Title:
GAME DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game device is disclosed which includes a game controller configured to control the execution of a game, a determination unit configured to determine whether or not the same player has continuously played the game executed by the game controller, and a game auxiliary process unit configured to execute a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to the player when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and execute a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.



Inventors:
Yoshimura, Toshiyuki (Zama city, JP)
Application Number:
11/458678
Publication Date:
02/01/2007
Filing Date:
07/19/2006
Assignee:
KONAMI GAMING INCORPORATED (585 Trade Center Drive, Las Vegas, NV, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GARNER, WERNER G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLOBAL IP COUNSELORS, LLP (David Tarnoff 1233 20TH STREET, NW Suite 600, WASHINGTON, DC, 20036-2680, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game device, comprising: a game controller configured to control the execution of a game; a determination unit configured to determine whether or not the same player has continuously played the game executed by the game controller; and a game auxiliary process unit configured to execute a first game auxiliary process that provides effects or information to the player when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied prior to a predetermined time, and configured to execute a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

2. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the period of time in which the effects or information is provided in the second game auxiliary process is shorter than the period of time in which the effects or information is provided in the first game auxiliary process.

3. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising a display unit configured to display images related to the effects or information provided in the first or second game auxiliary process in response to the execution of the first or second game auxiliary process by the game auxiliary process unit; and wherein the display area on the display unit for the images related to the second game auxiliary process is smaller than the display area on the display unit for the images related to the first game auxiliary process.

4. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising a sound output unit configured to output sound related to the effects in the first or second game auxiliary process in response to the execution of the first or second auxiliary process by the game auxiliary process unit; and the volume of the sound output by the sound output unit for the effects related to the second game auxiliary process is lower than the volume of the sound output by the sound output unit for the effects related to the first game auxiliary process.

5. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined time is the time at which a predetermined period of time has elapsed since the same player began executing the game.

6. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the game comprises one or a plurality of unit games; and the predetermined time is the time at which the number of unit games reaches a predetermined number during the execution of the game by the same player.

7. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined time is the time at which the number of times in which the same process execution condition has been satisfied reaches a predetermined number during the execution of the game by the same player.

8. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising: an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total play time of the player related to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same; wherein the predetermined time is the point at which the total play time stored in the memory unit exceeds a predetermined time.

9. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the game comprises one or a plurality of unit games; and the game device further comprises an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total number of unit games played by the player related to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same; wherein the predetermined time is the time at which the total number of unit games played reaches a predetermined number.

10. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total number of times that the same game execution condition has been satisfied in a game played by the player related to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same; wherein the predetermined time is the time at which the total number of times that the same game execution condition has been satisfied reaches a predetermined number.

11. A game device according to claim 1, wherein the determination unit is configured to determine the start of game execution by the same player based upon a change in the player.

12. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising: an operation unit; and a credit memory unit configured to store an amount of credit in response to a credit input operation via the operation unit; wherein the game controller will begin the execution of a game when the amount of credit stored in the credit memory unit is reduced; and the determination unit will determine that the player has changed based upon the receipt of a credit input operation when there is no credit stored in the credit storage unit, or based upon the consumption of all credits stored in the credit memory unit.

13. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and wherein the determination unit will determine that the player has changed based upon the receipt of player identification information that is different from the previous player identification information received by the information receiving unit.

14. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising: an operation unit; and an execution prohibition unit configured to prohibit the execution of the second game auxiliary process by the game auxiliary process unit in response to the input of a prohibition operation via the operation unit.

15. A game device according to claim 1, further comprising an operation unit; and wherein in the event that the game auxiliary process unit receives a change return operation via the operation unit after executing the second game auxiliary process, the game auxiliary process unit will execute the first game auxiliary process when the process execution condition has been satisfied.

16. A gaming method, comprising the steps of: controlling the execution of a game; determining whether or not the same player has continuously played the game being executed; performing a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to a player if a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time; and performing a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

17. A game program comprising computer-readable code stored on storage medium that will cause a computer to function as: a game controller configured to control the execution of a game; a determination unit configured to determine whether or not the same player has continuously played the game executed by the game controller; and a game auxiliary process unit configured to perform a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to the player when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and configured to perform a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

18. A computer readable recording medium comprising a game program recorded thereon that will cause a computer to execute the steps of: controlling the execution of a game; determining whether or not the same player has continuously played the game being executed; performing a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to a player if a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and performing a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-219942. The entire disclosure of Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-219942 is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates a game device that will provide effects or information in a game, and more particularly to a game device that will provide effects or information when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied during the game.

2. Background Information

Game devices generally provide effects in accordance with the execution of a game that build up the excitement in the game, as well as provide information and the like to players, such as an explanation of the rules of the game and advertisements. These effects and the provision of information are repeatedly performed each time the same process execution condition is satisfied by a player that repeatedly plays the game. However, repeatedly providing the same effects and the same information will eventually annoy a player. As a result, game performance will deteriorate for regular players who play a game in the game device for a long period of time or multiple times, due to the same effects and the same information being repeatedly provided.

A conventional game device is known in which a player can cancel the effects by performing a predetermined effect cancellation operation, as disclosed in Japan Patent Application Publications 2001-327650 and 2003-33474, for example. More specifically, in the game device described in Japan Patent Application Publication 2001-327650, the display of the effects will be abruptly terminated if a player operates the start lever two times (an effect cancellation operation) when effects are being displayed on a liquid crystal display. According to this game device, if the effect cancellation operation can be performed even before the display of the effects is completed, then will be possible to inhibit the deterioration in the game performance described above, even for regular players.

However, regular players are not generally interested in functions that are not related to game execution, and thus many regular players do not use these functions. Accordingly, even if a game device is equipped with an effect cancellation function like that described above, many regular players will not perform the effect cancellation operation (by operating the start lever twice in the game device in Japan Patent Application Publication 2001-327650). Thus, even if some regular players find the effects or the provision of information to be annoying, only a few will actually execute the effect cancellation operation in order to cancel the effects. Therefore, a conventional game device having an effect cancellation device is not very effective in inhibiting the deterioration in game performance for regular players.

In view of the above, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that there exists a need for an improved game device that can inhibit deterioration in game performance due to the same effects and information being repeatedly displayed. This invention addresses this need in the art as well as other needs, which will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to achieve the above-mentioned objects, according to a first aspect of the present invention, a game device comprises a game controller configured to control the execution of a game; a determination unit configured to determine whether or not the same player has continuously played the game executed by the game controller; and a game auxiliary process unit configured to execute, during a game executed by the same player, a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to the player when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied prior to a predetermined time, and configured to execute a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

Because game performance will deteriorate due to the same effects or information being repeatedly provided, it is preferable that the content of the effects or information provided a second time or thereafter in accordance with the same process execution condition be automatically changed (e.g., cancelled, simplified, or the like), without the player having to perform an operation. In order to achieve this, it will be necessary for the game device to know when the same player is playing a game on the game device. This is because when the content of the effects or information provided are changed without a player performing an operation, and the game device does not know whether the same player is playing a game on the game device, the original effects or information corresponding to the process execution condition will not be performed, although the process execution condition is satisfied for the first time.

Accordingly, the determination unit of the present game device will determine whether or not a game is being executed by the same player. A time period during which the same player is executing the game (one play period) is defined, for example, as the time period from when it is determined that the player has changed to when it is determined that that player has changed. The game auxiliary process unit will execute a first game auxiliary process during the execution of a game by the same player in order to provide effects or information to the player, when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied prior to a predetermined time. In contrast, the game auxiliary process unit will execute a second game auxiliary process, when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time. The second game auxiliary process changes the content of the first game auxiliary process, and is different from the first game auxiliary process. For example, the content of the second game auxiliary process is simpler than the content of the first game auxiliary process. As a result, the content of the effects or information provided when the same process execution condition is satisfied while the same player is playing a game will be different before and after the predetermined time.

Thus, it will be possible for the present game device to know when the same player is playing a game from the determination results produced by the determination unit. As a result, if the same player satisfies the predetermined process execution condition for the first time during the one play period, the original effects or information that correspond to the process execution condition will be provided to the player based on the first game auxiliary process. Furthermore, when the same player satisfies the same process execution condition two or more times during this time period, the effects or information to be provided can be made different from those of the initial first game auxiliary process based upon the second game auxiliary process. Thus, it will be possible to reduce the situation in which the same effects or information corresponding to the same process execution condition are repeatedly provided to the same player, without receiving an operation from the player. The change from the first game auxiliary process to the second game auxiliary process is not limited to the time when the effects and the information are provided for the second time and thereafter, but can be set to a different time as necessary.

Note that the methods for determining whether or not the same player is playing a game is not limited to methods which can reliably determine when the player has changed, but also include methods in which it is assumed from some type of information that the player has changed, and based upon that assumption, a determination that the player has changed will be made. In other words, it is not required that the determination by the determination unit be 100% accurate.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, in the game device according to first aspect, the period of time in which the effects or information are provided in the second game auxiliary process is shorter than the period of time in which the effects or information are provided in the first game auxiliary process.

In this game device, the time period during which the second game auxiliary process is executed is shorter than that of the first game auxiliary process. For example, if the same process execution condition is satisfied two or more times during one play period, the time period for providing the effects or information the second time or thereafter will become shorter than that when the first effects or information was provided. As a result, it will be possible to effectively reduce the annoyance felt by regular players.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises a display unit configured to display images related to the effects or images related to the information provided in the first or second game auxiliary process in response to the game auxiliary process unit executing the first or second game auxiliary process. The display area on the display unit for displaying the images related to the second game auxiliary process is smaller than that of the first game auxiliary process.

In this game device, the display area in the second game auxiliary process is smaller than that of the first game auxiliary process. For example, if the same process execution condition is satisfied two or more times during one play period, the display area for the images related to the effects or information provided for the second time or thereafter will become smaller than that for the images related to the first effects or information provided. As a result, it will be possible to effectively reduce the annoyance felt by regular players.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises a sound output unit that will output sound related to the effects in the first or second game auxiliary process in response to the game auxiliary process unit executing the first or second game auxiliary process. The volume of the sound related to the second game auxiliary process output by the sound output unit is smaller than that of the first game auxiliary process.

In this game device, the volume in the second game auxiliary process is smaller than that in the first game auxiliary process. For example, if the same process execution condition is satisfied two or more times during one play period, the sound level of the effects or information provided for the second time or thereafter will be smaller than that of the first effects or information provided. As a result, it will be possible to effectively reduce the annoyance felt by regular players.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the predetermined time is the time at which a predetermined period of time has elapsed since the start of game execution by the same player.

In this game device, the predetermined time that will indicate the point at which the first game auxiliary process is to be changed to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which a predetermined period of time has elapsed since the beginning of game execution. If the predetermined period of time has elapsed since the start of game execution by the same player, the content of the game auxiliary process will be changed. In other words, if the process execution condition is satisfied between the start of game execution to the predetermined time, the first game auxiliary process will be performed. In contrast, if the process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time has elapsed since the start of game execution, the second game auxiliary process will be performed.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game comprises one or more unit games, and the predetermined time is the point at which the number of unit games reaches a predetermined number during the execution of the game by the same player.

In this game device, the predetermined time that indicates the point at which the first game auxiliary process will be changed to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which the total number of unit games reaches a predetermined number. In other words, up until the total number of unit games executed by the same player reaches a predetermined number during one play period, the first game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied. In contrast, after the total number of unit games has reached the predetermined number, the second game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied.

According to a seventh aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the predetermined time is the point at which the number of times that the same process execution condition has been satisfied reaches a predetermined number while the game is being executed by the same player.

In this game device, the predetermined time that indicates when the first game auxiliary process is to be changed to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which the number of times that the same process execution condition has been satisfied reaches a predetermined number. For example, the point at which this change occurs can be defined by the number of times in which a bonus prize has been won. Up until the number of times in which the same process execution condition has been satisfied reaches the predetermined number during game execution (one play period) by the same player, the first game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied. In contrast, after the number of times in which the same process execution condition has been satisfied exceeds the predetermined number, the second game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied.

According to an eighth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total play time of the player related to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same.

In this game device, the total play time by each player is associated with the respective player identification information, and cumulatively stored. The predetermined time which indicates the point at which the first game auxiliary process is changed to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which the total play time exceeds the predetermined time. In other words, up until the total play time by the same player exceeds the predetermined time, the first game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied. In contrast, after the total play time by the same player exceeds the predetermined time, the second game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied. In particular, according to this game device, in the event that a player temporarily stops playing and then starts playing again, when the same condition as the process execution condition satisfied in the previous play period was satisfied again in the following play period, the content of the effects or information provided related to that condition can be changed if the total play time exceeds the predetermined time period, even if that condition is satisfied for the first time during the new play period. As a result, it is possible to prevent the same effects or information relating to the same process execution condition that were provided in the previous play period from being provided again in the next play period to players who continually play the game.

According to a ninth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game comprises one or more unit games, and the game device further comprises an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information, and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total number of unit games played by a player related to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same. The predetermined time is the point at which the total number of unit games reaches a predetermined number.

In this game device, the total number of unit games played by each player is associated with the respective player identification information, and cumulatively stored. The predetermined time that indicates the point at which the first game auxiliary process will change to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which the total number of unit games reaches a predetermined number. In other words, up until the total number of unit games executed by the same player reaches the predetermined number, the first game auxiliary process will be executed when that process execution condition is satisfied. In contrast, after the total number of unit games executed by the same player reaches the predetermined number, the second game auxiliary process will be executed when the process execution condition is satisfied. In particular, according to this game device, in the event that a player temporarily stops playing and then starts playing again, when the same process execution condition satisfied in the previous play period is satisfied again in the next play period, the content of the effects or information provided when that condition is satisfied can be changed if the total number of unit games reaches a predetermined number, even if that condition is satisfied for the first time during the new play period. As a result, it is possible to prevent the same effects or information relating to the same process execution condition that were provided in the previous play period from being provided again in the next play period to players who continually play the game.

According to a tenth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information; and a memory unit configured to associate player identification information received by the information receiving unit with the total number of times that the same process execution condition was satisfied in a game played by a player relating to the player identification information, and cumulatively store the same.

In the game device, the total number of times in which the same process execution condition was satisfied in a game played by each player is association with the respective player identification information, and cumulatively stored. The predetermined time that indicates the point at which the first game auxiliary process will be changed to the second game auxiliary process is defined to be the point at which the total number of times reaches a predetermined number. In other words, prior to the point at which the total number of times in which the same process execution condition is satisfied by the same player reaches a predetermined number, the first game auxiliary process will be executed if the process execution condition is satisfied. In contrast, after the total number of times in which the same process execution condition has been satisfied by the same player reaches the predetermined number, the second game auxiliary process will be executed when that process execution condition is satisfied. In particular, according to this game device, in the event that a player temporarily stops playing and then starts playing again, when the same product execution condition satisfied in the previous play period is satisfied again in the next play period, the content of the effects or information provided when that condition is satisfied can be changed if the total number of times reaches the predetermined number, even if that condition is satisfied for the first time during the new play period. As a result, it is possible to prevent the same effects or information relating to the same process execution condition that were provided in the previous play period from being provided again in the next play period to players who continually play the game.

According to an eleventh aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the determination unit will determine whether or not a game has begun to be executed by the same player based upon a change of players. The determination unit can know the point at which a player has begun to play a game by means of a change in players.

According to a twelfth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an operation unit, and a credit memory unit configured to store a credit amount in response to a credit input operation via the operation unit. The game controller will begin the execution of a game when the amount of credit stored in the credit memory unit is reduced. The determination unit will determine that the player has changed based upon the receipt of a credit input operation when there is no credit stored in the credit storage unit, or based upon the consumption of all credits stored in the credit memory unit.

When a player is to play a game with the game device, he or she will first perform a credit input operation via the operation unit in order to store credits into the credit memory, and then start playing the game. The player will stop playing when the credits in the credit memory unit are completely consumed, which can include situations in which, for example, the credits stored in the credit memory are consumed in the game, or the credits temporarily stored in credit memory unit were deleted because the player has quit playing the game. If the credit input operation is carried out in a state in which the credit memory unit does not have credits stored therein, it can be assumed that another player has started playing. In other words, it will be assumed that another player has started playing based on a change in the credit amount from “0” to greater than “0” by means of a credit input operation, and the likelihood that this assumption is true is very high. In addition, if the credits stored in the credit memory unit are completely consumed, it can be assumed that the player has stopped playing, and the likelihood that this assumption is true is very high.

In the present game device, the determination unit will determine that the player has changed based upon these assumptions, and thus this determination will be more accurate. Thus, it is possible to appropriately reduce the situations in which the same effects or information corresponding to the same process execution condition are repeatedly provided to the same player.

According to a thirteenth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an information receiving unit configured to receive player identification information. The determination unit will determine that the player has changed when it receives player identification information that is different from the previous player identification information received. In this game device, the determination unit will determine that the player has changed if player identification information different from the previous player identification information is received, and thus this determination will be more accurate. Thus, it is possible to appropriately reduce the situations in which the same effects or information corresponding to the same process execution condition are repeatedly provided to the same player.

According to a fourteenth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an operation unit, and an execution prohibition unit configured to prohibit the game auxiliary process unit from executing the second game auxiliary process in response to a prohibition operation via the operation unit.

In this game device, if a player executes the prohibition operation via the operation unit, the change from the first game auxiliary process to the second game auxiliary process will be prohibited. Thus, by performing the prohibition operation, a player can receive the effects and information provided by the first game auxiliary process when the player wants to receive the same, even in situations in which the process execution condition satisfied prior to the predetermined time is satisfied again after the predetermined time.

According to a fifteenth aspect of the present invention, in the first aspect, the game device further comprises an operation unit. In addition, in the event that a change return operation is received via the operation unit after the second game auxiliary process has been executed, the game auxiliary process unit will execute the first game auxiliary process thereafter if the process execution condition is satisfied.

In this game device, if a player performs a change return operation via the operation unit after the effects or information of the second game auxiliary process are provided, the effects or information of the first game auxiliary process will be provided thereafter when the same process execution condition is satisfied. Thus, by performing a change return operation, a player who wants to receive the effects or information of the first game auxiliary process can receive the same.

According to a sixteenth aspect of the present invention, a gaming method comprises the steps of controlling the execution of a game; determining whether or not the same player has continuously played the game being executed; performing a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to a player if a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and performing a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

According to a seventeenth aspect of the present invention, a game program comprises computer-readable code stored on a storage medium that will cause a computer to function as a game controller configured to control the execution of a game; a determination unit configured to determine whether or not the same player has continuously played the game executed by the game controller; and a game auxiliary process unit configured to perform a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to the player when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and configured to perform a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

According to an eighteenth aspect of the present invention, a computer readable recording medium comprises a game program recorded thereon that will cause a computer to execute the steps of controlling the execution of a game; determining whether or not the same player has continuously played the game being executed; performing a first game auxiliary process that will provide effects or information to a player if a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied before a predetermined time, and performing a second game auxiliary process that is different from the first game auxiliary process when the process execution condition is satisfied after the predetermined time.

As described above, according to any of the first through fourteenth aspects of the present invention, it is possible to appropriately reduce the situations in which the same effects or information provided when the same process execution condition is satisfied are repeatedly provided to the same player, without receiving a player operation. As a result, it is possible to effectively reduce the deterioration in game performance due to the same effects or information being provided repeatedly.

In particular, according to any of the second through fourth aspects of the present invention, it is possible to effectively prevent regular players from feeling annoyed when playing a game.

According to the fifth aspect of the present invention, if a predetermined time period has elapsed since the start time of one play period, the content of the effects or information provided to the player will be changed to one that is different than the content provided prior to the expiration of the predetermined time period, without a player operation, and thus it will be possible to more effectively reduce the deterioration in game performance.

According to the sixth aspect of the present invention, if the number of unit games played by a player reaches a predetermined number during one play period, the content of the effects or information provided prior to when the predetermined number of times was reached will change, without a player operation, and thus the deterioration in game performance can be inhibited.

According to the seventh aspect of the present invention, if the number of times in which the same process execution condition is satisfied during one play period has reached a predetermined number, the content of the effects or information provided when the condition is satisfied will be changed, without a player operation, and thus the deterioration in game performance can be inhibited.

According to any of the eighth through tenth aspects of the present invention, it is possible to prevent the same effects or information from being repeatedly provided to a player who is continuously playing a game, and thus the deterioration in game performance can be inhibited.

According to the twelfth and thirteenth aspect of the present invention, it is possible to more reliably inhibit the deterioration in game performance due to the same effects or information being repeatedly provided.

According to the fourteenth aspect of the present invention, even if the same condition as the process execution condition satisfied before the predetermined time is satisfied after the predetermined time, the game device will be able to fulfill a request from a player to have the same effects or information provided as that provided before the predetermined time.

According to the fifteenth aspect of the present invention, the game device can satisfy the desire of a player to have the changed effects or information revert back to the previous effects or information.

These and other objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing the progression of a game in a slot machine according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an external perspective view of a slot machine.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the hardware configuration of a main controller in the slot machine.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the hardware configuration of a sub-controller in the slot machine.

FIG. 5 shows one example of the symbols that are displayed on a monitor in an ordinary game when the display is stopped.

FIG. 6 shows one example of a rule explanation screen displayed on a monitor in the ordinary rule explanation process.

FIG. 7 shows one example of a rule explanation screen displayed on a monitor in a simplified rule explanation process.

FIGS. 8A and 8B show one example of an effect screen (moving images) displayed on a monitor before a bonus game.

FIG. 9 shows one example of the symbols that are displayed on the monitor in the bonus game when the display is stopped.

FIGS. 10A and 10B show one example of a rule explanation effect screen (moving images) displayed on the monitor when a dividend doubling prize is won.

FIG. 11 shows one example of the simplified rule explanation effect screen when the dividend doubling prize is won.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart showing the progression of a game in a slot machine according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing the progression of a game in a slot machine according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing the progression of a game in a slot machine according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Selected embodiments of the present invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the following descriptions of the embodiments of the present invention are provided for illustration only and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

An embodiment of the present invention that is applied to a video slot machine (a game device) installed in a casino will be described below. Note that in the present application, the word “game” may refer to the entire time period from when a player first begins using the video slot machine until he or she stops using the same. In addition, the word “game” or the term “unit game” may also refer to the act of a player performing a start operation on the video slot machine, which thereby causes the symbols displayed on the video slot machine to move for a predetermined period of time, and then stop movement and display one or more symbol sequences which represent the result of that game. Thus, when the word “game” is used to refer to the entire time period from when a player first begins using the video slot machine until he or she stops using the same, the player will play one or more “games” or “unit games” during this time period. In addition, in the present application, the terms “ordinary game” and “special game” refer to situations in which the dividend payout, content, or the like of each “game” or “unit game” therein is/are mutually different. Furthermore, a “game” or “unit game” executed during a “special game” will be referred to as a “bonus game”, and a “game” or “unit game” executed during an “ordinary game” will be referred to as an “ordinary game”.

First, the basic structure of the slot machine according to the present embodiment will be described.

FIG. 2 is an external perspective view of a slot machine according to the present embodiment. A slot machine 1 comprises a box-shaped housing 2, and a front panel 3 that can freely open and close and is attached to the front side of the housing 2. The front panel 3 comprises a display window 4 in which a monitor 11 is arranged to be visible from the exterior; a coin insertion slot 5a and a bill insertion slot 5b constituting currency receiving units; a spin button 6a; a credit clear button 6b; a simplification prohibition button 6c; a simplification return button 6d; various BET buttons 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b and 8c; a coin receiver 9 having a coin delivery port 9a; and various lamps 10a and 10b. The spin button 6a, the credit clear button 6b, and the various BET buttons 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b and 8c are lamp buttons equipped with light emitters. It should be noted that although the various operation buttons such as the spin button 6a are mechanical buttons in the present embodiment, a touch panel may be provided on the monitor 11 in order to display button images on the monitor 11 corresponding to various operation buttons such as the spin button 6a.

The monitor 11 (display unit) is provided inside the slot machine 1. The monitor 11 displays at least two different kinds of symbols arranged in a predetermined order in each of the five symbol display areas 11a. The monitor 11 is comprised of a liquid crystal display, but may be comprised of another type of display, such as a CRT monitor, a plasma display and the like. Displayed in a location on the monitor 11, above the five symbol display areas 11a, are a credit display 11b for displaying the amount of credit corresponding to the amount of money inserted by a player by way of the coin insertion slot 5a or the bill insertion slot 5b; a BET display 11c for displaying the amount of credit that a player placed in a bet by operation of the BET buttons 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b, and 8c; and an acquired credit display 11d for displaying the amount of credit won by the player as a result of the game. Built into the slot machine 1 are an inspection device for confirming whether or not the accepted coins or bills are genuine, a coin refund device (not shown in the figure) having a hopper capable of receiving a large number of coins, a speaker serving as a sound output unit, and a main controller and a sub-controller that have electronic circuits formed by electronic components such as a CPU, ROM, and the like.

A reset switch 12 is arranged on a side surface of the slot machine 1. The reset switch 12 has a keyhole that corresponds to a special key that is possessed by a casino attendant located where the slot machine 1 is installed. The reset switch 12 is operated by inserting the special key into the keyhole. Thus, a player cannot operate the reset switch 12.

A card insertion slot 13 and a display device 14 are arranged in an upper portion of the slot machine 1. The card insertion slot 13 enables the insertion of a house card that serves as a portable recording medium to be used in a casino. The house card is used for managing personal information about a player who is registered at a casino, and stores a player ID as player identification information (identification information that is different for each player). A casino management device associates the player IDs with each player, and manages personal information about each player. The house card is used by the management device to, for example, manage the points corresponding to the amount of credit and the like that was spent by a player in a game. In this way, services such as complimentary hotel rooms and the like can be provided to a player in response to the number of points he or she has. In addition, the number of points a player has will be displayed on the display device 14. In the present embodiment, a player can also deposit cash in advance in the casino and use the house card to use the previously deposited cash to play games on the slot machine 1. This will be described in greater detail later.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram schematically showing the configuration of a main controller that is comprised of control units of the slot machine 1.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram schematically showing the configuration of a sub-controller that is comprised of control units of the slot machine 1.

A main controller 20 comprises a CPU 21, an I/O port 21a, ROM 22, RAM 23, a random number generator 24, a display controller 25, an illumination controller 26, a sound controller 27, a refund controller 28, and the like. The I/O port 21a is used for data communication with a sub-controller 30. The ROM 22 stores data to be utilized by the CPU 21, such as various programs and databases, and will output the data to the CPU 21. The RAM 23 temporarily stores variable-number data computed by the CPU 21. The random number generator 24 generates a random number periodically and will output the data to the CPU 21. The display controller 25 and the monitor 11 comprise the display unit. Under the control of the CPU 21, the display control unit 25 controls the display operation of the monitor 11, which displays the symbol display areas 11a and the like. The illumination controller 26 controls the illumination of the lamps 10a and 10b, under the control of the CPU 21. The sound controller 27 controls voice announcements and sound effects and the like that are output from a speaker 15, and is under the control of the CPU 21. The refund controller 28 controls a coin refund device 16 that serves as a payout provider for refunding coins from the coin delivery port 9a to the coin receiver 9, and is under the control of the CPU 21.

The CPU 21 of the main controller 20 is connected to an operation unit that comprises the spin button 6a for executing the start operation, the credit clear button 6b, the simplification prohibition button 6c, the simplification return button 6d, and various BET buttons 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b, and 8c for executing BET operation by which a player indicates the amount of credits to be placed in a bet in order to obtain permission to play the game. The CPU 21 is also connected to a currency counting device (not shown in the figure) that will count the money input into the coin insertion slot 5a and the bill insertion slot 5b.

The sub-controller 30 comprises a CPU 31, ROM 32, RAM 33, a card reader 34, a display controller 35, a main controller I/O port 36, a management system I/O port 37, and the like. The ROM 32 stores data to be utilized by the CPU 31, such as various programs and databases, and will output the data to the CPU 31. The RAM 33 temporarily stores variable-number data computed by the CPU 31. The card reader 34 reads a player ID that is recorded in a house card inserted by way of the card insertion slot 13, and will output the player ID to the CPU 31. The display controller 35 controls the display operation of the display device 14, under the control of the CPU 31. The main controller I/O port 36 is used to perform data communication with the main controller 20. In addition, the management system I/O port 37 is used to perform data communication with a management system 40 that collectively manages a plurality of game devices installed in a casino. In the present embodiment, the management system 40 stores credit data corresponding to the amount of cash that a player has previously deposited in the casino in association with the player ID of the player.

Next, the operation of individual units in accordance with the flow of a game executed by the slot machine 1 will be described below.

FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing the progression of a game in a slot machine according to one embodiment of the present invention.

When a player performs a credit input operation such as inserting coins or bills into the coin insertion slot 5a or the bill insertion slot 5b, the currency counting device (not shown in the figure) counts the inserted coins or bills. The currency counting device will output the inserted currency data to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. The CPU 21, after receiving the inserted currency data, stores credit data indicating the amount of credits corresponding to the inserted currency data into the RAM 23, which acts as the credit memory unit. In addition, if credits that were previously deposited in the casino are withdrawn in order to be used in a credit paying process, the credit data thereof will be stored in the RAM 23.

The credit withdrawal process will now be described more in detail. First, when a player deposits cash at the reception disk in a casino, credit data corresponding to the amount of cash deposited is associated with the player ID of the player, and registered in the database in the management system 40. Then, when the player wishes to use the registered credits to play a game in the slot machine 1, first, a credit input operation is performed in which the player inserts a house card in which his or her player ID has been recorded therein into the card insertion slot 13. The card reader 34 of the sub-controller 30 reads the player ID recorded in the inserted house card, and transmits the player ID to the CPU 31 of the sub-controller 30. If the CPU 31 receives the player ID from the card reader 34, the CPU 31 will determine whether or not the player ID is valid. Although this determination is made by the controller of the slot machine 1 in this embodiment, this may be executed by the management system 40. In that case, after receiving the player ID, the CPU 31 sends it to the management system 40, and receives a determination result performed by the management system 40 as a response.

If it is determined that the player ID is not valid, the CPU 31 will send a notice to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. After receiving the notice, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will control the display controller 25 in order to display an error message on the monitor 11. The CPU 31, having determined that the player ID is not valid, will send a card eject signal to the card reader 34 in order to eject the house card. In contrast, if the player ID is determined to be valid, the CPU 31 will send a credit data acquisition request relating to the player ID received from the card reader 34, through the management system I/O port 37 to the management system 40. The management system 40, in response to the acquisition request, will read the credit data from the database in association with the player ID, and send it to the management system I/O port 37 of the sub-controller 30 in the slot machine 1. The credit data that is received by the management system I/O port 37 will be sent to the CPU 31 of the sub-controller 30, and the CPU 31 will send the credit data to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. Then, the CPU 21 will store the received credit data temporarily in the RAM 23, which serves as a credit memory unit, to allow the credits to be used in a game in the slot machine 1. As a result, convenience for players is improved because a player can engage in a game in the slot machine 1 without carrying cash.

In the present embodiment, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 serves as a determination unit, and will determine that the player has changed (S1) when a credit input operation is executed and new credit data is to be stored into the RAM 23, when the RAM 23 does not have any credit data stored therein.

In this case, whether or not the same player is playing a game will be determined based upon whether if there is a change in the player. In other words, the time period during which the same player is executing the game (one play period) is defined, for example, as the time from when it is determined that the player has changed to when it is determined that that player has changed. It should be noted that whether or not the same player is playing a game can be determined by various means (described below).

The state in which the RAM 23 does not have any credit data stored therein includes one in which the player has consumed all the credits and the credit data in the RAM 23 indicates “0”, and a state in which the credit data stored in the RAM 23 is deleted by a change in the player and the credit data in the RAM 23 indicates “0”. A change in the player can be determined based on, for example, whether the house card has been removed, or based on the detection results by a detection sensor.

When CPU 21 has determined that the player has changed, the CPU 21 will reset the number of times that a bonus prize has been won (stored in the RAM 23) to zero, which is the value at the initial state (S2).

A player will select one or more desired bet lines, i.e. the top, middle, or bottom bet lines in this case, and further select the amount of credits to be placed in a bet for the bet line(s) selected, by operating the BET buttons 7a, 7b, and 7c and the bet line selecting buttons 8a, 8b, and 8c (S3). In the slot machine 1, one to three bet lines can be selected by operating the bet line selecting buttons 8a, 8b and 8c, and the amount of credits (1-3 credits) to be placed in a bet for the selected bet lines can be selected by operating the BET buttons 7a, 7b and 7c. The operations executed are sent as BET operation signals to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. After that, the CPU 21 will be in a state in which the CPU 21 can receive operation signals from the spin button 6a, so that the operation of the spin button 6a by a player will be effective.

When the player operates the spin button 6a (S4), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 serves as a credit process unit, and executes a BET process in which the credits in the RAM 23 are reduced by an amount of credit that corresponds to the operation performed by the player and sent as the BET operation signal, i.e., an amount derived from multiplying the number of bet lines selected by the amount of credits placed in a bet (S5). For example, if three bet lines are selected and two credits are selected as the amount of credits placed in a bet, then the amount bet in one game is six credits. After that, the CPU 21 serves as a start signal generator, and will generate and send start signals to the display controller 25. The display controller 25 will receive the start signals, and control a display operation in which the symbols are successively changed and displayed on each of the symbol display areas 11a in the monitor 11 (S6).

The CPU 21 will also send the generated start signal to the random number generator 24. The random number generator 24, after receiving the start signal, will generate five random numbers (S7) and send them to the CPU 21. The random numbers are generated for each of the symbol display areas 11a displayed on the monitor 11. The CPU 21 and the random number generator 24 function as a determination unit, and the CPU 21 will compare the random numbers with stop position tables that are stored in the ROM 22 after receiving the five random numbers sent from the random number generator 24. A stop position table is prepared for each of the symbol display areas 11a. Each of the random numbers and each of the stop position tables determine the stop positions of each of the changing displays in the symbol display area 11a. In other words, the five random numbers sent from the random number generator 24 determine the symbols that will be finally displayed in the symbol display areas 11a.

In contrast, the CPU 21 and the random number generator 24 serve as a prize winning determination unit, and the CPU 21 will execute a lottery process which will determine whether or not a combination of the random numbers will win a predetermined prize by comparing them with a prize determination table stored in the ROM 22 after receiving the five random numbers sent from the random number generator 24 (S8). The prizes are broadly categorized into a prize (dividend paying prize) which pays an amount of credit corresponding to the prize to a player, and a prize (bonus prize) which allows a player to play a special game, a free game, or the like. The CPU 21 will determine whether or not a prize has been won in a game, and the type of prize won, by using the combination of the random numbers and the prize determination tables. The ROM 22 stores at least two kinds of prize determination tables, such as a prize determination table used for an ordinary game and a prize determination table used for a special game. In the former prize determination table, individual prize determination tables are prepared for each of the bet lines that are selectable with the bet line selecting buttons 8a, 8b and 8c.

FIG. 5 shows one example of the symbols that are displayed on a monitor in an ordinary game when the display is stopped.

In the present embodiment, a wild card symbol, or the symbol B, is a symbol that can be used to represent any of the symbols when determining whether or not a prize has been won. In particular, in the present embodiment, when a combination of the five random numbers generated by the random number generator 24 results in the same symbols (including the wild card symbol) being stopped and displayed across at least three adjacent symbol display areas 11a of the five symbol display areas 11a in the monitor 11, the winning determination table used for an ordinary game will assign a dividend paying prize in accordance with the type of identical symbols displayed. When at least three bonus symbols (including the wild card symbol) are stopped and displayed at any position in the symbol display areas 11a as a result of the combination of the five random numbers, the table will assign a bonus prize. In other word, if the total number of bonus symbols and wild card symbols stopped and displayed on the monitor 11 is three or more, a bonus prize will be won.

After the lottery process, the CPU 21 will control the display controller 25 in order to stop the changing displays in the symbol display areas 11a at the determined stop positions (S9). Accordingly, the changing displays will be stopped at the determined stop positions in the symbol display areas 11a of the monitor 11, and predetermined symbols corresponding to the five random numbers will be stopped and displayed in the symbol display areas 11a.

If it is determined that the dividend paying prize has been won in the lottery process (S10, S11), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will output, after the changing displays in the symbol display areas 11a are stopped and symbols are displayed thereon, predetermined effect signals to the illumination controller 26 and the sound controller 27. As a result, the illumination controller 26 will control an illumination operation, such that the lighting lamps 10a and 10b and lamp buttons comprised of light emitting means, including the buttons 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b, and 8c, will flash in a flashing pattern according to the effect signals. In addition, the sound controller 27 will execute a control operation in order to temporarily stop playing the music output as sound effects from the speaker 15, and output a sound effect in response to the effect signals from the speaker 15. Then, as a delivery process unit, the CPU 21 will execute a delivery process in which the amount of credit in accordance with the prize that was won will be added to the credit data stored in the RAM 23 (S12).

In addition, if it is determined that the bonus prize has been won in the lottery process (S10, S11), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will output, after the changing displays in the symbol display areas 11a are stopped and symbols are displayed thereon, predetermined effect signals to the illumination controller 26 and the sound controller 27. Accordingly, the illumination controller 26 will execute an illumination control in which various lamp buttons are lighted to illuminate in a flashing pattern corresponding to the effect signals. In addition, the sound controller 27 will temporarily stop the speaker 15 from outputting the music, and control the speaker 15 so as to output different music that corresponds to the effect signals. Then, as a game auxiliary process unit, the CPU 21 will execute a rule explanation process (a game auxiliary process) in order to explain the rules of a bonus game to be played.

More specifically, the CPU 21 will first add one additional count to the number of the bonus prizes won in the RAM 23 (S13). After that, the CPU 21 will determine whether or not the number of the bonus prizes won stored in the RAM 23 is three or more (S14). If it is determined that the number of bonus prizes won has not reached three, i.e., two or less, an ordinary rule explanation process will be performed (S15). However, if it is determined that the number of bonus prizes won has reached three or more, a simplified rule explanation process will be executed (S16). In addition, the game control style of the CPU 21 will shift from an ordinary game control style to a bonus game control style in order to control the bonus game, will then proceed to the bonus game (S17).

Here, the ordinary rule explanation process, and the simplified rule explanation process, which is a revised version of the ordinary rule explanation process, will be described.

FIG. 6 shows one example of a rule explanation screen displayed on the monitor 11 by means of the ordinary rule explanation process. FIG. 7 shows one example of a rule explanation screen displayed on the monitor 11 by means of the simplified rule explanation process.

In the present embodiment, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will control the display controller 25 in order to display a rule explanation screen in the five symbol display area 11a on the monitor 11. The rule explanation screen will be displayed when a predetermined process execution condition is satisfied, e.g., when it has been determined that a bonus prize has been won in the lottery process. An image will be displayed in the rule explanation screen in order to explain the rules of a bonus game (here, the bonus prize). Here, if it is determined that the number of times that the bonus prize has been won is less than three (S14), the CPU 21 will execute the ordinary rule explanation process in order to display the ordinary rule explanation screen on the monitor 11, as shown in FIG. 6. In the ordinary rule explanation screen, the text image that explains the rules of the bonus game will be displayed on the upper portion of the screen, and an illustration will be displayed on the lower portion of the screen. In contrast, if it is determined that the number of times that the bonus prize has been won is three or more (S14), the CPU 21 will execute the simplified rule explanation process in order to display the simplified rule explanation screen on the monitor 11, as shown in FIG. 7. In the simplified rule explanation screen, the text image shown on the upper portion in FIG. 6 is omitted, and only the illustration will be shown.

In the bonus game of the bonus prize in the present embodiment, both the bonus symbol (symbol A) and the wild card symbol (symbol B) in an ordinary game will replaced with the wild card symbol (special symbol C). This rule is explained by the rule explanation screen in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7. The special symbol C is one which can represent any kind of symbol when determining whether or not a prize is won, like the wild card symbol in an ordinary game. Note that in the present embodiment, when a combination of the five random numbers generated by the random number generator 24 results in the same symbols being stopped and displayed (including the special symbol C) at least in three adjacent symbol display areas 11a of the five symbol display areas 11a, the winning determination table used in the bonus game will award a dividend paying prize in accordance with the type of identical symbols being displayed. As a result, in the bonus game, the probability of winning a dividend paying prize will be higher than that in an ordinary game because the bonus symbol is replaced with the special symbol C that can be treated as any kind of symbol. Furthermore, because a bonus game will start without having to perform a BET process in which the credit stored in the RAM 23 is decreased, the player will not consume any credit. As a result, the player can dramatically increase the number of credits stored in the RAM 23 by playing the bonus game.

FIGS. 8A and 8B show one example of an effect screen (moving images) displayed on a monitor before a bonus game.

The CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will display the rule explanation screens shown in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 for a fixed period of time, and then will control the display control unit 25 in order to display the effect screens on the monitor 11 as shown in FIG. 8A and FIG. 8B after showing the rule explanation screen. The effect screen shows, for example, moving images in which dancers dance the samba during Carnival in Brazil. After displaying the effect screen for a fixed period of time, the CPU 21 will control the display controller 25 in order to display the symbols for a bonus game on the symbol display areas 11a, and start the bonus game (S17).

FIG. 9 shows one example of the symbols that are displayed on the monitor 11 in an ordinary game when the display is stopped.

In the present embodiment, when the bonus game is played seven times after winning the bonus prize, the bonus prize will be finished, and the game will return to the ordinary game. In this bonus game, if a combination of the five random numbers results in the display of three special symbols C or more at any place in the symbol display areas 11a, the combination is awarded a dividend doubling prize. If a dividend doubling prize is won in any of the seven bonus games, the remaining number of bonus games will be reset to seven, and if a dividend paying prize is won again in a following bonus game, the amount of credits to be paid will be doubled.

In addition, if another dividend doubling prize is won again in a bonus game after one dividend doubling prize is won, the remaining number of bonus games will be reset to seven, and in addition, in the following bonus games, the amount of credits to be paid when a dividend paying prize is won again will be tripled.

Note that if yet another dividend doubling prize is won in a bonus game, the remaining number of bonus games will be reset to seven, and in addition, in the following bonus games, the amount of credits to be paid when a dividend paying prize is won again will continue to be tripled.

FIGS. 10A and 10B show one example of a rule explanation effect screen (moving images) displayed on the monitor 11 when a dividend doubling prize is won. If a dividend doubling prize is won for the first time in a bonus game, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will control the display controller 25 in order to display a rule explanation effect screen as shown in FIG. 10A in the five symbol display areas 11a on the monitor 11. The rule explanation effect screen in FIG. 10A shows rule explanation text superimposed on moving images such as dancers dancing the samba during Carnival in Brazil, and show that the dividend will be tripled. After showing the rule explanation effect screen for a fixed period of time, the CPU 21 will control the display controller 25 in order to display the symbols for a bonus game again on the symbol display areas 11a, and then start the bonus game.

If a dividend doubling prize is won for the second time or thereafter in a bonus game, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will control the display controller 25 in order to display a rule explanation effect screen as shown in FIG. 10B in the five symbol display areas 11a on the monitor 11. The rule explanation effect screen in FIG. 10B shows rule explanation text superimposed on moving images such as dancers dancing the samba during Carnival in Brazil, and show that the dividend will be tripled.

As described above, according to the present embodiment, it will be assumed that the time period from the point at which credit data is first stored in RAM 23 having no credit data stored therein, to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and new credit data is stored therein again, is the time period in which the same player has played the game (one play period). If the game control style is shifted two or fewer times by the CPU 21 from the ordinary game control style to the bonus game control style during this one play period, the bonus prize explanation screen shown in FIG. 6 will be used. If the game control style is shifted three or more times, the ordinary rule explanation screen shown in FIG. 7 is used. Note that this number will correspond to the number of times in which the predetermined process execution condition has been satisfied. If a player plays a game in the slot machine repeatedly and wins bonus prizes several times, he or she will see the rule explanation screens in the bonus game each time the prize is won. Since the player who won the bonus prize several times has already grasped the rules of the bonus game, the repeated display of the rule explanation screen will become annoying to the player. In the present embodiment, during one play period, i.e., during the time period in which it is assumed that the same player is playing the game, a simplified rule explanation screen will be displayed in which the text image in the ordinary rule explanation screen is omitted if a bonus prize has been won three or more times. Accordingly, the rule explanation screen a player will see when he or she wins the bonus prize three or more times will not include this text image. As a result, the rule explanation image shown on the monitor 11 will include an illustration only, and the display area of the rule explanation image will thus become smaller. Consequently, the rule explanation screen to be displayed when the bonus prize is won three or more times will become visually clear and simple for the player, and will find it to be less annoying.

Although the display of the explanation screen that is performed each time a bonus prize is won will change in response to the number of times the prize has been won in the above embodiment, the explanation screen may also change in response to the number of times the bonus game offered in the bonus prize is played. For example, although the bonus game can be played seven times in the bonus prize, the explanation screen displayed each time in order to explain the bonus game can change according to the number of times the bonus game has been played. As a result, the annoyance that a player may feel when viewing the explanation of the bonus game repeatedly can be reduced.

Although the simplified rule explanation process in the present embodiment is an example of a process for changing (simplifying) the information to be supplied to a player by omitting text in the rule explanation screen, another processes are also possible.

For example, the simplified rule explanation process may be replaced by shortening the display time of the rule explanation screen. In this case, the period of time in which the player will see the rule explanation screen will become shorter if a bonus prize has been won three or more times, and thus it will be possible to effectively prevent a player from becoming annoyed by the repeated display of the same information.

The simplified rule explanation process in the present embodiment is a process in which the content of the rule explanation screen is simplified, and is displayed after a bonus prize is won and before the bonus game of the bonus prize is started. However, any process may be used so long as the effects or information provided to a player that will annoy him or her when repeatedly provided are simplified.

A process may also be employed that omits the illumination control of the various lamp buttons by the illumination controller 26, or the effect sounds provided by the sound controller 27, when a bonus prize is won.

A process may also be employed that decreases the volume of the sound effects by the sound controller 27 when a bonus prize is won.

A process may also be employed that changes the moving images shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B to a stationary image.

A process may also be employed that shortens the display time of the moving images shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B.

A process may also be employed that displays the simplified rule explanation effect screen shown in FIG. 11 in place of the rule explanation screen shown in FIG. 10A, which is shown when a dividend doubling prize was won in a bonus game awarded to a player because he or she won a bonus prize three or more times. Note that this simplified rule explanation screen does not display the moving images shown in the background of the rule explanation text image, and thus only the rule explanation text image will be displayed.

Although the simplified rule explanation screen has only one level in the present embodiment, it may have two or more levels. For example, if the simplified rule explanation screen has three levels, the ordinary rule explanation screen will be used if the number of times the bonus prize has been won does not exceed two; the simplified rule explanation screen will be used if the bonus prize has been won three or four times; the display time for the simplified rule explanation screen will be shortened if the bonus prize has been won five or six times; and the rule explanation screen will not displayed if the bonus prize has been won seven or more times.

Although it is assumed in the present embodiment that the same player has played a game from the point at which credit data is first stored into RAM 23 to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and other credit data is again stored therein (one play period), the time period during which the same player has played a game can be assumed by other methods.

For example, the time period from the point at which credit data is first stored in RAM 23, to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and other credit data is again stored therein after a predetermined period of time has elapsed, can be assumed to be one play period during which the same player has played a game. In this example, a determination that the player has changed will not be made if the credits stored in the RAM 23 are completely consumed, and a credit input operation is performed immediately thereafter in order to store new credit data in the RAM 23. This is because when the player has in fact changed, a predetermined time period will normally elapse from the point at which the credits stored in the RAM 23 are completely consumed and the point at which the next player performs a credit input operation in order to store new credit data into the RAM 23. As a result, in this example, the accuracy of the assumption that the same player has played a game during a time period can be improved.

Or, for example, it may also be assumed that the time period from the point at which the credit in credit data stored in the RAM 23 is completely consumed and new credit data is stored in the RAM 23, to the point at which the newly stored credit data is completely consumed, is one play period during which the same player has played a game. Note that there will be times in which the same player will perform a credit input operation in order to continue to play a game by storing new credit data into the RAM 23 after the credits in the RAM 23 were completely consumed. Thus, for example, a time period in which the same player is playing a game (one play period) can be assumed to be the time period in which the credit data in the RAM 23 has been completely consumed and a predetermined time period has elapsed. In this example, a determination that the player has changed will not be made if the credits stored in the RAM 23 are completely consumed, and a credit input operation is performed immediately thereafter in order to store new credit data in the RAM 23. This is because when the player has in fact changed, a predetermined time period will normally elapse from the point at which the credits stored in the RAM 23 are completely consumed and the point at which the next player performs a credit input operation in order to store new credit data into the RAM 23. As a result, in this example, the accuracy of the assumption that the same player has played a game during a time period can be improved. In the alternative, a screen for inquiring whether or not a player will continue to play a game may be displayed when the credit data has been completely consumed, and the player may be asked to indicate whether or not he or she will continue to play. Here to, the accuracy of the assumption that the same player has played a game during a time period can be improved.

In addition, a detection sensor may be arranged in a position in front of the slot machine, for example, where a player playing a game thereon will be positioned, in order to detect the existence of the player, and thus it may be assumed that the time period during which the detection sensor detects the existence of the player is the time period during which the same player has played the game (one play period). In this case, the point at which the existence of a player is no longer detected should not be assumed to be the end of one play period. Rather, it is preferable that the end of one play period be the point at which a predetermined period of time has elapsed since a player was detected at that location. This is because it is thought that mis-detection or the like by the detection sensor may occur.

Furthermore, it may be determined that the player has changed when a house card storing a player ID is inserted into the card insertion slot 13 (information receiving unit), and the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 receives a player ID that is different from the previously received player ID. More specifically, when the card reader 34 of the sub-controller 30 reads a player ID from the house card inserted into the card insertion slot 13, it will send the player ID to the CPU 31 of the sub-controller 30. When the CPU 31 receives the player ID from the card reader 34, it will determine whether or not the player ID is valid, and then send the player ID to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. The CPU 21 will function as a determination unit after receiving the player ID, and determine that the player has changed. In this case, it is assumed that the time period from the point at which a player ID is received to the point at which a different player ID is received is one play period during which the same player has played the game.

In addition, in the present embodiment, the simplified rule explanation process is performed after the point at which the number of times the bonus prize has been won (the number of times in which the predetermined process performing condition has been satisfied) during one play period reached a predetermined number (three times). However, this process may be performed at a different point of time.

For example, the simplified rule explanation process may be performed after a predetermined period of time has elapsed since a play period has begun, i.e., after new credit data has been stored into the RAM 23.

Or, for example, the simplified rule explanation process may be performed after the point at which the number of ordinary games played during one play period has reached a predetermined number.

There is a possibility that a player will want to see the rule explanation for a bonus game on the ordinary rule explanation screen, even after winning three or more bonus prizes. Accordingly, in the present embodiment, if a player operates the simplification prohibition button 6c (prohibition operation) before winning the bonus prize three or more times, the simplified rule explanation screen will not be displayed, and instead the ordinary rule explanation screen will be displayed, even when he or she has won a bonus prize three or more times. Specifically, when the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 receives an operation signal from the simplification prohibition button 6c, it will function as an performance prohibition unit, and perform the ordinary rule explanation process rather than the simplified rule explanation process when it is determined that a bonus prize has been won, even if it is determined that a bonus prize has been won three or more times. As a result, it will be possible to satisfy a player's desire to show the rule explanation for the bonus game by displaying the ordinary rule explanation screen, even if a bonus prize has been won three or more times.

In addition, there may be times in which a player will want to see the ordinary rule explanation screen again, even though a bonus prize has been won three or more times and the simplified rule explanation screen is used. Furthermore, in the present embodiment, there may be times in which it is incorrect to assume that one play period (the time period from the point at which credit data is first stored in the RAM 23 to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and then new credit data is again stored) is the time period during which the same player has played the game. In other words, there may be times in which the player has in fact changed during the one play period. In this case, it is thought that a new player that has arrived after a previous player has won a bonus prize three or more times might want to see the rule explanation for the bonus game that is shown on the ordinary rule explanation screen.

Accordingly, in the present embodiment, if a player operates the simplification return button 6d (change return operation) after a bonus prize has been won three or more times, the ordinary rule explanation screen will be displayed instead of the simplified rule explanation screen. More specifically, when the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 receives an operation signal from the simplification return button 6d, it will reset the number of times the bonus prize has been won to zero. As a result, it will be possible to satisfy a player's desire to show the rule explanation for the bonus game by displaying the ordinary rule explanation screen after a bonus prize has been won three or more times.

Modification 1

Next, a modification (hereinafter referred to as Modification 1) of the slot machine of this embodiment will be described.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart that shows the execution of a game according to Modification 1. Note that S3 to S9 in this flowchart are the same as shown in FIG. 1, and thus are omitted here.

In Modification 1, if the number of ordinary games during one play period reaches fifty, for example, the effects to be performed when the dividend paying prize is won in the ordinary game will be different from the previously provided effects. Specifically, if the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 receives a credit input operation signal and stores new credit data into RAM 23 which stores no credit data, the CPU 21 will determine that the player has changed as in the aforementioned embodiment (S1). Then, the CPU 21 will reset the number of ordinary games stored in RAM 23 to zero as an initial value (S21).

If it is determined that the dividend paying prize has been won in the lottery process (S10, S11), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will output the predetermined effect signals to the illumination controller 26 and the sound controller 27 after the changing display in the symbol display areas 11a are stopped. Accordingly, the illumination controller 26 and the sound controller 27 will perform effect processes (a game auxiliary process) as in the aforementioned embodiment. At this stage, in Modification 1, if it is determined that the dividend paying prize has been won in the lottery process (S10, S11), the CPU 21 will determine whether or not the number of ordinary games played stored in the RAM 23 is fifty or more (S22). If it is determined that the number of ordinary games played is not fifty or more, i.e., forty nine or less, the ordinary effect process will be performed as in the aforementioned embodiment (S23). If it is determined that the number of ordinary games played is fifty or more, the simplified effect process will be performed (S24). After that, the CPU 21 will adding an amount corresponding to the prize won to the amount of credit stored in RAM 23 (S12), and then add one to the number of ordinary games played in RAM 23 (S25).

The simplified effect process of Modification 1 is one that is altered from the ordinary effect process. Specifically, in the ordinary effect process, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will output the effect signals for the ordinary effect process to the illumination controller 26 and the sound controller 27. Consequently, the illumination controller 26 will control an illumination operation which will flash various lamps 10a and 10b and lamp buttons that includes light emitting means, such as buttons 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, 7a, 7b, 7c, 8a, 8b, and 8c, in a flashing pattern corresponding to the effect signals. The sound controller 27 will temporarily stop the music which is output as effect sound from the speaker 15, and will control the speaker 15 so as to output the effect sound corresponding to the effect signals at a volume level indicated by the effect signals.

In the simplified effect process, the CPU 21 will output the effect signals for the simplified effect process to the sound controller 27, but will not output any effect signals to the illumination controller 26. Consequently, even if a dividend paying prize is won, the effect of flashing the lamp buttons in a predetermined flashing pattern will not be performed. The sound controller 27 will temporarily stop the music output from the speaker 15 as effect sound, and will control the speaker 15 so as to output the effect sound corresponding to the effect signals at a volume indicated by the effect signals. The volume level will be lower than that in the ordinary effect process.

As described above, in Modification 1, if the number of ordinary games played reaches fifty or more during one play period, the flashing effect of the lamp buttons will not be performed even if a dividend paying prize is won thereafter. As a result, the annoyance that a player may feel about the flashing effects of the lamp buttons can be reduced.

Furthermore, in Modification 1, if the number of ordinary games played reaches fifty or more during one play period, the volume of the effect sound will be reduced when a dividend paying prize is won thereafter. As a result, the annoyance that a player may feel about the sound effects can be reduced.

Although the simplified effect process in Modification 1 omits the flashing effect of the lamp buttons and reduces the volume of the effect sound, other processes can be used. For example, either the flashing effects of the lamp buttons or the reduction in the volume of the effect sound can be eliminated. Alternatively, a processes can be employed to decrease the length of the flashing effects of the lamp buttons or the output time of the effect sound. In this case, since the point at which the next game can start can be hastened, it is possible to effectively reduce the annoyance a player may feel about the delay in the start of the game due to the flashing effects of the lamp buttons or the output of the effect sound.

In Modification 1, as in the aforementioned embodiment, it is assumed that the time period from the point at which credit data is stored in RAM 23 that stores no credit data to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and new credit data is stored again (one play time) is a time period in which the same player is playing the game. However, a time period during which the same player is playing the game can be assumed by other methods described in the aforementioned embodiment.

Although the simplified effect process is performed after the point at which the number of ordinary games played reaches a predetermined number (such as fifty) during one play period in Modification 1, it may be performed at different at a different point in time.

For example, the simplified effect process can be performed after the point at which a predetermined time has elapsed since the start of one play period, i.e., the point at which new credit data is stored into RAM 23.

For example, the simplified rule explanation process can be performed after the point at which the number of times a dividend paying prize has been won during one play period (the number of times in which the predetermined process execution condition is satisfied) has reached a predetermined number.

Modification 2

Next, another modification (hereinafter referred to as Modification 2) in the slot machine of the embodiment will be described.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing the execution of a game in Modification 2. It should be noted that S3 to S9 in this flowchart are the same as S3 to S9 in FIG. 1, and therefore they will be omitted in FIG. 13.

In Modification 2, if the number of ordinary games played during one play period reaches fifty or more, for example, the period of time in which the changing symbols are displayed will be shortened. Specifically, if it is determined that the player has changed (S1), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will reset the number of ordinary games played that is stored in RAM 23 to zero as an initial value, as in Modification 1 (S21).

The CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will determine whether or not the number of ordinary games played that is stored in RAM 23 is fifty or more (S31), after it has been determined that no prize has been won in the lottery process, or that a prize has been won and the process relating to that prize (the dividend paying process or a bonus game) has been completed. If it is determined that the number of ordinary games played is fifty or more, the CPU 21 will change the time set to display the changing symbols stored in RAM 23 to one that is shorter than the initial value (S32). In contrast, if it is determined that the number of ordinary games played is forty nine or less, the CPU 21 will not change the time set to display the changing symbols stored in RAM 23. The CPU 21 will then add one to the number of ordinary games played that is stored in RAM 23 (S25).

In Modification 2, the CPU 21 will count the time that has elapsed since a start signal has been sent to the display controller 25. Then, when the measured time equals the time set to display the changing symbols in RAM 23, the CPU 21 will send a stop signal to the display controller 25. Accordingly, the display controller 25 will stop the changing display in the symbol display areas 11a in response to the stop signal. Therefore, in Modification 2, the time period from the point at which the symbol changing display is started to the point at which the symbol changing display is stopped can be changed in response to the time set to display the changing symbols stored in RAM 23. In Modification 2, if the number of ordinary games played during one play period reaches fifty or more, the time set to display the changing symbols in the RAM 23 will be shorter than the previous display time. As a result, the time for displaying the changing symbols will be shortened after 50 ordinary games have been played during one play period. In this case, if the number of ordinary games played during one play period reaches fifty or more, the time from the point at which the player operates the spin button 6a to the time at which the player knows the outcome of the game (whether or not a prize has been won) will become shorter. As a result, it will be possible to effectively reduce the annoyance a player may feel while awaiting the results of a game.

Although it is assumed in Modification 2, as in the aforementioned embodiment, that the time period from the point at which credit data is stored into RAM 23 that stores no credit data to the point at which the credit data is completely consumed and new credit data is stored again (one play period) is a time period in which the same player is playing the game in Modification 2, the time period during which the same player is playing the game can be assumed by the other methods described in the aforementioned embodiment.

Although the time in which the changing symbols are set to be displayed will be changed at the point in time in which the number of ordinary games played reaches a predetermined number (such as fifty) during one play period in Modification 2, it may be changed to be a different point in time. For example, the display time may be changed at the point at which a predetermined time period has elapsed since one play period has started, i.e., when new credit data is stored into RAM 23.

Modification 3

Next, yet another modification (hereinafter referred to as Modification 3) of the slot machine of the aforementioned embodiment will be described.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart showing the execution of a game in Modification 3. It should be noted that S3 to S9 in the flowchart are the same as S3 to S9 in FIG. 1, and thus they are omitted in FIG. 14.

In Modification 3, it will be determined that the player has changed if a house card storing a player ID is inserted into the card insertion slot 13 (an information receiving unit), and the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 has received a player ID that is different from the previous player ID. In Modification 3, the total number of times a bonus prize has been won by the player related to the player ID up until that point (the total number of times in which the predetermined process execution condition has been satisfied) is cumulatively stored. After the total number of times a bonus prize has been won reaches ten or more, the simplified rule explanation process will be performed instead of the ordinary rule explanation process.

More specifically, in Modification 3, when a player inserts a house card into the card insertion slot 13, the card reader 34 of the sub-controller 30 will read the player ID from the house card (S41). The player ID will be sent from the card reader 34 to the CPU 31. The CPU 31 will determine whether the player ID is normal or not, and then send it to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. The CPU 21, after receiving the player ID, will server as a determination unit in order to determine whether or not the player has changed (S42). More specifically, the CPU 21 will determine that the player has changed if it receives a player ID that is different from the previous player ID, and determine that the player has not changed if it receives the same player ID as the previous player ID.

In Modification 3, the number of times a bonus prize has been won in the ordinary games played by each player in the past will be associated with the player ID of each player, and registered in a database stored in the management system 40. The CPU 31 will determine whether or not the player ID is normal after it receives the player ID from the card reader 34, and then send a request to acquire the data associated with the player ID from the management system I/O port 37 to the management system 40 (S43). The management system 40, in response to the acquisition request, will read out the data associated with the player ID from the database, and send the data to the management system I/O port 37 of the sub-controller 30 in the slot machine 1. The data received via the management system I/O port 37 will be transmitted to the CPU 31 of the sub-controller 30, and the CPU 31 will transmit the data to the CPU 21 of the main controller 20. The CPU 21 will set the number of times a bonus prize has been won (stored in RAM 23) in accordance with the data (S44).

After that, the game is executed as in the aforementioned embodiment (S3 to S9). If a bonus prize is won in the lottery process (S10, S11), the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will add one to the number of times that a bonus prize has been won in the RAM 23 (S13). Then, the CPU 21 will determine whether or not the number times a bonus prize has been won is ten or more (S45). If it is determined that the number of times a bonus prize has been one is not ten or more, i.e., nine or less, the ordinary rule explanation process will be performed (S15). If it is determined that the number of times that a bonus prize has been won is ten or more, the simplified rule explanation process is performed (S16).

When the player stops playing the slot machine, he or she will take out the house card from the card insertion slot 13. When the player takes out the house card, the CPU 21 of the main controller 20 will transmit the number of times a bonus prize has been won that is stored in the RAM 23 to the CPU 31 of the sub-controller 30. The CPU 31 will transmit this number, together with the player ID, from the management system I/O port 37 to the management system 40. The management system 40 will update the data stored in the database with this data. If the received player ID has not been registered in the database, the this data will be newly registered in the database in association with the player ID.

As described above, in Modification 3, if the player starts to play a game again after he or she has stopped playing once, and the number of times a bonus prize has been won previously is ten or more, the simplified rule explanation screen will be displayed on the monitor 11 when a bonus prize is won instead of the ordinary rule explanation screen. In other words, in Modification 3, if a bonus prize has been won nine or more times, the simplified rule explanation screen will be displayed on the monitor 11 instead of the ordinary rule explanation screen, even if a bonus prize is won for the first time during the current play period. As a result, the rule explanation screen the player saw several times in the past will be changed to the simplified rule explanation screen, thereby allowing the annoyance the player may feel to be reduced.

Although the simplified rule explanation process will be performed at the point at which the total number times a bonus prize has been won previously (the total number of times in which the predetermined process execution condition has been satisfied) reaches a predetermined number (such as ten) in Modification 3, the process can be performed at a different point in time.

For example, the simplified rule explanation process can be performed after the point at which the total play time by the player including the past one play times exceeds a predetermined time. In this case, the total play time data is registered into the database in association with the player ID in place of the accumulation data.

For example, the simplified rule explanation process can be performed at the point at which the number of ordinary games played reaches a predetermined number. In this case, the number of ordinary games played will be registered into the database in association with the player ID.

The above-described embodiments and modifications can be combined with each other as appropriate.

Computer readable code that will cause a computer to execute the above-described methods, and computer-readable recording media that store the computer readable code, are within the scope of the present invention. The computer-readable recording media include flexible discs, hard disc drives, CD-ROM, MO, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, BD (Blu-Ray Discs), and semiconductor memory, for example. The computer readable code is not limited to that which is stored on recording media, and that which is transmitted through telecommunication lines, radio or cable communication lines, or networks including the Internet.

The present invention can be appropriately applied to amusement machines such as slot machines, pachinko machines, pachislot machines, and palot machines.

General Interpretation of Terms

In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “configured” as used herein to describe a component, section or part of a device includes hardware and/or software that is constructed and/or programmed to carry out the desired function. In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “comprising” and its derivatives, as used herein, are intended to be open ended terms that specify the presence of the stated features, elements, components, groups, integers, and/or steps, but do not exclude the presence of other unstated features, elements, components, groups, integers and/or steps. The foregoing also applies to words having similar meanings such as the terms, “including”, “having” and their derivatives. Also, the terms “part,” “section,” “portion,” “member” or “element” when used in the singular can have the dual meaning of a single part or a plurality of parts. Finally, terms of degree such as “substantially”, “about” and “approximately” as used herein mean a reasonable amount of deviation of the modified term such that the end result is not significantly changed. For example, these terms can be construed as including a deviation of at least ±5% of the modified term if this deviation would not negate the meaning of the word it modifies.

While only selected embodiments have been chosen to illustrate the present invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that various changes and modifications can be made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Furthermore, the foregoing descriptions of the embodiments according to the present invention are provided for illustration only, and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.