Title:
WIN LEVEL ADAPTIVE AUDIO IN A WAGERING GAME MACHINE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A computerized wagering game system includes a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered, and an audio module operable to change a played audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event. The wagering game event comprises a bonus event or a reel spin in some embodiments, and the audio signal change comprises playing a different audio file or a different portion of an audio file, varying the volume of played audio, or changing audio tracks played to produce an audio signal in various further embodiments.



Inventors:
Pryzby, Eric M. (Skokie, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/456908
Publication Date:
01/18/2007
Filing Date:
07/12/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIM, SENG HENG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWEGMAN LUNDBERG & WOESSNER/WMS GAMING (P.O. BOX 2938, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
1. A computerized wagering game system, comprising: a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to present a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered; and an audio module operable to play an audio signal, and further operable to change the audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event

2. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the wagering game event comprises a bonus round.

3. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the wagering game event comprises a single wheel spin, and win level comprises a number of winning symbols.

4. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the audio signal change comprises playing a different audio file.

5. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the audio signal change comprises a change in audio volume.

6. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the audio signal change comprises a change in audio tracks combined to produce the audio signal.

7. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the audio signal change comprises playing a different portion of an audio file.

8. A method of operating a computerized wagering game system, comprising: presenting a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered; playing an audio signal; and varying the audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event

9. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein the wagering game event comprises a bonus round.

10. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein the wagering game event comprises a single wheel spin, and win level comprises a number of winning symbols.

11. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein varying the audio signal comprises playing a different audio file.

12. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein varying the audio signal comprises changing the audio volume.

13. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein varying the audio signal comprises changing audio tracks combined to produce the audio signal.

14. The method of operating a computerized wagering game system of claim 8, wherein varying the audio signal comprises playing a different portion of an audio file.

15. A machine-readable medium with instructions stored thereon, the instructions when executed operable to cause a computerized wagering game system to: present a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered; play an audio signal; and vary the audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event

16. The machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the wagering game event comprises a bonus round.

17. The machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein the wagering game event comprises a single wheel spin, and win level comprises a number of winning symbols.

18. The machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein varying the audio signal comprises playing a different audio file or a different portion of an audio file.

19. The method machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein varying the audio signal comprises changing the audio volume.

20. The machine-readable medium of claim 15, wherein varying the audio signal comprises changing audio tracks combined to produce the audio signal.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/698,711 filed Jul. 13, 2005, which application is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to computerized wagering game machines, and more specifically to audio that is adaptive to win level in a computerized wagering game machine.

Copyright

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material to which the claim of copyright protection is made. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any person of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but reserves all other rights whatsoever. Copyright 2005, 2006, WMS Gaming, Inc.

BACKGROUND

Computerized wagering games have largely replaced traditional mechanical wagering game machines such as slot machines, and are rapidly being adopted to implement computerized versions of games that are traditionally played live such as poker and blackjack. These computerized games provide many benefits to the game owner and to the gambler, including greater reliability than can be achieved with a mechanical game or human dealer, more variety, sound, and animation in presentation of a game, and a lower overall cost of production and management.

The elements of computerized wagering game systems are in many ways the same as the elements in the mechanical and table game counterparts in that they must be fair, they must provide sufficient feedback to the game player to make the game fun to play, and they must meet a variety of gaming regulations to ensure that both the machine owner and gamer are honest and fairly treated in implementing the game. Further, they must provide a gaming experience that is at least as attractive as the older mechanical gaming machine experience to the gamer, to ensure success in a competitive gaming market.

Computerized wagering games do not rely on the dealer or other game players to facilitate game play and to provide an entertaining game playing environment, but rely upon the presentation of the game and environment generated by the wagering game machine itself. Incorporation of audio and video features into wagering games to present the wagering game, to provide help, and to enhance the environment presented are therefore important elements in the attractiveness and commercial success of a computerized wagering game system. It is not uncommon for audio voices to provide instruction and help, and to provide commentary on the wagering game being played. Music and environmental effects are also played through speakers in some wagering game systems to enhance or complement a theme of the wagering game. These sounds typically accompany video presentation of the wagering game on a screen, which itself often includes animation, video, and three-dimensional graphics as part of presentation of the wagering game.

But, wagering game systems are placed in a variety of environments and are subject to a variety of conditions once installed. Audio tracks are typically chosen to be generally appropriate for a particular game event, such as a reel spin or bonus round, but as such may not fit the current level of excitement as a wagering game event unfolds. Volume levels are also often set based on an average desired volume based on the environment around a wagering game, so that sounds produced can be clearly heard but are not overly loud relative to the wagering game system's environment. Selecting audio content and volume in this manner ensures that the wagering game player can hear sounds intended to entertain or convey information regarding the wagering game without disturbing others nearby, but sometimes fails to provide audio appropriate to the progression of a wagering game event.

It is therefore desired that audio played in a wagering game system be adaptable in some situations to be different than the audio typically presented during a wagering game event.

SUMMARY

One example embodiment of the invention comprises a computerized wagering game system including a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered, and an audio module operable to change a played audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event. The wagering game event comprises a bonus event or a reel spin in some embodiments, and the audio signal change comprises playing a different audio file or a different portion of an audio file, varying the volume of played audio, or changing audio tracks played to produce an audio signal in various further embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a computerized wagering game machine, as may be used to practice some example embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flowchart of a method of varying sounds played during a bonus event, consistent with some example embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of a method of varying audio played during a reel spin event in a reel slot machine wagering game, consistent with some example embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an audio track having various component tracks as are used to vary audio played during a wagering game event, consistent with some example embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description of example embodiments of the invention, reference is made to specific examples by way of drawings and illustrations. These examples are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and serve to illustrate how the invention may be applied to various purposes or embodiments. Other embodiments of the invention exist and are within the scope of the invention, and logical, mechanical, electrical, and other changes may be made without departing from the subject or scope of the present invention. Features or limitations of various embodiments of the invention described herein, however essential to the example embodiments in which they are incorporated, do not limit the invention as a whole, and any reference to the invention, its elements, operation, and application do not limit the invention as a whole but serve only to define these example embodiments. The following detailed description does not, therefore, limit the scope of the invention, which is defined only by the appended claims.

One example embodiment of the invention seeks to provide audio appropriate to the progression of a wagering game event by operation of a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered, and an audio module operable to change a played audio signal based on win level in a wagering game event. The wagering game event comprises a bonus event or a reel spin in some example embodiments, and the audio signal change comprises playing a different audio file or a different portion of an audio file, varying the volume of played audio, or changing audio tracks played to produce an audio signal in various further example embodiments.

FIG. 1 illustrates a computerized wagering game machine, as may be used to practice some embodiments of the present invention. The computerized gaming system shown generally at 100 is a video wagering game system, which displays information for at least one wagering game upon which monetary value can be wagered on video display 101. Video display 101 is in various embodiments a CRT display, a plasma display, an LCD display, a surface conducting electron emitter display, or any other type of display suitable for displaying electronically provided display information. Alternate embodiments of the invention will have other game indicators, such as mechanical reels instead of the video graphics reels shown at 102 that comprise a part of a video slot machine wagering game.

A wagering game is implemented using software within the wagering game system, such as through instructions stored on a machine-readable medium such as a hard disk drive or nonvolatile memory. In some further example embodiments, some or all of the software stored in the wagering game machine is encrypted or is verified using a hash algorithm or encryption algorithm to ensure its authenticity and to verify that it has not been altered. For example, in one embodiment the wagering game software is loaded from nonvolatile memory in a compact flash card, and a hash value is calculated or a digital signature is derived to confirm that the data stored on the compact flash card has not been altered. The wagering game implemented via the loaded software takes various forms in different wagering game machines, including such well-known wagering games as reel slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, or hold 'em games. The wagering game is played and controlled with inputs such as various buttons 103 or via a touchscreen overlay to video screen 101. In some alternate examples, other devices such as pull arm 104 used to initiate reel spin in this reel slot machine example are employed to provide other input interfaces to the game player. The wagering game system includes in various embodiments standalone wagering game machines, portable wagering game machines, networked wagering game machines such as multi-player, cooperative, or server-based games, and user-provided computerized systems operable to serve as an interface to a wagering game system.

Monetary value is typically wagered on the outcome of the games, such as with tokens, coins, bills, or cards that hold monetary value. The wagered value is conveyed to the machine through a changer 105 or a secure user identification module interface 106, and winnings are returned via the returned value card or through the coin tray 107. Sound is also provided through speakers 108, typically including audio indicators of game play, such as reel spins, credit bang-ups, and environmental or other sound effects or music to provide entertainment consistent with a theme of the computerized wagering game. In some further embodiments, the wagering game machine is coupled to a network, and is operable to use its network connection to receive wagering game data, track players and monetary value associated with a player, and to perform other such functions.

Speakers 108 play audio under the control of audio circuitry and software within the wagering game machine. Various sounds such as sound effects, speech, music, and other sounds are played at various times to inform or entertain the game player. Attract mode sounds are played when the game is sitting idle, with the goal of attracting a wagering game player to the wagering game machine. The wagering game plays sounds during game play consistent with a theme of the wagering game, and plays sound effects to indicate wins or credit accumulation, known as bang-up or credit roll-up sounds.

One example embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the flowchart of FIG. 2 uses progressively changing sounds to indicate various win levels or credits accumulated during a bonus round gaming event. After a period of normal game play, a bonus round is entered at 201. The bonus round is a special wagering game round in which bonus credits or other awards can be accumulated, and comprises a variety of activities, games, and rewards in different wagering games. When a credit is accumulated in the bonus round, the sound changes to reflect the change in winnings at 202. The sound therefore indicates the level of progression or winnings accumulated in the bonus round, and is appropriate to the level of excitement or winning in the wagering game bonus round event.

Other events, such as a reel spin or play of a hand of cards, similarly benefit from variation in the audio presented to reflect the game state, likelihood of winning, or winnings accumulated during the particular game event. FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an example of varying audio to reflect the number of winning objects or potentially winning objects visible on a pay line in a reel slot machine game.

At 301, the reels are set in motion, and all reels start to spin. The first reel stops rotating at 302, and certain reel symbols are presented in various positions based on the reel's position when it stopped. If a potentially winning object, or an object such as a “BAR” symbol or equivalent having special value is in a certain position such as in a certain payline at 303, the sound is altered at 304.

If there are reels still spinning at 305, the next reel is stopped at 306. When multiple reels have stopped, the wagering game system determines whether symbols line up along a payline such that a game player's chances of winning appear to increase at 303, and varies the sound to reflect the increased excitement or winnings at 304. Reel stops continue to progress in this manner, with audio altered to reflect increased winnings or an increase in apparent chance of winning, until all reels are stopped. Any credits won are then awarded at 307, and the reel spin event is concluded.

Altering the sound takes different forms in various embodiments of the invention, including increasing the volume, playing a different audio file or track, skipping to another position in an audio file or track, or playing additional audio component tracks making up a musical track. Such an example is illustrated in the audio track of FIG. 4.

A marker shown at 401 identifies the beginning of a section of music in the audio track shown generally in FIG. 4. When a wagering game event such as a bonus round, reel spin, or hand of cards starts, only select tracks are played, such as melody track 402. When the first card is turned, the first reel is stopped, the first bonus credit is earned, or some other similar action takes place suggesting progress toward winning or indicating winning, the bass track 402 is added to the played melody track so that the user hears both the melody and bass tracks, but not the other tracks.

As the wagering game event progresses, other tracks are added, including the drum component track 403, and the harmony tracks also shown in FIG. 4 are added to add depth and complexity to the played audio. In a further embodiment, the volume of the played audio signal is also increased as winnings are accumulated or the apparent probability of winning increases.

Other wagering game events in which the audio is varied include a second screen bonus game, a progressive bonus game, or other bonus-type events in a wagering game in which the game player's objective is to accumulate as many credits as possible to achieve the greatest monetary reward or benefit during game play. As the bonus accumulation grows, so should the players excitement or interest. Adding variation to the audio to reflect the game player's achievement in reaching certain predetermined bonus event levels or award levels contributes to the excitement and entertainment value of the bonus round, and of the wagering game playing experience.

In another example, when a wagering game machine enters a bonus event, background music is typically played to entertain the player or to enhance a theme of the wagering game or bonus event. The wagering game code controlling the wagering game machine typically initiates playback of a specific background music file, and in a further example plays a specific part of a background music file. If or when a certain level of achievement or progression is obtained in the bonus round, the game code triggers playback of another portion of the background music file, and in a further embodiment alters some other aspect of the audio such as increasing the volume or adding sub-tracks or voices to the played audio.

Changing portions of an audio track in some embodiments comprises changing to an audio track or portion of an audio track similar in tempo, key, or other content to the music originally playing. Some elements, such as rhythm, tempo, volume, and other such content may also change intentionally, such as to increase tempo, increase volume, or make other content changes intended to reflect an increase in suspense or excitement.

Such a system can result in a more engaging bonus round experience, in which the wagering game player feels more excitement as the bonus win amount increases or as the player advances through some other aspect of the game.

Other example applications of the invention include changing the credit accumulation sound, often known as a bang-up, roll-up, or paytone sound, as the value won increases past certain levels. Changes in credit accumulation sounds add to the excitement and distinguish significant wins from more common win events.

The examples presented here have shown a variety of ways in which an audio signal can be varied based on win level in a wagering game system. The change in audio adds excitement, and reflects the change in circumstances in a given event in wagering game play. Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement which is calculated to achieve the same purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the example embodiments of the invention described herein. It is intended that this invention be limited only by the claims, and the full scope of equivalents thereof.