the monetary award is provided to the player based on all of the randomly assigned symbols corresponding to the known solution within at least one of the pay regions.
17. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the playing field comprises a rectangular grid, and wherein the plurality of cells comprises squares within the rectangular grid.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the playing field comprises a nine-by-nine grid of the squares.
19. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein one of the plurality of symbols is a wild symbol that results in the monetary award being provided to the player regardless of whether the at least one of the pay regions has two or more of the wild symbols.
20. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising facilitating, via the human input and output, player selection of the pay regions before the symbols are presented within the cells.
21. The apparatus of claim 20, wherein facilitating user selection of the pay regions comprises facilitating player selection of one or more of a plurality of predefined pay regions.
22. The apparatus of claim 20, wherein facilitating user selection of the pay regions comprises facilitating player selection of an arbitrary shape having the predetermined number of cells.
23. A computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions stored thereon and executable by a processing system for performing steps comprising:
presenting a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells, wherein the playing field has one or more predefined pay regions each comprising two or more cells of the plurality of cells;
presenting within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols; and
providing a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells that present the same symbol.
24. An apparatus comprising:
means for presenting a playing field having a plurality of geometrically linked cells, wherein the playing field has one or more predefined pay regions each comprising two or more cells of the plurality of cells;
means for presenting within each of the cells a symbol selected from a plurality of symbols; and
means for providing a monetary award to the player based on at least one of the pay regions having no two cells that present the same symbol.
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AS Assignment

Owner name: KING SHOW GAMES, INC., MINNESOTA

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BERMAN, BRADLEY;REEL/FRAME:020502/0226

Effective date: 20080109