US20110275429A1 - Gaming system and method of gaming - Google Patents

Gaming system and method of gaming Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110275429A1
US20110275429A1 US13102873 US201113102873A US2011275429A1 US 20110275429 A1 US20110275429 A1 US 20110275429A1 US 13102873 US13102873 US 13102873 US 201113102873 A US201113102873 A US 201113102873A US 2011275429 A1 US2011275429 A1 US 2011275429A1
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stage
prize
symbols
outcome
game
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Abandoned
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US13102873
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Chi Wei Chim
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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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
    • 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
    • G07F17/3267Game outcomes which determine the course of the subsequent game, e.g. double or quits, free games, higher payouts, different new games

Abstract

An example method of providing a multi-stage game on a gaming machine includes, in a first stage: displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set; selecting two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine a first outcome; and in response to determining that the first outcome meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage including: selecting at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine a second outcome; and in response to determining that second determined outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application relates to and claims the benefit of priority from Australian Provisional Patent Application Number 2010901960, filed on May 7, 2010, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD
  • The present invention relates to a gaming system and a method of gaming, and particularly, but not exclusively, to a gaming system and method of gaming in which bonus prizes may be awarded.
  • BACKGROUND
  • It is known to provide a gaming system which includes a game controller arranged to randomly display several symbols from a predetermined set of symbols and to determine a game outcome such as a game win based on the displayed symbols. Such gaming systems may commonly be implemented as a stepper machine provided with reels with each reel carrying several symbols of the set, or a video machine wherein selected symbols are displayed on virtual reels on a video display. Win outcomes can occur based on symbols appearing in one or more horizontal lines, diagonal lines, or any other predetermined way.
  • While such gaming systems provide a level of enjoyment to the player, the need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY
  • In accordance with a first aspect, the present invention provides a multi-stage game on a gaming machine, the method including:
  • in a first stage:
      • displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
      • facilitating selection of two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine an outcome of the first stage; and
      • in response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage including:
      • facilitating selection at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine an outcome of the second stage; and
      • in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  • In an embodiment the symbols associated with the selectable objects are numbers and at least one of the continuation criterion and first prize winning criterion is that one of an addition, multiplication or division of the revealed numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the first stage outcome is the total sum value of the revealed numbers and wherein the continuation criterion is that the total sum value of the numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the second stage outcome is the total sum value of the numbers revealed in both the first and second stage and wherein the major prize winning criterion is that the total sum value meets or exceeds a second predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the second predefined value is the maximum sum value of the x highest numbers in the symbol set, where x is equal to the number of objects selected in both the first and second stages.
  • In an embodiment the method includes the further step of modifying the symbol set after determining the first stage outcome such that at least one of the symbols associated with the symbols revealed in the first stage is replaced with a special symbol and such that the symbols associated with the objects selectable in the second stage are selected at random from the modified symbol set.
  • In an embodiment the first prize winning criterion is that one of the special symbols is revealed in the second stage outcome.
  • In an embodiment a value of the second prize is related to the total sum value of the numbers revealed by the selected objects in at least one of the first and second stage.
  • In an embodiment the second prize includes a plurality of prizes having distinct prize values and the total sum value dictates which of the plurality of prizes to award.
  • In an embodiment the method includes the further step of awarding a third prize if the continuation criterion is not met.
  • In an embodiment a value of the third prize corresponds to the lowest prize value attainable in the second stage.
  • In an embodiment the game is a secondary game which is triggered upon a jackpot event occurring during play of a base game.
  • In an embodiment the selection in at least one of the first and second stages is made by a player.
  • In an embodiment the number of objects selected in at least one of the first and second stage is less than the total number of objects displayed.
  • In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a game controller arranged to control play of a game of chance including a plurality of stages on a gaming apparatus, in a first of the stages the game controller being configured to:
      • control a display of the gaming apparatus to display a plurality of selectable objects, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
      • select two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluate the revealed symbols to determine an outcome of the first stage; and
      • in response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage whereby the game controller is further configured to:
      • select at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluate the further associated symbols to determine an outcome of the second stage; and
      • in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  • In an embodiment the symbols associated with the selectable objects are numbers and at least one of the continuation criterion and first prize winning criterion is that one of an addition, multiplication or division of the revealed numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the outcome of the first stage is the total sum value of the revealed numbers and wherein the continuation criterion is that the total sum value of the numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the outcome of the second stage is the total sum value of the numbers revealed in both the first and second stages and wherein the first prize winning criterion is that the total sum value meets or exceeds a second predefined value.
  • In an embodiment the second predefined value is the maximum sum value of the x highest numbers in the symbol set, where x is equal to the number of objects selected in both the first and second stages.
  • In an embodiment the game controller is further arranged to modify the symbol set after determining the outcome of the first stage such that at least one of the symbols associated with the symbols revealed in the first stage is replaced with a special symbol and such that the symbols associated with the objects selectable in the second stage are selected at random from the modified symbol set.
  • In an embodiment the major prize winning criterion is that one of the special symbols is revealed in the outcome of the second stage.
  • In an embodiment a value of the second prize is related to the total sum value of the numbers revealed by the selected objects in at least one of the first and second stage.
  • In an embodiment the second prize includes a plurality of prizes having distinct prize values and the total sum value dictates which of the plurality of prizes to award.
  • In an embodiment the game controller further includes an award module which is arranged to award a third prize if the continuation criterion is not met.
  • In an embodiment a value of the third prize corresponds to the lowest prize value attainable in the second stage.
  • In an embodiment the game is a secondary game which is triggered upon a jackpot event occurring during play of a base game.
  • In an embodiment the controller further includes an input module arranged to a player input specifying which of the objects to select in at least one of the first and second stages.
  • In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a gaming machine having a display and a game controller programmed to control images of symbols displayed on the display, and to play a base game wherein at least one random event is caused to be displayed on the display and, if a predefined winning event occurs, the game controller causes the machine to award a prize, the game controller being further programmed to play a jackpot game in response to a jackpot trigger condition being detected during play of the base game, the jackpot game having a first stage including:
      • displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
      • selecting two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine a first outcome; and
      • in response to determining that the first outcome meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage of the jackpot game including:
      • selecting at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine a second outcome; and
      • in response to determining that second determined outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  • In accordance with a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program product including machine-readable program code for controlling the operation of a data processing apparatus on which the program code executes to perform a method according to the first aspect.
  • According to a fifth aspect, the invention provides a computer program code which when executed by a processor implements the method according to the first aspect.
  • According to a sixth aspect, the present invention provides a computer readable medium including the program code of the fifth aspect.
  • According to a seventh aspect, the present invention provides a data signal including the program code of the fifth aspect.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of core components of a gaming system, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a gaming machine arranged to implement the gaming system of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram of operative components of the gaming machine shown in FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic block diagram representing the structure of a memory of the gaming machine shown in FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a networked gaming system;
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic block diagram of a game controller;
  • FIGS. 7 to 10 are screen shots of an example embodiment; and
  • FIG. 11 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of a gaming system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of certain embodiments of the present invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, certain embodiments are shown in the drawings. It should be understood, however, that the present invention is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentality shown in the attached drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS
  • Although the following discloses example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus including, among other components, software executed on hardware, it should be noted that such methods and apparatus are merely illustrative and should not be considered as limiting. For example, it is contemplated that any or all of these hardware and software components could be embodied exclusively in hardware, exclusively in software, exclusively in firmware, or in any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware. Accordingly, while the following describes example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus, the examples provided are not the only way to implement such methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus.
  • When any of the appended claims are read to cover a purely software and/or firmware implementation, at least one of the elements in an at least one example is hereby expressly defined to include a tangible medium such as a memory, DVD, CD, Blu-ray, etc. storing the software and/or firmware.
  • With reference to the figures there is shown an embodiment of a game controller 60 which is arranged to control play of a game of chance including a plurality of stages on a gaming apparatus 10. In a first of the stages, the game controller 60 is configured to control a display screen 14 of the gaming apparatus 10 to display a plurality of player selectable objects which are each associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set stored in memory 64. Two or more of the plurality of selectable objects are selected by a player to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and subsequently evaluated to determine an outcome of the first stage. In response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, a second stage is initiated whereby the game controller 60 is further configured to display at least one further selectable object on the display screen 14 for selection by a player to thereby reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols. The further symbols are evaluated to determine an outcome of the second stage and if the outcome meets a first prize winning criterion a first prize (e.g. a major jackpot prize) is awarded. Otherwise, the game controller 60 awards a secondary prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  • General Construction of a Gaming System
  • The gaming system can take a number of different forms. In a first form, a stand alone gaming machine is provided wherein all or most components to implement the game are present in a player operable gaming machine 10.
  • In a second form, a distributed architecture is provided wherein some of the components to implement the game are present in a player operable gaming machine 10 and some of the components to implement the game are located remotely relative to the gaming machine 10. For example, a “thick client” architecture may be used wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable gaming machine 10 and part of the game is executed remotely, such as by a gaming server; or a “thin client” architecture may be used wherein most of the game is executed remotely such as by a gaming server and a player operable gaming machine is used only to display audible and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player.
  • However, it will be understood that other arrangements are envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming machine is networked to a gaming server and the respective functions of the gaming machine and the gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming machine mode, “thick client” mode or “thin client” mode depending on the game being played, operating conditions, and so on. Other variations will be apparent to persons skilled in the art.
  • Irrespective of the form, the gaming system includes several core components. At the broadest level, the core components are a player interface 50 and a game controller 60 as illustrated in FIG. 1. The player interface is arranged to enable manual interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes the input/output components for the player to enter instructions and play the game.
  • Components of the player interface may vary from embodiment to embodiment but will typically include a credit mechanism 52 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 54, a game play mechanism 56 that enables a player to input game play instructions (e.g. to place bets), and one or more speakers 58.
  • The game controller 60 is in data communication with the player interface and typically includes a processor 62 that processes the game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and outputs game play outcomes to the display. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 64 but can also be hardwired. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server.
  • A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which are displayed representations of a game 16 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism 24 which in this example includes a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. Other credit input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. A player marketing module (not shown) having a reading device may also be provided for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. The player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device.
  • A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.
  • The display 14 shown in FIG. 2 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type.
  • FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of FIG. 2.
  • The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.
  • The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers.
  • In the example shown in FIG. 3, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 include one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted based on the specific implementation.
  • In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or database.
  • FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.
  • It is also possible for the operative components of the gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 to be provided remotely from the game controller 101.
  • FIG. 5 shows a gaming system 200 in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 10,100 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, or may have simplified functionality depending on the rules, guidelines, requirements, and/or preferences for implementing game play. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.
  • One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.
  • In a thick client embodiment, game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server and the gaming device implement part of the game, they collectively provide a game controller. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided.
  • In a thin client embodiment, game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 essentially provides only the player interface. With this embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming machine will receive player instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. In a thin client embodiment, the gaming machines could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard computer input and output components.
  • Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming network 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.
  • The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.
  • Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided. Further, persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a plurality of game servers could be provided to run different games or a single game server may run a plurality of different games based on the terminals.
  • Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method of embodiments could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by downloading it from a server).
  • Embodiments may be implemented in relation to a spinning reel type game. Gaming systems for implementing games that involve a display of spinning reels as part of the display of the outcome of a game have either a video display or a mechanical display, these later machines most usually being “stepper” machines which have a separate motor for each reel. However, persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention can be implemented in respect if other forms of games, including; card games; ball draw games (e.g. bingo or keno); dice games; and pin and ball games.
  • In some implementations the game controllers of such gaming machines select symbols by employing a stop determining function that randomly determines the stop position for each reel. For example, if there are five reels, each having twenty symbols, the stop determining function might determine that the stop positions are positions: 3, 13, 7, 9 and 17. The spinning of the reels is then controlled so that each symbol comes to a stop in the same row, typically a predetermined row in a “window” visible to the player on the display that which corresponds to a player playing a single win line. When a reel stops, the symbols will be in one of a plurality of possible symbol positions for that reel relative to the stop position.
  • Further Detail of the Game Controller
  • The game controller 60 of an embodiment is shown in more detail in FIG. 6. For simplicity, only those modules needed to carry out embodiments of the invention are illustrated in FIG. 6. Other standard and/or non-standard modules may also be implemented for carrying out operation of normal and feature game play functionality.
  • Referring to FIG. 6, the game controller 60 includes a processor 62 which is arranged to control game play and carry out functions associated with awarding bonus prizes in a multi-stage bonus game, as will be described in more detail in subsequent paragraphs. It will be apparent that the processor 62 implements a number of modules, namely a random number generator module 621, symbol selector module 622, determination module 624, award module 626 and display controller module 628, based on program code stored in memory 64. A symbol store is 66 is also resident in memory 64.
  • In an embodiment the game controller 60 is arranged to control play of a base game in the form of a standard spinning reel game, although it will be understood that any type of base game could equally be implemented including, for example, a card game, dice game, bingo game and other such wager games. In the spinning reel base game, a player selects how many win lines of a plurality of win lines they will play in each game—i.e. a minimum of one win line up to the maximum number of win lines allowed by the game. Persons, skilled in the art, will appreciate that in other embodiments, the player may select a number of reels to play. Each win line is formed by a set of symbol positions consisting of one symbol position from each reel. That is, a predetermined symbol position of each reel is assigned to a win line. The symbol positions that constitute each of the win lines are usually advertised to the player by markings on the display or diagrams showing the symbol positions that correspond to each win line. Some of the win lines will be horizontal or diagonal lines. Typically, the win lines will be constituted by symbol positions in the visible window. A game outcome is determined based on the symbols on the win lines and a prize table that specifies awards.
  • According to the illustrated embodiment, for each handle pull or wager placed in the base game a player has the opportunity to be awarded one of a plurality of bonus prizes, the largest of which being a first jackpot prize funded from a jackpot prize pool (to which the gaming machines contributes a percentage of each wager placed during standard game play). The number of “secondary” or lesser bonus prizes may vary depending on the desired implementation, but in this example embodiment include a minor and a mini jackpot which are respectively smaller in value than the major jackpot prize and which are each funded from the same jackpot prize pool as the major jackpot prize. The bonus prizes may be awarded in the base game or may alternatively be awarded in a bonus feature game which is triggered using any number of conventional techniques including, for example, random or mystery triggers, symbol driven triggers occurring during play of the base game, etc. In the illustrated embodiment, however, the bonus prizes are awarded in a bonus game which is triggered using the Hyperlink™ trigger system, as described in published Australian patent No. 754689, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the bonus game is also implemented by the game controller 60 and includes a number of stages, the outcomes of which are each evaluated by the determination module 624 in order to determine which, if any, of the three bonus prizes to award. In the illustrated embodiment, the bonus game includes two stages, although it will be understood that in alternative embodiments more than two stages may be implemented with the major jackpot prize being awarded in the final stage.
  • FIG. 11 is a flow diagram representative of example machine readable instructions that can be executed to implement one or more of the example systems shown and described herein and/or portions of one or more of those systems. The example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be performed using a processor, a controller and/or any other suitable processing device, such as the game controller 60 and/or other component of system 10, 100. For example, the example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a tangible computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), and/or a random-access memory (RAM). As used herein, the term tangible computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable storage and to exclude propagating signals. Additionally or alternatively, the example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a non-transitory computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), a random-access memory (RAM), a cache, or any other storage media in which information is stored for any duration (e.g., for extended time periods, permanently, brief instances, for temporarily buffering, and/or for caching of the information). As used herein, the term non-transitory computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable medium and to exclude propagating signals.
  • Alternatively, some or all of the example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be implemented using any combination(s) of application specific integrated circuit(s) (ASIC(s)), programmable logic device(s) (PLD(s)), field programmable logic device(s) (FPLD(s)), discrete logic, hardware, firmware, etc. Also, some or all of the example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be implemented manually or as any combination(s) of any of the foregoing techniques, for example, any combination of firmware, software, discrete logic and/or hardware. Further, although the example process(es) of FIG. 11 are described with reference to the flow diagram of FIG. 11, other methods of implementing the process(es) of FIG. 11 can be employed. For example, the order of execution of the blocks can be changed, and/or some of the blocks described can be changed, eliminated, sub-divided, or combined. Additionally, any or all of the example process(es) of FIG. 11 can be performed sequentially and/or in parallel by, for example, separate processing threads, processors, devices, discrete logic, circuits, etc.
  • With reference to FIG. 11 there is shown a process flow of a method for implementing the bonus game, in accordance with an embodiment. At step 902 a first stage is initiated whereby a plurality of selectable objects are displayed on the display screen 106. Each of the selectable objects are associated with a symbol randomly selected from the symbol set stored in memory 64. At step 904, two or more of the plurality of selectable objects are selected. At step 906, the symbols associated with the selected objects are revealed and evaluated to determine an outcome of the first stage. If the outcome does not meet the continuation criterion a mini prize is awarded and play of the base game is resumed (step 910). If, however, the continuation criterion has been met, then a second stage is initiated, whereby at least one further selectable object is selected (step 912) to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols. The resultant symbols are evaluated and to determine an outcome of the second stage and in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a major prize winning criterion a major prize is awarded (918). Otherwise, a secondary prize of lesser value than the major prize is awarded (the value of which depends on the actual outcome) at step 916.
  • An example bonus game scenario will now be described with reference to the screen shots shown in FIGS. 7 to 10. In a first stage of the bonus game, the display module 628 controls the display screen 106 to display a plurality of selectable objects. This is shown in FIG. 7, whereby the display module 628 causes the display screen 106 to display five selectable objects in the form of player selectable cards 702 which are each initially shown face down on a simulated card table 700. The card faces are each associated, at random, with a symbol from a symbol set based on symbol data 66 stored in memory 64. In the illustrated embodiment, the symbols are in the form of numbers ranging from one to ten (although it will be understood that the range of numbers may vary depending on the desired implementation). The association is carried out by the symbol selector 626 with the aid of the random number generator 621.
  • Using the touch screen interface 107, or other suitable interface provided on the gaming terminal 100, the player is allowed to select a predefined number of the displayed cards. In the illustrated example two cards are allowed to be selected by the player, although it will be understood more or less cards could be selected depending on the desired implementation. Once selected, the cards are flipped, turned or otherwise manipulated to reveal the card face which displays the associated card numbers which are then evaluated by the determination module 624 to determine an outcome of the first stage. In the illustrated embodiment, the outcome is the total sum value of the numbers revealed by the selected cards. It will be understood, however, that in alternative embodiments the outcome may be other than the sum of the revealed numbers and instead could be the product of the two numbers or some other mathematical combination thereof. The non-selected card faces may also be revealed in a subsequent animated reveal sequence. As illustrated in FIG. 8, the player has selected the cards 702 a, 702 b on the bottom left of the table which are associated with the numbers “10” and “9”, respectively, resulting in a total score of “19”.
  • The determination module 624 subsequently determines whether the first outcome meets a continuation criterion 68 stored in memory 64, in order to continue to the next stage. The continuation criterion in the illustrated example requires that the total score is greater than “10” and thus the continuation criterion has been met. If the continuation criterion is not met, however, then an award sequence plays and a consolation prize, in this case the mini jackpot prize, is awarded by the award module 626. It will be understood by persons skilled in the art that other required scores and criterion could be set depending on the number of stages, the desired return to player percentage, value of the respective bonus prizes, etc.
  • If the determination module 624 determines that the continuation criterion has been met, the bonus game progresses to the second stage in which all of the cards faces of the previous stage are revealed and a new set of cards are dealt and displayed on the display screen 106, face down (see FIG. 9). Again, the card faces are associated with a particular number from the symbol set and the player is given the opportunity to select a number of the newly displayed cards to reveal the associated numbers, in the same manner as described above. In the embodiment described herein the player is allowed to select only one of the cards displayed in the second stage and, as shown in FIG. 10, has elected to select the card 802 a displayed on the bottom far left of the table 700 which is turned to reveal the associated number which in this example is the number “8”.
  • The determination module 624 subsequently evaluates the revealed number to determine an outcome of the second stage. In this case, the outcome is the total sum value of all numbers revealed by the selected cards in the first and second stages, resulting in a score of “27”. The determination module 624 then evaluates the resultant score to determine which of the three bonus prizes to award. If the score is equal to the maximum achievable score (i.e. total sum value of the x highest numbers in the symbol set, where x corresponds to the number of objects selected in the first and second stages), then the major prize winning criterion will have been met and the major jackpot prize awarded by the award module 626. The minor and mini prizes are awarded for respectively lesser totals (e.g. the mini jackpot is awarded if the sum is 22 or less while the minor jackpot is awarded if the sum is 23 to 26). In the illustrated example, the player has achieved the maximum achievable score of “27”, thus the player will be awarded the major jackpot prize. It will be understood, however, that other ranges may equally apply depending on the desired implementation.
  • In an alternative embodiment to that described above, the symbol set may be modified between stages. In one particular embodiment, the symbol set may be modified such that one or more of the numbers are replaced with a special symbol which, if revealed, in the second stage dictates which prize to award in the second stage, irrespective of the first stage outcome. For example, the special symbols may be major and minor jackpot symbols which, if revealed, automatically cause the corresponding jackpot to be awarded. The player may be made aware of the substitution by carrying out an animated sequence on the display screen 106 at the beginning of the second stage. For example, the animation may involve causing the previously selected cards to disappear and jackpot cards to be displayed in their place. All of the cards are then turned face down and shuffled (resulting in the screen shown in FIG. 9), ready for selection by the player in the same manner as previously described.
  • Further, it will be understood, that in an alternative embodiment the selection of the objects in the first and/or second stages could be made by the game controller rather than the player (e.g. an automatic random selection could be made by the symbol selector module 622 with the aid of the RNG 621). Also, rather than the game controller 60 being implemented by the gaming machine 100 the game controller could instead by incorporated into a jackpot controller residing on the jackpot server 207 (or into some other suitable system component that is in communication with the gaming machine). Also, it will be understood that the symbols associated with the selectable objects may be other than numbers and instead could be standard gaming symbols (cherries, cards, etc) that are evaluated to determine whether the continuation criterion and jackpot award winning criterion has been met. In this regard, it will be understood that the prizes may not be jackpot prizes funded from a prize pool but instead could be other suitable awards such as free games, complimentary items, etc.
  • Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the method of the embodiment could be implemented in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of the memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by downloading it from a server). The program code could be executed by more than one processing unit. For example, partly by the server module and partly by the client (and accordingly spread between a number of different locations).
  • It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.
  • It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.
  • In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.
  • While the invention has been described with reference to certain embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from its scope. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims (29)

  1. 1. A method of providing a multi-stage game on a gaming machine, the method comprising:
    in a first stage:
    displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
    facilitating a selection of two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine an outcome of the first stage; and
    in response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage comprising:
    facilitating a selection of at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine an outcome of the second stage; and
    in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  2. 2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the symbols associated with the selectable objects are numbers and at least one of the continuation criterion and first prize winning criterion is that one of an addition, multiplication or division of the revealed numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  3. 3. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein the first stage outcome is the total sum value of the revealed numbers and wherein the continuation criterion is that the total sum value of the numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  4. 4. A method as claimed in claim 3, wherein the second stage outcome is the total sum value of the numbers revealed in both the first and second stage and wherein the first prize winning criterion is that the total sum value meets or exceeds a second predefined value.
  5. 5. A method as claimed in claim 4, wherein the second predefined value is the maximum sum value of the x highest numbers in the symbol set, where x is equal to the number of objects selected in both the first and second stages.
  6. 6. A method as claimed in claim 2, comprising the further step of modifying the symbol set after determining the first stage outcome such that at least one of the symbols associated with the symbols revealed in the first stage is replaced with a special symbol and such that the symbols associated with the objects selectable in the second stage are selected at random from the modified symbol set.
  7. 7. A method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the first prize winning criterion is that one of the special symbols is revealed in the second stage outcome.
  8. 8. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein a value of the secondary prize is related to the total sum value of the numbers revealed by the selected objects in at least one of the first and second stage.
  9. 9. A method as claimed in claim 8, wherein the second prize comprises a plurality of prizes having distinct prize values and the total sum value dictates which of the plurality of prizes to award.
  10. 10. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the step of awarding a third prize if the continuation criterion is not met.
  11. 11. A method as claimed in claim 10, wherein a value of the third prize corresponds to the lowest prize value attainable in the second stage.
  12. 12. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the game is a secondary game which is triggered upon a jackpot event occurring during play of a base game.
  13. 13. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the selection in at least one of the first and second stages is made by a player.
  14. 14. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the number of objects selected in at least one of the first and second stage is less than the total number of objects displayed.
  15. 15. A game controller arranged to control play of a game of chance comprising a plurality of stages on a gaming apparatus, in a first of the stages the game controller being configured to:
    control a display of the gaming apparatus to display a plurality of selectable objects, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
    select two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluate the revealed symbols to determine an outcome of the first stage; and
    in response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage whereby the game controller is further configured to:
    select at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluate the further associated symbols to determine an outcome of the second stage; and
    in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  16. 16. A game controller as claimed in claim 15, wherein the symbols associated with the selectable objects are numbers and at least one of the continuation criterion and first prize winning criterion is that one of an addition, multiplication or division of the revealed numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  17. 17. A game controller as claimed in claim 16, wherein the outcome of the first stage is the total sum value of the revealed numbers and wherein the continuation criterion is that the total sum value of the numbers meets or exceeds a predefined value.
  18. 18. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, wherein the outcome of the second stage is the total sum value of the numbers revealed in both the first and second stages and wherein the first prize winning criterion is that the total sum value meets or exceeds a second predefined value.
  19. 19. A game controller as claimed in claim 18, wherein the second predefined value is the maximum sum value of the x highest numbers in the symbol set, where x is equal to the number of objects selected in both the first and second stages.
  20. 20. A game controller as claimed in claim 16, wherein the game controller is further arranged to modify the symbol set after determining the outcome of the first stage such that at least one of the symbols associated with the symbols revealed in the first stage is replaced with a special symbol and such that the symbols associated with the objects selectable in the second stage are selected at random from the modified symbol set.
  21. 21. A game controller as claimed in claim 20, wherein the first prize winning criterion is that one of the special symbols is revealed in the outcome of the second stage.
  22. 22. A game controller as claimed in claim 16, wherein a value of the second prize is related to the total sum value of the numbers revealed by the selected objects in at least one of the first and second stage.
  23. 23. A game controller as claimed in claim 22, wherein the second prize comprises a plurality of prizes having distinct prize values and the total sum value dictates which of the plurality of prizes to award.
  24. 24. A game controller as claimed in claim 15, further comprising an award module which is arranged to award a third prize if the continuation criterion is not met.
  25. 25. A game controller as claimed in claim 24, wherein a value of the third prize corresponds to the lowest prize value attainable in the second stage.
  26. 26. A game controller as claimed in claim 15, wherein the game is a secondary game which is triggered upon a jackpot event occurring during play of a base game.
  27. 27. A game controller as claimed in claim 15, further comprising an input module arranged to a player input specifying which of the objects to select in at least one of the first and second stages.
  28. 28. A gaming machine having a display and a game controller programmed to control images of symbols displayed on the display, and to play a base game wherein at least one random event is caused to be displayed on the display and, if a predefined winning event occurs, the game controller causes the machine to award a prize, the game controller being further programmed to play a jackpot game in response to a jackpot trigger condition being detected during play of the base game, the jackpot game having a first stage comprising:
    displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
    selecting two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine a first outcome; and
    in response to determining that the first outcome meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage of the jackpot game comprising:
    selecting at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine a second outcome; and
    in response to determining that second determined outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
  29. 29. A computer program product comprising machine-readable program code for controlling the operation of a data processing apparatus on which the program code executes to perform a method of providing a multi-stage game on a gaming machine, the method comprising:
    in a first stage:
    displaying a plurality of selectable objects on a display screen, each selectable object being associated with a symbol randomly selected from a symbol set;
    facilitating a selection of two or more of the plurality of selectable objects to reveal the symbols associated with the selected objects and evaluating the revealed symbols to determine an outcome of the first stage; and
    in response to determining that the outcome of the first stage meets a continuation criterion, initiating a second stage comprising:
    facilitating a selection of at least one further selectable object displayed on the display screen to reveal a corresponding number of further associated symbols and evaluating the further associated symbols to determine an outcome of the second stage; and
    in response to determining that second stage outcome meets a first prize winning criterion awarding a first prize, otherwise awarding a second prize of lesser value than the first prize.
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