US20120115581A1 - Wagering games, methods and systems including skill-based components - Google Patents

Wagering games, methods and systems including skill-based components Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120115581A1
US20120115581A1 US13/289,853 US201113289853A US2012115581A1 US 20120115581 A1 US20120115581 A1 US 20120115581A1 US 201113289853 A US201113289853 A US 201113289853A US 2012115581 A1 US2012115581 A1 US 2012115581A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
skill
player
game
wagering game
feature
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13/289,853
Inventor
Allon G. Englman
Benjamin T. Gomez
Daniel P. Louie
Dion K. Aoki
Jamie W. Vann
Jeremy M. Hornik
Joel R. Jaffe
Pamela S. Smith
Shawn C. Collette
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Bally Gaming Inc
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WMS Gaming Inc
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US41085010P priority Critical
Priority to US41082410P priority
Priority to US41330710P priority
Application filed by WMS Gaming Inc filed Critical WMS Gaming Inc
Priority to US13/289,853 priority patent/US20120115581A1/en
Assigned to WMS GAMING INC. reassignment WMS GAMING INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: VANN, JAMIE W., COLLETTE, SHAWN C., HORNIK, JEREMY M., AOKI, DION K., ENGLMAN, ALLON G., GOMEZ, BENJAMIN T., JAFFE, JOEL R., LOUIE, DANIEL P., SMITH, PAMELA S.
Publication of US20120115581A1 publication Critical patent/US20120115581A1/en
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC., WMS GAMING INC.
Assigned to BALLY GAMING, INC. reassignment BALLY GAMING, INC. MERGER (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: WMS GAMING 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
    • G07F17/34Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting depending on the stopping of moving members in a mechanical slot machine, e.g. "fruit" machines
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes
    • G07F17/3258Cumulative reward schemes, e.g. jackpots

Abstract

A wagering game system configured to conduct a wagering game includes a wagering game that itself includes at least one display device and at least one user input device, as well as one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine. The one or more processors are configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game, determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game, providing an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature, and executing the skill-based game feature responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature.

Description

    REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is related to and claims the benefits of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/410,824, filed Nov. 5, 2010, U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/410,850, filed Nov. 5, 2010, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/413,307, filed Nov. 12, 2010, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.
  • COPYRIGHT
  • A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present concept relate generally to a wagering game system and/or a wagering game apparatus, and methods for conducting wagering games on the wagering game system and/or wagering game apparatus.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Gaming terminals, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to one aspect of the present concepts, a wagering game system is configured to conduct a wagering game includes a wagering game that itself includes at least one display device and at least one user input device, as well as one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine. The one or more processors are configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game, determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game, providing an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature, and executing the skill-based game feature responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature.
  • According to another aspect of the present concepts, a wagering game system is configured to conduct a wagering game and includes a wagering game machine itself including at least one display device and at least one user input device. One or more processors are operatively associated with the wagering game machine and the one or more processors are configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game, determining if the outcome of the base wagering game satisfies a trigger condition for the execution of one or more game features, executing a non-skill game feature, a skill-based game feature, or both a non-skill game feature and a skill-based game feature responsive to satisfaction of the trigger condition, awarding a monetary award responsive to a winning outcome in the non-skill game feature, and awarding a non-monetary award responsive to an outcome in the skill-based game feature corresponding to a level of achievement in the skill-based game feature.
  • According to another aspect of the present concepts, a wagering game system is configured to conduct a wagering game and includes a wagering game machine itself including at least one display device and at least one user input device. One or more processors are operatively associated with the wagering game machine and the one or more processors are configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of executing a skill-based game feature on the at least one wagering game machine, displaying on the at least one display device, during the skill-based game feature, a representation of a player element within a game space of the skill-based game feature, receiving one or more inputs from the at least one user input device during the skill-based game feature, the one or more inputs initiating a movement of the player element within the game space, and determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature responsive to the movement of the player element within the game space.
  • According to yet additional aspects of the present concepts, computer readable storage media is encoded with instructions for directing a gaming system to perform at least the above-recited acts.
  • According to yet additional aspects of the present concepts, methods of conducting a wagering game including the above-recited acts are contemplated as falling within the scope of the concepts set forth herein. By way of example, a method of conducting a wagering game in accord with at least one aspect of the present concepts includes the acts of randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game, determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game, providing an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature, and executing the skill-based game feature responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature. In another aspect, a method of conducting a wagering game in accord with at least one aspect of the present concepts includes the acts of executing a skill-based game feature on the at least one wagering game machine, displaying on the at least one display device, during the skill-based game feature, a representation of a player element within a game space of the skill-based game feature, receiving one or more inputs from the at least one user input device during the skill-based game feature, the one or more inputs initiating a movement of the player element within the game space, and determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature responsive to the movement of the player element within the game space.
  • Additional aspects of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided below.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a free-standing gaming terminal according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a gaming system according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is an image of an exemplary basic-game screen of a wagering game displayed on a gaming terminal, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 4-6 are representative displays of a first exemplary game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • FIGS. 7-10 are representative displays of a second exemplary game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • FIGS. 11-14 are representative displays of a third exemplary game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • FIGS. 15-22 are representative displays of a fourth exemplary game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • FIGS. 23-26 are representative displays of a fifth exemplary game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • FIG. 27 is a flowchart for an algorithm that corresponds to instructions executed by a controller in accord with at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts.
  • While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a gaming terminal 10 similar to those used in gaming establishments, such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming terminal 10 may be any type of gaming terminal and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, in some aspects, the gaming terminal 10 is be an electromechanical gaming terminal configured to play mechanical slots, whereas in other aspects, the gaming terminal is an electronic gaming terminal configured to play a video casino game, such as slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc. It should be understood that although the gaming terminal 10 is shown as a free-standing terminal of the upright type, the gaming terminal is readily amenable to implementation in a wide variety of other forms such as a free-standing terminal of the slant-top type, a portable or handheld device primarily used for gaming, such as is disclosed by way of example in PCT Patent Application No. PCT/US2007/000792 filed Jan. 11, 2007, titled “Handheld Device for Wagering Games,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, a mobile telecommunications device such as a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant (PDA), a counter-top or bar-top gaming terminal, or other personal electronic device, such as a portable television, MP3 player, entertainment device, etcetera.
  • The gaming terminal 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 comprises a cabinet or housing 12. For output devices, this embodiment of the gaming terminal 10 includes a primary display area 14, a secondary display area 16, and one or more audio speakers 18. The primary display area 14 and/or secondary display area 16 variously displays information associated with wagering games, non-wagering games, community games, progressives, advertisements, services, premium entertainment, text messaging, emails, alerts or announcements, broadcast information, subscription information, etc. appropriate to the particular mode(s) of operation of the gaming terminal. For input devices, the gaming terminal 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes a bill validator 20, a coin acceptor 22, one or more information readers 24, one or more player-input devices 26, and one or more player-accessible ports 28 (e.g., an audio output jack for headphones, a video headset jack, a wireless transmitter/receiver, etc.). While these typical components found in the gaming terminal 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other peripheral devices and other elements exist and are readily utilizable in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming terminal in accord with the present concepts.
  • The primary display area 14 include, in various aspects of the present concepts, a mechanical-reel display, a video display, or a combination thereof in which a transmissive video display is disposed in front of the mechanical-reel display to portray a video image in superposition over the mechanical-reel display. Further information concerning the latter construction is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,517,433 to Loose et al. entitled “Reel Spinning Slot Machine With Superimposed Video Image,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The video display is, in various embodiments, a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high-resolution liquid crystal display (LCD), a plasma display, a light emitting diode (LED), a DLP projection display, an electroluminescent (EL) panel, or any other type of display suitable for use in the gaming terminal 10, or other form factor, such as is shown by way of example in FIG. 1. The primary display area 14 includes, in relation to many aspects of wagering games conducted on the gaming terminal 10, one or more paylines 30 (see FIG. 3) extending along a portion of the primary display area. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the primary display area 14 comprises a plurality of mechanical reels 32 and a video display 34, such as a transmissive display (or a reflected image arrangement in other embodiments), in front of the mechanical reels 32. If the wagering game conducted via the gaming terminal 10 relies upon the video display 34 only and not the mechanical reels 32, the mechanical reels 32 are optionally removed from the interior of the terminal and the video display 34 is advantageously of a non-transmissive type. Similarly, if the wagering game conducted via the gaming terminal 10 relies only upon the mechanical reels 32, but not the video display 34, the video display 34 depicted in FIG. 1 is replaced with a conventional glass panel. Further, in still other embodiments, the video display 34 is disposed to overlay another video display, rather than a mechanical-reel display, such that the primary display area 14 includes layered or superimposed video displays. In yet other embodiments, the mechanical-reel display of the above-noted embodiments is replaced with another mechanical or physical member or members such as, but not limited to, a mechanical wheel (e.g., a roulette game), dice, a pachinko board, or a diorama presenting a three-dimensional model of a game environment.
  • Video images in the primary display area 14 and/or the secondary display area 16 are rendered in two-dimensional (e.g., using Flash Macromedia™) or three-dimensional graphics (e.g., using Renderware™). In various aspects, the video images are played back (e.g., from a recording stored on the gaming terminal 10), streamed (e.g., from a gaming network), or received as a TV signal (e.g., either broadcast or via cable) and such images can take different forms, such as animated images, computer-generated images, or “real-life” images, either prerecorded (e.g., in the case of marketing/promotional material) or as live footage. The format of the video images can include any format including, but not limited to, an analog format, a standard digital format, or a high-definition (HD) digital format.
  • The player-input or user-input device(s) 26 include, by way of example, a plurality of buttons 36 on a button panel, as shown in FIG. 1, a mouse, a joy stick, a switch, a microphone, and/or a touch screen 38 mounted over the primary display area 14 and/or the secondary display area 16 and having one or more soft touch keys 40, as is also shown in FIG. 1. In still other aspects, the player-input devices 26 comprise technologies that do not rely upon physical contact between the player and the gaming terminal, such as speech-recognition technology, gesture-sensing technology, eye-tracking technology, etc. The player-input or user-input device(s) 26 thus accept(s) player input(s) and transforms the player input(s) to electronic data signals indicative of a player input or inputs corresponding to an enabled feature for such input(s) at a time of activation (e.g., pressing a “Max Bet” button or soft key to indicate a player's desire to place a maximum wager to play the wagering game). The input(s), once transformed into electronic data signals, are output to a CPU or controller 42 (see FIG. 2) for processing. The electronic data signals are selected from a group consisting essentially of an electrical current, an electrical voltage, an electrical charge, an optical signal, an optical element, a magnetic signal, and a magnetic element.
  • The information reader 24 (or information reader/writer) is preferably located on the front of the housing 12 and comprises, in at least some forms, a ticket reader, card reader, bar code scanner, wireless transceiver (e.g., RFID, Bluetooth, etc.), biometric reader, or computer-readable-storage-medium interface. As noted, the information reader may comprise a physical and/or electronic writing element to permit writing to a ticket, a card, or computer-readable-storage-medium. The information reader 24 permits information to be transmitted from a portable medium (e.g., ticket, voucher, coupon, casino card, smart card, debit card, credit card, etc.) to the information reader 24 to enable the gaming terminal 10 or associated external system to access an account associated with cashless gaming, to facilitate player tracking or game customization, to retrieve a saved-game state, to store a current-game state, to cause data transfer, and/or to facilitate access to casino services, such as is more fully disclosed, by way of example, in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2003/0045354, published on Mar. 6, 2003, entitled “Portable Data Unit for Communicating With Gaming Machine Over Wireless Link,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The noted account associated with cashless gaming is, in some aspects of the present concepts, stored at an external system 46 (see FIG. 2) as more fully disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,280,328 to Holch et al. entitled “Cashless Computerized Video Game System and Method,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, or is alternatively stored directly on the portable storage medium. Various security protocols or features can be used to enhance security of the portable storage medium. For example, in some aspects, the individual carrying the portable storage medium is required to enter a secondary independent authenticator (e.g., password, PIN number, biometric, etc.) to access the account stored on the portable storage medium.
  • Turning now to FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by one or more processors (e.g., CPU, distributed processors, etc.) 42, also referred to herein generally as a controller (e.g., microcontroller, microprocessor, etc.). The controller 42 can include any suitable processor(s), such as an Intel® Pentium processor, Intel® Core 2 Duo processor, AMD Opteron™ processor, or UltraSPARC® processor. By way of example, the controller 42 includes a plurality of microprocessors including a master processor, a slave processor, and a secondary or parallel processor. Controller 42, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware disposed in and/or disposed outside of the gaming terminal 10 that is configured to communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming terminal 10 and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The controller 42 comprises one or more controllers or processors and such one or more controllers or processors need not be disposed proximal to one another and may be located in different devices and/or in different locations. For example, a first processor is disposed proximate a user interface device (e.g., a push button panel, a touch screen display, etc.) and a second processor is disposed remotely from the first processor, the first and second processors being electrically connected through a network. As another example, the first processor is disposed in a first enclosure (e.g., a gaming machine) and a second processor is disposed in a second enclosure (e.g., a server) separate from the first enclosure, the first and second processors being communicatively connected through a network. The controller 42 is operable to execute all of the various gaming methods and other processes disclosed herein.
  • To provide gaming functions, the controller 42 executes one or more game programs comprising machine-executable instructions stored in local and/or remote computer-readable data storage media (e.g., memory 44 or other suitable storage device). The term computer-readable data storage media, or “computer-readable medium,” as used herein refers to any media/medium that participates in providing instructions to controller 42 for execution. The computer-readable medium comprises, in at least some exemplary forms, non-volatile media (e.g., optical disks, magnetic disks, etc.), volatile media (e.g., dynamic memory, RAM), and transmission media (e.g., coaxial cables, copper wire, fiber optics, radio frequency (RF) data communication, infrared (IR) data communication, etc). Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a hard disk, magnetic tape (or other magnetic medium), a 2-D or 3-D optical disc (e.g., a CD-ROM, DVD, etc.), RAM, PROM, EPROM, FLASH-EPROM, any other memory chip or solid state digital data storage device, a carrier wave, or any other medium from which a computer can read. By way of example, a plurality of storage media or devices are provided, a first storage device being disposed proximate the user interface device and a second storage device being disposed remotely from the first storage device, wherein a network is connected intermediate the first one and second one of the storage devices.
  • Various forms of computer-readable media may be involved in carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions to controller 42 for execution. By way of example, the instructions may initially be borne on a data storage device of a remote device (e.g., a remote computer, server, or system). The remote device can load the instructions into its dynamic memory and send the instructions over a telephone line or other communication path using a modem or other communication device appropriate to the communication path. A modem or other communication device local to the gaming machine 10 or to an external system 46 associated with the gaming machine can receive the data on the telephone line or conveyed through the communication path (e.g., via external systems interface 58) and output the data to a bus, which transmits the data to the system memory 44 associated with the processor 42, from which system memory the processor retrieves and executes the instructions.
  • Thus, the controller 42 is able to send and receive data, via carrier signals, through the network(s), network link, and communication interface. The data includes, in various examples, instructions, commands, program code, player data, and game data. As to the game data, in at least some aspects of the present concepts, the controller 42 uses a local random number generator (RNG) to randomly generate a wagering game outcome from a plurality of possible outcomes. Alternatively, the outcome is centrally determined using either an RNG or pooling scheme at a remote controller included, for example, within the external system 46.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 2, the controller 42 is coupled to the system memory 44. The system memory 44 is shown to comprise a volatile memory (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory (e.g., an EEPROM), but optionally includes multiple RAM and multiple program memories.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 2, the controller 42 is also coupled to a money/credit detector 48. The money/credit detector 48 is configured to output a signal the controller 42 that money and/or credits have been input via one or more value-input devices, such as the bill validator 20, coin acceptor 22, or via other sources, such as a cashless gaming account, etc. The value-input device(s) is integrated with the housing 12 of the gaming terminal 10 and is connected to the remainder of the components of the gaming terminal 10, as appropriate, via a wired connection, such as I/O 56, or wireless connection. The money/credit detector 48 detects the input of valid funds into the gaming terminal 10 (e.g., via currency, electronic funds, ticket, card, etc.) via the value-input device(s) and outputs a signal to the controller 42 carrying data regarding the input value of the valid funds. The controller 42 extracts the data from these signals from the money/credit detector 48, analyzes the associated data, and transforms the data corresponding to the input value into an equivalent credit balance that is available to the player for subsequent wagers on the gaming terminal 10, such transforming of the data being effected by software, hardware, and/or firmware configured to associate the input value to an equivalent credit value. Where the input value is already in a credit value form, such as in a cashless gaming account having stored therein a credit value, the wager is simply deducted from the available credit balance.
  • As seen in FIG. 2, the controller 42 is also connected to, and controls, the primary display area 14, the player-input device(s) 26, and a payoff mechanism 50. The payoff mechanism 50 is operable in response to instructions from the controller 42 to award a payoff to the player in response to certain winning outcomes that occur in the base game, the bonus game(s), or via an external game or event. The payoff is provided in the form of money, credits, redeemable points, advancement within a game, access to special features within a game, services, another exchangeable media, or any combination thereof. Although payoffs may be paid out in coins and/or currency bills, payoffs are alternatively associated with a coded ticket (from a ticket printer 52), a portable storage medium or device (e.g., a card magnetic strip), or are transferred to or transmitted to a designated player account. The payoff amounts distributed by the payoff mechanism 50 are determined by one or more pay tables stored in the system memory 44.
  • Communications between the controller 42 and both the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10 and the external system 46 occur through input/output (I/O) circuit 56, which can include any suitable bus technologies, such as an AGTL+ frontside bus and a PCI backside bus. Although the I/O circuit 56 is shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuit 56 alternatively includes a number of different types of I/O circuits. Furthermore, in some embodiments, the components of the gaming terminal 10 can be interconnected according to any suitable interconnection architecture (e.g., directly connected, hypercube, etc.).
  • The I/O circuit 56 is connected to an external system interface or communication device 58, which is connected to the external system 46. The controller 42 communicates with the external system 46 via the external system interface 58 and a communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, near field, etc.). The external system 46 includes, in various aspects, a gaming network, other gaming terminals, a gaming server, a remote controller, communications hardware, or a variety of other interfaced systems or components, in any combination. In yet other aspects, the external system 46 may comprise a player's portable electronic device (e.g., cellular phone, electronic wallet, etc.) and the external system interface 58 is configured to facilitate wireless communication and data transfer between the portable electronic device and the controller 42, such as by a near field communication path operating via magnetic field induction or a frequency-hopping spread spectrum RF signals (e.g., Bluetooth, etc.).
  • The gaming terminal 10 optionally communicates with external system 46 (in a wired or wireless manner) such that each terminal operates as a “thin client” having relatively less functionality, a “thick client” having relatively more functionality, or with any range of functionality therebetween (e.g., an “intermediate client”). In general, a wagering game includes an RNG for generating a random number, game logic for determining the outcome based on the randomly generated number, and game assets (e.g., art, sound, etc.) for presenting the determined outcome to a player in an audio-visual manner. The RNG, game logic, and game assets are contained within the gaming terminal 10 (“thick client” gaming terminal), the external systems 46 (“thin client” gaming terminal), or are distributed therebetween in any suitable manner (“intermediate client” gaming terminal).
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, an image of a basic-game screen 60 adapted to be displayed on the primary display area 14 is illustrated, according to one embodiment of the present invention. A player begins play of a basic wagering game by providing a wager. A player can operate or interact with the wagering game using the one or more player-input devices 26. The controller 42, the external system 46, or both, in alternative embodiments, operate(s) to execute a wagering game program causing the primary display area 14 to display the wagering game that includes a plurality of visual elements.
  • In accord with various methods of conducting a wagering game on a gaming system in accord with the present concepts, the wagering game includes a game sequence in which a player makes a wager, such as through the money/credit detector 48, touch screen 38 soft key, button panel, or the like, and a wagering game outcome is associated with the wager. The wagering game outcome is then revealed to the player in due course following initiation of the wagering game. The method comprises the acts of conducting the wagering game using a gaming apparatus, such as the gaming terminal 10 depicted in FIG. 1, following receipt of an input from the player to initiate the wagering game. The gaming terminal 10 then communicates the wagering game outcome to the player via one or more output devices (e.g., primary display 14) through the display of information such as, but not limited to, text, graphics, text and graphics, static images, moving images, etc., or any combination thereof. In accord with the method of conducting the wagering game, the controller 42, which comprises one or more processors, transforms a physical player input, such as a player's pressing of a “Spin Reels” soft key 84 (see FIG. 3), into an electronic data signal indicative of an instruction relating to the wagering game (e.g., an electronic data signal bearing data on a wager amount).
  • In the aforementioned method, for each data signal, the controller 42 is configured to processes the electronic data signal, to interpret the data signal (e.g., data signals corresponding to a wager input), and to cause further actions associated with the interpretation of the signal in accord with computer instructions relating to such further actions executed by the controller. As one example, the controller 42 causes the recording of a digital representation of the wager in one or more storage devices (e.g., system memory 44 or a memory associated with an external system 46), the controller, in accord with associated computer instructions, causing the changing of a state of the data storage device from a first state to a second state. This change in state is, for example, effected by changing a magnetization pattern on a magnetically coated surface of a magnetic storage device or changing a magnetic state of a ferromagnetic surface of a magneto-optical disc storage device, a change in state of transistors or capacitors in a volatile or a non-volatile semiconductor memory (e.g., DRAM), etc.). The noted second state of the data storage device comprises storage in the storage device of data representing the electronic data signal from the controller (e.g., the wager in the present example). As another example, the controller 42 further, in accord with the execution of the instructions relating to the wagering game, causes the primary display 14 or other display device and/or other output device (e.g., speakers, lights, communication device, etc.), to change from a first state to at least a second state, wherein the second state of the primary display comprises a visual representation of the physical player input (e.g., an acknowledgement to a player), information relating to the physical player input (e.g., an indication of the wager amount), a game sequence, an outcome of the game sequence, or any combination thereof, wherein the game sequence in accord with the present concepts comprises acts described herein. The aforementioned executing of computer instructions relating to the wagering game is further conducted in accord with a random outcome (e.g., determined by the RNG) that is used by the controller 42 to determine the outcome of the game sequence, using a game logic for determining the outcome based on the randomly generated number. In at least some aspects, the controller 42 is configured to determine an outcome of the game sequence at least partially in response to the random parameter.
  • The basic-game screen 60 is displayed on the primary display area 14 or a portion thereof. In FIG. 3, the basic-game screen 60 portrays a plurality of simulated movable reels 62 a-e. Alternatively or additionally, the basic-game screen 60 portrays a plurality of mechanical reels or other video or mechanical presentation consistent with the game format and theme. The basic-game screen 60 also advantageously displays one or more game-session meters and various buttons adapted to be actuated by a player.
  • In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the game-session meters include a “credit” meter 64 for displaying a number of credits available for play on the terminal; a “lines” meter 66 for displaying a number of paylines to be played by a player on the terminal; a “line bet” meter 68 for displaying a number of credits wagered (e.g., from 1 to 5 or more credits) for each of the number of paylines played; a “total bet” meter 70 for displaying a total number of credits wagered for the particular round of wagering; and a “paid” meter 72 for displaying an amount to be awarded based on the results of the particular round's wager. The depicted user-selectable buttons include a “collect” button 74 to collect the credits remaining in the credits meter 64; a “help” button 76 for viewing instructions on how to play the wagering game; a “pay table” button 78 for viewing a pay table associated with the basic wagering game; a “select lines” button 80 for changing the number of paylines (displayed in the lines meter 66) a player wishes to play; a “bet per line” button 82 for changing the amount of the wager which is displayed in the line-bet meter 68; a “spin reels” button 84 for moving the reels 62 a-e; and a “max bet spin” button 86 for wagering a maximum number of credits and moving the reels 62 a-e of the basic wagering game. While the gaming terminal 10 allows for these types of player inputs, the present invention does not require them and can be used on gaming terminals having more, less, or different player inputs.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 3, paylines 30 extend from one of the payline indicators 88 a-i on the left side of the basic-game screen 60 to a corresponding one of the payline indicators 88 a-i on the right side of the screen 60. A plurality of symbols 90 is displayed on the plurality of reels 62 a-e to indicate possible outcomes of the basic wagering game. A winning combination occurs when the displayed symbols 90 correspond to one of the winning symbol combinations listed in a pay table stored in the memory 44 of the terminal 10 or in the external system 46. The symbols 90 may include any appropriate graphical representation or animation, and may further include a “blank” symbol.
  • Symbol combinations are evaluated in accord with various schemes such as, but not limited to, “line pays” or “scatter pays.” Line pays are evaluated left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top, or any combination thereof by evaluating the number, type, or order of symbols 90 appearing along an activated payline 30. Scatter pays are evaluated without regard to position or paylines and only require that such combination appears anywhere on the reels 62 a-e. While an embodiment with nine paylines is shown, a wagering game with no paylines, a single payline, or any plurality of paylines will also work with the present invention. Additionally, though an embodiment with five reels is shown in FIG. 3, different embodiments of the gaming terminal 10 comprise a greater or lesser number of reels in accordance with the present invention. Responsive to an occurrence of a triggering event in or during the base wagering game, such as the occurrence of a start-bonus game outcome (e.g., symbol trigger, mystery trigger, time-based trigger, etc.). It is to be noted that any bonus game or game feature described herein is able to be deployed as a stand-alone wagering game independent of a basic wagering game.
  • By way of introduction, in accord with the various concepts disclosed herein, there are described wagering games comprising, whether in a base wagering game or a bonus game, a game feature embodying a skill component or a game feature providing an option to conduct the game feature with or without a skill component. The skill component may comprise any nature of “skill” including, but not limited to physical or manual dexterity, digital dexterity, hand-eye coordination (e.g., aim), reflexes, memory, cognitive processing, knowledge, and/or strategy-based selection. The performance of the skill or skills being challenged at any particular point in a skill-based game feature is objectively measured against a standard appropriate to the particular skill(s) tested, such standard typically, but not necessarily, being communicated via the wagering game machine (e.g., help screen, pop-up display, etc.). Often, the standard against which the player's skill-based challenge is based is immediately apparent, such as in an example wherein a player is shooting an arrow at a conventional archery target awarding 10 points for the exact center, 9 points for an arrow in the gold region, 8 points for an arrow in the innermost red ring, 7 points for an arrow in the outermost red ring, 6 points for an arrow in the innermost blue ring, 5 points for an arrow in the outmost blue ring, etcetera. Likewise, if a player's skill-based challenge is to kick a football through the uprights of a football field goal, such a pass-fail standard is self-evident. In yet other variants, the standard may comprise the performance of other players or against the player's prior performance.
  • Whatever skill component is challenged during the game feature, the wagering game system is configured to provide player's with particularized offerings or awards relating to the level of skill demonstrated. In at least some embodiments, the overall expected value (“EV”) of the wagering game is completely unchanged by the added skill-based game feature or optional skill-based game feature. By way of example, the skill-based game feature may award only non-monetary awards (e.g., player points) that are related to a player's demonstrated skill. In at least some other embodiments, the overall expected value (“EV”) of the wagering game is changed marginally (e.g., one percentage point, two percentage points, etc.) responsive to the game play of the skillful player. As used herein, the overall EV broadly includes any of the EV of the base wagering game, the EV of the game feature, or the cumulative EV of the base wagering game and the game feature.
  • In conducting a skill-based game, a number of different variations may be provided. For example, a pure skill game would provide an outcome responsive directly to the player's inputs (i.e., the player's demonstrated skill) in a challenge (e.g., a player's “real skill” produces a “real result”). A randomized skill game, on the other hand, uses the player's inputs as a starting point in the determination of an outcome, but introduces randomization factors to arrive at the final outcome. This final outcome has a range of potential weightings and may be uninfluenced by the player's skill (i.e., a purely “random” result), partially influenced by the player's skill, or may ultimately be dominated by the player's skill and provide a pure skill result. For example, the player's inputs could minimally influence the final outcome due to the randomization factors (e.g., numerous levels of pins in a Pachinko game) or could significantly influence the final outcome (e.g., deflection-effect of wind on a projectile). As noted elsewhere herein, the skill game may be an individual game or a group game, a pure skill game or a randomized skill game, and may provide awards that affect the EV or do not affect the EV, in any combination. Moreover, it is desirable, although not necessary, to provide players with an option of selecting a skill version of a game feature or a non-skill version of the game feature.
  • In one embodiment, a game feature comprising a skill component is provided in association with a base wagering game or a bonus game wherein a player's input(s), reflecting a skill component, is used to determine “winnings” in a secondary economy. These winnings may comprise, for example, an unlocking of one or more features or attainment of a currency (e.g., player points, etc.) in a secondary economy of the game.
  • In a first example, a game feature is provided with a skill component, the game feature being conducted prior to a base wagering game (e.g., in an on-line game available to players), contemporaneously with a base wagering game, or subsequent to a triggering event in or during a base wagering game. The skill component, as noted above, presents a challenge to the player. The player, by application of physical and/or mental skill(s), undertakes the challenge of the skill component and if provided an opportunity to be earn secondary economy currency (e.g., player points) or game-related benefit (e.g., unlocking of game content that does not affect the EV of the game feature or wagering game) commensurate with the player's demonstrated skill in the skill component portion of the game feature. Separate and further to the skill component, the game feature is configured to function in other respects as a normal follow-on game (e.g., a bonus game) to a respective base wagering game in which a randomly determined winning outcome, independent of any skill component, is associated with a payout or award in conventional credits or money. Thus, in the example above, the skill component of the game feature does not affect the underlying EV of the game feature, but does provide the opportunity for a player to obtain a type of currency or benefit applicable to a secondary economy applicable to the gaming environment.
  • In at least one aspect, a skill component of a wagering game feature is provided through an on-line portal to permit persons to conduct, remotely from a gaming establishment, at least some aspects of game feature skill components that are offered in association with a particular wagering game system. This permits persons to better understand the skill components of one or more game features and permits them to practice prior to entering a wagering game establishment to play the wagering game offering such game features. Persons playing these non-wagering game feature skill components are optionally enabled to obtain player points. In this manner, the player may not only familiarize himself or herself with the wagering game mechanics and gaming experience in a non-wagering environment, but is also provided the opportunity to import those experiences into subsequent gaming experiences in a wagering game environment.
  • A skill-based game feature may start with a mission selection, which may be a randomly selected mission from an available set of missions, such as by a random outcome in a base wagering game associated with a particular mission, or a player-selected mission. The selected mission defines the bonus that is at stake and the level of the bonus is advantageously related with the degree of difficulty of completing the mission successfully. FIG. 4 shows a variety of exemplary missions, such as “Collect Two Flags!”, “Long Robot Fight!”, “Finish the Robot!”, and “Stop Madame Cougar!”. The “Collect Two Flags!” mission is labeled “Supereasy” and, if successful, unlocks a new mask option if the player “finds” two flags during the training bonus game. For example, in a free spin bonus, two flags may be required to appear to complete the mission and unlock the mask option. This result would be independent of any winning outcome in the bonus game that would provide a monetary outcome.
  • Likewise, the “Long Robot Fight!” mission is shown to be “Not so easy!” and, if successful, unlocks a new cape option for a player if the player gets at least eight bonus spins. For example, in a free spin bonus, a player may accumulate eight additional bonus spins by obtaining one or more outcomes in the free spin bonus that award bonus spins totaling eight or more bonus spins. The “Finish the Robot!” mission is labeled “Tough!” and, if successful, unlocks new “bonus helpers” if the player is able to destroy the robot by the end of the bonus. By way of example, a player may have to achieve a predetermined number of symbols in a bonus spin round or correctly select a predetermined sequence of outcomes from presented selectable elements. FIG. 4 also shows a “Slotropolis Bonus” wherein the mission is to “Stop Madame Cougar”. The relative difficulty of accomplishing these missions may range from, purely by way of example, 1 in 20 or 50 for “Supereasy” to 1 in 2000 or 2500 for “Supertough”. It is to be noted that the difficulty setting of the “non-EV” skill component need not match the difficulty setting of the EV-related portion of the gaming feature. Thus, a player may select a mission that is “Supertough” (e.g., having a higher volatility and potentially higher payout than other missions), but select a “Supereasy” version of the skill-component of the mission. Likewise, a player could select a low volatility mission, as it relates to EV, and select a skill-component that is non-EV-based that is very difficult and which could provide a successful player with potentially larger awards of “life points” or “player points” or the like. Further, the game feature may present a player with options, such as an “opt out” of the skill-component or a variable player-selectable level of difficulty wherein a player is permitted to select a desired difficulty of the skill-component portion of the game feature. For example, the gaming system may permit the player to select from a zero difficulty or “no skill” game to a high difficulty skill game, with corresponding potentially availability of “player points” or the like (e.g., zero or a minimum number of player points for a “no skill” game up to a pre-determined maximum potential number of player points or unlockable non-monetary awards).
  • FIG. 5 shows an example of a training-type mission wherein a player's super hero 172 must steer through a maze 170, such as the illustrated maze of piping, and try to avoid hitting a boundary of the maze, such as the wall of the piping, or particular obstacles within the maze. Included in the exemplary maze illustrated in FIG. 5 are one or more lines of selectable elements 174, through which the player must steer his or her super hero 172. By the arrangement of the selectable elements, the player's super hero 172 must pass through a selectable element. Using a player input device, a player is able to steer the super hero 172 toward a desired one of the selectable elements 174, which may provide a real result (e.g., pure skill) or a randomized result with some degree of random influence. For example, on the left side of FIG. 5, there is shown a line of selectable elements 174 that the super hero 172 has already passed through, with the non-selected selectable elements indicated values of “12” and the selected selectable element 175 revealing a value of “65”. In at least one aspect, this value of “65” represents a randomly determined number of player points in a skill-component of the illustrated game feature. This result may have arisen by a player aiming his or her super hero 172 toward a center one of the leftmost line of five selectable elements and, owing to a randomization, the super hero 172 was biased downwardly toward the selected selectable element 175. Alternatively, this result may have arisen as a real result of the player aiming his or her super hero 172 toward the selectable element indicated by reference numeral 175.
  • Player points or units of currency exchangeable in a secondary economy may be earned, for example, by avoiding the walls of the maze 170 as the maze scrolls to the left or may be lost, for example, by hitting the walls of the maze between the lines of selectable elements 174 or by hitting other obstacles within the maze. The skill level of the mission may be increased, for example, by making the maze more convoluted and/or increasing the speed of the super hero 172 relative to the maze. Again, the player points or units of currency exchangeable in a secondary economy are enhancements to the player's gaming experience that do not affect the game EV. As noted above, a possibility exists for “bonus helpers” or “Helper Heroes”. In a game feature such as that described above, a bonus helper may come in and improve the players bonus win with their own unique attributes, such as bringing up mini-bonuses or opening secret passages. Completing training-type missions can unlock new mazes, different mini-bonuses, and new or different “bonus helpers” or “Helper Heroes.”
  • It is further noted that the “skill component” referred to herein may be integrated with the EV-component of the game feature and need not be divorced therefrom. Stated differently, the skill-based and non-skill based (i.e., EV-based) portions of the game feature may be contemporaneously presented as distinct aspects of the same wagering-game game feature. For example, in the example of FIG. 5, the selectable elements could comprise a non-skill EV-based portion of the game feature, with the player being able to select desired selectable elements and with the indicated revealed values representing credit values. In this example, the skill-based component could comprise simply avoiding touching the walls of the maze and/or avoiding obstacles between the selectable elements 174.
  • In another example of a bonus game comprising a skill-based component, an EV-component of the game feature (i.e., a non-skill component) may be separate from and/or different from the non-EV component (e.g., a skill component). As one example, a “Zoo Bonus,” noted in FIG. 4, starts when super-villain “Madam Cougar” releases the big cats at the zoo and it is the player's super hero's responsibility to capture them in a predetermined number of free spins. A set of individual bonus reels (not shown) appears in a bonus game with cats and blanks and, when a cat appears on a bonus reel, or on a designated reel and/or in a designated place on a bonus reel, the player the plays a simple skill game to catch the cat (e.g., to catch a cat in a net) and award a credit prize. The fewer the number of attempts prior to success, the greater the award of “player points” or other secondary economy currency. The outcome of the bonus game itself is unaffected by the skill game. If the player is unable to successfully complete the skill game within a predetermined number of attempts or a predetermined time, then the skill game is advantageously accelerated to completion, such as by the appearance of a “Helper Hero” to lend an assist to the super hero. Thus, although the skill game employs a real skill, and may provide either a real result or a randomized result, the result of the bonus game is still a random result and the EV is unaffected. However, by demonstrating skill in the skill-based component of the bonus game, the player may accumulate player points, or the like, unlock new missions, unlock new bonus opportunities, etc.
  • As one illustrative example of the gaming systems utilization of player points, or the like (e.g., secondary economy currency, items beneficial to a player's super-hero, etc.), FIG. 6 shows a super-heroine “Bonus Momma” in a costume and cape. Exploded pointers highlight different upgradable aspects of her persona such as, but not limited to, cape, belt, costume, eyewear, helmet, mask, hair, gloves, and boots. During play of an on-line game, a base wagering game, and/or a bonus game, for example, the player has opportunity to earn player points or the like that are beneficial to this player's alter-ego. These player points may be used by a player, for example, to alter an appearance of his or her personal hero (e.g., a super-hero or super-heroine), to obtain functional or non-functional items for a player, and/or obtain additional or better personal heroes. Examples of items that may be unlocked or purchased in this secondary economy include, but are not limited to, outfits, capes, gloves, boots, super hero accessories, new powers, super hero attributes, sidekicks, new super heroes, etcetera. Further, the secondary economy may also include options for the unlocking of or the purchase of, via such player points, new bonuses, bonus variations, or graphics.
  • Turning now to the general categories noted above of “real skill” or “pure skill” a player's actual inputs through a user input device (e.g., buttons, joystick, motion detector, pressure sensors, etc.) can produce either a “real,” “randomized,” or “random” result, or even combinations thereof, such as a real result over a first portion of a skill component of a game feature and a randomized portion of the skill component over a second portion of the game feature. By way of example, a player's ability to navigate his or her super-hero 172 in FIG. 5 may be entirely controlled by the player in certain portions of the maze 170, but may be subject to randomized influences (e.g., turbulent flow, gravity effects, super-power degradation, etc.) in certain other portions of the maze. Further, in various aspects, these skill games may be played by individuals or may be played as group games. Various non-limiting examples of these concepts are provided below.
  • FIGS. 7-10 show an example of a virtual coin pusher type game feature wherein a physics engine simulates the behavior of the coins and/or other objects 205 disposed on one or more platform(s) 210, and also simulates the behavior of coins and other objects launched or thrown by a player within the game space. As the coins and/or other objects 205 are acted upon by external forces, such as gravity and the movement of one or more mechanical devices (e.g., pusher arm(s), flipper(s), etc.) (not shown) or objects (e.g., coins), the physics engine is configured or programmed represent the effects of these forces on other coins or objects within the game space with a desired degree of fidelity.
  • FIG. 7 shows a representation of a coin pusher type game in the top portion of the primary display 200, while the base wagering game is conducted on the video reels in the bottom portion of the primary display. FIG. 8, on the other hand, shows the primary display 200 in another stage of the wagering game wherein the virtual reels have been removed, following an occurrence of at least one pre-determined triggering event, in favor of a display of a player-manipulable player element 225 (e.g., a coin) presented on a game field 220 (e.g., a surface upon which the player element rests). The player may obtain one or more player-manipulable player element 225 in any manner including, for example, accumulating one player element for the achievement of a predetermined symbol within one or more predetermined reel symbol positions during a base wagering game or a free-spin feature of a game feature (e.g., a bonus game). By way of example, a standard base game features a “Free Spin Bonus,” wherein the coin pusher game goes into a “frenzy” mode and player elements 225 are awarded more frequently, thus making coins and prizes easier to win.
  • In still another aspect, a number of player elements 225 is randomly determined. In yet another aspect, a number of player elements 225 is determined based on a player-selection from a field of player-selectable elements, each player-selectable element being associated with a randomly determined number of player elements. In still another aspect, the number of player elements provided to the player is dependent upon a player's skill-level (e.g., ranking) or a player's demonstrated skill in a prior skill-based game feature. In another aspect, the player has the option to simply purchase (e.g., for cash or credit) the player elements, one at a time, or in blocks of a predetermined size (e.g., blocks of 5, 10, 25, 50, etc.).
  • FIG. 9 further shows a player 230 touching the portion of the touch screen primary display 200 corresponding to the displayed player element 225. Using the touch screen, multi-touch touch screen, joystick, buttons, or other player-input device, the player is able to move the player element 225 within the two-dimensional or three-dimensional game space and can, for example, slide it around on the two-dimensional game field depicted in FIGS. 8-9. The gaming system is configured to permit the player to move the player element 225 in any direction along the depicted two-dimensional game field 220. Optionally, the player may be permitted to change the game space, such as by changing an angle of the depicted two-dimensional game field 220 relative to the platforms 210 or by changing a coefficient of friction of the two-dimensional game field 220. The gaming system is further configured to impart to the player element 225 an acceleration and velocity vector corresponding to the physical inputs of the player via the touch screen of the primary display 200, as shown, or alternatively using another user input device. Thus, as a player presses down on the player element 225, or more precisely presses down on the primary display in a portion corresponding to the displayed player element, and quickly slides the player element and releases the player element in a direction toward the depicted platforms 210, the player element assumes an initial velocity vector and moves through the game space (e.g., through the “air”) toward the platforms.
  • As the player element 225 moves through the game space toward the platforms, the player element is shown to arc under the influence of “gravity” by virtue of the physics engine. Further, as the thrown player element 225 “hits” the pile of coins 205, the coins or other objects that are hit by the thrown coin are themselves moved by the impact of the thrown player element 225 and these coins or objects, in turn, have imparted to them a kinetic energy that may be imparted to yet other coins or objects in accord with the particular settings of or programming of the physics engine. In the vein of a coin pusher game, based on the interaction of the thrown player element 225 (e.g., a coin or other object), the net effect of the forces may cause one or more coins or other objects to fall off of an edge of the platform and the gaming system is configured, in at least some aspects, to permit a player to win all of, or a part of, a benefit attributable to such coins and/or other objects.
  • The “benefit” may be an EV-based award of corresponding credits or money, a non-EV-based award of a value in a secondary economy within the game space, and/or a combination of the two. For example, the coin pusher game may be a conventional, non-skill-based bonus game and the thrown player object 225 hits a randomly determined portion of the platform and/or hits a portion of the platform that the player throws the player object toward, but a final outcome of the throw is randomly determined. In some aspects, the randomization is presented to the player through complex interplay of the objects on the display, including the prominent movement of one or more pushers or biasing elements causing the coins or other objects to move about the platform(s) or, alternatively, the failure of the one or more pushers or biasing elements to move, thus leading to a more static outcome. In another example, wherein both the non-skill-based and skill-based portions of the game feature are contemporaneous, the gaming system is configured to either designate a target for the player or to permit a player to “mark” a target spot and skill points are assessed and awarded based on the proximity of the thrown object to the targeted spot. Thus, a single game feature is optionally configured to provide both cash or credits, in a randomly determined outcome (optionally with an element of player-selection), and player points, or the like, responsive to a player's performance in a skill-component of the game feature.
  • In at least some aspects, only the coins or other objects that fall off certain regions of the platform (e.g., a center ⅓ of the platform perimeter, etc.) are awarded to a player and the coins or other objects that fall off other regions of the platform (e.g., the left and the right ⅓ of the platform perimeter, etc.) are deemed to be lost to the player. In at least some other aspects, the perimeter of the platform may have different values or enhancements associated therewith. For example, one or more multipliers may advantageously be associated with different regions of the platform perimeter and/or the platform area. In this example, a player may receive a first multiplier or other enhancement if they are able to hit a certain portion of the platform and/or may receive one or more other multipliers or enhancements if coins or other objects are then caused to be knocked off the platform at predetermined portions of the platform perimeter (e.g., a 1× multiplier on the left ¼ of the platform perimeter, a 2× multiplier on the middle ½ of the platform perimeter, and a 1× multiplier on the right ¼ of the platform perimeter). Such multipliers or enhancements may be advantageously utilized to modify a player's cash or credit winnings in a non-skill-based portion of a game feature and/or to modify a player's player point total from a skill-based portion of a game feature.
  • In accord with other variants of the coin pusher type game, the player object 225 that is thrown by the player may also be varied. In one example, a thrown object could be a coin or jewel bomb, or the like, that explodes, pushing coins and other objects toward the perimeter of the platforms (e.g., a physics engine may model a pressure front of the explosion with corresponding movement of adjacent objects). The coin or jewel bomb may yet further include a fixed or variable timer, permitting the player to seek to time the throw in combination with an observed movement of any optional pusher element(s). This would provide a mixture of real skill (e.g., the aiming of the throw, the timing of the throw, the selection of the coin bomb timer, etc.) with the potential of a random result, randomized result, or real result, depending upon the desired independence of the skill-component from the EV of the wagering game in play. In another aspect, such a coin or jewel bomb could explode into a plurality of gold shrapnel, gems, fireworks, or the like, which fall upon and interacts with the other coins and objects in the game space.
  • In yet another variant, objects within the game space, such as the “2×” coin 232 or the “BIG” coin 234 in FIG. 9, are associated with a modifier or function. Thus, the “BIG” coin 234 in FIG. 9 could itself be a “coin bomb” or the like and explode under a predetermined condition, such as contact with a thrown player element 225. In another alternative, the “BIG” coin 234, when hit by a thrown player element 225, can increase in size so as to push other coins and objects away from the coin 234. The “2×” coin 232 may itself be a modifier only for the player points, as opposed to being a modifier of a credit or monetary award realized in the game feature wherein, if the player aims for and hits the “2×” coin 232, the player's player points for the round or potentially realizable in the round are multiplied by two, with the randomly determined outcome for the game feature being independently determined.
  • Moreover, the game space and the objects are optionally persistent, carrying over from at least one gaming session of a first player to a later gaming session of a second player. Thus, this game feature also presents an element of group skill, as each player is, in effect, playing against other players to obtain objects and coins in the game space deposited by other players in previous gaming sessions. This competition is for the same pool of potential awards or benefits, simply not at the same time.
  • FIG. 10 shows another aspect of the coin pusher style game wherein a thrown player element 225 is thrown into a selected one of a plurality of towers 240-246 represented in a secondary display 201. As the player element 225 hits the selected tower 246, the tower wall breaks apart and fragments into a cascade of objects (e.g., coins, jems, etc.) downwardly onto the platform(s) 210 displayed in the primary display 200. These fragments then interact with the coins and other objects 205 on the platforms and have the potential to cause significant movement of the coins and other objects off the ledge of the platform(s) 210, to the benefit of the player. The player element 225 is, in accord with at least some aspects of the present concepts, required to be a predetermined minimum size or power before it affects the towers 240-246. For example, whereas a simple coin is insufficient to affect the towers 240-246, a coin or jewel bomb permits an assault on the towers.
  • In one variant of FIG. 10, each tower may be associated with an award, such as progressive award having the same reset value and the same incrementation (i.e., they increment at the same time). Although there may be some variation in the award (e.g., progressive awards), with one being higher and one being lower, there will be fairly minimal differences therebetween so that a player's skill-component does not noticeably impact the EV of the game if a player aims toward a particular one of the towers 240-246 in a real skill-real result or real skill-randomized result configuration. The award (e.g., progressive award) in credits or money is a first component of the players' award. The fragments that fall downwardly onto the platform(s) 210 displayed in the primary display 200 cause the coins and other objects 205 on the platforms to move and potentially fall off the ledge of the platform(s). The coins and other objects that fall off of the ledge(s) of the platform(s) form a second component of the player's award and are added to a player's accumulated player points or the like (e.g., a secondary economy credit, etc.).
  • Continuing with the noted theme of tying each of the towers 240-246 of FIG. 10 to a progressive award, the gaming system is optionally configured to permit a player to apply real skill, through an input device, to aim at and hit a selected one of the towers 240-246. The result may be a real result, wherein the player's ability to hit the selected one of the towers 240-246 is entirely dependent upon the player's skill in manipulating the input device, or may be a randomized result, wherein the player has varying degrees of influence in the hitting the selected one of the towers. In either case, a player will be incentivized to go for the tower showing a higher award, even though the differences between towers may be slight. In one aspect where the awards associated with towers 240-246 are progressive awards having at least substantially equal reset values and triggers, the incrementing of the progressives may be optionally configured to differ so that there are distinct, albeit minor, differences between the towers 240-246.
  • The progressive awards themselves may not necessary be awarded upon a first hit of a tower 240-246 and, instead, a tower may require multiple hits before the progressive award (or other award) is awarded, such as two, three, four or five hits to win. The number of hits required to achieve the progressive award, or any award, associated with a tower may vary in accord with a level of the award, with comparatively more hits being required for larger awards and fewer hits being required for smaller awards. Further, the difficulty of hitting the towers 240-246 may vary, with some towers being more difficult to hit than other towers. For example, one or more towers may be partially obscured or protected by objects such as hills, trees, or cliffs, or winds that affect trajectory. In another example, some towers may be more distant and therefore present a smaller target, or may simply be more difficult to hit, statistically speaking.
  • Although preceding examples have discussed the “throwing” of a player element 225 directly at the towers 240-246, other variants are possible wherein the players shoot or launch a projectile at the towers (e.g., an arrow from a bow, a ball rolled over a ramp (skeeball), etc.). As one example, a catapult 320, such as shown in FIGS. 11-14, is used to launch an object or objects 325 disposed in a head thereof toward the towers 240-246 or toward the platform(s) 210. The player element(s) 225 that are thrown, shot, catapulted, or otherwise moved by a player toward the platform(s) 210 may optionally comprise one or more special player element(s). As noted above, one type of player element is a “bomb” element that “explodes” into multiple elements on contact with another element, following settling of the player element amongst the coins or other objects on the platform(s) 210 (e.g., via lapse of a timer), or even as an “air burst”. In another example, the special player element may comprise a “big” player element that is larger than a standard player element, with a correspondingly larger chance of influencing movement of struck objects. A “boulder” player element may also be provided, such as an upgrade from the “big” player element, with enhanced ability to damage an impacted one of the towers 240-246. Similarly, a “super boulder” player element may also be provided, such as an upgrade from the “boulder” player element, with enhanced ability to damage multiple adjacent towers 240-246.
  • The upgrading of the player elements 225 may be permitted by redemption of player points, or by purchase, in at least some aspects. In other aspects, the player element(s) 225 available to the player are determined by one or more scattered symbols (e.g., a “Coin Pusher Token symbol”) on reels in either a base wagering game or a free-spin feature. For example, one scattered Coin Pusher Token symbol awards a standard player element for use in the above-noted coin pusher type game feature. Further, two scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols awards a “Time Bomb” player element, three scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols awards a “Big” player element, four scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols awards a “Boulder” player element, and five scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols awards a “Super Boulder” player element. A player can optionally choose to collect the player elements across multiple spins, or launch them immediately. If a player chooses to save a special player element, the player may then be permitted to later upgrade the player element upon an occurrence of one or more scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols. For example, a player with a “Time Bomb” player element receives an outcome on the reels of two scattered Coin Pusher Token symbols, which would correspond to another “Time Bomb” player element. The player can choose to accept the second “Time Bomb” player element or, optionally, upgrade to a “Boulder” player element. Once the player has at least one player element, the player is optionally permitted to enter the game feature at-will, sliding the reels off the display 200 to reveal the waiting catapult.
  • As noted above, it is desirable for the differences in award to be slight, so as not to penalize players of lesser skill levels. A first level of skill is simply that of making the decision as to which tower to “attack” and a second level of skill is that of trying to bring about the result of hitting the selected tower. The difference in award between the highest award and the lowest award may be an increment of, for example, 8%, 5%, 2%, or may be a randomly selected increment within a predetermined range. The lower the increment, the less the EV strays. A skilled player may thus benefit somewhat from their skill, but within a band that does not significantly impact the EV of the game feature.
  • In another aspect of a skill-based strategy feature, a player may be permitted to a selected progressive symbol on the reels in the base wagering game (or in a free-spin bonus) and the player would therefore effectively select which of the progressives that he or she would later try for if the progressive is triggered. Thus, a player may, on-the-fly, select a particular tower or type of tower (e.g., a red tower) and, if they trigger the progressive, they would automatically be awarded that progressive or, alternatively, awarded an automatic hit on that tower (e.g., a “non-skill” version).
  • In a related type of game feature, not shown, a skeeball game is presented wherein a player is provided one or more player elements (i.e., balls) and the player rolls the ball(s) down a virtual game surface (e.g., an alley represented on primary display 200) where, at an end portion thereof, a ramp is provided to cause the player element to go airborne into a playing field populated by a plurality of holes encircled by protruding rings. Rings having smaller circumferences are associated with lower point values and/or awards. The game feature, in at least some aspects, is advantageously set up so that a player's skill determines the volatility. Specifically, a player is permitted to change the volatility of the game based on where they aim, such as if the player aims for a 100 point corner, they would have a lower probability of attaining the outcome, but a higher return should they attain the outcome than were they to aim for a 10 point outcome, where the probability is comparatively highest. Thus, a player's skill can help them determine their desired volatility. By way of example, each direction that the player is enabled to choose may have its own probability associated therewith so that the player's choice of direction reflects a skill-component or each velocity vector selectable by a player may have its own assigned volatility. This skill-based volatility may be applied to any of the embodiments disclosed herein. Other variants may include, for example, bowling type games.
  • FIGS. 11-14 show representative displays of a another example of a skill-based game feature conducted in association with a wagering game on a gaming terminal, according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts. FIG. 11 shows, on a bottom portion of a primary display 200, a set of reels 300 used to display an outcome of a base wagering game and, on a top portion of the primary display a castle having a plurality of potentially selectable objects 310-312 disposed therein. In this example, the appearance of the two catapult symbols triggers a game feature comprising a skill-based component that is represented in FIGS. 12-14.
  • FIG. 12 shows a medieval-themed game feature, such as a bonus game, comprising a persistent-state, skill-based bonus. In one aspect, following triggering of the game feature, a player is provided a plurality of free spins and each spin provides an opportunity, via the randomly determined outcome, to collect one or more catapult boulders or possibly other catapult ammunition (e.g., flaming oil, bomb, etc.) for use as player elements in the subsequent game feature. Optionally, the catapult boulders vary in size based on a player's bet level in a base wagering game triggering the game feature (e.g., larger wager produces larger boulders) and larger boulders, or the like, have the potential to produce bigger potential outcomes. This same paradigm may also be used in the aforementioned coin pusher game of FIGS. 7-11.
  • As shown in FIG. 12, a player is provided with a catapult 320 on which one or more player element(s) 325 to be catapulted are disposed. In the skill-based component of the game feature, the player 330 is enabled to control aspects of the catapult such as the pull of the catapult (i.e., the degree of deflection) and the angle of the catapult. Various user inputs may be utilized to accomplish the player's readying of the catapult 320 including, as illustrated, use of a touch screen or multi-touch screen. Following the players release of the catapult 320, such as by lifting their finger or fingers from the touch screen, optionally in combination with another interlock such as depressing a soft key or push button to prevent inadvertent actuation of the catapult, the player element(s) 325 disposed in the head of the catapult are launched in the direction of the catapult selected by the player. The launching of the player element(s) 325 disposed in the head of the catapult 320 is represented in FIGS. 13-14, which shows the catapulted player element(s) 325 arcing toward and hitting the leftmost selectable element 310, which reveals the value of “50”. The middle and rightmost selectable elements 311, 312 are shown to reveal the values of “100” and “250,” respectively. In some aspects of the present concepts, these values reflect credit values or cash values. However, in other aspects of the present concepts, the above-noted values could reflect an award of player points corresponding to a secondary economy and which could be redeemed by a player within the game space. By way of example, a player could save up player points to upgrade to a better catapult, from a plurality of available catapults, to be able to reach further targets (e.g., deeper in the primary display 200 or even on the secondary display 201) or to upgrade to a better player element (i.e., ammunition for the catapult) able to do more damage to the intended target.
  • FIG. 12 shows, in the upper display 201, a plurality of towers 351-354 having various awards associated therewith (e.g., progressive awards). As shown, tower 351 is associated with an award of “250,” tower 352 is associated with an award of “1000,” tower 353 is associated with an award of “500,” and tower 354 is associated with an award of “125”. These values may be revealed to the player (e.g., progressive awards), or may be obscured from the players, only to be revealed concurrent with an awarding of the award to a player. Although these awards reflect credits in one presently preferred aspect, as noted above, these awards could alternatively reflect a real-skill, real result game feature with outcomes that provide a corresponding number of player points (i.e., 250, 1000, 500, and 125 in the depicted example) rather than credits. As previously noted, a skill-component may be integrated into the EV-related component of the game feature in a manner that does not affect the EV of the game feature or, alternatively, in a way that has the potential to insignificantly affect the EV of the game feature, with only a predetermined, limited difference between the outcomes achievable by a highly skilled player and an unskilled player (e.g., less than 10% difference in EV, less than a 5% difference in EV, etc.).
  • In the present example, the gaming system is configured to permit a player to apply real skill, through one or more input devices, to aim at and hit a selected one of the towers 351-354. The result may be a real result, wherein the player's ability to hit the selected one of the towers 351-354 is entirely dependent upon the player's skill in manipulating the input device(s), or may be a randomized result, wherein the player has varying degrees of influence in the hitting the selected one of the towers. In either case, a player, absent other variables, will be incentivized to shoot for the tower showing a higher award, even though the differences between towers may be slight. By way of example, the awards associated with towers 351-354 are progressive awards having at least substantially equal reset values and triggers. However, the progressive awards themselves may not necessary be awarded upon a first hit of a tower 351-354 and, instead, a tower may require multiple hits before the progressive award (or other award) is awarded, such as two, three, four or five hits to win, or a random number of hits within a predetermined number of potential hits. In this latter example, wherein a random number of hits within a predetermined number of potential hits is required to achieve the award of a particular tower 351-354, a player's odds of success of achieving the award are set to increase with each hit of the tower. Thus, if an award is guaranteed to be awarded with a randomly determined number of hits (e.g., 5 hits, where there is initially a 20% chance of successful outcome) and the player is not successful at winning the award, the chance of success is incremented upwardly and there remains a one-in-four chance of success (e.g., 25% chance of successful outcome) in the next round, and so on. U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 61/405,935, titled “Progressive Wagering Game Having Symbol-Triggering Award Feature,” being filed on Oct. 22, 2010, is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • The number of hits required to achieve the progressive award, or any award, associated with a tower 351-354 may vary in accord with a level of the award, with comparatively more hits being required for larger awards and fewer hits being required for smaller awards. Further, the difficulty of hitting the towers 351-354 may vary, with some towers being more difficult to hit than other towers. For example, one or more towers 351-354 may be partially obscured or protected by objects such as hills, trees, or cliffs, or winds that affect trajectory. In another example, some towers may be more distant and therefore present a smaller target, or may simply be more difficult to hit, statistically speaking. As noted in the preceding example of FIGS. 11-14, the player element(s) 325 may optionally comprise one or more special player element(s), such as a “bomb” element that “explodes” into multiple elements on contact with another element or such as a larger or more potent player element that causes more damage to the towers 351-354 per hit. By way of example, a particular player element 325 may be treated as a “large boulder” that does more damage than a “small boulder,” with each unit of damage being equated to the player's odds of success in achieving the award. For example, if an award is guaranteed to be awarded with a randomly determined 5 hits (e.g., 20% chance of successful outcome), a small boulder may offer the smallest increment of damage (e.g., a 20% chance of success), whereas a large boulder may offer an additional increment of damage (e.g., a 40% chance of success). Should the game system award to a player special bombs, for example, a player may enjoy even higher odds at quickly achieving an award upon a hit of one of the towers 351-354. Particularly in a persistent state group game, wherein a plurality of players are vying for the awards and the towers 351-354 are in various states of distress, the player's decision as to which tower to attack, or even whether to attack any tower or a particular tower, becomes a strategic decision. To the extent that player elements 325 available to a player to utilize against the towers differs, the player must make further strategic decisions as to how much power to bring to bear on a particular selected tower. For example, if a player has a 3-hit player element and a 1-hit player element and a tower with a desired award already has 2 hits and the 1-hit player element would has a 33% chance of winning the award and the 3-hit player element has a 100% chance of winning the award, the player must also strategize as to the optimal allocation of his or her player elements for both current and future game play.
  • FIGS. 15-21 are representative displays of another exemplary game feature comprising a skill-based component according to at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts wherein the game feature comprises a skill-based “Asteroids” themed game. FIG. 15 shows, on a primary display 200, a set of reels 400 at a lower portion of the display and graphics relating to the game feature in the upper portion of the game. Specifically, the upper portion of the display 200, shows an asteroid field comprising asteroids 410. These asteroids are in constant motion during play of the base wagering game. Some of the asteroids may be associated with special functions or awards, such as a “Bonus” asteroid 420, a “Progressive” asteroid 425, a “Wild” asteroid (not shown), or a “Multiplier” asteroid (not shown). Although these special asteroids 420, 430 are shown as being larger than many of the other asteroids, they may advantageously also be made smaller than many of the other asteroids and/or faster, so as to be more challenging to hit. Alternatively, the award associated with an asteroid and the size and/or speed of the asteroid are randomly determined so as to prevent visual clues from revealing to a player an underlying award or degree of award. It is also to be noted that, although asteroids 420, 430 include the graphics “Bonus” and “Progressive,” respectively, such graphics need not be indicated to a player.
  • As is shown in FIG. 15, a predetermined symbol or symbols displayed on a reel or reels 400 triggers the “Asteroid” game feature shown in FIGS. 16-21. In one example, a scattered “Asteroids” symbol 404 (see fourth row of reel five) appearing in combination with a “Spaceship” symbol 405 (see third row of reel four) triggers at least one aspect of an Asteroids game feature.
  • The asteroids 410 in the asteroid field are, in at least some aspects, able to affect the base wagering game reels and vice versa to facilitate interaction between the base wagering game and the game feature (e.g., bonus game, etc.). This interaction may be sporatic, but is desirably continuous.
  • FIGS. 16-17 illustrate an example of interaction between the base wagering game reels and the game feature. In FIG. 15, as noted above, an outcome of the reels 400 triggers the Asteroid game feature. In the illustrated example, the triggering of the Asteroids game feature activates the “Spaceship” symbol 405 in place (i.e., from the symbol position occupied by the “Spaceship” symbol). In a non-skill version of the game feature, the “Spaceship” symbol 405 rotates to track a randomly selected asteroid and fires a laser beam 430 to destroy the asteroid and reveal the associated award. In a skill-based version of the game feature, the player is permitted to manipulate the direction of the “Spaceship” symbol 405 and/or the timing of firing of the laser user one or more player input devices, such as a touch screen or multi-touch screen, mechanical buttons, or joystick. If a player misses and doesn't hit any object in the asteroid field, a player may be given one or more additional shots until a hit is achieved or another spaceship may appear in the asteroid field to shoot at a randomly selected outcome. Similar to the medieval themed game feature of FIGS. 11-14, the number of shots provided to a player may vary based on a number of a certain symbol that appear in a reel outcome. For example, if two “Spaceship” symbols 405 appear, both “Spaceship” symbols 405 could separately engage and destroy one or more asteroids 410 in a non-skill game feature. Alternatively, a player may accumulate shots and enter the game feature at-will, sliding the reels off the display 200 to reveal an armed and ready spaceship.
  • FIG. 16 shows an example where either a player or a gaming system controller has fired a laser beam 430 into the asteroid field and hit an asteroid, presumably the one aimed at, to destroy the asteroid and reveal an associated outcome of 50 credits, as shown in FIG. 17.
  • Not only can the base wagering game reels affect the asteroid field and trigger asteroid features (e.g., bonuses, credits, prizes, etc.), such as noted above, but the asteroid field can also be affect the base wagering game reels, causing the appearance of, for example, random wilds, multipliers, etcetera. By way of example, during play of the base wagering game, a flying saucer (not shown) may randomly appear in the asteroid field, shooting laser beams at asteroids as it passes and also shooting a base wagering game reel symbol to cause a change in a displayed outcome or a change in one or more symbol positions that will affect one or more subsequent wagering game outcomes (e.g., changing a reel symbol to a wild, changing a reel to include an expanding wild, etc.).
  • FIGS. 18-22 show other aspects of an asteroid-themed game feature. In FIG. 18, a player element 440 comprising an asteroid, comet or the like is provided at a bottom of the primary display 200 (see, e.g., FIG. 19). In an upper portion of the primary display 200 is displayed a view of space optionally populated with a variety of objects 442, such as the illustrated planetary system comprising a number of planets. Some of these objects are optionally associated with awards, such as progressive awards or fixed credit amounts. In a secondary display 201, also shown in FIG. 21, FIG. 18 shows a variety of other objects, such as galaxies, that are associated with awards, such as progressive awards or fixed credit amounts.
  • FIG. 19 shows a view particularly of the primary display 200 from FIG. 18. Adjacent the player element 440, or elsewhere on the primary display or secondary display, it is generally advantageous, but not necessary, to provide an instruction or guidance to a player. As depicted in FIG. 19, an instruction “Launch Your Asteroid to Start Bonus” is displayed together with an arrow pointing toward the upper portion of the display 200 optionally comprising the displayed objects 442 and pointing toward the objects in the secondary display 201. Similar to the coin pusher example, above, this asteroid-themed game feature permits a player to “launch” the asteroid or the like 440 using one or more user input devices. As depicted in FIGS. 18-19, a player is able to manipulate the player element 440 by touching the portion of the touch screen primary display 200 corresponding to the displayed player element. Using the touch screen, or other user input device, the player is able to move the player element 440 in any direction along the depicted two-dimensional game field. The gaming system is configured to permit a player to impart to the player element 440, via the user input device(s), an acceleration and velocity vector corresponding to the physical inputs of the player. Thus, as a player presses down on the player element 440, or more precisely presses down on the primary display 200 in a portion corresponding to the displayed player element, and quickly slides the player element and releases the player element in a direction toward the depicted objects 442, 460, the player element assumes an initial velocity vector (i.e., velocity and direction) and moves through the game space toward the objects.
  • As the player element 440 moves through the game space toward the objects 442, 460 in the displays 200, 201, the motion of the player element is optionally governed by a physics engine that models the influence of forces on the player element, such as but not limited to “gravity” arising from depicted celestial bodies or deflection (e.g., inelastic deflection) when the player element hits an object 442, 460 (e.g., the player element bounces off of or ricochets off of an object 442, 460). The player element 440 is also, of course, subject to the influence of a random element generator associated with the game system controller such that any aspect of the player element 440 may be randomized or made entirely random along a portion of the player element trajectory. Thus, where a player may initially see the player element 440 move in a direction designated by the player, causing the player to perceive that he or she is controlling or largely dictating the outcome, the controller may subtly influence the interaction of the player element to cause the player element, in the end, to adopt to a randomly determined outcome. By way of example, the gravity effects acting on the player element 440 may be altered to cause the player element to hit an object 442, 460 and cause the player element to ricochet in a direction amenable to the randomly determined outcome. In another example, the game system permits a player to use real skill to aim the player element, but includes sufficient objects 442, 460 so that the ultimate path of the player element will include at least one, if not a plurality of, randomization event(s), such as directional changes that, from an EV perspective, attenuate if not eliminate differentials in outcomes as between skill-based and non-skill-based game play.
  • In FIG. 20, for example, the player element 440 shoots through the solar system depicted in the primary display 200 without significant interaction therewith and continued upwardly into the space of the secondary display 201. FIG. 21 continues this illustrated example and shows the player element 440 impacting an object 460, a player shown to be associated with an award of “75” credits, and bouncing off in a different direction toward the right side of display 201. In the illustrated example, the credit value associated with the object 460 impacted by the player element is added to a player's accumulated credit value for the game feature. As the player element 440 nears the galaxy 460 in the upper right side of display 201, it is drawn into the galaxy and devoured by a black hole therein, ending the game feature. This galaxy is shown to be associated with an award of “1000” credits. The player's net award in the example of FIGS. 19-22 is “1075” credits. FIGS. 20-21 illustrate a general example where a player employs real skill to obtain either a random result or a randomized result, although it is possible to implement these concepts in a real skill, real result application as well.
  • The player element 440 may interact with the game space and objects in the game space in numerous manners. In one variant, impact of the player element 440 (e.g., an asteroid) into a planet may cause the planet to fragment into a plurality of elements having different velocity vectors also capable of operating as additional player elements able to accrue awards for the player. As noted above with respect to the coin pusher game feature, various aspects of the game feature may be enabled and offered to a player, including a non-skill version, a pure-skill version, a real-skill with randomized result version, and a real-skill with a random result version. The skill component of the asteroid-themed game in FIGS. 18-22 generally comprises the application of physical or manual dexterity, digital dexterity, and hand-eye coordination (e.g., aim) to aim and launch the player element 440.
  • In at least some embodiments, such as the non-skill version, the EV of the game is completely unchanged. The pure-skill version, real-skill with randomized result version, and real-skill with a random result version, in one aspect, also do not influence the EV of the wagering game and associated game feature. In such aspects, the skill-component has either no bearing on the ultimate outcome (e.g., in the real-skill with random result), a minimal influence on the final outcome (e.g., in the real-skill with randomized result version), or potentially a large influence on the final outcome (e.g., in the real-skill with randomized result version or particularly the pure-skill version). As one example, the game feature of FIGS. 19-22 is easily randomized so that the player's skill has little to no effect on the actual outcome, as the player element 440 may have a number of interactions with objects in the game space before the game feature is terminated and each of these interactions provides the opportunity to further randomize the result so that the final outcome is essentially divorced from the initial conditions.
  • Where the skill-component of the game may influence the outcome of the game feature, and thus the EV, the impact of the skill-feature on the EV of the game feature may be minimized to within a reasonable level (e.g., a few percentage points) so that skilled players do only slightly better over a statistically significant period of time (e.g., a full cycle of the game, thousands of plays of the game, etc.) than non-skilled players. Alternatively, the skill-component of the game may be limited to non-credit or non-value prizes, such as player points or the like, which the player may redeem within the game space for a non-monetary benefit (e.g., unlocking new content, etc.).
  • FIGS. 23-26 show representative displays of another exemplary game feature conducted in association with at least some aspects of the disclosed concepts. Prior to the display represented in FIG. 23, a play of a base wagering game resulted in a spinning of a plurality of reels forming a reel array 500 and the revealing of a randomly determined outcome. Responsive to some triggering event (e.g., a particular number of losing outcomes, a random determination, etc.), and prior to evaluation of the reel array 500 for a winning outcome, the reel array 500 moves (e.g., float) away from the player into the distance (e.g., an upper portion of the primary display 200), such as is represented in FIG. 23. The player is presented with a device 510, such as a cannon, disposed to fire player elements 540 at the now-distant reel array 500. In some aspects, the player element 540 loaded into the cannon is a reel symbol, which may be a known symbol that is revealed to the player, or a mystery symbol. FIG. 23 shows a reel symbol 540 loaded into the cannon that is a “WILD” symbol. The player is permitted to set one or more aspects of the cannon, such as an angle of the cannon and/or speed of the projectile, using one or more user input devices, such as a touch-screen or multi-touch screen. Following the setting of the desired parameters, activation of the “Fire” button fires the loaded reel symbol 540 toward a desired reel symbol position in the reel array 500. This, of course, is no guarantee that the fired reel symbol will hit the desired reel symbol position.
  • In one aspect, if the player successfully hits any symbol position on any of the reels in the reel array 500, a bonus reel symbol is awarded and another reel symbol 540 is loaded into the cannon 510. At this point, a player is provided the option to either choose to fire the cannon 510 at a selected reel symbol position of the reel array 500 or to proceed to evaluation of the reel array. If the player does not successfully hit a symbol position on any of the reels in the reel array 500 with the fired reel symbol 540, the game feature ends and the reel array is evaluated. The number of reel symbols that a player is initially permitted to shoot at the reel array may be randomly determined by the game system controller, may comprise a predetermined number of symbols, or may be influenced by a game condition (e.g., a number of scattered symbols of a particular type).
  • With regard to the player's control over the cannon, there are various manners of control using one or more user input devices. In one aspect, a directional arrow 520 moves continuously back and forth across the semi circle 521 at least within a range of angles that could potentially produce a hit on the reel array 500 and the player must press the fire button 522 at the correct time to obtain a generally desired angle. Alternatively, a player may select an angle of attack simply by moving the arrow to a desired angle (up, down, left, right, etc.) or by inputting a desired angle using a numeric keypad or buttons corresponding to increasing or decreasing angles. In addition, the game feature may be configured to enable a player to optionally select a velocity of the player element 540 fired from the cannon 510, such as by entering a numeric value, selecting a velocity from a range of selectable velocities (e.g., such as a sliding scale 515 showing “Slow,” “Medium,” and “Fast”), or pulling back on a cannon plunger (e.g., similar to a pinball machine plunger). In still another aspect, the external factors potentially affecting trajectory (e.g., wind speed, wind direction, humidity, temperature, drag, etc.) may be displayed to a player in “real time” and a player may have to simultaneously adjust a player element 540 velocity, lateral angle, vertical angle, and/or timing to counter the changing environmental influences.
  • As to various skill-based aspects of this game feature, if the player if informed as to the symbol they are to shoot, the player can decide, based on the outcome depicted in the reel array 500, where they want to try to have the fired symbol go, such as to obtain a winning combination. If the player is not informed as to the symbol they are to shoot (i.e., a mystery symbol), the player either try to avoid certain areas of the reel array 500 already indicating a winning outcome or comprising a bonus trigger, seek to possibly extend a winning outcome (e.g., turn a three of a kind into a four of a kind, turn a 4 scatter symbol into a 5 scattered symbol, etc.), or seek to create a winning outcome in spite of the uncertainty of the symbol. In another aspect, discussed below, if the player has a blank reel array, they need to anticipate how they will want to fill the reel array 500. Ultimately, it is up to the player, in aspects of the game comprising a skill-based component, to apply skill in selecting values for variables such as angle and/or speed to place their player element(s) 540 in a desired location.
  • FIGS. 24-25 show the player element 540 comprising a “Wild” symbol flying toward the left portion of the reel array 500 and, in FIG. 25, landing in the upper-left corner of the reel array in the first row, first column. At this stage, whether automatically by termination of the game feature, or by player election, FIG. 26 shows the evaluation of the final reel array 500 with the player element 540 symbol comprising the “Wild” substituted for the previous “Harp” symbol. As indicated in this example, the presence of the “Wild” converts the non-winning symbol array into a winning symbol array with a three symbol win (e.g., three Roman coins as shown).
  • In another aspect of the above game feature, the wagering game outcome that is represented by the reel array 500 is evaluated prior to the movement of the reel array into the distance and away from the player, such as in the manner represented in FIG. 23. Following the modification of the reel array by the player's firing of a player element 540 thereat, the modified reel array is then reevaluated. Accordingly, in this version, the player may potentially win twice, first for the original random outcome and second for the modified reel array outcome. Strategically, this might also relieve the player of the burden of potentially screwing up a winning outcome by inadvertent shot placement of a later-fired player element 540.
  • Further, in another variant of the above game feature, the wagering game outcome that is represented by the reel array 500 is evaluated prior to the movement of the reel array into the distance and away from the player, such as in the manner represented in FIG. 23. Following the modification of the reel array by the player's firing of a plurality of player elements 540 thereat, the modified reel array is then reevaluated. In this version, the player may potentially win twice, first for the original random outcome and second for the modified reel array outcome. Further, in yet another variant, the evaluation of the reel array occurs following each of the player's firing of a player element 540 at the reel array 500, such that the modified reel array is itself reevaluated a plurality of times. In this version, the player may potentially win not only for an original randomly determined winning outcome, but also for each of a plurality of modified reel array outcomes.
  • In still another aspect of the above game feature, the game feature is initiated with a blank reel array 500, an incomplete reel array, or a completed reel array moving off into the distance and presentation of a device 510 of some sort (e.g., cannon, gun, bow, catapult, etc.) to shoot a player element 540 toward the reel array. In this aspect, the player activates the spin button to see the cannon get loaded with a player element 540 comprising a first symbol or comprising a group/clump of symbols. Depending on the shape or distribution of symbol positions in the reel array, the player shoots enough symbols/clumps to fill the array, such as to fill any blanks or to overlay any symbol position. The modified reel array is then brought to forefront (e.g., floating forward) for evaluation. In aspects of this version of the game feature, the player essentially creates a “spin,” but it is still determined at least in part by chance (e.g., the size of the clumps and/or symbols contained in the player elements 504) and also by skill (how they shoot them onto the reel array).
  • In a further variant of the game feature shown in FIGS. 23-26, the device 510 comprises a revolver with 6 chambers, a six-shooter. Each chamber is associated with a designated symbol or modifier (e.g., 2×, etc.). Before the player readies the shot, the revolver is spun and the then-chambered symbol is randomly selected, so that the player can assess the displayed player element 540 and determine where best to place the shot by then inputting any required shot parameters (e.g., skill-based aiming). In a variant thereof, the actual symbol that is chambered to fire is a mystery symbol. In yet another variant, the actual symbol that is chambered to fire comprises one of six symbols or modifiers that are displayed to the player prior to the spinning of the cylinder so that the player has an idea of what symbols are potentially in play. In these latter examples, differing degrees of randomization are selectively added to the game feature.
  • If yet different embodiments, the game system is configured to permit the input of extra wagers, credits, or the like to “buy” skill, the semblance of skill, or tools or equipment within a randomly triggered game feature to compensate for a relative lack of skill. In a first example of a “pay for skill” game, a player is tasked with a “skill stop” of one or more reels. The performance in the stopping of each reel could itself determine if the player is permitted to continue on to the next reel. The progression of the stopping could be right-to-left, left-to-right, or mixed. This could simply comprise a real skill, random result game feature or, alternatively, with the purchase of extra “skill” players may be provided with clues as to when to hit the button to stop the reel, the player's ability to react to such clues itself being skill-based. Increased extra wagers could provide enhanced clues or abilities to appropriately time the skill-stoppage (e.g., slowing reel, providing a visual marker on a designated symbol that allows a player to time the symbols, etc.). In essence, the player is increasing wagers to decrease the player's handicap and make the game feature easier.
  • In another variation of a skill-stop game feature, players are permitted to physically stop one or more reels following a skill-based game feature trigger (e.g., a particular trigger symbol occurring in reel one, etc.). The player is then enabled to skill stop one or more reels or to enter an extra wager to be enabled to skill stop one or more reels. If the player is unable to achieve a winning outcome, the game feature may update so that there is an increased probability of skill stopping occurring in subsequent outcomes. This game feature is a real skill, real result game feature wherein, following a trigger condition, the skill feature is invoked.
  • Ideally, in any embodiment wherein a player is afforded an opportunity to use skill in a game feature, a player is permitted an option to avoid the skill-based component in favor of a non-skill based game feature. Further, in any embodiment wherein a player is afforded an opportunity to use skill in a game feature, a player may optionally be able to select an avatar to play in their stead, such avatar being either randomly selected by the game system from a plurality of available avatars, or being selected by a player from a plurality of available avatars.
  • In any of the embodiments disclosed herein, demonstration of a threshold level of skill in a skill-based component of a game feature may optionally unlock a side-wager feature that can enhance a subsequent base game or a current base wagering game outcome if the skill-feature is introduced during the base wagering game. The side-wager feature could also, in a game feature (e.g., a bonus game) permit a player to purchase extra free spins, or increase an allotted time for the game feature, thus enhancing the game feature play and potentially enhancing the game feature outcome. In yet another example, the side-wager feature may advantageously unlock content, such as a new site or screen (e.g., a portal game) otherwise unavailable to a player.
  • In additional variants of any of the embodiments disclosed herein, poor performance in a skill-based component of a game feature may optionally entitle a player a chance for a special award of a random progressive available to only skillfully challenged players.
  • In any of the embodiments disclosed herein, demonstration of a threshold level of skill in a skill-based component of a game feature may optionally unlock reel-modification content that permits a player to modify one or more reels or symbols or symbol mapping in a base wagering game or a game feature in a manner that does not affect EV. For example, if a player demonstrates a threshold level of skill in a skill-based component of a game feature (e.g., a minimum number of player points achieved), a player may be permitted to adjust the existing wilds on one or more reels to clump together, wherein such change does not affect the EV of the base wagering game. In effect, this change would switch positions of one or more selected symbols on a reel with a corresponding number of wild symbols.
  • In still another embodiment, demonstration of a threshold level of skill in a skill-based component of a game feature permits a player to increase a number of wild symbols in a clump, with a corresponding alteration of (i.e., decrease) the probability so that the overall EV remains at least substantially constant.
  • In another embodiment, a skill-based game comprises a plurality of separate skills. For example, in a group game, a plurality of awards (e.g., randomly determined mystery awards, progressive awards, etc.) are available and the awards may be won during a skill tournament wherein each award may be obtained by different combinations of skills. Each player's performance in each of the different skills is displayed to the other players, as is the proximity of each player to winning one or more components of the awards. Players may exercise skill not only in the performance of specific designated skills that form a part of the skill-based game, but may also exercise skill in selectively changing strategy during the group game to focus on another skill component that is being under-utilized by other players, so as to maximize the potential to win a prize or prize portion attributed to that previously under-utilized skill component. Players may then alter their efforts during the group game, on-the-fly, to optimize their potential to get an award based on their performance relative to the performance of other players.
  • A game system in accord with the concepts disclosed herein may be associated with a plurality of different skill-components in turn associated with one or more game features and/or base wagering games, without limitation. Thus, during play of a base wagering game and/or a bonus game or the like, any one of a plurality of skill-components may be advanced to challenge the player, the particular game feature being selected randomly from a set of available game features or selected in accord with another selection protocol. To achieve a particular award, a player is required to collect a variety of different player points or otherwise accomplish a variety of different skill-based tasks. Stated differently, particular awards might be incrementally unlocked by different skill-based accomplishments and the award is awarded only upon an accumulation of a plurality of different skill-based accomplishments, which may be independent or may be related.
  • In yet other aspects, a game system is accord with at least some aspects of the present concepts includes a pure skill, over time, for a prize. For example, in a group tournament, the player that has the highest score after a predetermined period of time (e.g., 2 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, etc.) gets the rake. As another example, a player earns chances to play in a skill game, such as noted above, and the player's performance over a predetermined time period is compared to the performance of other players in the skill-game over that time period and the player having the highest performance over that time period (e.g., most points in an hour) wins a special award. By way of example, such a skill-based group game could include the skeeball example noted above, wherein each chance to play the skill game provides the player a single ball to get as many points as possible in a skeeball tournament. Whatever points the player wins during that chance is added to his or her total. After lapse of a predetermined time, the totals of all of the players are compared and whoever has the highest total wins an award (e.g., the aggregate sum of all bets minus a set percentage, such as 5%, 10%, 15%, etc.). Players in a group skill game may use their skill in a competition against one or more other players and the player is permitted to “win” off of the other players, with the house taking a cut (zero-sum minus rake).
  • Alternatively, in a non-skill version, each chance at the skill feature yields a raffle ticket to the player, so that each player, whether skilled or non-skilled, earns a chance to win the award for each entry into the skill game.
  • In other respects, it can be readily understood that the aforementioned concepts may be applied to innumerable different game platforms. As noted above, a player may be able to win player points to allocate in a secondary economy or to unlock content by sufficient performance in various skill-based game features. These points, or this unlocked content, may be applied by a player to secure various picks in a football tournament (e.g., creating or modifying a fantasy football team), or to otherwise improve a performance of a player's avatar or avatars (e.g., a player's football team). Over time, a player may work to improve his team's passing offense. The player may then have the opportunity to enter these avatars (i.e., his team or individual players) in particular other skill-based games such as a head-to-head competition against another player's team or player(s) in a head-to-head group skill game. Randomization variables (e.g., weather) may be introduced in this head-to-head group skill game, which may adversely affect an unbalanced team (e.g., a snowy day can reduce the effectiveness of a passing offense).
  • According to yet additional aspects of the present concepts, methods of conducting a wagering game including the above-recited acts are contemplated as falling within the scope of the concepts set forth herein. By way of example, a method of conducting a wagering game in accord with at least one aspect of the present concepts includes the acts of randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game, determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game, providing an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature, and executing the skill-based game feature responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature. In another aspect, a method of conducting a wagering game in accord with at least one aspect of the present concepts includes the acts of executing a skill-based game feature on the at least one wagering game machine, displaying on the at least one display device, during the skill-based game feature, a representation of a player element within a game space of the skill-based game feature, receiving one or more inputs from the at least one user input device during the skill-based game feature, the one or more inputs initiating a movement of the player element within the game space, and determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature responsive to the movement of the player element within the game space.
  • By further way of example, FIG. 27 shows a representation of one method or one algorithm that corresponds to at least some instructions executed by the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 in FIG. 2 to perform at least some of the above described functions associated with at least some of the disclosed concepts. FIG. 27 shows, in act A100, the randomly determination of an outcome of a base wagering game and, in act A110, the act of determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game. In act A120, the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 provide via the wagering game machine an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature. Responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature, the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 execute, in act A130, the skill-based game feature and concurrently, in act A140, receive an input or inputs to the user input device(s) during the conduct of the skill-based game feature. In act A150, the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 cause the display, on the display device, of movement of a player element indicative of the input(s) to the user input device(s). In act A160, the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 determine an outcome of the skill-based game feature, the outcome being related to the input(s) to the user input device(s) during the conduct of the skill-based game feature. In act A170, should the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 receive an instruction to decline the skill-based game feature, the controller 42 and/or external systems 46 execute a non-skill-based game feature and, in act A180, determine an outcome of the non-skill-based game feature.
  • Various aspects of the embodiments disclosed herein that fall within the spirit and scope of the disclosed invention are set forth in the following claims.

Claims (25)

1. A wagering game system configured to conduct a wagering game, the wagering game system comprising:
a wagering game machine comprising at least one display device and at least one user input device; and
one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine, the one or more processors being configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game;
determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game;
providing an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature; and
executing the skill-based game feature responsive to an instruction to accept the skill-based game feature.
2. The wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the one or more processors are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
receiving an input to the at least one user input device during the conduct of the skill-based game feature;
displaying, on the display device, movement of a player element indicative of the input to the at least one user input device;
determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature, the outcome being independent of the input to the at least one user input device during the conduct of the skill-based game feature.
3. The wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the one or more processors are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
receiving an input to the at least one user input device during the conduct of the skill-based game feature;
displaying, on the display device, movement of a player element indicative of the input to the at least one user input device; and
determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature, the outcome being related to the input to the at least one user input device during the conduct of the skill-based game feature.
4. The wagering game system of claim 1, wherein an expected value of the skill-based game feature and the non-skill-based game feature are at least substantially the same.
5. The wagering game system of claim 1, wherein an expected value of the skill-based game feature is higher than an expected value of the non-skill-based game feature, and wherein the expected value of the skill-based game feature is within a predetermined range of the expected value of the non-skill-based game feature.
6. The wagering game system of claim 1, further comprising:
a plurality of wagering game machines, each wagering game machine comprising at least one display device and at least one user input device,
wherein the one or more processors are operatively associated with each of the plurality of wagering game machines, and
wherein the one or more processors are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game for each of the plurality of wagering game machines;
determining if a trigger condition for a skill-based game feature is satisfied by the outcome of the base wagering game at each of the plurality of wagering game machines;
providing, for each wagering game machine satisfying the trigger condition, an option to accept the skill-based game feature or to decline the skill-based game feature in favor of a non-skill-based game feature; and
executing the skill-based game feature at respective ones of the plurality of wagering game machines responsive to an instruction at the respective ones of the plurality of wagering game machines to accept the skill-based game feature.
7. The wagering game system of claim 6, wherein the skill-based game feature is a group game feature.
8. The wagering game system of claim 7, wherein the group game feature is a persistent-state group game feature.
9. The wagering game system according to claim 1, wherein at least one award offered in the skill-based game feature is an award of player points or other commodity exchangeable only in a secondary economy associated with the base wagering game or the skill-based game feature.
10. The wagering game system according to claim 1, wherein at least one award offered in the skill-based game feature is an award of cash or credits.
11. The wagering game system according to claim 7, wherein the group game feature is zero sum plus rake.
12. The wagering game system according to claim 8, wherein at least one award offered in the persistent-state group skill-based game feature is an award of cash or credits.
13. The wagering game system according to claim 12, wherein at least one award offered in the persistent-state group skill-based game feature is a progressive award.
14. The wagering game system according to claim 12, wherein a probability of winning the progressive award increases with each failed attempt to win the progressive award during the persistent-state group skill-based game.
15. The wagering game system according to claim 1, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine is further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of
executing the skill-based game feature, the act of executing the skill-based game feature itself comprising accepting, during the skill-based game feature, one or more player inputs influencing a movement of a player element in the skill-based game feature.
16. The wagering game system according to claim 15, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine is further configured to perform,
responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of randomizing an outcome in the skill-based game feature such that the outcome is dependent in part on the one or more player inputs and is not randomly determined.
17. The wagering game system according to claim 15, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine is further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of
determining a random outcome for the skill-based game feature, the random outcome being independent of the one or more player inputs during the skill-based game feature.
18. A wagering game system configured to conduct a wagering game, the wagering game system comprising:
a wagering game machine comprising at least one display device and at least one user input device; and
one or more processors operatively associated with the wagering game machine, the one or more processors being configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game;
determining if the outcome of the base wagering game satisfies a trigger condition for the execution of one or more game features;
executing a non-skill game feature, a skill-based game feature, or both a non-skill game feature and a skill-based game feature responsive to satisfaction of the trigger condition;
awarding a monetary award responsive to a winning outcome in the non-skill game feature; and
awarding a non-monetary award responsive to an outcome in the skill-based game feature corresponding to a level of achievement in the skill-based game feature.
19. The wagering game system according to claim 18, the wagering game system comprising:
a plurality of wagering game machines, each wagering game machine comprising at least one display device and at least one user input device; and
one or more processors operatively associated with the plurality of wagering game machines, the one or more processors being configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
randomly determining an outcome of a base wagering game for each of the plurality of wagering game machines;
determining if the outcome of a base wagering game at each of the plurality of wagering game machines satisfies a trigger condition for the execution of one or more game features;
executing a non-skill game feature, a skill-based game feature, or both a non-skill game feature and a skill-based game feature on wagering game machines satisfying the trigger condition;
awarding a monetary award responsive to a winning outcome in the non-skill game feature; and
awarding a non-monetary award responsive to an outcome in the skill-based game feature corresponding to a level of achievement in the skill-based game feature.
20. The wagering game system according to claim 18, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the plurality of wagering game machines are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of
executing a skill-based game feature, the act of executing a skill-based game feature itself comprises accepting, during the skill-based game feature, one or more player inputs influencing a movement of a player element in the skill-based game feature.
21. A wagering game system according to claim 18, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the plurality of wagering game machines are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of
randomizing an outcome in the skill-based game feature such that the outcome is dependent in part on the one or more player inputs and is not randomly determined.
22. A wagering game system according to claim 15, wherein the one or more processors operatively associated with the plurality of wagering game machines are further configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on the one or more physical memory devices, the act of
determining a random outcome for the skill-based game feature, the random outcome being independent of the one or more player inputs during the skill-based game feature.
23. A wagering game system configured to conduct a wagering game, the wagering game system comprising:
at least one wagering game machine, the at least one wagering game machine comprising at least one display device and at least one user input device; and
one or more processors operatively associated with the at least one wagering game machine, the one or more processors being configured to perform, responsive to instructions stored on one or more physical memory devices, the acts of
executing a skill-based game feature on the at least one wagering game machine;
displaying on the at least one display device, during the skill-based game feature, a representation of a player element within a game space of the skill-based game feature;
receiving one or more inputs from the at least one user input device during the skill-based game feature, the one or more inputs initiating a movement of the player element within the game space; and
determining an outcome of the skill-based game feature responsive to the movement of the player element within the game space.
24. The wagering game system according to claim 23, wherein the one or more inputs not only initiates a movement of the player element within the game space, but also controls a movement of the player element within at least a portion of the game space.
25. The wagering game system according to claim 23, wherein the outcome of the skill-based game feature is randomized at least in part.
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