US20100203948A1 - Gaming machine and game having multiple levels - Google Patents

Gaming machine and game having multiple levels Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100203948A1
US20100203948A1 US12/760,437 US76043710A US2010203948A1 US 20100203948 A1 US20100203948 A1 US 20100203948A1 US 76043710 A US76043710 A US 76043710A US 2010203948 A1 US2010203948 A1 US 2010203948A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
symbols
game
level
set
player
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Abandoned
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US12/760,437
Inventor
Sal Falciglia, Sr.
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Gaming Realms PLC
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Falciglia Sr Sal
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Priority to US14679109P priority Critical
Priority to US12/456,565 priority patent/US7717786B1/en
Application filed by Falciglia Sr Sal filed Critical Falciglia Sr Sal
Priority to US12/760,437 priority patent/US20100203948A1/en
Publication of US20100203948A1 publication Critical patent/US20100203948A1/en
Priority claimed from US12/932,209 external-priority patent/US20110151957A1/en
Assigned to FALCIGLIA, DOLORES reassignment FALCIGLIA, DOLORES ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FALCIGLIA, SALVATORE, SR.
Assigned to SLINGO, INC. reassignment SLINGO, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FALCIGLIA, DOLORES, FALCIGLIA, SALVATORE, SR.
Assigned to REALNETWORKS, INC. reassignment REALNETWORKS, INC. SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GAMING REALMS PLC
Assigned to GAMING REALMS, PLC reassignment GAMING REALMS, PLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SLINGO, INC.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3262Player actions which determine the course of the game, e.g. selecting a prize to be won, outcome to be achieved, game to be played
    • G07F17/3265Influencing the position of stopped moving members to achieve a winning arrangement, e.g. nudging, shuffling, holding

Abstract

A game has the potential for multiple levels. The game initiates with a base or first level of one or more symbols. If an advancing outcome is received, the game advances to a second level. In one embodiment, the game builds as successive levels are played, such as by adding one or more symbols at each level of the game. The game may comprise a video-slot type game in which a base set of one or more rows of symbols are displayed and evaluated and where an additional row of symbols is added at each successive level. Advancing outcomes of symbols may comprise designated combinations of symbols along a pay line and including certain symbol positions, such as at least one symbol in a top row of the symbol set.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATION DATA
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/456,565, filed Jun. 17, 2009, and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/146,791, filed Jan. 23, 2009.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to gaming machines and systems for presenting games.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Wager and amusement gaming continues to grow in popularity. Nonetheless, casinos and other establishments that offer wager based gaming face the challenge of developing new and exciting games in order to maintain player interest. One example of a popular game which is presented in both amusement and wager-based formats is the game of SLINGO (registered trademark of Slingo, Inc.). This game was originally developed well over a decade ago and is the subject of numerous patents. However, in order to not only maintain the interest of existing players of the original game but to draw additional players to the game, the inventors herein have developed a new and exciting version of the game which implements a new game play mechanic and new game play features as compared to the original game.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • One aspect of the invention comprises methods of presenting and playing games. Another aspect of the invention comprises gaming machines and gaming systems for presenting at least one game.
  • In one embodiment of a game, a single game has the potential for multiple levels. In one game variation, an initial symbol or symbols may be displayed and it may be determined if the player has received an advancing outcome. If so, the game may advance to a next or successive level in which at least one additional symbol is displayed and the resulting set of symbols are evaluated. The game may progress through multiple levels. Winnings may be awarded for advancing outcomes or for reaching certain game levels.
  • In one embodiment, an advancing outcome may be achieved if the particular symbol or symbols in a set match a predetermined winning or advancing set of symbols. In another embodiment, each level comprises a symbol matching event in which a set of base symbols are compared against a set of game symbols for potential matches. If a required minimum number of matches or other criteria are met, the game may continue to the next level. In this embodiment, the game symbols may be displayed in rows, such as rows of a matrix having m rows by n columns of symbol positions. The base symbols may then be displayed in a row having n positions, where each base symbol in an individual nth position is compared to the corresponding game symbol in the same nth position.
  • As another aspect of the invention, successive levels of the game build upon prior levels. A first level of the game may utilize a first or base set of symbols. Successive levels of the game may add one or more symbols to the base set, whereby later levels of the game are played with larger sets of symbols.
  • In one embodiment, the game is played as a wagering game. Awards, such as credits representing monetary value, may be awarded for matches of individual game symbols and/or matches of patterns of game symbols.
  • As one example of a method of presenting one embodiment of a game, a wager is accepted from a player. A first row of n game symbols is then activated relative to a matrix of symbol positions. A row of base symbols having n positions is displayed. The base symbol in each nth position is then compared to the corresponding game symbol in the same position for potential symbol matches. One or more awards may be awarded for symbol matches. If a required number of symbol matches are not received relative to the first row of game symbols, the game may end. If a required number of symbol matches are received relative to the first row of game symbols, the game preferably continues by repeating the following sequence until there are no unactivated rows of symbol positions on the matrix: (1) activating a next row of game symbols relative to the matrix of symbol positions; (2) displaying a new set of base symbols; (3) comparing the base symbols and game symbols which are in corresponding positions for potential symbol matches; (4) awarding awards for symbol matches; (5) if a required number of symbol matches are not received relative to the next row of game symbols, ending the game; and (6) if a required number of symbol matches are received (or other advancing criteria are met) relative to the next row of game symbols, repeating steps (1)-(6).
  • Additional aspects of the invention comprise game features. The game features may be utilized with games of the invention or other games. For example, in one embodiment, awards for winning events in higher levels of the game may be higher than those in lower levels of the game. For example, matches of game symbols in a first row may yield a first range of awards, while matches of game symbols in a second row may yield a second higher range of awards.
  • In one embodiment, a game may include one or more wild symbols. A wild symbol may be matched to any game symbol. In one embodiment, the wild symbol may be a Joker which is displayed as one or more of the base symbols. A methodology may be applied to the application of a Joker to maximize the player's winnings. For example, Jokers may be matched to particular game symbols in a manner which yields high award symbol matching patterns or which match game symbols in higher levels (having higher awards associated therewith).
  • A game may also include mystery bonuses or prizes, as well as a game advance feature. In one embodiment, the game advances from one level to another if a required minimum number of symbol matches are received relative to a first level or row of game symbols. In another embodiment, a player might receive a game advance symbol, such as a frog, which causes the game to advance to the next level even if the required number of symbol matches is not received.
  • As another example of a method of presenting an embodiment of a game, an initial set of at least one symbol is displayed in a first level of the game. If it is determined if the initial set does not include or comprise an advancing outcome, the game may end. If the set does include an advancing outcome, at least one additional symbol is added to the set of symbols in a next or successive level. The new set of symbols is then evaluated for an advancing outcome.
  • In this embodiment, the game may be a slot-type game in which one or more rows of symbols are displayed in the initial level and one or more rows are added in each successive level. In one configuration, an advancing outcome comprises at least one predetermined combination of symbols along an active pay line. Further, for the outcome to be an advancing outcome, the combination of symbols along the pay line may be required to include at least one symbol in a particular position or row, such as a top row. Alternatively, or in addition, an advancing outcome may require a particular minimum number of winning outcomes per level.
  • A wide variety of aspects of games, gaming machines and game features will be appreciated from the description herein. As detailed herein, one or more games offer a player substantial excitement relative to the potential of advancing through multiple levels of a game. This excitement is enhanced when the game is played as a wagering game offering the player opportunities for winnings.
  • Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a flow diagram of a method of presenting/playing a game in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
  • FIGS. 2A-2F are exemplary game interfaces showing various game events;
  • FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of a method of presenting/playing a game in accordance with another embodiment of the invention;
  • FIGS. 4A-4C are exemplary game interfaces showing various game events; and
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a gaming machine for presenting one or more games, such as games of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough description of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.
  • One aspect of the invention comprises methods of presenting and playing games using symbols or indicia. One embodiment of a game is a symbol matching game in which one or more sets or rows of base symbols are matched to sets or rows of game symbols. Another embodiment of the invention is a game having one or more levels or parts, including where a player must obtain certain game results in order to advance to successive parts or levels of the game. Yet another aspect of the invention is game where symbols are added during portions or levels of the game. Other aspects of the invention comprise gaming machines and systems for implementing or presenting the games of the invention.
  • FIG. 1 is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method of game play/presentation in accordance with the invention. As described below, this embodiment of the game includes both a symbol-matching feature and a game advance feature.
  • In one embodiment, a game of the invention is presented as a wager-based game. Thus, in accordance with a step S1, a player may place a wager. Such a wager may be accepted by a game operator, such as at a gaming machine. As indicated below, the wager might comprise money, chips, tokens, credits or the like having physical form or merely represented electronically.
  • In accordance with the game, in a step S2, a first set of game symbols is displayed or made active related to a first set of positions. Preferably, the first set of game symbols comprise a sub-set of a larger set of symbols, or comprise the random distribution of a set of symbols. Such symbols may have various forms and may comprise letters, numbers, words, images or the like. In one embodiment, the symbols in the set of symbols may all be unique. In preferred embodiments, one or more of the symbols in the set of symbols may be duplicated or repeated. For example, the first set of game symbols may comprise five (5) symbols selected from a larger set of fifteen (15) symbols. In one embodiment, the first set of game symbols is displayed in a row of n columns. Preferably, there are at least 1 and more preferably, at least 5, columns.
  • In a step S3, a set of base symbols is displayed for matching to the first set of game symbols. In a preferred embodiment, the set of generated base symbols is equal in number to the symbols in the first set of game symbols. For example, if the first set of game symbols comprises a row of five (5) symbols, the set of base symbols comprises five (5) symbols. Preferably, the set of base symbols is randomly generated.
  • In a preferred embodiment, symbols in the first set of game symbols and the set of base symbols are compared positionally. In one embodiment, the first set of game symbols and the set of base symbols are arranged into a row of n columns, and the symbols in each nth column are compared with one another.
  • In one embodiment of the game, the object is to match as many of the base symbols and game symbols which are in corresponding positions, as possible. As detailed below, awards may be provided for matches. Preferably a match occurs if the symbols in corresponding positions are the same.
  • In one embodiment of the game, if certain game criteria are met, then the game continues on to a next level or portion of the game. This feature may be referred to as a “game advance” feature. In a preferred embodiment, in a step S4, if a certain minimum number of matches are achieved relative to the first set of game symbols, the game continues with play of a second set of game symbols. For example, a player may be required to achieve at least one match relative to the first set of game symbols to advance the game to the next level and play the second set of game symbols. In that event, a second set of game symbols is displayed or rendered active, as in a step S5. Preferably, the second set of game symbols comprises the same number of symbols as the first set of game symbols. For example, the second set of game symbols may comprise a row of n columns of symbols. The second set of game symbols may be displayed adjacent the first set of game symbols, such as in a matrix directly above the first set of game symbols.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 1 and as described in more detail below, in one embodiment, the criteria for advancing might comprise other than a minimum number of matches. For example, the game might advance if a player received a particular special symbol, such as a “frog” which symbolizes entitlement of the player to leap or advance automatically to the next row or level. In such a configuration, the game may include an additional step, such as a step S4A in which a determination is made as to whether such additional criteria for advancement have been met.
  • Another set of base symbols is then displayed for matching to the second set of game symbols, as in a step S6. Preferably, this set of base symbols is randomly selected and so may differ from the first set of base symbols. Once again, the generated base symbols are compared to the second set of game symbols for potential matches. Awards may again be provided for matches. If a certain minimum number of matches are achieved relative to the second set of game symbols (or, as detailed below, other criteria are met), as in a step S7, the game may continue to a third set of game symbols. This process may repeat until all of the sets of game symbols are displayed, as in a step S8. For example, in one embodiment, a total of m rows by n columns of symbols may be displayed in a matrix format. The first set of game symbols may comprise a first row of n columns of symbols; the second set of game symbols may comprise the second row of n columns of game symbols, and so on. In a preferred embodiment, there may be twenty-five (25) symbols arranged into a five by five (5×5) matrix.
  • If the player successfully advances through all of the levels of the game and/or if the requisite number of symbol matches are not received, then awards received for the game may be paid, as in step S9. As described in greater detail below, awards may be provided for symbol matches or other events. In one embodiment, the awards may comprise credits. The awards might also or instead comprise points, tangible goods, discounts, tickets, money (such as coins or paper currency) or the like. The game may then end at a step S10.
  • In accordance with the invention, a game is provided which includes a game “advance” feature. In particular, a single game has the potential to comprise multiple levels or portions. If a player achieves certain thresholds or requirements, the player may advance or move from a first level of the game through additional levels of the game. In this manner, a player is enticed to try and reach the final stage or level of the game. Further, the play of the game in levels progressing from a first level to a final level enhances the excitement of the game.
  • One embodiment of a preferred embodiment of a game in accordance with the invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 2A-2D. Referring to FIG. 2A, in one embodiment of the game, game information is displayed to a player. As detailed below, this game information might be displayed as a graphical user interface by a video display, such as a display of a gaming machine or computer.
  • In one embodiment, the game information comprises sets of game symbols to be matched, sets of generated base symbols, and bet and win information, among other information. In one embodiment, a matrix 20 of symbol positions is displayed. In a preferred embodiment, the matrix 20 has five (5) rows and five (5) columns for a total of twenty-five (25) positions.
  • In one embodiment, each of the positions of the matrix 20 has an associated symbol or indicia. Preferably, the symbols are randomly selected, such as by one or more random number generators. As detailed below, at the start of the game, only a first row 40 of symbols is active. Thus, the other symbols associated with the matrix may not yet be displayed or might be displayed in a different fashion (such as in a shaded fashion as shown in FIG. 2A). Likewise, the first row 40 of symbols may be highlighted or displayed in a manner indicating that those symbols are active.
  • In one embodiment, the symbols in the matrix may be referred to as the “game symbols” of symbols, in that these symbols do not change during the play of the game.
  • The game information also includes sets of symbols to be matched to the game symbols. In one embodiment, a row of base symbols 28 is displayed. In a preferred embodiment, this set of symbols 28 may change during the game. Preferably, there are a number of base symbols equal to the number of symbols in each set of game symbols, such as equal to the number of columns in the matrix 20. Thus, where the matrix 20 has five (5) columns, there are five (5) base symbols. In a preferred embodiment, the base symbols 28 are arranged into a row positioned below the matrix 20.
  • A payout range 22 may be indicated relative to one or more of the game symbols. In one embodiment, a payout range 22 is indicated relative to each row of symbols. For example, such may be indicated to the left or right side of each row of the matrix 20. The payout range 22 may indicate one or more values or a range of values for awards for matches of the designated symbols (such as the symbols in that row).
  • An award total 24 may be indicated. In one embodiment, an award total 24 may be indicated relative to each row of symbols, such as to the right of each row of symbols.
  • A variety of other information may also be displayed to the player. For example, various bet amount buttons 26 may be provided. These bet amount buttons 26 may permit a user to place wagers in particular amounts, such as amounts of 50 credits, 100 credits or the like, including a “max bet” which permits the player to place the maximum wager allowed by the game.
  • The interface may also display information such as the total number of credits belonging to the player 36, the number of credits won by the player for a particular portion of the game 37, a total win for the game 38, and a number of free spins 60.
  • In one embodiment, the game may offer one or more bonus awards. Such may comprise progressive awards which change in value over time. Information regarding these various awards may be displayed, such as in a progressive jackpot window 30 at the top of the interface.
  • Of course, the arrangement, content and appearance of the interface may vary. For example, the interface may utilize various artwork such as colors and themes. The size of the interface and the arrangement of the features thereof may vary.
  • As detailed below, a player may provide input to the game in various manners. In one embodiment, such may be by input to a touch screen relative to one or more of the buttons or areas of the interface. Input might also be provided to external devices such as physical buttons or the like.
  • In one embodiment, game play begins by a player placing a wager. In one embodiment, this may be by the player providing input to one of the bet amount buttons 26. Game play may then automatically be initiated or it may be initiated, by a player providing input to a “spin” or similar button 32. In one preferred embodiment, if a player places a maximum wager, such as by pressing the “MAX BET” button, the game automatically starts. On the other hand, if a player places a wager less than the maximum wager, such as by placing a wager of an amount such as 50, 100, 150, etc. credits, then the player may be required to also press the Spin button 32 to then start the game.
  • In a first portion or level of the game, only a first row 40 of the matrix 20 is active. As indicated above, the symbols of that row 40 may be highlighted or otherwise designated to indicate to the player the active status thereof. In one embodiment, the player is also provided with information regarding the number of matches to the symbols of the first row which are necessary to advance in the game and the value of awards for matches. In one embodiment, one or more matches are required to advance past the first level of the game.
  • A set of base symbols 28 is displayed, such as below the first row 40 of game symbols. The base symbols 28 may be displayed in alignment with the symbols in the first row 40. Preferably, the symbols in corresponding positions of the base symbols 28 and the first row 40 of game symbols are compared to determine if they match. In the embodiment illustrated, this comprises comparing the symbols in the same columns 50, 52, 54, 56, 58. Thus, the symbol in the first position of the base symbols 28 is compared to the symbol in the first position of the first row 40 of symbols (i.e. the symbols in the first column 50 are compared). If the symbols match, a match may be declared or indicated, such as by highlighting the matched symbol in the first row 40. In the example illustrated in FIG. 2A, the base symbol “15” is compared to game symbol “14” in the first column 50, the base symbol “17” is compared to the game symbol “17” in the second column 52, the base symbol “44” is compared to the game symbol “36” in the third column 54, and so on. Obviously, in this example, the only base symbols “17” and “70” match corresponding game symbols “17” and “70” in the second column 52 and fifth column 58. Such a match may be indicated by highlighting the game symbol, showing a new symbol in that symbol location or the like.
  • As indicated above, the game may be played with a variety of symbols. Such may comprise numbers, letters, icons or images, or combinations thereof. In one preferred embodiment, the game is played with the numbers 1-75. The numbers 1-15 are used relative to the first column, the numbers 16-30 are used relative to the second column, and so on. Thus, one or more random number generators may be used to select a number from the group 1-15 for each of the positions in the first column. In one embodiment, the numbers in each column are unique. In this configuration, the sets of base symbols are selected from the same groups of numbers. For example, each time a set of base symbols is generated for matching to each row of game symbols in the matrix, the base symbols are selected from the set 1-15 as to the first position, 16-30 as to the second position, etc.
  • In one embodiment, awards are randomly generated and assigned to each position in the matrix 20. The awards may be selected from the indicated value range 22. For example, relative to the first row 40 of game symbols, awards may be randomly selected from the range of 5 to 20 credits for each symbol position. In a preferred embodiment, the range for each row or level of the game increases relative to the previous row or level, and the particular awards or ranges are preferably higher for games where the player places a higher wager.
  • In the event of a match, the number of credits (or other value, award or additional game feature) which was assigned to that symbol position is preferably awarded to the player. The particular award for a match may be shown, such as in the matrix 20 adjacent to the symbol which was matched, as illustrated in FIG. 2A. In one embodiment, the symbol that was matched may be removed from the matrix 20 and the winning award may be indicated in its place. In addition, the total of the awards for a particular row or level may be indicated in the award total area 24 for the row.
  • In the event a player meets the required criteria for the first level, the player may advance to a second level of the game. In the preferred embodiment, as indicated, this criterion comprises a minimum number of symbol matches. As described above, however, a player might advance based upon other criteria, such as the appearance of a game advance symbol.
  • If the player does not meet the required criteria, such as the required minimum number of symbol matches, the game preferably ends. If the player does meet the required criteria, the game preferably moves or advances to the next portion or level of the game. Preferably, at this time, a second row 42 of game symbols becomes active, as illustrated in FIG. 2B. Again, the game symbols in the second row 42 may at that time be highlighted or another designation may be provided to the player to indicate that those symbols are active.
  • A second set of base symbols 28 is then generated for comparison to the second row 42 of game symbols. The second set of base symbols 28 is preferably again randomly selected and compared position by position to the game symbols in the second row 42. As with the first row 40, matches preferably have associated awards and the total of the awards for the row may be indicated to the player.
  • In a preferred embodiment of the invention, once a row or level of game symbols has been activated, the row or level remains active and can be matched through the entirety of the game. In this manner, a player may receive matches relative to symbols in earlier activated rows or levels and receive additional awards, including improving the probability of receiving patterns or combinations of matches across multiple rows or levels. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2B, the number “36” in the second set of base symbols 28 does not match the corresponding number “43” in the second row 42 of game symbols, but it does match number “36” in the previously activated first row 40 of game symbols. As a result, an additional award of 5 credits has been paid to the player for that match.
  • Once again, if certain criteria are met, the game preferably continues. In one embodiment, this again comprises a certain minimum number of matches. Preferably, this number is equal to or greater than that required to advance from the first row 40 of game symbols. For example, a single match may be required to advance from the first row 40, and two matches may be required to advance from the second row 42. If such a requirement is not met, the game preferably ends. If the requirement is met, the game preferably continues or advances to the next level.
  • In the configuration illustrated where there are five (5) rows, this game preferably continues in this fashion by the game either ending or continuing to the next level to a third row 44, a fourth row 46 and a fifth row 48, as illustrated in FIG. 2C. Once the game reaches the fifth row or level and matches are determined relative to the fifth row 48, the game ends. Again, when the player advances to the next level or row, a new set of base symbols 28 is generated and displayed for comparison to the current active row of game symbols.
  • Additional aspects of the invention will now be described in detail.
  • In one embodiment, a player keeps accrued winnings even if the game ends before the player reaches the final level. Thus, for example, if the player won 10 credits by matches relative to the first row 40, the player would retain those winnings regardless of how far the player advances in the game. In other embodiments of the game, however, the player might be required to reach the final level in order to win the awards accrued during the game.
  • In a preferred embodiment, the game comprises a single game with multiple levels. Thus, when a player places at least a minimum wager, the player has the opportunity to play the game through all of the levels without any additional wager. In other embodiment, the player might be required to place a wager to continue through each level.
  • In one embodiment, the game may include other types of awards. For example, awards might be represented by secondary symbols in the event of a match. In one embodiment, one or more gold coins (or other symbols) might be associated with game symbols or game symbol positions. If the player receives a match as to that symbol or that position, then the gold coin may be displayed to the player. Instead of a normal award, the player may receive a higher than normal award for that match. In one embodiment, that award might comprise a randomly selected value (such as from a pre-defined set of values like 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 or 200 credits). Such a value might be awarded directly, or it might be multiplied by the player's wager.
  • In one embodiment, a player may be awarded one or more free spins. Such spins may be indicated in a free spin area 60 of the interface. Free spins may be awarded based upon various criteria, including randomly and as a secondary award to a symbol match. In one embodiment, a player may utilize a free spin to obtain another set of base symbols relative to a particular level of the game. For example, a player may advance to the second level of the game, wherein the second row 42 of game symbols is activated. After a set of base symbols 28 is generated or activated, the player might have received only a single match. If two matches are required to advance from the second level to the third level of the game, the game would normally end. However, if the player has a free spin, the player may use that spin and to cause another set of base symbols 28 to be generated. That extra set of base symbols may result in additional matches of the game symbols in the second row 42. If so, the game may then advance to the next level (third row).
  • In one embodiment, if a player reaches the final level and the player has one or more free spins remaining, the free spin(s) may be used and the extra set of base symbols may be generated and may be compared to the game symbols in any of the rows or levels. This may result in additional matches and additional awards.
  • In one embodiment, a player may receive awards for combinations of symbol matches. In a preferred embodiment, a player receives an award for matching all of the symbols along a single row, a single column or a diagonal of the matrix. Such a combination of matches may be referred to as a SLINGO (registered trademark of Slingo, Inc.). The awards for such combinations of matches may vary. In one embodiment, the award for a diagonal SLINGO combination is higher than that for a vertical combination, which is in turn higher than that for a horizontal combination.
  • Further, awards might be provided for other patterns or combinations of symbol matches such as an “X” pattern as illustrated in FIG. 2F, or other patterns such as “four corners” or the like. Such patterns might vary depending upon the arrangement or configuration of the game symbols.
  • FIG. 2C illustrates an example of the game where a player has advanced to the final level. As a result of the comparison of another set of base symbols 28 to the last row of game symbols 48, the player has completed a SLINGO combination in the form of a set of symbol matches along one of the diagonals through the matrix 20.
  • As indicated above, the interface may be configured to display a jackpot window 30. That window may display the amounts of one or more jackpots. The jackpots may comprise large payouts for particular events, such as the receipt of particular combinations of symbol matches. The jackpots might comprise fixed amounts or comprise variable amounts. For example, one or more of the jackpots might comprise progressive jackpots. Such jackpots may grow in value over time. The jackpots may be funded in various manners. For example, the jackpots may be funded from a portion of wagers at one gaming machine or a plurality of gaming machines, as is known in the art.
  • The game may include a variety of other features. In one embodiment, a player may be permitted to advance to the next level even if the minimum number of symbol matches is not obtained. In one embodiment the game may be configured to randomly generate an “advance” symbol relative to one or more of the symbols. The advance symbol might comprise a “frog” symbol. If the symbol is generated relative to a particular row, then the play of the game preferably automatically advances to the next level or row. In one embodiment, such a symbol may be received relative to any row except the last (fifth row 48 in this case). In a preferred configuration, if such a symbol were assigned to a position in the fifth row and a match occurred relative to that position thus triggering the symbol, the symbol is instead treated as a free spin award. In that event, the frog symbol would not appear, but instead the number of free spins would be incremented in the free spin area 60.
  • FIG. 2E illustrates one example of such a feature. As illustrated, relative to play of the second row 42, the player received only a single match of a base symbol 28 to a game symbol, that of the number “54” in the fourth column. Normally, this would result in the game ending because the player did not receive the required minimum number of 2 symbol matches. However, in this example, the player received the “frog” symbol in the set of base symbols 28. This symbol resulted in the game automatically advancing to the next row or level of the game (see step S4A of FIG. 1). In another embodiment, instead of such a symbol appearing as one of the base symbols 28, the symbol might be associated with a symbol position in the matrix 20, wherein if that symbol is matched, the “frog” or other advance symbols is released (for example, the “frog” symbol might have been associated with the number “54” in the matrix, such that when that number was matched, the “frog” symbol was released and displayed, causing the game to advance).
  • In one embodiment, the game may include wild symbols. Such symbols might comprise, for example, a Joker, as illustrated in FIG. 2D. In one embodiment, a Joker which is displayed as one of the base symbols may be matched to any active game symbol. In one embodiment, there is a preferred hierarchy for determining which game symbol a Joker will be applied to as a match. There are often several combinations of rows where each Joker can be applied or matched. In one embodiment, the gaming machine evaluates (such as by a sub-routine) each valid combination and assigns a point score to each one to determine which one will maximize the player's winning payout. Each possible combination of Joker placement is evaluated for the following:
  • 1) If a combination completes a progressive jackpot pattern, then this combination is given top priority;
  • 2) If a combination enables the player to advance to the next row, this combination is given second priority;
  • 3) If a combination completes one or more designated or selected symbol combinations, such as on or more SLINGO combinations (i.e. one or more rows, columns, or diagonal matches), then that combination is given third priority. The more of such combinations that are completed, the higher priority it gets over other combinations of this kind; and
  • 4) Otherwise, a Joker(s) is placed in the highest row(s) possible.
  • In the event that two combinations are given equal priority, the routine will assign a point score to each Joker according to which row each Joker in the combination will be placed in. The higher the row, the higher the score.
  • As one example, a Joker may be displayed in the first and third positions or columns of the base symbols. Assume that the first Joker can only be placed at either the second, third or fourth row and that the middle Joker can only be placed in the third row. Also, assume that a criss-cross progressive jackpot would be completed if the center position of the matrix were completed (which is the only position the second Joker can be placed). In this event, there are three possible combinations:
  • 1) First Joker placed at row two, second Joker placed at row three;
  • 2) First Joker placed at row three, second Joker placed at row three; or
  • 3) First Joker placed at row four, second Joker placed at row three.
  • Each combination will complete the criss-cross pattern. However, in accordance with the above-described preferences, two points are assigned to the first combination since the first Joker will be placed in the second row, three points for the second combination, and so on. The third combination would thus ultimately be chosen since it completes the criss-cross pattern while maximizing the player's winnings by placing the non-pattern-completing Joker at the highest row possible (since winnings for symbol matches have a higher range for higher levels or rows).
  • FIG. 2D illustrates another example of the placement of a Joker. In this case, the player has advanced to the last level of the game and is playing the fifth row 48 of game symbols. As illustrated, the first symbol of the base symbol set 28 is a Joker. The Joker could be placed in the fourth row 46 and complete a winning SLINGO combination along that row. However, a better result is obtained for the player by placing the Joker in the fifth row 48, since that placement then both completes a SLINGO combination (a diagonal) and results in placement of the Joker in a higher level or row, thus resulting in potential higher winnings for the player.
  • When determining the best combination, it is important to note that the gaming machine can account for matches made by other base symbols. All other symbol matches are processed first, even though they may be made subsequent the positions with Jokers.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, a game may include a mystery bonus. Such a bonus may be indicated by an animated character such as a Cherub. The Cherub may appear randomly, such as by being displayed on the interface after a set of base symbols are displayed or after a player has unsuccessfully completed a level (so that the game would otherwise end). In one embodiment, the Cherub could result in additional awards to the player and potentially prevent the game from ending. When the Cherub is displayed, it could do some or all of the following features: (1) match game symbols of the matrix 20; (2) add Jokers to the base symbols 28; (3) automatically advance the player to the next row or level of the game; and (4) award one or more free spins (such as by increasing the free spin count in the free spin area 60), thus permitting the display of a new set of base symbols.
  • As one example, the Cherub could be displayed on the screen and be configured to randomly select symbols for matching to the active game numbers displayed in the matrix 20. Such additional matches yield additional winnings to the player and may result in the player receiving a required number of matches as to the current row to advance to the next level/row. For example, the Cherub might be animated and use a wand to select particular displayed game symbols, at random, that automatically are designated as matches (even though they were never matched by a base symbol).
  • As another example, the Cherub could be displayed on the screen and be configured to add one or more Jokers to a base symbol set. Those Jokers could then be used to match one or more game symbols as in the manner above, again triggering additional awards for a player and potentially resulting in the player advancing to the next game level. The Cherub might add a single Joker or multiple Jokers. For example, the Cherub might be animated and use a wand to convert already displayed base symbols (such as numbers) into Jokers.
  • As another example, the Cherub could be displayed on the screen and award a player a free advance to the next level/row. When the Cherub does this; the matrix will increase by one (1) row and the player will automatically be given another spin, thus receiving an additional opportunity for matches. This feature would only be active if the player has not already reached the final level or row.
  • As a final example, the Cherub could be displayed on the screen and cause another set of base symbols to be displayed relative to a particular row of game symbols (i.e. a “free spin”). The new base symbols may result in additional matches of game symbols in the active row, yielding additional awards and potentially advancement to the next level/row. For example, the Cherub might be animated to use a wand to cause the base symbols to rotate or spin to a new set of base symbols.
  • The Cherub may be configured to appear only appear once during the game and may accomplish one or more features, such as those described above. In order for the Cherub to be active, a player may be required to place a wager of a certain size. In another embodiment, the player may be required to place a side of bonus wager in order to activate the feature. For example, the player might be required to place an additional wager of 50 credits to activate the feature above and beyond the base wager the player places.
  • As indicated, a player may be permitted to place wagers in various amounts. In one embodiment, the size of a player's wager may determine the number of game features which are activated. For example, a wager of 50 credits may activate the “Jokers” feature; a wager of 100 credits may further activate the “Gold Coins” feature; a wager of 150 credits may activate the “Frog” feature; a wager of 200 credits may activate the “Free Spins” feature; and a maximum wager of 250 credits may activate the “Jackpots” feature. Of course, the size of the wagers and the types of features which are activated may vary.
  • In one embodiment, presentation of the game may be automatic and may not require player input beyond the player being required to place a wager and, in some embodiments, starting the game via the “spin” button or the like. For example, the game may automatically display the base symbols and compare those symbols to the first row of game symbols and indicate any matches. If the required number of matches is received, the game may automatically move to the second level, etc. In other embodiments, however, the player might be required to provide various inputs. For example, a player may be required to compare the base symbols to the game symbols and indicate matches, such as by providing input to a touch screen proximate to a matching symbol. A player might also be required to provide a “spin” input in order to initiate each level of the game. A player might also be required to provide input to utilize a free spin.
  • It will be appreciated that the game may comprise the play of various number of game symbols. For example, instead of a 5×5 matrix of game symbols, the matrix might be a 4×2, a 6×7, a 3×5, a 4×4, or an 8×8 matrix or the like. In addition, the number of game symbols in different rows could potentially vary. For example, there might only be three (3) game symbols in the first row, four (4) in the second row, and so on. In such event, the number of base symbols which are displayed may vary to match the corresponding number of game symbols in the active row.
  • It will also be appreciated that while the game may advance through rows of a matrix starting at the bottom of the matrix and working upwardly, the game might advance in other manners. For example, the rows could be played from top to bottom. In another embodiment, the sets of game and base symbols might be displayed in completely different fashions other than the displayed matrix configuration.
  • In one embodiment, the base symbols may be referred to as “spun” symbols. In particular, as detailed below, the base symbols might be displayed by one or more mechanical spinning reels. Alternatively, they might be displayed in graphical from via a video display in a manner which makes it appear that symbols are spinning and stopping at positions to display the base symbols. Of course, the base and game symbols may be displayed in various manners and via various mechanisms.
  • As indicated above, one aspect of the invention is a game having multiple levels and an “advance” feature. In particular, a game is configured to have multiple parts or levels. Preferably, a player is permitted to play a first part or level of the game and must then advance to the other parts or levels. Certain criteria may be required to be met in order for the player to advance. As indicated above, the criteria for advancing from one level to a next level may be a winning outcome. In one embodiment, the game may have a plurality of parts or levels and the player may attempt to advance through the parts or levels successively.
  • Yet another aspect of the invention is a game having multiple levels or parts where the game builds through such levels or parts. In one embodiment, a first or initial set of symbols are used in a first level of the game. Those symbols are used in later successive parts or levels of the game, such as by adding one or more symbols in each additional level. In this manner, later levels or portions utilize larger sets of symbols.
  • Another embodiment of a game having the advance and building features will be described with reference to FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the game does not have a symbol-matching feature like the game above, but is instead a slot or video poker type game in which a player attempts to achieve certain combinations of symbols.
  • Once again, the game is preferably played as a wagering game. As such, in a step S1, a player may place, and the game operator/machine may accept a bet or wager.
  • After a wager or bet has been placed, a base or initial set of one or more symbols are displayed to a player, as in step S2. As indicated herein, the symbol(s) may be displayed by a video display, reels, on physical elements such as cards or other objects. In one embodiment, the game is a video slot-type game in which symbols are displayed by a video display of a gaming machine. However, the game might be a video poker type game, or rotating reel, physical card, or other type of game.
  • The base set of symbols might comprise as few as one symbol or a set of symbols, such as two symbols. The symbols may be arranged in various configurations or patterns, such as randomly, in a row, a column, a matrix (of rows and columns), a pyramid, etc. For example, the set of symbols might comprise a row of two or more symbols or a column of two or more symbols.
  • The one or more symbols in the base set of symbols may be selected from a group of symbols. Such a selection is preferably random, such as by using a random number generator, by random dealing, by random rotation of reel(s), etc. (and wherein the symbols may be displayed in various fashions such as by one or more video displays, physical reels, cards or the like). For example, the base set of symbols might comprise a single symbol selected randomly from a group of two or more game symbols.
  • In a step S3, it is determined if an outcome of this first part or level of the game is an advancing outcome. In one embodiment, this step comprises determining if the player has received an advancing outcome from the base set of symbols.
  • In one embodiment, one or more symbols or combinations thereof may be deemed advancing combinations or outcomes. Preferably, the one or more advancing outcomes or combinations are fewer than all possible outcomes or combinations. Thus, for example, if the base set of symbols comprises a single symbol selected from a group of ten possible symbols, one or more of the particular symbols (but not all ten) may be deemed advancing symbols. When the base set comprises multiple symbols, advancing outcomes may comprise one or more symbols. In one embodiment, the one or more advancing symbols may be required to appear or be located in certain positions or combinations, such as along a designated pay line including one or more particular symbol positions. As also detailed below, an advancing outcome might require multiple winning combinations.
  • If a player does not receive an advancing outcome, then the game preferably ends, as in a step S4. In that event, the player may lose their wager and receive no corresponding winnings or awards for playing the game. In another embodiment, as detailed below, a player might receive a winning outcome but not an advancing outcome. In such event, the player might be paid winnings for the winning outcome but the game might otherwise end (and not progress to the next level).
  • In one embodiment, advancing outcomes and/or winning outcomes may be designated by a pay table. Such a pay table may designate associated winnings or awards for those outcomes. In a step S5, if the player received an advancing outcome, the winnings or awards for that outcome may be paid to the player. Such might comprise awarding a number of credits, points or the like to the player, such as based upon the pay table.
  • As indicated above, the game preferably has the potential for multiple portions or levels. As such, in a step S6 it may be determined whether the game has reached its final portion or level (in the preferred embodiment, this would never be true after the base level). If so, the game may end as in step S4.
  • If not, then in a step S7, the game preferably advances to the next level. In a preferred embodiment this comprises displaying at least one additional symbol in addition to the base set of one or more symbols. For example, if the base set of symbols comprised a single symbol, at least one additional symbol might be added to that base symbol. In other embodiments, such might comprise displaying an additional row, column or other group of symbols relative to the base set of symbols. For example, as detailed below, in slot-type game, the base set of symbols might comprise a row of symbols and when the game advances, another row of symbols may be added. In this regard, in a preferred embodiment of the game, as the game advances the game is played with a growing or building number of symbols (at each level one or more new symbols are added).
  • In a step S3, that portion or level of the game is then evaluated again to determine if an advancing outcome was received and the game then repeats in the manner detailed above.
  • Additional details of the invention will be appreciated from the following example of the game. It will be appreciated that this is merely an example and the game may be implemented in various fashions as detailed herein.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 4A, the game may be implemented as a video slot type game. In this embodiment, symbols may be displayed by one or more video displays of a gaming machine. As illustrated, a base set of symbols may comprise three rows of five columns, i.e. a matrix of 3×5, for a total of 15 base symbols.
  • In order to advance from the first or base level to the next or second level, a player may be required to obtain at least one advancing combination of symbols. In one embodiment, the advancing combination of symbols comprises a predetermined combination of symbols along one or more designated pay lines and that includes at least one symbol in the top row.
  • In one embodiment, multiple pay lines may be designated. The number of pay lines which are active may depend upon the size of a player's wager. As indicted below, certain combinations of symbols may be designated as winning combinations if they appear along an active pay line. In addition, however, if such a combination occurs along one or more active pay lines which include at least one designated symbol position, such a combination may be designated to be an advancing outcome. Alternately, or in addition, as detailed below, an advancing outcome for a particular level may require a particular number of winning outcomes. The number of winning outcomes necessary to comprise an advancing outcome may increase for higher levels of the game. For example, an advancing outcome might comprise at least one winning outcome (such as one along a pay line including certain symbol positions) in a first level, while an advancing outcome might comprise at least two winning outcomes in second level of the game.
  • As one example, a winning combination might comprise at least four Kings along an active pay line. Moreover, such a combination received along a pay line which includes at least one position in the top row of the set of symbols may comprise an advancing outcome. As one example, one pay line might comprise the first two symbols in the bottom row, the middle symbol in the top row and the last two symbols in the bottom row. As illustrated, the player has received an advancing outcome because the player received four Kings along the active pay line, and at least a portion of the advancing combination (one of the Kings) was present in the top row.
  • As indicated above, the player might receive a winning outcome which is not an advancing outcome. In such event, the player might receive winnings, but then the game may end.
  • Of course, a wide variety of other outcomes might be designated as advancing outcomes. For example, while it is preferred that an advancing outcome comprise a particular combination of symbols along a pay line and including at least one symbol in a particular position (such as a top row), it is possible that the advancing outcome might comprise other designated outcomes. Those outcomes might comprise a sub-set of the winning outcomes. For example, an advancing outcome might comprise a single symbol in a particular designated position.
  • As indicated, the advancing outcomes may comprise a winning outcome having an associated award. For example, the designated “four Kings” outcome may have an associated award, in which case the player may be paid winnings, such as a number of credits. In one embodiment, the award for an advancing outcome might be higher than for the same combination of symbols which is merely a winning outcome (i.e. the combination of four Kings along an active pay line which does not define an advancing outcome might have an associated award of 20 credits, while such a combination as comprising an advancing outcome might have an associated award of 30 credits).
  • If an advancing outcome is received, the game advances to the next level. Since such a result was achieved, as illustrated in FIG. 4B, another row of symbols may be displayed. In a preferred embodiment, the next row of symbols are displayed in addition to the base symbols, whereby the game is then played with a matrix of 4×5, or 20, symbols. Once again, one or more outcomes may be designated to be an advancing outcome. Those outcomes may be the same or different as the advancing outcomes designated for the first level.
  • In one embodiment, in order for a player to advance from the second to a third level, the player must obtain multiple winning combinations, at least one of which must include at least one symbol in the top-most row. For example, an advancing outcome might comprise the combination of “five Queens” along an active pay line which includes at least one symbol in the fourth or (newest) top row and at least one other winning outcome, such as a Full House along any active pay line.
  • As illustrated, the player has five Queens along a pay line including the first three symbols in the first row and the last two symbols in the fourth or top row. In addition, the player has received a Full House along the top pay line or row. As such, the player has again received an advancing outcome. As such, the player may again be paid winnings or an award.
  • Of course, the game could end after the second portion or level. However, in this embodiment, the game advances to a third and final level. As illustrated in FIG. 4C, a fifth row of symbols may then be displayed relative to the original symbols. At this time, there is a matrix of 5×5, or 25, symbols. As there are no more levels to the game, in this final level it may be determined if the player received a winning outcome or set of symbols. Such might comprise at least “four Tens” along a designated pay line and three 7s along a pay line. As indicated, the player has received three such outcomes. The player may then be paid the award or winnings associated with those outcomes.
  • A variety of aspects of the game will be appreciated. In one embodiment, a player may receive an award, such as winnings, for each advancing outcome. Alternatively, a player might be paid winnings only for achieving or reaching a predetermined portion or level of the game. For example, a player might not be paid winnings for advancing from the base or first level to the second level, but might be paid only for reaching the final level. Further, while awards might be associated with particular advancing and/or winning outcomes, awards might also be paid based upon a player reaching a particular portion or level (such as X credits for reaching the second level and Y credits for reaching the third level), regardless of the particular advancing outcomes. Also, a player might receive an award for particular outcomes at each level and then a bonus award based upon the highest level achieved by the player.
  • The advancing outcomes and associated awards might vary depending upon the particular level of the game. For example, one set or pay table of advancing outcomes and associated awards may apply to the base or first level, another set or pay table may apply to the second level, etc. In one embodiment, one or more of the awards at each level may increase. Further, as indicted above, different winning and advancing outcomes may be defined, including at each particular level of the game.
  • In a preferred embodiment, the game is played as a single game with a single wager. As indicate above, however, the amount of the wager may vary. For example, the size of a player's wager may determine which pay table(s) apply, and thus how many advancing outcomes are designated and/or the size of their associated awards (for example, awards for advancing outcomes may be larger if a player places a larger wager).
  • As also indicated, the size of a player's wager might determine the number of pay lines which are activated, and thus the potential for winning and/or advancing outcomes to be received. For example, if a player places a minimum wager only a minimum number of pay lines, such as 5 lines, might be activated. This might make it more difficult for the player to obtain an advancing outcome. However, if a player places a maximum wager a maximum number of pay lines, such as 50 lines, might be activated. This may greatly increase the probability that the player will achieve an advancing outcome. In either event, a player's wager preferably permits the player to play the entire game (through as many levels as the player is able to advance), though the number of active pay lines per level may be determined by the size of the player's wager.
  • In the preferred embodiment the game has at least two portions or levels, and more preferably three or more portions or levels. For example, the game could comprise two levels. A player might attempt to advance from the base or first level to the second level. The player might then only have the opportunity for receiving a winning outcome relative to the second level (i.e. no advancing outcomes would be available since there are no additional levels).
  • Advancing outcomes might have various characteristics. As indicated above, in one embodiment, certain combinations of symbols appearing along an active pay line are designated to be winning outcomes. An advancing outcome may be one of those winning outcomes where one or more of the symbols of that outcome appear or occur in particular positions, such as positions of a top row of the set of symbols currently in play. In addition, an advancing outcome may comprise such an outcome plus at least one or more other winning outcomes (without such outcomes having to have symbols in particular locations other than along an active pay line). The number of winning outcomes required to advance from a particular level may vary, such as increasing based upon the level of the game (e.g. one winning outcome to advance from the first level, at least two winning outcomes to advance from the second level, etc.).
  • Of course, other criteria may be applied. For example, the advancing outcome might comprise a pay line which includes particular symbol positions. In this regard it is noted that certain combinations of symbols along such a pay line might comprise an advancing combination, others might comprise a winning combination but not an advancing combination, and yet other combinations along that same pay line might comprise losing combinations. Also, various pay lines may be defined. However, only certain pay lines and certain combinations of pay lines may define advancing outcomes. Combinations of symbols along other pay lines may simply be winning or losing (but not advancing) combinations.
  • As indicated, in the preferred embodiment each successive portion or level of the game “builds” on the prior portion or level by including the earlier symbols used therein. Thus, unlike other games where a first set of symbols may be used and then another completely different second set of symbols may then be used, in accordance with the invention additional symbols are used in each successive portion or level of the game.
  • As indicated above, various symbols could be used in the game. For example, the symbols might comprise slot-type indicia. Card indicia might be used, wherein a player attempts to form particular card hands. Of course, the symbols might comprise other indicia, including letters, numbers, graphics, color or the like.
  • As also indicated above, the particular number of symbols used and their arrangement may vary. For example, the symbols could be arranged in rows or columns of a matrix.
  • However, they might be arranged in circles or in a pyramid shape or the like. Also, the number of symbols in the base level and those added in successive levels may vary. For example, in a pyramid configuration a player might attempt to receive an advancing combination from a base row of 6 symbols. A row of 5 symbols might then be added in the next level, a row of 4 symbols in the next level, and so on. It is also noted that the manner or configuration in which symbols are added may vary. For example, rows of symbols might be added above or below a base set of symbols, or columns of symbols might be added to the left or to the right of a base set of symbols. In this manner, the set of symbols may build or grow in various directions or patterns, including randomly.
  • It will be appreciated that the various inventive game features may be used in various combinations and with other games or game features. For example, the “game advance” feature of the invention might be used in other types of games. Likewise, the symbol-matching feature and/or “building” feature might be used in other games or with other game features. Further various other features may be combined or integrated. For example, as with the first game embodiment detailed above, this game embodiment may include features such as bonus awards, automatic advance features (for example, one or more special symbols, if received in the most recent set of symbols, might automatically comprise an advancing outcome), or other features.
  • While games of the invention may be played as wager-based games, it is possible for the games to be played as amusement games. In some cases, such games may still require that a player provide payment to play the game (though no monies may be awarded as prizes). In other embodiments, however, a player may not be required to make any payment or place any wager.
  • The games of the invention may be implemented via one or more gaming machines 120, such as illustrated in FIG. 5. Such gaming machines 120 might comprise casino-style gaming machines or personal computers or the like. For example, when configured as a casino-style gaming machine, the gaming machine 120 includes a housing or cabinet 122 for enclosing/supporting various components of the gaming machine. The housing 122 may have a variety of configurations. In one embodiment, the housing 122 is configured so the machine has an upright configuration. The machine 120 might also be configured as a slant-type, bar-top or have other forms.
  • In one embodiment, the gaming machine 120 is configured as a video type gaming machine, the machine including at least one display 124 for displaying game information to a player. The gaming machine 120 may include other means for providing information to a player. For example, speakers (not shown) or other devices may be provided for generating sound associated with the game. The gaming machine 120 may also include lights, printed instructions and other displays/display devices.
  • In one embodiment, a player must make payment in order to be entitled to play the game. Preferably, the game is presented as a wagering type game, and a player must place a bet or wager in order to play the game for the opportunity to receive winnings. Preferably, if the player is a winner of the game, the player is provided an award, such as a monetary payout (such as coins), credits representing monetary value, points or tangible prizes. As illustrated, the gaming machine 120 may include a bill validator/acceptor 126 for accepting paper currency and a coin acceptor 128 for accepting coins. Other means of payment, such as a credit card reader, may be provided. An award of winnings in the form of coins may be paid to the player via a coin tray 130.
  • Preferably, the gaming machine 120 includes means for a player to provide input. In one embodiment, this means comprises one or more buttons. For example, a “spin” button 132 may be provided for permitting a player to start a game. One or more wager buttons 134 may be provided for a player to select the amount to bet on a particular game. Other means of input may be provided, such as a touch-screen display and other devices now known or later developed.
  • A game controller (not shown) is provided for controlling the various devices of the gaming machine and for providing game information. For example, the game controller may be arranged to generate video and audio data for presentation by the display and speakers of the gaming machine 120. The game controller may be arranged to detect a signal from the coin acceptor indicating the receipt of coins or from the bill validator regarding accepted bills and for registering credits corresponding to those inputs, for subtracting credits for wagers placed by a player, and for causing a coin delivery mechanism to deliver coins from a coin hopper to the coin tray 130 for payment of winnings and/or return to a player of unwagered credits. Preferably, the one or more player input devices provide an output to the gaming controller for use in play of the game. For example, in response to a “bet one” input by a player, the gaming controller is preferably transmitted a signal which causes the gaming controller to initiate presentation of the game.
  • The gaming machine may include one or more random number generators for generating random game events and results. As indicated above, such a random number generator might be utilized to generate the game symbols for the positions of a matrix, be utilized to generate the base symbols, and be utilized to select award values for each symbol position, among other things.
  • It will be appreciated that the gaming machine 120 may have a variety of configurations, and that the gaming machine 120 illustrated and described above is but an example of a device for implementing the game of the present invention. For example, in one or more embodiments, the gaming machine 120 may be associated with a network and receive game information remotely and may transmit information, such as payout and game play information, to a remote location. For example, a remote master controller may generate game information which is transmitted over a communication link to the gaming machine 120. That information may be utilized by a local controller or processor to present the game, such as by displaying game play data or information.
  • As indicated, in one embodiment, game information is displayed by a video display 124 to a player. That display may be of a variety of types, including CRT, LCD, plasma and others. The gaming machine 120 may also include more than one video display.
  • In another embodiment, the gaming machine 120 may include one or more physical reels capable of displaying symbols. In such a configuration, means are provided for rotating the physical reels. In one or more embodiments, the means may comprise a mechanical linkage associated with a spin arm, with movement of the spin arm (a “pull”) by a user causing the reels to spin. In such an arrangement, the reels are generally allowed to free-wheel and then stop. In another embodiment, electronically controlled mechanisms are arranged to rotate and stop each reel. Such mechanisms are well known to those of skill in the art. In this arrangement, actuation of the spin arm or depression a spin button causes a controller (not shown) to signal the activation of the spin mechanism associated with one or more of the reels. Preferably, the controller is arranged to either turn off the signal to the device(s) effecting the rotation of each or all of the reels or generates a signal for activating a braking device, whereby the reels are stopped. As is well known, the combinations of reel positions and their odds of hitting are associated with the controller, and the controller is arranged to stop the reels in a position displaying a combination of indicia as determined by the controller based on the combinations and odds. The principal of such an arrangement is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,419 to Telnaes, which is incorporated herein by reference. For example, the base symbols might be associated with spinning reels. Sets of base symbols might be generated by spinning those reels.
  • The gaming machine 120 may have other configurations, including other features. For example, the gaming machine 120 may include a player tracking device, such as a card reader 138 and associated keypad 140. Such player tracking devices are well known and may permit the game operator to track play of players of the gaming machine. The tracked play may be utilized to offer player bonuses or awards.
  • In one embodiment, the gaming machine 120 may be configured to dispense media, such as printed paper tickets, which have associated value. For example, winnings or unused credits may be returned to the player via a printed ticket having value or associated value. In one embodiment, the gaming machine 120 might also be configured to accept such media for providing credit for game play. Such systems are well known and thus not described in detail herein.
  • As indicated, in a preferred embodiment, the games of the invention are played as wagering type games in which a player must place a wager in order to play the game for an opportunity of winnings. However, in other embodiments, the games may be played for fun or prizes. In such event, the player may be permitted to play the game for free or may be required to make payment to play the game.
  • As indicated above, a player may provide value to the gaming machine 120 or machine operator in a number of ways, including with coins or bills. The player might also be permitted to provide value remotely. Value provided to the gaming machine 120 may be represented as credits. Each credit may have an associated monetary value.
  • The gaming system might include additional elements. As indicated above, the game may implement various progressive jackpots. In one embodiment, a plurality of gaming machines may be linked to one or more progressive servers. These servers may receive wager information from the gaming machines for use in managing the jackpots (including incrementing the jackpots to larger values). The progressive servers may also monitor game results for potential progressive jackpot wins. In the event of a win, the progressive servers may award a jackpot win to a player and may reset the progressive jackpot for that win back to a pre-set value.
  • The gaming machines and other components of a gaming system of the invention may communicate in various manners. For example, the various components of the gaming system might communicate via wired or wireless links or combinations thereof.
  • In one embodiment, a gaming machine of the invention may be particularly configured to present the game(s) of the invention. In other embodiments, the game(s) may be presented on a gaming machine which is configured to present a variety of different games.
  • In one embodiment, the gaming machine is configured to present a game of the invention via game instructions. Such instructions may comprise machine readable code. For example, game code or software may be stored in a memory of the gaming machine and be executed by the controller thereof to effectuate the various steps of the game, including the generation and display of game information. Of course, the gaming machine might also have a controller having such instructions embedded therein.
  • It is also possible for the gaming machine 120 to comprise a desk-top computer, a lap-top computer or even a mobile device such as a hand-held or mobile unit. For example, a game of the invention might be presented via a mobile phone or at a personal computer. In such a configuration, the processor of the computer may execute code which presents game information via a display associated with the computer. A player might provide input via a touch screen, computer mouse or keyboard. A player might place a wager by providing credit card information to provide one or more credits and by then using an input to place a wager of those credits. In another embodiment, some or all of the game information might be generated remotely, such as at a remote game server, and be transmitted over a communication link to the player's computer.
  • In one embodiment, the game of the invention may be implemented as an “on-line” game. Such a game may be presented as a wager-based game or an amusement game. Such a game may be presented by a player utilizing their computer to access a game server via the Internet. The game server may transmit game code for execution by the user's computer for presenting the game.
  • It will be understood that the above described arrangements of apparatus and the method there from are merely illustrative of applications of the principles of this invention and many other embodiments and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the claims.

Claims (21)

1. A method of presenting a game at a gaming machine comprising the machine implemented steps of:
(a) accepting a wager from a player;
(b) presenting a first level of said game comprising displaying a set of active symbols comprising at least one symbol;
(c) as to said set of active symbols of said first level determining if an advancing outcome has been received;
(d) if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has not been received relative to said set of active symbols, ending said game at said first level; and
(e) if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has been received relative to said active symbols, continuing said game to at least one successive level by:
(f) displaying at least one additional symbol to set of active symbols to create a new set of active symbols;
(g) if an advancing outcome has not been received relative to said new set of active symbols, ending said game; and
(h) if an advancing outcome has been received relative to said new set of active symbols and any successive levels of said game remain, repeating steps (f)-(h).
2. The method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said set of active symbols in said first level of said game comprises a least a single row of symbols.
3. The method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said set of active symbols in said first level of said game comprises at least two rows of symbols, each row containing at least one symbol.
4. The method in accordance with claim 3 wherein said advancing outcome relative to said set of active symbols in said first level of said game comprises a winning outcome including at least one symbol in a top row of said set of symbols.
5. The method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said step of displaying at least one additional symbol in at least one successive level comprises displaying at least one additional row containing at least one additional symbol.
6. The method in accordance with claim 1 further comprising the step of awarding an award if at least one advancing outcome is received.
7. The method in accordance with claim 1 wherein said advancing outcome comprises at least one winning outcome of one or more symbols along at least one designated pay line.
8. A method of presenting a slot-type game at a gaming machine comprising the machine implemented steps of:
(a) accepting a wager from a player;
(b) presenting a first level of said game comprising displaying a set of active symbols comprising at least two rows of symbols, each row of symbols comprising at least one symbol;
(c) as to said set of active symbols of said first level determining if an advancing outcome has been received, said advancing outcome comprising at least one predetermined winning combination of symbols along at least one designated pay line;
(d) if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has not been received relative to said set of active symbols, ending said game at said first level; and
(e) if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has been received relative to said active symbols, awarding an award and continuing said game to at least one successive level by:
(f) displaying at least one additional rows of at least one symbol to set of active symbols to create a new set of active symbols;
(g) if an advancing outcome has not been received relative to said new set of active symbols, ending said game; and
(h) if an advancing outcome has been received relative to said new set of active symbols, awarding an award;
if any successive levels of said game remain, repeating steps (f)-(h).
9. The method in accordance with claim 8 wherein said set of symbols in said first level comprises at least one row of symbols.
10. The method in accordance with claim 9 wherein said set of symbols includes a top row and said advancing outcome in each level comprises at least one symbol in the top row of the set of active symbols.
11. The method in accordance with claim 9 wherein there are at least two possible successive levels.
12. The method in accordance with claim 9 wherein said advancing outcome comprises at least one special symbol.
13. The method in accordance with claim 9 further comprising the step of determining if a winning outcome has been received relative to said set of active symbols in said first level even if an advancing outcomes was not received and, if so, awarding an award for said winning outcome.
14. The method in accordance with claim 9 wherein if no successive levels of said game remain, determining if a final set of active symbols defines a winning outcome and, if so, awarding an award for said outcome.
15. A gaming machine comprising:
a housing;
at least one user input;
at least one electronic display configured to display game information to a player;
at least one information storage device;
a controller configured to receive information from said at least one user input of inputs thereto and to display game information via said at least one display to said player; and
instructions stored on the storage device and executable by the controller to present a game, the one or more instructions comprising:
(a) instructions for accepting a wager from a player;
(b) instructions for displaying a base set of active symbols comprising at least one symbol in a first level of said game;
(c) instruction for determining if an advancing outcome has been received relative to said active symbols in said first level of said game;
(d) instructions for ending said game at said first level if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has not been received relative to said active symbols; and
(e) instructions for, if an advancing outcome of one or more symbols has been received relative to said active symbols, continuing said game to at least one successive level by:
(f) displaying at least one additional active symbol to create a new set of active symbols;
(g) if an advancing outcome has not been received relative to said active symbols, ending said game; and
(h) if an advancing outcome has been received relative to said active symbols and any successive levels of said game remain, repeating steps (f)-(h).
16. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 15 further comprising a wager-accepting device for accepting said wager from said player.
17. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 15 further comprising instructions for determining if a winning combination of symbols has been received relative to said active symbols in said first level of said game even if an advancing outcome has not been received and, if so, awarding an award to said player.
18. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 15 wherein said base set of active symbols comprises a row of at least one symbol.
19. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 15 wherein said instructions for determining if an advancing outcome has been received relative to said active symbols in said first level comprises instructions for determining if at least one designated combination of symbols has been received relative to one or more designated pay lines.
20. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 19 wherein said one or more designated pay lines include at least one designated symbol position of said active symbols.
21. The gaming machine in accordance with claim 15 wherein said instructions for determining if an advancing outcome has been received relative to at least one successive level comprises determining if a predetermined minimum number of winning outcomes has been received relative to said level.
US12/760,437 2009-01-23 2010-04-14 Gaming machine and game having multiple levels Abandoned US20100203948A1 (en)

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US12/760,437 US20100203948A1 (en) 2009-01-23 2010-04-14 Gaming machine and game having multiple levels

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US12/932,209 US20110151957A1 (en) 2009-01-23 2011-02-17 Gaming machine and game having symbol collection and win-improving purchase features

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