US20080274788A1 - Gaming machine utilizing hidden and shadow symbols - Google Patents

Gaming machine utilizing hidden and shadow symbols Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080274788A1
US20080274788A1 US11/985,313 US98531307A US2008274788A1 US 20080274788 A1 US20080274788 A1 US 20080274788A1 US 98531307 A US98531307 A US 98531307A US 2008274788 A1 US2008274788 A1 US 2008274788A1
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Prior art keywords
symbols
gaming machine
reel
payline
screen
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Abandoned
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US11/985,313
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Tammy L. Wilson
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Vision Gaming and Tech Inc
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Vision Gaming and Tech Inc
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Priority to US11/799,721 priority Critical patent/US20080274786A1/en
Application filed by Vision Gaming and Tech Inc filed Critical Vision Gaming and Tech Inc
Priority to US11/985,313 priority patent/US20080274788A1/en
Assigned to VISION GAMING & TECHNOLOGY, INC. reassignment VISION GAMING & TECHNOLOGY, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: WILSON, TAMMY L.
Publication of US20080274788A1 publication Critical patent/US20080274788A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/34Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting depending on the stopping of moving members in a mechanical slot machine, e.g. "fruit" machines
    • 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
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes

Abstract

A gaming machine includes a game playable on a video display screen on which are displayable a set of reels with display blocks on each reel. Symbols are displayable on the display blocks to make up standard and distinctive pay lines. In one aspect of the game, primary symbols are displayable in the display blocks for forming pay lines and secondary symbols are displayable in the display blocks and have an inactivated state and an activated state in which they may form pay lines with the primary symbols or by themselves or may add value to a pay line. Another aspect of the game includes a secondary reel which is typically hidden until activated so that symbols on the secondary reel may also form pay lines with the primary symbols or by themselves or may add value to a pay line.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a Continuation-In-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/799,721, filed May 2, 2007; the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The invention relates generally to gaming machines. More particularly, the invention relates to a gaming machine of the type generally known as a slot machine. Specifically, the invention relates to a slot-style gaming machine which utilizes distinctive paylines.
  • 2. Background Information
  • Gaming machines come in a wide variety, including the category generally known as slot machines. Slot machines or slot-style gaming machines include physical reels which spin or electronically created reels which are displayable on a video screen and appear to spin. A typical slot machine includes three reels each having a plurality of symbols thereon which align with the symbols in the other reels when the reels are stopped to form rows or lines.
  • It is well known in the art that paylines are formed of like symbols and of one of said like symbols in each reel aligned across all of the reels. The most common paylines extend straight horizontally across the screen although some paylines may extend diagonally and are not necessarily in a single straight line. However, all paylines known to the Applicants begin in the first reel and end in the last reel and include only one symbol in each reel.
  • Especially in light of today's relatively advanced computerized games, there is a need in the art to provide slot-style gaming machines which have a greater attraction factor for the relatively younger generation as well as others who are more well-versed in the modern video games. The distinctive paylines and other aspects of the present invention address this issue.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides a gaming machine comprising: a video display screen; a game playable via display on the screen; a wager mechanism for making a wager on the game; a game play starter control for selectively initiating play of the game; a plurality of primary reels displayable on the screen; a plurality of display blocks on each reel; a plurality of rows each comprising one of the display blocks in each reel; a plurality of primary symbols respectively displayable in the display blocks and usable in making up pay lines; and a plurality of secondary symbols respectively displayable in the display blocks and having an inactivated state and an activated state in which they are one of usable in making up pay lines and usable in adding value to a pay line.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic front elevational view of the gaming machine of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 are diagrammatic views of the reels on the display screen showing the symbols on the reels and a variety of S-shaped paylines.
  • FIG. 4 shows overlapping patterns of S-shaped paylines.
  • FIG. 5 shows a variety of closed geometric-shaped paylines.
  • FIGS. 6-21 show a variety of paylines having alphabetical or numerical shapes.
  • FIG. 22 shows a rectangular payline which circumscribes an oval-shaped payline.
  • FIG. 22A shows a horseshoe shaped of payline representative of a brand symbol.
  • FIG. 22B shows a payline shaped like the Eiffel Tower.
  • FIG. 23 is a diagrammatic view of a set of reels on the display screen showing the standard symbols with one winning payline and showing the shadow symbols in the inactivated state.
  • FIG. 24 is similar to FIG. 23 and shows the shadow symbols in the activated state with the winning payline made up of the standard symbols in one row, a winning payline made of the shadow symbols in another row and two winning paylines respectively made up of the standard symbols and shadow symbols within another row.
  • FIG. 25 is similar to FIG. 24 and shows the shadow symbols in the activated state with two overlapping S-shaped winning paylines made up respectively of standard symbols and shadow symbols within three different rows, an 8-shaped payline formed of standard symbols in three different rows, an E-shaped payline formed of shadow symbols in three different rows and an E-shaped or W-shaped payline formed of standard and shadow symbols within two rows.
  • FIG. 26 is an enlarged view of a single row of the display blocks showing standard symbols superimposed on shadow symbols or encircled by shadow symbols in the inactivated state.
  • FIG. 27 is similar to FIG. 26 and shows the shadow symbols in the activated state with a winning payline formed of the standard symbols.
  • FIG. 28 is similar to FIG. 27 and shows two winning paylines within the same row formed respectively from the standard symbols and the shadow symbols.
  • FIG. 29 is similar to FIG. 24 and shows an additional reel in the activated, revealed or visible state which in FIG. 24 was in the inactivated, hidden or non-visible state. FIG. 29 further shows star-shaped symbols in an activated or revealed state adding to the value of several paylines formed either of standard or shadow symbols.
  • FIG. 30 is similar to FIG. 29 and shows another secondary revealed reel in which standard or activated shadow symbols are disposed, some of which combine with standard or shadow symbols in the standard reels to form paylines.
  • FIG. 31 is similar to FIG. 30 and shows a secondary reel with revealed standard symbols and activated shadow symbols and several paylines including a straight payline made up of standard symbols, an O-shaped payline made up of standard and shadow symbols within one of the standard reels and within the revealed reel, an O-shaped payline made up of shadow symbols in two of the standard reels and in the revealed reel, and an S-shaped payline made up of standard symbols within two of the standard reels and within the revealed reel.
  • FIG. 32 is similar to FIG. 30 and shows two secondary reels, a straight activating payline, an O-shaped payline formed only of the symbols within the two secondary reels and three vertical paylines, two of which are made up respectively of the standard symbols and shadow symbols within the same display blocks.
  • Similar numbers refer to similar parts throughout the drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The gaming machine of the present invention is indicated generally at 10 in FIG. 1. Gaming machine 10 is a slot machine or a slot-style machine comprising a frame 12 with a video display screen 14 mounted thereon for displaying various images, symbols and alpha-numeric characters. Machine 10 includes an internal computer or central processing unit (CPU) mounted within frame 12 for running a computer program allowing a game to be played. A coin head or slot 16 may be mounted on frame 12 for inputting coins which may be used for directly making a wager or for crediting an amount with which wagers may be made. Similarly, a bill slot or credit slot, each of which is indicated generally at 18, may be mounted on frame 12 for the same purpose. A coin tray 20 may be mounted on frame 12 to receive a payout of coins although other payout mechanisms may be utilized. For example, a payout may be tracked by the computer and displayed on screen 14 and may be paid out, for instance, at any location within a casino which houses machine 10.
  • A bet up/down button 22 or a similar mechanism is mounted on frame 12 to allow the player to increase or decrease the amount of bet or wager on the game. A play button 24 or the like serves as a game play starter control and may be pressed or otherwise operated by the player to play the game after a wager has been made. A pay table button 26 may be used to display the pay table on screen 14. A touch sensitive screen may be used to create such buttons on screen 14. In addition, other images or information may be displayed on screen 14 such as the game title, the amount of credit, the amount of bet, the amount paid, instructions for playing the game and so forth.
  • In accordance with the invention, a reel section 28 (FIG. 2) is displayable on screen 14 and includes six vertically oriented reels 30A-F each of which spin or have an appearance of spinning vertically during play. Each reel 30 includes nine display locations or blocks 32 which are alignable with respective blocks 32 in the other reels to create nine horizontal rows 34A-I, each having six horizontally aligned display blocks 32. Various symbols appear within the display locations or blocks 32. In the exemplary embodiment, four different symbols 36A-D are respectively at the display locations or blocks 32 and are in the form of stylized snakes. More particularly, symbol 36A is a cowboy style or western style snake wearing a cowboy hat, a neckerchief and a saddle; symbol 36B is a surfer snake or a snake with a surfboard; symbol 36C is a roller skating snake; and symbol 36D is a king cobra, king snake or a snake wearing a king's crown and holding a king's scepter.
  • In accordance with the invention, the computer program is configured to form S-shaped paylines 38A-H each of which indicates a win and triggers the award of a predetermined payment value. The S-shaped paylines 38 provide a thematic connection with the snake symbols 36 which are used to form the paylines. Not only do the S-shaped paylines resemble the shape of a snake but “S” is also the beginning letter of the word snake.
  • More particularly, as shown in FIG. 2, payline 38A includes six symbols 36A which are in adjacent or contiguous blocks 32; payline 38B includes six symbols 36B respectively in six blocks 32; payline 38C, a reversed S-shaped payline, includes six symbols 36C; and payline 38D includes eleven symbols 36D. Each of paylines 38 is formed by a line which connects like symbols 36 in adjacent blocks 32 wherein adjacent blocks may be disposed horizontally adjacent one another, vertically adjacent one another or diagonally adjacent one another. Payline 38A, for example, begins at the symbol 36A in reel 30B and row 34A and extends horizontally to the left to the symbol 36A in reel 30A and row 34A, then downwardly to the symbol in reel 30A and row 34B, then to the right to the symbol in reel 30B and row 34B, then down to the symbol in reel 30B and row 34C, and then left to end at the symbol in reel 30A and row 34C. Payline 38B is similar to payline 36C except that it is an S-shaped turned on its side. Payline 38C is also similar except that it is a reversed S-shaped payline. Payline 38D is a larger S-shaped payline which extends into three of the reels 30D-30F and begins at its upper end in row 34D and ends at its lower end in row 34H, thus spanning five of rows 34.
  • Paylines 38E-H in FIG. 3 show some other variations of the S-shaped paylines. Paylines 38F and 38G illustrate the drawing of the payline between symbols within blocks 32 which are diagonally adjacent or contiguous one another. For example, payline 38F starts at one of symbols 36C in reel 30E and row 34A and extends diagonally downwardly and to the left to the symbol 36C in reel 30D and row 34B and continues in a like manner so that payline 38F is formed only along blocks 32 which are diagonally adjacent one another.
  • In accordance with a feature of the invention, each of paylines 38 includes at least two like symbols in a single row 30. For instance, payline 38B in FIG. 2 includes two symbols 36B in reel 30D, two symbols 36B in reel 30E and two symbols 36B in reel 30F. Paylines 38A and 38C illustrate the occurrence of three like symbols within a single reel 30 while payline 38D illustrates four symbols within a single reel 30. Payline 38D further illustrates the occurrence of two or more like symbols in a single reel 30 wherein two of said symbols are separated from one another by a block 32 and symbol 36 therebetween which is not in payline 38D. For instance, payline 38D passes through symbol 36D in the block 32 in reel 30D and row 34F and also the symbol 36D in the block 32 in reel 30D and row 34H while skipping the symbol 36C in the block 32 at reel 30D and row 34G. Payline 38H in FIG. 3 further illustrates the inclusion of six like symbols in a single reel, which occurs in each of reels 30C and 30D in this case.
  • In accordance with the invention, any one of symbols 36A-D may appear in any one of display blocks 32 in a random manner. Thus, the order or symbols in a given reel from top to bottom is determined randomly for each play of the game and typically results in a change in that order for each play. In addition, the computer program is configured to alter the balance of a number of the different symbols 36A-D which may appear on reels 30 during any given play. In the exemplary embodiment, there are fifty-four display blocks 32 so that during a given play, for instance, fourteen symbols 36A, fourteen symbols 36B, thirteen symbols 36C and thirteen symbols 36D might appear on the display screen within the respective blocks 32 so that the number of each of symbols 36 is substantially the same. However, during another given play, the balance might be shifted so that, for instance, twenty-five symbols 36A, thirteen symbols 36B, ten symbols 36C and six symbols 36D may appear within the respective blocks 32. Depending on the specific computer program, each of the fifty-four blocks 32 might be filled with a single type of symbol 36 so that all the symbols on the screen are the same.
  • The computer program of chain 10 is programmed to produce the 54 blocks 32 on screen 14. In addition, the computer program includes a symbol code pool having a plurality of symbol codes each of which represent one of symbols 36. For each play of the game, the computer program randomly selects fifty-four of the symbol codes which cause a respective fifty-four of the symbols 36 to appear on screen 14. Thus, the symbol code pool has a given number of symbol codes which is greater than the number of blocks 32.
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate several aspects of paylines 38 other than those discussed above. For instance, one or more paylines 38 may appear during a single play of the game. In addition, the paylines that appear may have the exact same configuration or may be different from one another either in orientation, size or shape. As shown by paylines 38E and 38H in FIG. 3, two paylines may share a common symbol or symbol display block 32.
  • As further illustrated in FIG. 4, two or more paylines may intersect, overlap or cross one another. In FIG. 4, all of the blocks 32 within reels 30A and 30B are filled with the same symbol 36A. Thus, there are seven S-shaped paylines 38A1-7 shown in reels 30A and 30B of FIG. 4, each of which intersects and crosses at least two of the other of paylines 38A1-7. Some of these paylines intersect three or four of the others. For example, payline 38A4 intersects and crosses each of paylines 38A2, 38A3, 38A5 and 38A6.
  • FIG. 4 also shows eight paylines 38B1-8 in reels 30D-30F. Each of these paylines overlaps at least one of the others and most of them overlap two of the others. To create these eight paylines 38B1-8, each of blocks 32 within reels 30D, 30E and 30F are filled by respective symbols 36B.
  • FIG. 4 further illustrates that the appearance of one or more paylines, in this case like paylines, within a common reel or reels constitutes a bonus activator which activates the award of a bonus or bonus value. The bonus activator may require that the two or more paylines share a common symbol or display block, or that they intersect or cross one another. In addition, while a bonus activator may comprise only two such paylines, the bonus activator may require three, four or more paylines within a common reel or reels. Further, the bonus activator may require that these paylines be of the same configuration and/or that they utilize like symbols. It is noted, however, that a bonus activator in which the two or more paylines are within a common reel or reels may utilize paylines which are not identical, such as the combination of paylines 38A and 38C in FIG. 2; the combination of paylines 38B and 38D in FIG. 2; the combination of paylines 38E and 38G in FIG. 3; the combination of paylines 38E and 38H in FIG. 3; or the combination of paylines 38F and 38H in FIG. 3. In addition, the bonus activator may be formed of paylines that do not use the same symbols 36 as is likewise illustrated by several of the afore mentioned combinations. In addition, a bonus activator may include two, three or more paylines which are displayed at the same time but do not share a common reel.
  • Referring to FIG. 5, the present invention also includes paylines comprising a closed loop, shown here as closed geometric shapes. FIG. 5 illustrates a variety of such paylines shown specifically as closed geometric shapes respectively having three sides, four sides, five sides and six sides. More particularly, FIG. 5 shows several four-sided paylines: a rectangular or square payline 40A, rectangular payline 40B, and a diamond-shaped payline 40C. FIG. 5 also shows two triangular paylines 40D and 40E which are connected to or overlap one another. A five-sided payline 40F and a six-sided payline 40G are also shown in FIG. 5 and also intersect one another. Paylines 40 thus represent any polygon or closed geometric shape, particularly those formed by straight lines. Paylines 40C, 40E, 40F and 40G also illustrate paylines which circumscribe one of symbols 36 which is not in the payline.
  • FIG. 6 shows several additional alphabetical paylines including A-shaped paylines 42A and 42B. Payline 42A further illustrates a payline having a closed geometrical shape in the form of a triangle with a pair of lines or legs extending outwardly therefrom. FIG. 6 further shows a B-shaped payline 44 and a C-shaped payline 46. D-shaped paylines 48A and 48B are shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 respectively. FIG. 7 also shows two different styles of E-shaped paylines 50A and 50B. Payline 50B likewise may represent a W-shaped or M-shaped payline. An F-shaped payline 52 is also shown in FIG. 7. FIG. 8 shows two G-shaped paylines 54A and 54B as well as two H-shaped paylines 56A and 56B. Payline 56B represents a payline having a plurality of intersecting lines including two lines or legs which in this case are vertical with symbols 36C2, 36A2 and 36B2 disposed therebetween and more particularly in reel 30D respectively on rows 34F, 34H and 341. Paylines 56A and 56B may also represent an I-shaped payline on its side.
  • FIG. 9 shows an I-shaped payline 58, which may also be seen as an H-shaped payline on its side. FIG. 9 also shows three J-shaped paylines 60A-C, a K-shaped payline 62A and an L-shaped payline 64. FIG. 10 shows a second K-shaped payline 62B, an M-shaped payline 66, which may also be seen as a W-shaped payline, an E-shaped payline or a 3-shaped payline. FIG. 10 also shows an N-shaped payline 68 which may be seen as a Z-shaped payline. FIG. 10 further shows an 0-shaped payline 70 which also represents the number zero, an oval shape or a substantially circular shape. FIG. 11 shows a P-shaped payline 72, two Q-shaped paylines 74A and 74B and an R-shaped payline 76. Payline 74A further illustrates a single payline comprising lines which intersect and cross one another, one of said lines being a closed geometrical shape which is generally O-shaped or rectangular and the other of said lines being a straight diagonally extending line.
  • FIG. 12 shows a pair of T-shaped paylines 78A and 78B, a pair of U-shaped paylines 80A and 80B and a V-shaped payline 82A which is turned sideways. FIG. 13 shows a second V-shaped payline 82B which is larger than payline 82A and is turned sideways in the other direction, a W-shaped payline 84, an X-shaped payline 86 and a Y-shaped payline 88A. FIG. 14 shows a second Y-shaped payline 88B and a Z-shaped payline 90 which is the final payline having an alphabetical shape. It is noted that while the alphabetically shaped paylines are shown as capital English letters, they may also be lowercase letters and likewise may also be alphabetical characters of other languages.
  • FIGS. 14-22 show various paylines having a numerical shape. In particular, FIG. 14 shows a pair of 1-shaped paylines 92A and 92B. FIG. 15 shows a 2-shaped payline 92 and three 3-shaped paylines 96A-C. FIG. 16 shows two more 3-shaped paylines 96D and 96E and a 4-shaped payline 98A. FIG. 17 shows two more 4-shaped paylines 98B and 98C which include a triangle shape unlike the open style of payline 98A. FIG. 17 further shows a 5-shaped payline 100 and a 6-shaped payline 102. FIG. 18 shows three 7-shaped paylines 104A-C. FIGS. 19-21 illustrate seven 8-shaped paylines 106A-G while FIGS. 20 and 21 show four 9-shaped paylines 108A-108D. FIGS. 21 and 22 further show 0-shaped paylines 110A and 110B which likewise represent oval shapes or substantially circular shapes. FIG. 22 also shows a rectangular payline 112 which is a closed geometrical shape which circumscribes the closed geometrically shaped payline 110B. Each of paylines 110B and 112 further represent paylines which entirely circumscribe one or more display blocks 32. Payline 112 further illustrates a payline which includes all of the symbols or symbol blocks within a given reel, in particular, reels 30A and 30F. Payline 112 also illustrates a single payline which incorporates all the symbols in more than one row, in particular rows 34A and 341. As previously noted with regard to the alphabetical characters, the numerical characters used in the paylines may also be those used in other languages.
  • FIGS. 22A and 22B show two additional distinctive paylines. In particular, FIG. 22A shows a horseshoe-shaped payline 114 which is representative of a brand symbol or trademark under which goods or services are sold. FIG. 22B shows a payline 116 having the shape of a stylized Eiffel Tower which may also be representative of a brand symbol or trademark, or may be representative of a well known landmark or geographical region.
  • Thus, gaming machine 10 provides a slot-style machine having a plurality of reels comprising various symbols which may be joined by a payline which may be an alphabetical or numerical character, a closed geometrical shape, a brand symbol or other distinctive figure and preferably includes two or more symbols within a single reel. The various characteristics of the paylines are not limited to those specifically described but also include other characteristics which are evident from the drawings.
  • Referring now to FIG. 23, the computer program of gaming machine 10 further provides a game in which a reel section 148 is displayed on screen 14 with the various following characteristics. Reel section 148 includes six primary reels 150A-F analogous to reels 30. Each reel 150 includes nine display locations or blocks 152 which are alignable with respective blocks 152 in the other reels to create nine horizontal rows 154A-I each having six horizontally aligned display blocks 152. Various symbols are displayable within display blocks 152 including the standard symbols 36A-D. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 23, standard or primary symbols 36 are displayed in the upper half of display blocks 152. In addition, a second set of symbols referred to herein as ghost symbols or shadow symbols 156A-D are displayable within respective blocks 152 in the lower half thereof along with the standard symbols 36. Thus, each display block 152 has two symbols displayed therein. More particularly, each block 152 has upper and lower display positions 151 and 153. Standard symbols 36 are displayed respectively in upper positions 151 and shadow symbols 156 are displayed respectively in lower positions 153. Shadow symbols 156 are in an inactivated state in FIG. 23, as indicated by the dotted line configuration. On screen 14, this inactivated state of shadow symbols 156 may be illustrated in a variety of ways, including a dotted outline as shown, a grayed or grayed out symbol or any other configuration that illustrates the inactivated state. FIG. 24 shows shadow symbols 156 in the activated state, as illustrated by the solid line renditions.
  • In operation, the player of the game has the option of playing a standard slot style game with the shadow symbols in the inactivated state. The player also has the option to pay an extra fee or amount in order to activate the shadow symbols. FIG. 23 illustrates the first option in which the player has chosen not to pay the additional amount to activate the shadow symbols. Nonetheless, the shadow symbols 156 will preferably appear within blocks 152 throughout the play of a standard game and will spin or appear to spin in the same fashion as the standard symbols 36. FIG. 23 shows a standard straight winning payline 158 formed of six standard symbols 36B respectively in the blocks 152 of row 154E.
  • FIG. 24 illustrates that the player of the game has paid the additional amount to activate shadow symbols 156 so that they too are available for the formation of paylines. FIG. 24 illustrates a straight horizontal winning payline 160 made of six standard symbols 36D within each of reels 150 on row 154C. In addition, FIG. 24 illustrates a straight payline 162 formed of activated shadow symbols 156D within each of blocks 152 of row 154E. In addition, FIG. 24 illustrates two more straight winning paylines 164 and 166 within the same row 154G. Payline 164 is made up of standard symbols 36B within each of blocks 152 in row 154G and winning payline 166 is made up of activated shadow symbols 156A within the same blocks 152. The activation of shadow symbols 156 thus increases the odds of winning during a single play of the game.
  • In FIG. 25, the player of the game has also paid for the activation of shadow symbols 156. FIG. 25 further illustrates various paylines having different shapes as discussed earlier in the present application. Thus for instance, FIG. 25 shows an S-shaped payline 168 formed of standard symbols 36D, three of which are in the blocks 152 of row 154B and reels 150A-C, three of which are in row 154C in reels 150A-C and three of which are in row 154D in reels 150A-C. FIG. 25 also shows an S-shaped payline 170 which overlaps and has an identical shape to that of payline 168 and is formed of shadow symbols 156A within the same blocks 152 as the standard symbols 36D of payline 168. FIG. 25 further illustrates an 8-shaped payline 172 formed of standard symbols 36B respectively in the blocks 152 of rows 154E-G on reels 150E and F only. FIG. 25 also shows an E-shaped payline 174 formed of shadow symbols 156B in the blocks 152 of rows 154F-H in reels 150A and 150B only. Finally, FIG. 25 further illustrates an E-shaped or W-shaped payline 176 made up both of standard and shadow symbols. More particularly, payline 176 incorporates the six standard symbols 36A in rows 154H and 154I within reels 150D-F. Payline 176 further includes the shadow symbols within the same blocks 152. Payline 176 thus illustrates the concept of forming a payline of standard symbols and shadow symbols as well as such symbols which are within a common block 152. Thus, payline 176 extends in a first straight horizontal line along standard symbols 36A in row 154H, then folds down and back within row 154H along a straight line along shadow symbols 156D, then downwardly to another horizontal line through standard symbols 36A in row 154I, and then downwardly to another horizontal line extending through shadow symbols 156D in row 154I.
  • FIGS. 26-28 show the use of standard symbols 36 and shadow symbols 156 in a different configuration so that each symbol 36 within a given block 152 is superimposed on or encircled by one of shadow symbols 156 within that symbol block 152. FIG. 26 shows the shadow symbols 156 in the inactivated state while FIGS. 27 and 28 show them in the activated state. In FIGS. 26 and 27, five of the shadow symbols 156 in the respective display blocks 152 circumscribe the corresponding standard symbol 36. However, FIG. 26 shows in the fourth display block 152 from the left that the lines forming shadow symbol 156D intersect the lines forming standard symbol 36B. Likewise, FIG. 27 in the fifth display block 152 from the left shows the lines of shadow symbol 156D intersecting the lines of standard symbol 36A. In each case, the lines of the shadow symbol 156D are shown only external to the lines of the standard symbol 36, not within the standard symbol 36. Thus, FIGS. 26-28 illustrate two symbols within a given display block 152 which overlap one another, have lines that intersect one another or wherein one is circumscribed by the other.
  • As previously noted, FIG. 26 shows the shadow symbols 156 in the inactivated state. FIG. 27 shows the shadow symbols in the activated state with a standard straight payline 178 formed of the standard symbols 36A. Payline 178 thus intersects, overlaps or is superimposed on shadow symbols 156 within the respective blocks 152 of the row shown in FIG. 27 although the shadow symbols shown there do not form the payline. FIG. 28 shows two straight paylines 180 and 182 respectively made up of six symbols 36A and six shadow symbols 156A within the respective six blocks 152. Payline 180 intersects or is superimposed over each of the standard symbols 36A and the shadow symbols 156A. Payline 182 on the other hand intersects only the shadow symbols 156A.
  • In accordance with another feature of the invention, FIGS. 29-31 show a bonus or secondary reel 150G within reel section 148 on screen 14. In FIGS. 29-31, reel 150G and the symbols therein are in an activated, revealed or visible state. At the stage of the game shown in FIG. 24, reel 150G and the symbols therein are inactivated, hidden or in a non-visible state. In the exemplary embodiment, reel 150G is positioned between 150E and 150F although its position may vary on screen 14. Reel 150G may have an appearance which is somewhat different than that of the other reels in order to highlight its presence on the screen. As shown in the figures, reel 150G is slightly longer or taller than the other reels and has curved corners at the top and bottom thereof. For the purposes of the description however, reel 150G includes display blocks 152 like the other reels. Thus, the computer of gaming machine 10 is programmed to display reel 150G on screen 14 in the activated state in response to an activator or activating mechanism. As with the use of shadow symbols 156, the activator may be the payment of an additional fee. In addition, the activator may be the winning of a standard or shadow payline which could be any of the straight paylines 160A, 162A, 164A and 166A shown in FIG. 29. The activation of reel 150G may occur when the shadow symbols are in the inactivated state or the activated state and may be used with a standard set of reels which do not use shadow symbols. In the exemplary embodiment, the game is played as shown in FIG. 24 so that one or more paylines are formed as indicated at payline 160, 162, 164 and 166 in FIG. 24. One of these paylines activates the display of reel 150G and in particular causes reel 150F to separate from reels 150A-E as shown at Arrows A in FIG. 29 to make a space for the appearance of reel 150G. Thus, any or all of the primary reels 150A-F may move from their respective home positions shown in FIG. 24 to other locations in response to the activator to accommodate secondary reel 150G. As previously noted, reel 150G may appear between any of the other reels or may appear to the right of reel 150F or to the left of reel 150A. In the configuration of FIG. 29, several star-shaped symbols 184 are displayed in various display blocks 152 of reel 150G. More particularly, star-shaped symbols 184 are displayed respectively at the upper positions 151 of each of display blocks 152 in reels 154A, 154C, 154D and 154G. Symbols 184 also appear at the lower or shadow positions 153 in each of display blocks 152 in rows 154E and 154G. Symbol 184 does not appear in the remaining display locations in reel 150G which are thus left blank. In the scenario shown in FIG. 29, the star symbols 184 within rows 154C, 154E and 154G are added to the paylines formed in FIG. 24 in order to create paylines 160A, 162A, 164A and 166A each of which has seven symbols in it as opposed to only six symbols. The addition of symbols 184 to the respective paylines increases the payout value of each payline. While only one secondary or bonus reel 150G is shown in the figures, more than one bonus reel may be used which is activated in the same manner. When reel 150G appears on screen 14, it spins separately or by itself while the other reels and symbols therein remain stationary.
  • While symbols which are different from the standard symbols 36 and 156 may be used within the bonus reel 150G, such as star symbol 184, bonus reel 150G may also utilize the standard and shadow symbols as well, as illustrated in FIGS. 30 and 31. Thus, while the paylines shown in FIG. 29 include a star-shaped symbol 184 which is unlike the other symbols in the payline, the paylines in FIG. 30 are formed solely of like symbols. FIG. 30 illustrates a slightly different scenario during game play. More particularly, during the regular game play, six symbols 36A align within row 154B to form a straight payline 186 which serves as the activator for activating and displaying reel 150G in the same manner as previously discussed. However, when bonus reel 150G spins and then stops to position the various symbols within the respective rows, no symbol appears in the upper position of block 152 of reel 150G in row 154B. Thus, the activator payline 186 remains but is not expanded with another symbol 36A or any other symbol to add value to it. However, another payline 188 is created by the alignment of the symbol 36D in row 154C of reel 150G. Thus, payline 188 was not formed prior to the appearance and the spinning of reel 150G. Payline 188 includes six symbols 36D in row 154C respectively in reels 150A-E and 150G. Payline 88 only extends to reel 150G and not into reel 150F. Similarly, another straight payline 190 is formed by the appearance of symbol 156D in reel 150G at row 154E. Like payline 188, payline 190 was not formed until the addition of reel 150G and also includes only six symbols so that payline 190 does not include a symbol in reel 150A, but does extend from reel 150B to 150E and across reel 150G and 150F. FIG. 30 also shows two somewhat different straight paylines 192 and 194 which are respectively formed of standard symbols 36 and shadow symbols 156. More particularly, payline 192 is formed of six symbols 36B in row 154G respectively in reels 150A and 150C-G. A standard symbol 36A appears in the upper position of block 152 of row 154G in reel 150B. Because of the position of symbol 36A intermediate some of the symbols 36B in payline 192, payline 192 extends from reel 150A to 150F and intersects or is superimposed on symbol 36A in reel 150B. Payline 194 is made up of shadow symbols and is similar to payline 192 in that it was formed by the appearance of shadow symbol 156A in the lower position of block 152 of reel 150G in row 154G. Payline 194 is also similar to payline 192 in that an unlike symbol 156B is positioned intermediate some of the symbols 156A of the payline. More particularly, a symbol 156B appears in the lower position of display block 152 of reel 150E in row 154G. Like payline 192, payline 194 extends all the way across from reel 150A to reel 150F and intersects or is superimposed on the unlike symbol 156B which is not part of the payline.
  • FIG. 31 illustrates yet another scenario of game play. In FIG. 31, a payline 196 appears which served during standard play as the activator which activated reel 150G and the symbols thereon. Again, reel 150G appeared on screen 14, spun and stopped the spinning to position the various symbols shown therein. As a result, three additional paylines were formed, namely O-shaped paylines 198 and 200 and an S-shaped payline 202. O-shaped payline 198 illustrates a payline which is made up of a combination of standard symbols 36D and shadow symbols 156A. Payline 198 is formed of symbols only within reels 150E and 150G and only within rows 154B, C and D. Payline 198 also illustrates the incorporation of a plurality of symbols from bonus reel 150G in the formation of a payline. Payline 200 illustrates the formation of a distinctive payline made up only of shadow symbols 156D only within reels 150E-G and rows 154E and F. O-shaped payline 200 also illustrates a payline formed into adjacent rows which does not intersect the standard symbols 36B and 36C respectively at the upper position of the display blocks of reels 150E and 150F in row 154F. S-shaped symbol 202 is formed only of standard symbols 36B only within reels 150E-G and rows 154G-I. Like symbol 200, symbol 202 is not superimposed over and does not intersect the shadow symbols in the display blocks in which the standard symbols 36B forming the payline are disposed.
  • FIG. 32 illustrates yet another scenario in which an activator payline 204 activates a pair of secondary or bonus reels 150G and 150H which are displayed between primary reels 150E and 150F. All of the display positions on reels 150G and 150H are occupied by various symbols 36 and 156. FIG. 32 shows several paylines which illustrate that paylines may be formed of symbols which are positioned only on one or more of the secondary reels. More particularly, FIG. 32 shows an O-shaped payline 206 which is formed of standard symbols 36D in each of reels 150G and 150H and each of rows 154B, C and D along with the shadow symbols 156A within the common display blocks 152. FIG. 32 also illustrates a straight vertical payline 208 which is formed of shadow symbols 156B solely within reel 150G in rows 154E-G. FIG. 32 also illustrates two additional vertical paylines 210 and 212 each displayed within a single secondary reel 150H within rows 154G-I. More particularly, payline 210 is formed of standard symbols 36B and payline 212 is formed of shadow symbols 156D in the display blocks 152 which are common to that of payline 210.
  • Gaming machine 10 is thus programmed to provide a slot style game using reels with standard symbols as well as symbols which have activated and inactivated states. The latter symbols in the inactivated state may appear on the screen in a manner that indicates the inactivated state or may be hidden or non-visible in the inactivated state. An activator such as an additional payment by the player of the game or the formation of a payline is used to activate the inactivated symbols and or an inactivated bonus reel in order to increase the chance of a win or to increase the value of a win. The use of the shadow symbols and hidden reels and the like make the game more attractive to potential players.
  • In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.
  • Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.

Claims (20)

1. A gaming machine comprising:
a video display screen;
a game playable via display on the screen;
a wager mechanism for making a wager on the game;
a game play starter control for selectively initiating play of the game;
a plurality of primary reels displayable on the screen;
a plurality of display blocks on each reel;
a plurality of rows each comprising one of the display blocks in each reel;
a plurality of primary symbols respectively displayable in the display blocks and usable in making up pay lines; and
a plurality of secondary symbols respectively displayable in the display blocks and having an inactivated state and an activated state in which they are one of usable in making up pay lines and usable in adding value to a pay line.
2. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the primary and secondary symbols respectively overlap one another respectively within the display blocks.
3. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the secondary symbols are not displayed on the screen in the inactivated state.
4. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising an activator for activating the secondary symbols.
5. The gaming machine of claim 4 wherein the activator comprises a predetermined fee.
6. The gaming machine of claim 4 wherein the activator comprises a winning pay line.
7. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising a secondary reel displayable on the screen and having an inactivated state and an activated state; and a plurality of symbols displayable on the secondary reel which in the activated state are one of usable in making up pay lines and usable in adding value to a pay line.
8. The gaming machine of claim 7 wherein the secondary reel is not displayed on the screen in the inactivated state and is displayed on the screen in the activated state.
9. The gaming machine of claim 8 wherein the primary reels have respective home locations; and at least one of the primary reels is out of its home location when the secondary reel is displayed on the screen.
10. The gaming machine of claim 7 wherein the secondary reel is displayed on the screen between a first one and a second one of the primary reels.
11. The gaming machine of claim 7 further comprising an activator for activating the secondary reel.
12. The gaming machine of claim 11 wherein the activator comprises a winning pay line.
13. The gaming machine of claim 7 further comprising a first number of display positions on the secondary reel; and a second number of the symbols on the secondary reel which is less than the first number; and wherein each of the symbols on the secondary reel is displayed at a respective one of the display locations.
14. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising a first pay line displayable on the screen and made up of at least one of the primary symbols and at least one of the secondary symbols.
15. The gaming machine of claim 14 wherein the first pay line comprises one of the primary symbols and one of the secondary symbols in a common one of the display blocks.
16. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising a first pay line displayable on the screen and made up of a plurality of the primary symbols; and a second pay line displayable on the screen and made up of a plurality of the secondary symbols.
17. The gaming machine of claim 16 wherein the first and second pay lines are on a common one of the rows.
18. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising a first pay line comprising a first one and a second one of the symbols displayed respectively at a first one and a second one of the display blocks each on a first one of the reels.
19. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein there are a first number of the reels; and further comprising a first pay line which comprises symbols on a second number of the reels which is less than the first number.
20. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising at least one secondary reel displayable on the screen and having an inactivated state and an activated state; a plurality of symbols displayable on the at least one secondary reel which in the activated state are usable in making up pay lines; and a pay line made up only of the symbols on the at least one secondary reel.
US11/985,313 2007-05-02 2007-11-14 Gaming machine utilizing hidden and shadow symbols Abandoned US20080274788A1 (en)

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US20130184048A1 (en) * 2011-08-10 2013-07-18 Anthony Singer Gaming device having positional symbol awards
US8986101B2 (en) * 2011-08-10 2015-03-24 Igt Gaming device having positional symbol awards
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USD771193S1 (en) 2011-11-11 2016-11-08 Bally Gaming, Inc. Game display screen with multiple arrays of reels
USD783096S1 (en) 2011-11-11 2017-04-04 Bally Gaming, Inc. Game display screen with multiple arrays of reels
US9202345B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2015-12-01 Igt Gaming system and method for providing a symbol matrix with a moveable symbol display window
US9430900B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2016-08-30 Igt Gaming system and method for providing a symbol matrix with a moveable symbol display window
US9177447B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2015-11-03 Igt Gaming system and method for providing a symbol matrix with a moveable symbol display window
US9852574B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2017-12-26 Igt Gaming system and method for providing a symbol matrix with a moveable symbol display window
US10102711B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2018-10-16 Igt Gaming system and method for providing a symbol matrix with a moveable symbol display window
US9159194B2 (en) 2012-09-28 2015-10-13 Igt Method and apparatus for attractive bonusing
US8662982B1 (en) 2012-09-28 2014-03-04 Igt Method and apparatus for attractive bonusing
US10169957B2 (en) 2014-02-13 2019-01-01 Igt Multiple player gaming station interaction systems and methods

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Effective date: 20080102

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

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