Title:
Game apparatus having fault restoration function
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game apparatus is provided with: determination unit for determining, in a stage of a game, whether or not a kind and order of deal to players of game media are fixed; storage unit for storing restoration data required to restore a game status at time points in a storage medium for each of check points, wherein at least a first timing indicating a time point when a virtual game value possessed by player increases/decreases as a result of the game by betting operations and a second timing indicating a time point when the kind and order of deal are fixed are used as check points; and restoration unit for reading out the restoration data from the storage medium upon restoring a fault including power disconnection during execution of the game, and automatically restoring the game status at the latest check point based on the restoration data.



Inventors:
Haga, Norio (Tokyo, JP)
Ikebuchi, Toru (Tokyo, JP)
Yoshino, Shinichi (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
12/007551
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/11/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/43
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LARSEN, CARL VICTOR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WENDEROTH, LIND & PONACK, L.L.P. (2033 K STREET N. W., SUITE 800, WASHINGTON, DC, 20006-1021, US)
Claims:
1. A game apparatus for executing computer games involving betting operations with a virtual game value by a player, the game apparatus having a fault restoration function, comprising: determination means for determining, in a predetermined stage of the game, whether or not a kind and order of deal to the players of game media are fixed for a group of game media composed of a predetermined number of game media; restoration data storage means for storing restoration data required to restore a game status at time points in a non-volatile storage medium for each of check points, wherein at least a first timing indicating a time point when the game value possessed by the player increases/decreases as a result of the game by the betting operations and a second timing indicating a time point when it is determined that the kind and order of deal are fixed by the determination means are used as check points; and fault restoration means for reading out the restoration data from the storage medium upon restoring a fault including power disconnection during execution of the game, and automatically restoring at least the game status at the latest check point based on the restoration data.

2. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the restoration data storage means inputs operation information of its player and other players while determining whether or not the operation by the player is related to an operation for proceeding the game, and if it is determined that the operation is related to the proceeding of the game, storage processing of the restoration data is performed using the time point when the operation is detected as the check point.

3. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the fault restoration means restores the game status at the latest time point upon restoring the game status, and also sequentially reproduces the game status from the time point when the game was started to the latest check point or the game status from the latest check point among the group of the check points at the first timing to the time point when the restoration data was stored for the last time.

4. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the fault restoration means determines whether or not a win/lose is settled based on the restoration data if the fault is restored from the second timing upon restoring the game status, and if it is determined that the win/lose is not settled, the game value in which a distribution destination as a payout is undetermined due to the win/lose being unsettled to thereby be pooled temporarily is restored to a status at the latest check point.

5. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the fault restoration means automatically restarts the game from the restored time point after restoring the game status at the check point.

6. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the game is a game which allows additional betting operations after a hand ranking is settled by the game medium, and if it is determined that the fault has occurred at a timing from when the hand ranking of its player is fixed to when its player and other players are allowed to additionally bet as well as at a timing when the win/lose has not been determined, the fault restoration means reproduces the game status and restarts the game.

7. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the data storage means sets data storage points at regular intervals after the first timing which varies depending on the betting operations or after the second timing, and stores the restoration data using the data storage points as the check points.

8. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, further comprising a sub-game execution means for executing a sub-game in which a predetermined amount of the game value is given when a character operated by the player passes a predetermined passing point, wherein the data storage means and the fault restoration means process a passing time point of the passing point as the first timing.

9. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, further comprising card updating means for timely updating the data including playing records of the player recorded in an IC card releasably attached to the game apparatus, and card data storage means for storing updated data of the IC card at the check point in the storage medium, wherein the fault restoration means reads out the updated data from the storage medium upon restoring the game status and rewrites the recorded data of the IC card with the update data corresponding to the check point.

10. The game apparatus having the fault restoration function according to claim 1, wherein the game apparatus is a medal game apparatus which uses medals as game value media, and when a payout operation is performed by the player after restoring the game status at the check point, the fault restoration means exchanges the game value possessed by the player at the time point when the game status is restored with the number of medals based on a preset predetermined exchange rate, and also drives a medal payout mechanism to pay out the same number of medals to a return unit.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a game apparatus provided with a fault restoration function to restore a game status upon occurrence of a fault which disables a game to proceed, such as power disconnection and software hang-up of the game apparatus, and particularly relates to a fault restoration processing technique in the game apparatus for executing computer games involving betting operations by a player.

BACKGROUND ART

A game apparatus having a function of executing a game program allows a player or the game program to intentionally interrupt a game, and generally applies a manner to restart the game from a time point when it was interrupted based on data stored in a storage medium when restarting the game is desired.

The game apparatus allowing the game to restart from the point before it has been interrupted include those described in Patent Document 1 (Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. Hei 7-303760) and Patent Document 2 (Japanese Patent No. 3731781). Patent Document 1 discloses the technique of recording every key operating information in the storage medium from the time point when the game was started to the time point when certain play time is elapsed, and, if the game is forcibly interrupted due to a time limit for playing the game being set, automatically reproducing the previous game operations based on the key operating information recorded in the storage medium. It also discloses the technique of halting reproduction processing at any stage during the reproduction to then allow restarting of the game from that stage (see the description of the paragraph of Patent Document 1).

Meanwhile, Patent Document 2 discloses the apparatus which allows the player to readily understand a flow of the game so far by reproducing minimum segments, rather than automatically reproducing all of the previous operations. Specifically, it discloses the apparatus provided with a storage unit for sequentially storing data related to playing of the game, such as key input data by the player, positional information of characters, movement sequences, and event flags, as various types of game data generated during performing the game, wherein, upon restarting the game after the game is terminated, the game data from a predetermined break position in a flow of a game sequence to a position where the game has been previously terminated is read out from the storage unit, and wherein a game screen is automatically reproduced based on the read-out game data (see [claim 1] and the paragraph [0020] of patent Document 2).

In a method described in Patent Document 1 described above, the time limit of playing of the game can be set and time management can be performed. In addition, all of the previous game operations are reproduced, and thus the player can understand the flow of the game up to the previous time. Moreover, if erroneous operation would be performed in the previous game operations, the game can be restarted again from that stage, and thus the player can enjoy the game to develop in a different form from the previous time. Meanwhile, in a method described in Patent Document 2, the minimum segments required for the player to understand the flow of the game can be reproduced, rather than redundantly and automatically reproducing all of the previous operations.

<Patent Document 1>

Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. Hei 7-303760

<Patent Document 2>

Japanese Patent No. 3731781

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Problems to be Solved by the Invention

However, any of the methods described above applies a method of recording key operating information for a predetermined period and strictly reproducing a game screen for the predetermined period using the key operating information. Although a time limit is set or a break position is inserted in the middle of a game so that an amount of data to be stored may not be large, it is required to store every play status from the time point when the game was previously started or the break position of the game to the time point at least when the game is terminated. In addition, because a hardware fault or a software fault is not taken into consideration, if the software fault, such as unintentional power disconnection in the middle of the game or so-called hang-up due to a malfunction of basic software or the like, would occur, it results in a case where the game status at an important stage cannot be restored or where the game to be reproduced is limited to up to the time point quite some time ago.

In that case, it may not be a serious problem if a player can accept to give up, but in the game such as a casino game or the like involving betting operations by the player, if the fault would occur in the game status in which the player may win the game, that is, if the fault would occur in the game status in which the player may win big, for example, such as a situation in a slot machine game where the player may win a big prize or a situation in a poker game where the player has made a rare hand ranking (such as royal flush) and only waiting for other players to bet, the game status reverting to the time point in the past as with the conventional technique causes the player to be wistful. Particularly, in the game having gambling features in which a payout would become huge by repeating betting, although playing time of the game for a round is shorter than common games, the game status is more likely to occur where the player may win big. However, if the fault such as interruption of power or software hang-up would occur in such an important stage, the conventional game apparatuses have not been able to compensate the game status.

The present invention has been made in consideration of the circumstances described above, and an object thereof is to provide the game apparatus having a fault restoration function which can compensate the game status in the stage important for the player as well as an amount of betting, even when the fault such as the interruption of power would occur in such an important stage in a computer game involving betting operations.

Means for Solving the Problems

The present invention relates to a game apparatus for executing computer games involving betting operations with a virtual game value by a player, and the aforementioned object of the present invention is achieved by including: determination means for determining, in a predetermined stage of the game, whether or not a kind and order of deal to the players of game media are fixed for a group of game media composed of a predetermined number of game media; restoration data storage means for storing restoration data required to restore a game status at time points in a non-volatile storage medium for each of check points, wherein at least a first timing indicating a time point when the game value possessed by the player increases/decreases as a result of the game by the betting operations and a second timing indicating a time point when it is determined that the kind and order of deal are fixed by the determination means are used as check points; and fault restoration means for reading out the restoration data from the storage medium upon restoring a fault including power disconnection during execution of the game, and automatically restoring at least the game status at the latest check point based on the restoration data.

In addition, the aforementioned object of the present invention is further effectively achieved by each of the following features. Namely, the restoration data storage means inputs operation information of its player and other players while determining whether or not the operation by the player is related to an operation for proceeding the game, and if it is determined that the operation is related to the proceeding of the game, storage processing of the restoration data is performed using the time point when the operation is detected as the check point. The fault restoration means restores the game status at the latest time point upon restoring the game status, and also sequentially reproduces the game status from the time point when the game was started to the latest check point or the game status from the latest check point among the group of the check points at the first timing to the time point when the restoration data was stored for the last time. The fault restoration means determines whether or not a win/lose is settled based on the restoration data if the fault is restored from the second timing upon restoring the game status, and if it is determined that the win/lose is not settled, the game value in which a distribution destination as a payout is undetermined due to the win/lose being unsettled to thereby be pooled temporarily is restored to a status at the latest check point. The fault restoration means automatically restarts the game from the restored time point after restoring the game status at the check point. The game is a game which allows additional betting operations after a hand ranking is settled by the game medium, and if it is determined that the fault has occurred at a timing from when the hand ranking of its player is fixed to when its player and other players are allowed to additionally bet as well as at a timing when the win/lose has not been determined, the fault restoration means reproduces the game status and restarts the game. The data storage means sets data storage points at regular intervals after the first timing which varies depending on the betting operations or after the second timing, and stores the restoration data using the data storage points as the check points.

Further, the aforementioned object of the present invention is also effectively achieved by each of the following features. There is further included sub-game execution means for executing a sub-game in which a predetermined amount of the game value is given when a character operated by the player passes a predetermined passing point, wherein the data storage means and the fault restoration means process a passing time point of the passing point as the first timing. There is further included card updating means for timely updating the data including playing records of the player recorded in an IC card releasably attached to the game apparatus, and card data storage means for storing updated data of the IC card at the check point in the storage medium, wherein the fault restoration means reads out the updated data from the storage medium upon restoring the game status and rewrites the recorded data of the IC card with the update data corresponding to the check point. The game apparatus is a medal game apparatus which uses medals as game value media, and when a payout operation is performed by the player after restoring the game status at the check point, the fault restoration means exchanges the game value possessed by the player at the time point when the game status is restored with the number of medals based on a preset predetermined exchange rate, and also drives a medal payout mechanism to pay out the same number of medals to a return unit.

EFFECT OF THE INVENTION

Since the present invention uses a time point when a game value possessed by a player increases/decreases and a time point when a kind and order of deal of game media having an influence on a win/lose of the player as check points to automatically restore a game status at the time point upon restoring a fault, it is allowed to compensate not only an amount of betting but also the game status at an important stage even when the fault such as interruption of power would occur at the stage important for the player. In addition, since a fault restoration method according to the present invention does not require recording a sequence of data (such as key operating information) for a predetermined period, as compared to a method of the conventional art, a smaller storage region of a storage medium is sufficient and the restoration can be accomplished in quite short recovery time.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing a configuration example of a medal game apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing a configuration example of a game processing unit of the game apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating a normal operation example of the game apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating an operation example at the time of fault restoration of the game apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a diagram showing a first display screen at the time of fault restoration;

FIG. 6 is a diagram showing a second display screen at the time of fault restoration;

FIG. 7 is a diagram showing a third display screen at the time of fault restoration; and

FIG. 8 is a diagram showing a fourth display screen at the time of fault restoration.

EXPLANATIONS OF LETTERS OR NUMERALS

    • 1: IC card
    • 2: substitute coin (medal)
    • 10: game apparatus
    • 11: control unit
    • 12: card processing unit
    • 13: operating unit
    • 14: storage unit
    • 15: image display unit
    • 16: audio output unit
    • 17: communication control unit
    • 18: game processing unit
    • 18a: game proceeding control means
    • 18b: game stage determination means
    • 18c: restoration data storage means
    • 18d: fault restoration means
    • 18e: fault detection means
    • 18f: sub-game execution means
    • 18g: card updating means
    • 18h: card data storage means
    • 19: medal processing unit

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

A game apparatus according to the present invention is a game apparatus provided with a function to restore from a fault such as power disconnection due to interruption of power and software hang-up, and is suitably applied to the game apparatus for executing computer games involving betting operations of a virtual game value by a player, particularly a betting game which allows additional betting operations in one game. Hereinbelow, a case where the present invention is applied to a commercial medal game apparatus which is played using medals as a game value medium will be described as an example. In addition, as an example of the computer game having a gambling feature, the so-called “seven stud poker game” (hereinbelow, simply referred to as the “poker game”) will be described as a specific example.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing a configuration example of the commercial medal game apparatus. This game apparatus 10 is provided with a control unit 11, a card processing unit 12, an operating unit 13, a storage unit 14, an image display unit 15, an audio output unit 16, a communication control unit 17, a game processing unit 18, and a medal processing unit 19.

The control unit 11 is configured by a CPU or the like, which performs execution control of a computer program or input/output control with peripheral devices via an input/output interface. The card processing unit 12 is configured by an IC card attachment unit (connector), IC card reader/writer, or the like, which performs reading/writing of data from/to an IC card possessed by a player. In this example, player data, such as user identification information, a playing history of the player, or the like is recorded in an IC card 1.

The operating unit 13 is configured by an input device including button switches for inputting operation information of the player or the like. Incidentally, in this embodiment, buttons “fold” and “pass” as operation buttons for the poker game or the like, as well as buttons “50”, “100”, “150”, and “200” as instruction buttons of a betting amount, are provided on a touch-sensitive display, so that various selecting operations can be performed with a single touch on the display.

The storage unit 14 is configured by a predetermined storage medium such as memory, RAM, or the like, while programs, data, or the like including processing routines for causing a computer to execute the respective means, which will be described later, are preliminarily stored in an internal storage medium or an external storage medium, such as Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) or the like, which can be attached to an attachment unit of the game apparatus. Restoration data and IC card update data, which will be described later, are stored in a non-versatile storage medium in the storage unit 14.

The image display unit 15 is configured by a display device such as a liquid crystal display (in this example, the touch-sensitive display) or the like, and the audio output unit 16 is configured by an audio output device such as a sound circuit, a speaker, or the like. The communication control unit 17 is configured by a data transfer control unit or the like, which controls communications among the game apparatuses. In this example, the communication control unit 17 is provided with a communication control function among the game apparatuses connected via a server over the Internet, which allows the player to execute a competitive type on-line game in which the player can compete against other players across the country.

The game processing unit 18 is configured by a game processing program, an image processing device, or the like, which processes proceeding control of the game or the like in accordance with operations of operation means by the player. The medal processing unit 19 is configured by a medal identification device, a medal payout mechanism, or the like, which performs identification of the medals inputted from an input slot, counting processing, payout processing, or the like.

Incidentally, hardware equipment in the game apparatus 10 is publicly known, so that description regarding operation examples or the like for each equipment will be omitted.

Next, a principal configuration of the game processing unit 18 shown in FIG. 1 will be described.

FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing a configuration example of a principal portion of the game processing unit 18 according to the present invention. Note herein that the respective means 18a to 18h shown in FIG. 2 are implemented by means of the computer programs controlled by the CPU in this embodiment, and stored in a predetermined storage medium. Upon execution, they are operated as a memory resident program or an overlay program. In addition, the respective means 18a to 18h are given with means names and classified in accordance with their functions for convenience of description, which are not intended to limit their software configurations. Moreover, the units for implementing the fault restoration function according to the present invention are primarily illustrated herein, and common means such as the means related to a competitive type communication game or image processing means are omitted.

The game processing unit 18 mounted on the game apparatus 10 is provided with, as principal configurations, a game proceeding control means 18a, a game stage determination means 18b, restoration data storage means 18c, fault restoration means 18d, fault detection means 18e, sub-game execution means 18f, card updating means 18g, and card data storage means 18h. Note herein that the units 18e to 18h among these units 18a to 18h are additional configurational features.

The game proceeding control means 18a is means for controlling the overall proceeding of the game including processing during standby and processing from the start to the termination of the game, which controls, for example, activation of the sub-game execution means and execution of a bonus game as a sub-game when the player wins the poker game.

The game stage determination means 18b is means for determining whether or not a kind and order of deal to the players of the game media are fixed for a group of game media composed of a predetermined number of the game media (in this example, a group of playing cards), which determines, in the case of the poker game, for example, that the kind and order of deal are fixed at a time point when the cards are dealt to each player (including a virtual player). Incidentally, at the time point when the kind and order of deal are fixed, a win/lose of the game is not settled yet. That is, although the game proceeding control means 18a already knows the cards to be dealt to each player and the hand rankings to be made by the cards, the win/lose of the game is finally determined not only by the hand rankings being high/low but also by the betting operations by the players, and thus “the win/lose of the game” has not been settled yet.

The restoration data storage means 18c is means for storing, for every check point involving a change in the game value, the restoration data required to restore the game status including the betting amount possessed by the player at the time point in the non-volatile storage medium. In order to restore the game status upon occurrence of the fault, it is sufficient that the latest restoration data is stored, so that the restoration data may be overwritten and stored rather than storing the data in time series for every check point. Note that, the “fault” described in the present invention includes “forcible interruption by the player operating a reset switch or the like”.

The check points for storing the restoration data are intended to include at least (1) a first timing indicating the time point when the game value possessed by the player increases/decreases as a result of the game by the betting operations, as well as (2) a second timing indicating the time point when it is determined that the kind and order of deal to the players of the game media (in this example, the playing cards) are fixed by the game stage determination means 18b. Incidentally, for the game which is proceeded in a manner that the first set of cards are dealt and then the additional betting operations and deal of next set of cards are repeated, as with the poker game in this embodiment, the game stage determination means 18b determines plural occurrences of the time points of the second timing described above.

That is, the “check point” described herein means a timing of an action which causes the change in the game value at the present time point or in the near future as a result of the operations by the player.

The first timing described above includes, for example, (1a) a timing indicating the time point when the game value medium such as the inputted medal or the like is exchanged with a tip as a virtual game value used in the game based on a preset predetermined exchange rate (10 tips for one substitute coin, for example), (1b) a timing indicating the time point when the player or an opponent player causes a betting action (betting operations), (1c) a timing indicating the time point when the game value as a payout in accordance with a betting amount is paid to a won player as a result of a match at a predetermined stage of the game, (1d) a timing indicating the time point when the betting amount is collected from a lost player (including a folded player) as a result of the match at the predetermined stage of the game, and (1e) a timing indicating the time point when its player or other players perform the operation related to the proceeding of the game.

At the timing (1e) described above, the restoration data storage means 18c inputs the operation information of its player or other players (operation signals from the operating unit of the game apparatus of its player or a communication partner, or operation commands to the virtual player operated by the CPU) while determining whether or not the operation by the player is related to an operation for proceeding the game, and performs storage processing of the restoration data using the time point when the operation is detected as the timing (1e) described above, if it is determined that the operation is related to the proceeding of the game.

Meanwhile, it may have a configuration in which data storage points, other than the timings of the action which causes the change in the game value, are appropriately set in accordance with a kind of the game and the restoration data is stored using the data storage points as the check points. In addition, in a configuration provided with the fault detection means 18e, which will be described later, the restoration data is stored also using the time point when the fault is detected as the check points described above. Moreover, it may also have a configuration in which the data storage points are set at regular intervals after the first timing or the second timing and the restoration data is stored using the data storage points as the checkpoints. Furthermore, the second timing may include the time point when the stage where the game proceeding control means 18a adds an additional value to the game value appears (the stage appears in rare cases or at random depending on the progress of the game).

The restoration data to be stored is minimum data required to restore the game status at that time point, namely, it is the data such as the win/lose of the player, the gained game value, card information (card data in the case where the IC card is used), or the like. Incidentally, the “game status to be restored” is not limited to the game status identical to the game status at the check point. For example, in the casino game using the playing cards, it is sufficient that the tips as the game value are secured if the fault would occur during the game. In this embodiment, the data indicating tip information of its player and the opponent, the status of the playing cards, the action of the player (the betting amount specified by the betting operations, the action to pass, fold, or the like), for example, is stored as the restoration data.

The fault restoration means 18d is means for restoring the game status at least at the time point of the latest check point upon restoration of the fault including the power disconnection during executing the game, which reads out the restoration data from the non-volatile storage medium and automatically restores the game status immediately before the fault occurs based on the restoration data. For example, in the poker game, if the time point of occurrence of the fault, such as the power disconnection during the game, the forcible interruption of the game by a resetting operation by the player, or the like, is between the time point “when a hand/hand ranking is fixed” and the time point “when the win/lose is determined and the payout is distributed”, the status immediately before the occurrence of the fault (the latest status based on the restoration data) is restored including not only the “hand/hand ranking” but also the betting amount of its player as well as the hand ranking and the betting amount of the opponent, and the game value betted on a “stage” by the betting operations with the payout related thereto is restored.

At this time, in this embodiment, the game status at the latest time point is restored based on the restoration data at the latest check point, while the game status from the starting point of the game to the latest check point, or the game status from the latest check point among a group of the check points at the first timing to the time point when the restoration data was stored for the last time is sequentially reproduced. Note herein that, “the starting point of the game” herein refers to, if the game is interrupted during executing a main game composed of a plurality of rounds, the starting point of the game for the round of the main game, or if the game is interrupted during executing the sub-game composed of one-round game, the starting point of the sub-game.

In addition, upon restoring the game status, the fault restoration means 18d determines whether or not the latest check point is the first timing, and if it is the first timing, the game status at the latest check point is compensated by restoring the game status at that time point (the latest check point).

Meanwhile, if it is the second timing, the game status is restored to the status immediately before the occurrence of the fault, while it is determined whether or not the win/lose of the game is settled based on the information stored as the restoration data, such as the information of the hand ranking of the game medium (the hand ranking determined by the kind or combination of the cards), for example, and if it is determined that the win/lose is not settled, the game value in which a distribution destination as the payout is undetermined due to the win/lose being unsettled to thereby be pooled temporarily is restored to the status at the latest checkpoint. As a result of this, in the casino game for example, the game value in which the distribution destination as the payout is undetermined to thereby be kept temporarily by a dealer can be compensated without being lost. If the fault would occur at the timing after the first set of cards is dealt and while the game proceeds by repeating the additional betting operations and the deal of next set of cards, and thus at the timing when the game proceeding control means 18a has settled the win/lose but adjustment processing of tip data has not been performed, the restoration data is stored using the time point when the win/lose is settled as the check point. In this case, if the game status at the check point is restored but the adjustment processing of the tip data (processing to increase/decrease the game value possessed by each player) has not been performed after the win/lose is settled, the adjustment processing of the tip data and image display of the stage may be automatically performed in accordance with the result of the win/lose which has been already settled as restart processing of the game after restoring the game status at the check point.

In addition, although the win/lose has not been settled when the hand ranking, such as straight, flush, or the like, with which the player may win over the opponent is made in the poker game for example, or when two out of three pictures (such as “777”) with which the payout becomes huge appear or a probability to win increases with probability variation in a slot machine or a Pachinko game, the game status at (immediately before) the occurrence of the fault is compensated in this embodiment by restoring the status even when the fault such as the power disconnection would occur during the status. In this case, it may have a configuration in which the information indicating the status of the stage important for the player, such as that described above, is stored by including in the restoration data, and if the status is restored, the win/lose of the player is settled based on predetermined reference values or random numbers, for example, to perform the processing to increase/decrease the game value predetermined in accordance with the betting amount for the player as the result of the win/lose, as with the game being normally executed.

In this embodiment, one game is configured by a plurality of rounds of the poke game or the like, which is a betting game allowing additional betting after the first betting during the game of the round (from the status where the hand ranking is completed or about to be completed to the point when the win/lose is settled). In such a betting game, if the fault would occur during the game of the round proceeds in accordance with the action of the additional betting operations or the like, the game status at (immediately before) the occurrence of the fault and the game is restarted at that time point. In addition, as the game of the round is finished, the game is terminated without the game of the next round being continued. Incidentally, the game value possessed by the player at the time when the game is terminated is paid out for the player as the game value medium or the virtual game value by the payout operation (payout instruction by the player). For example, if the game apparatus is the medal game apparatus using the medals as the substitute coins, the tip currently possessed is exchanged with the medal based on the preset predetermined exchange rate, such as 10 tips for one medal upon performance of the payout operation, the medal payout mechanism is driven to pay out the medals to the return unit (in the case of a home game apparatus, pay out the game value corresponding to the medals), and the game is terminated. Here, a fraction produced in exchanging the possessed tips with the medals may be left on a game-side without being exchanged, or otherwise rounded up, rounded down, or rounded off. In addition, the game value medium to be inputted or paid out is not limited to the medals, but may be cash, money amount information for a credit card, or the virtual game value available for other games (that is, points for a point card or the like), for example.

Incidentally, if the power disconnection would occur during storing the restoration data, writing of the restoration data may not be finished. In order to address such a case, two sets of identical data are stored by the restoration data storage means 18c sequentially writing (twice in series) the identical data, the fault restoration means 18d determines whether or not the data is the complete data using a checksum or the like, and if it is determined that the data is incomplete, the other set of data is used for the restoration. Alternatively, it may have a configuration in which the restoration data storage means 18c stores the data at the latest check point and the data at the check point immediately before that point, and the status is restored using the latter data if the fault restoration means 18d determines that the data at the latest check point is incomplete.

The fault detection means 18e is means for detecting the fault which disables the game to proceed, which determines that there is the fault which disables the game to proceed to halt the game, if a open detection signal is inputted from an open/close detection sensor of a door of a game housing, if the fault (input/output error) of peripheral equipment, such as the display device, the non-volatile storage medium, or the like, is detected, if a channel fault detection signal is inputted from the communication control unit 17, or if a logic error in the program is detected, for example.

The sub-game execution means 18f is means for executing the sub-game, which is activated by the game proceeding control means 18a at a predetermined stage. In this example, it is activated if the player wins the game for a predetermined number of times (five times, for example), and the bonus game as the sub-game is executed which gives a predetermined amount of the game value when the character operated by the player passes a predetermined passing point. For example, there are provided a plurality of gates having three doors as the passing points on a route, the doors including a particular door with the game value being set, and the sub-game execution means 18f gives the predetermined game value to the player when the character operated by the player passes the particular door.

In that case, the sub-game execution means 18f activates the restoration data storage means 18c to cause the storage processing of the restoration data to be executed using the passing time point of the passing point as the first timing. For example, if the power disconnection would occur at the status where 1000 tips have been gained as the game value in the middle of the bonus game, the game can be restarted from the status where 1000 tips are gained. In addition, in the sub-game, the game stage determination means 18b may determine whether or not the probability for the game value to be given is high or not based on a predetermined determination reference value, and the storage processing of the restoration data may be performed using the time point when the probability is determined to be high or the time point when a special stage appears (it appears depending on the progress of the game or at random) where the game value to be gained is high as the second timing.

The card updating means 18g is means for updating the data of the IC card, which timely updates the data of the player recorded in the IC card attached to the game apparatus depending on the proceeding of the game. The data to be updated is playing record data of the player recorded corresponding to user identification information, which is the data of the wins/loses of the game, gained scores, experience points, a ranking indicating toughness of the player determined depending on the experience points or the like (information indicating a first-Dan level, a second-Dan level, or the like), for example. This playing record data is recorded in the IC card of the player at least once in N games (for example, N=30) using the playing record data of the current N games as playing history data. At this time, the card updating means 18g records the minimum data in the IC card as the playing history data. Incidentally, the IC card is not essential, and the game can be played without using the IC card.

The user identification information described above is configured by an unique ID (preliminarily given system-specific ID) and a user name to identify the IC card, wherein the user name is an arbitrary designation inputted by the player (in the case of the match against the CPU, the designation of the virtual player set by the CPU). The user name is displayed on a game screen, and in the on-line game utilizing the Internet, for example, also displayed on a screen of the game apparatus of a request source as a list of the upper-ranking user names among participants in accordance with a browsing request to the server. Note herein that the playing history data is not necessarily recorded in the IC card, it may also be recorded in other storage media, such as a memory stick, a memory card (registered trademark), or the like.

The card data storage means 18h is means for storing the updated data of the IC card at the check point, which uses the non-volatile storage medium in the storage unit 14 as a storage location. The fault restoration means 18 dreads out the updated data from the storage medium upon restoring the game status at the check point, and rewrites the recorded data of the IC card with the updated data corresponding to the check point, thereby compensating troubles due to data destruction caused by the power disconnection during updating or mismatching between the game data upon the game status being restored and the updated data of the IC card.

The game processing unit 18 is provided with other units including the unit to record the operation information of the player, so that a game image up to the check point is played back on the screen when the fault restoration means 18d restores the fault. At this time, the fault restoration means 18d receives an instruction of fast-forwarding the image or the like from the operating unit 13 during the playback, to vary the speed of the playback in accordance with the instruction. Here, content to be played back is “a process of exchange of the cards and the tips (card deal, additional betting, call/fold, or the like)” from the time point when the game of the round is started to the time point when the restoration data is stored immediately before the power disconnection, and a moving image to be sequentially displayed at predetermined speed. Here, the time point when the game of the round is started is the time point when the settlement of the win/lose and the distribution of the payout for the previous game are completed and the cards for the next game are dealt, in other words, the time point when it is internally fixed already as to which cards will be dealt to which player and which hand rankings will be made. Upon playback, if the power disconnection would occur between that time point and the time point when the settlement of the win/lose and the distribution of the payout are completed, the process of exchange of the cards and the tips is displayed.

In addition, although in this example the screen is displayed indicating “whether or not to continue the game” to inquire of the player after the distribution of the payout is completed, if the power disconnection would occur at this stage, the display returns to a title screen without performing the playback and replay. In this embodiment, at any case including the case described above, the gained payout (corresponding to the tips displayed on the screen) which is not paid out as the medals is always stored as a part of the restoration data (game status data). In addition, upon reading out the restoration data from the storage medium for restoration and playback, only the process (movement) of exchange of the cards and the tips is played back at the predetermined speed without including any of time when the player pondered.

Operation examples of the game apparatus according to the present invention with the configuration as described above will be described. Hereinbelow, the case where the game which simulates the poker game among the casino games is executed will be described as an example. In addition, the case where the game against the CPU is executed in a single-player mode will be described as an example. However, main operations related to the fault restoration processing are similar regardless of the kind of the game or the play mode of the game (three-player mode, five-player mode, the game against the CPU, the competitive type communication game, the competitive type on-line game, or the like).

First, an operation example of the game apparatus according to the present invention will be described in accordance with a flow of a flowchart of FIG. 3.

When a power source of the game apparatus is turned on, the control unit 11 of the game apparatus performs initial processing, such as checking of operations of the equipment or the like, followed by setting up a game processing program (software of the game processing unit 18) to activate the game processing unit 18 (game proceeding control means 18a) (Step S1). The game processing unit 18 determines whether or not a control mode of the game is a fault restoration mode (Step S2), and if it is the fault restoration mode, performs fault restoration processing which will be described later (Step S3), sets the control mode of the game to a standby mode, and then the process proceeds to Step S4. Meanwhile, if the control mode of the game is not the fault restoration mode at Step S2, the game apparatus is in a standby state until a medal input detection signal is inputted, the screen is touched, or the IC card is inserted, and a predetermined advertising screen is displayed on the image display unit 15. In the standby state, if an attachment detecting signal of the IC card possessed by the player is inputted from the card processing unit 12, a card flag indicating that the card is present is turned on (Step S4).

When the input of the medal is detected by the medal processing unit 19, the screen is touched, or the IC card is inserted, the game processing unit 18 cancels the standby state, and also displays the game screen selected by the player to start the game (in this example, the poker game against the CPU). At this time, if the card flag is on, the data of the IC card is read into the memory by the card processing unit 12, and if the data of the player is recorded (if the player plays the game for the second time or more) therein, the data of the player indicating the user name and the toughness of the player is displayed on the game screen (Step S5).

When the poker game is started, the game processing unit 18 converts the inputted medals to the game value (for example, one medal=ten tips), turns on an in-game flag, and sets an initial betting amount (tip for ante). At this time, the restoration data storage means 18c of the game processing unit 18 stores the restoration data in the non-volatile storage medium using the time point when the initial betting amount is set as the check point (Step S6). Subsequently, the game processing unit 18 (the game proceeding control means 18a) shuffles the cards based on the random numbers or the like, followed by displaying the image of dealing the cards to the player and the virtual player (player operated by the CPU) (Step S7).

The game stage determination means 18b of the game processing unit 18 determines whether or not the kind and order of deal to the players and the virtual players are fixed as checking processing of the game stage (Step S8, S9). If it is determined that the kind and order of deal are fixed, it activates the restoration data storage means 18c to store the restoration data using that time point as the check point (Step S10).

The player declares “bet”, “fold”, “pass”, or the like by touching the appropriate button (button for instructing a type of the action) displayed on a touch panel. An order or rule to declare is similar to that of the common poker game, so that the detailed description thereof will be omitted.

Here, the “seven stud poker” in this embodiment is the game where, different from a “closed poker” in which the players play by exchanging the cards while not opening all of own hand, three closed cards (not open to the opponent) and four open cards are dealt to each player instead of exchanging the cards and the players compete using the best hand ranking made by five cards among the dealt cards. Specifically, three closed cards (hand) are first dealt to each player. The players check own hands. Next, one open card is dealt to each player. The first betting is done at this time. After the betting, another open card is dealt to each player, and then the additional betting is done by the players. Similarly, the deal of the card (the cards are additionally dealt when the betting amounts of all the players reach the same amount) and the additional betting are performed alternatively until seven cards are dealt to each player. Then, seven cards are dealt to each player and the betting is established, the closed cards which are dealt first are opened the win/lose is settled.

In this embodiment, if the player performs the “additional betting” the player selects the button “50”, “100” “150”, “200”, or the like indicating the betting amount. The game processing unit 18 receives the input of the detection signal of the touch panel to determine the kind of the button instructed by the player, and if it detects that the “betting” operation is performed (Step S1), activates the restoration data storage means 18c to cause it to store the restoration data using that time point as the check point (Step S12).

Subsequently, the betting amounts of the respective players who performed the betting operation are compared to each other, and if all the betting amounts are the same, it is determined that the round is finished without any player raises, the hand rankings of the respective players (the player and the virtual player) who have not fold are compared with each other to determine the winner, and a predetermined game value is paid out in accordance with a payout rate of the hand ranking while decreasing the amount of the game value possessed by the loser. Then, the restoration data storage means 18c is activated to store the restoration data using that time point as the check point (Step S13).

Subsequently, it is determined whether or not the player is the winner (Step S14), and if the player wins a certain number of games, the bonus game is executed as the sub-game. In the sub-game, as described above, when the character operated by the player passes the predetermined passing point (checkpoint), the predetermined amount of the game value is given and the restoration data is stored (Step S15).

Here, for every check point involving the change in the game value, such as at the time point when the additional betting operation is performed by each player, when the win/lose of the game is settled and the payout is distributed to each player (adjustment of the tip data), or the like, the restoration data storage means 18c activates the restoration data storage means 18c to cause it to store the restoration data using that time point as the check point.

Then, as a result of the match, if the player is the loser and a game termination button is selected, or the sub-game executed at Step S14 described above is terminated, medal payout processing is performed by a payout instruction by the player operating a PAYOUT button. In the medal payout processing, the number of medals corresponding to a total amount of the game value of the player is calculated to drive the medal payout mechanism, the calculated number of medals is paid out to the return unit while the in-game flag being turned off, and the control mode of the game is set to the standby mode to terminate the game. At this time, if the card flag is on, the data recorded in the IC card including the playing records of the player (the wins/loses of the game of the player, the gained game value, the experience points, the ranking, or the like) is updated, and the card flag is turned off to terminate the game (Step S16).

As described above, during the game, rather than storing all the operation information during a predetermined period, the restoration data for every check point involving the change in the game value (at least the first timing and the second timing described above) required to restore the game status including the betting amount at that time point is stored in the non-volatile storage medium. In addition, if the fault which disables the game to proceed is detected by the fault detection means 18e during the game, the game processing unit 18 (the game proceeding control means 18a) halts the game and also outputs fault detection information indicating the occurrence and kind of the fault via the image display unit 15, the audio output unit 16, or the communication control unit 17. At this time, it may have a configuration in which the restoration data is stored by activating the restoration data storage means 18c using the time point when the fault is detected as the check point.

Next, an operation example of the game apparatus at the time of fault restoration will be described in accordance with a flow of a flowchart of FIG. 4. Here, the control information of the game (the control mode, the flags, or the like) is stored in the non-volatile storage medium along with the restoration data.

<Start of Fault Restoration Processing>

When the power source of the game apparatus is turned on, the game processing unit 18 (the game proceeding control means 18a) is activated by the control unit 11 of the game apparatus, as is normally performed. The game processing unit 18 determines whether or not the control mode of the game is the fault restoration mode, and if it is the fault restoration mode, activates the fault restoration means 18d to cause it to start the fault restoration processing (Step S21).

The fault restoration means 18d first reads out the control information of the game (the control mode, the flags, or the like) from the non-volatile storage medium, and determines which status among the following statuses (C1) to (C3) is relevant when the fault occurs. (C1) The status after the tip for ante is bet, and where the adjustment processing of the tip data corresponding to the win/lose of the game of the round (processing to increase/decrease the virtual game value possessed by the player) is completed. (C2) The status after the tip for ante is bet, before the adjustment processing of the tip data corresponding to the win/lose of the game of the round is performed, and before the cards are dealt. (C3) The status after the tip for ante is bet, before the adjustment processing of the tip data corresponding to the win/lose of the game of the round is performed, and the cards are dealt (the status where the kind and order of deal of the cards are fixed), or the status where the sub-game (bonus game) is being executed and before the adjustment processing of the tip data is performed.

If the fault restoration means 18d determines that the fault has occurred in the status (C1), a predetermined advertising screen is displayed on the image display unit 15, as with the case where the power source is normally turned on, and the standby status is established. That is, no processing as the fault restoration processing of the game is performed. Meanwhile, if it is determined that the fault has occurred in the status (C2), the data of the game value possessed by the player at that time point (the tip for ante and the additional betting amount, or the game value gained in the sub-game (bonus point)) is restored, followed by returning the game value to the player. At this time, as shown in FIG. 5, a screen G1 indicating that the game is invalid and the betting amount XX is returned is displayed (Step S22). Then, the control mode is set to standby mode to establish the standby status, the predetermined advertising screen is displayed on the image display unit 15, and the fault restoration processing is terminated (Step S23).

<Card Restoration Processing>

Meanwhile, if the in-game flag is on, it is determined whether or not the card flag is on (Step S24), and if the card flag is on, it is determined that the IC card (the card for recording the playing history data of the player or the like) is used in the game, and as shown in FIG. 6, a card restoration screen G2 indicating that card restoration is started is displayed. At this time, if it is determined that the IC card is not inserted based on the attachment detecting signal from the card processing unit 12, a message prompting the player to insert the card into the attachment unit of the game apparatus is displayed on the card restoration screen to instruct the player to insert the IC card (Step S25). If cancel is instructed, that is, the instruction not to perform the card restoration is performed without inserting the IC cared, by operating a cancel button (in the example of FIG. 6, [RESET KEY]+[EJECT]) (Step S26), the process proceeds to Step S30 and game restoration processing is performed.

Meanwhile, if it is determined that the IC card is inserted, reading of the data of the IC card is tried, and if it is determined that the IC card is damaged due to the occurrence of a reading error or the like, this status is displayed and the IC card is ejected, then the process proceeds to Step S30 and the game restoration processing is started. Here, if the data is not properly written due to the fault during writing of the data or the like, the data is restored at Step S29 which will be described later. Incidentally, if the IC card is damaged, it may have a configuration in which the IC card is restored by replacing it with a new IC card (Step S27).

If it is determined that the IC card is not damaged, it is determined that a wrong card is attached if the system-specific ID of the card stored in the game apparatus is not identical with the system-specific ID of the card read out upon the fault restoration, and the IC card is then ejected and the process returns to Step S26, and a screen prompting the player to insert the correct card is displayed (Step S28).

If it is determined that the card is not damaged and the correct card is attached, the updated data of the IC card at that check point is read out from the non-volatile storage medium, and the recorded data of the IC card (including data, such as the playing records, the Dan-level, or the like, up to the game immediately before the fault) is rewritten (overwritten) with the recorded data up to the above check point, thereby restoring the recorded data of the IC card while synchronizing with the restoration point of the game status, and the card restoration processing is terminated (Step S29).

It should be noted that even when a shop clerk restarts the game apparatus by turning on the power source (the IC card is ejected at this time point), the computer program may not be activated if the apparatus is broken down. In this case, since restoration operation such as replacement of the hardware or the like may take time, the case is assumed to happen where the player cannot wait and bring home the IC card. In such a case, even when the cause of breakdown is found, the restoration operation is finished, and the apparatus is restarted by turning on the power source, the card restoration processing cannot be performed because the card is absent. In order to address such a case, in this embodiment, the restoration processing of the IC card is skipped to shift the processing to the game restoration processing by the shop clerk operating the apparatus to set a restoration mode without the IC card. However, in this case, the data of the IC card is stored in the storage medium on a server-side, and when the player inserts the IC card for the next time, it is reflected in the card data. That is, when the game apparatus detects the IC card being inserted by the player, even in a normal case, it determines whether or not the data corresponding the ID of that IC card is stored on the server-side, and if the data is stored, it receives the data from the server and performing the processing to write it in the IC card.

Meanwhile, if the in-game flag is on and the card flag is off at Step S24, or if the restoration processing of the IC card is finished at Step S27, the restoration processing of the game is started.

<Game Restoration Processing>

The fault restoration means 18d, if it is determined that the betting is required to be secured, that is, determined that the fault has occurred in the status (C3), displays information indicating that the status at the occurrence of the fault is reproduced by overlaying on a match screen G3 under the restoration, as shown in FIG. 7. In this example, the image of the normal game (or the bonus game) from the time point when the game of the round is started to the latest check point (the check point immediately before the occurrence of the fault such as the power disconnection or the like) is played back on the touch-sensitive display at the predetermined speed, and the game is proceeded to the time point at or immediately before the occurrence of the fault such as the power disconnection or the like. The content displayed at this time is the moving image only indicating the process (movement) of exchange of the cards and the tips without including any of time when the player pondered, as described above. During this playback, the player can instruct fast-forwarding or skipping the image to the next stage by operating a skip button or the like on the touch panel, or view the information by operating the buttons (Step S30).

Here, since the playback processing at Step S30 described above is not essential for restoring the game status at the check point, it may be omitted.

When the playback up to the check point is finished at Step S30 described above, the fault restoration means 18d displays a screen G4 indicating that the game is restarted, and also displays the time until the game is restarted (in this example, “5” which means five seconds) by overlaying it on the screen, as shown in FIG. 8, wherein the time is counted down by one second (Step S31).

During the playback of the game image at Step S30 or during the countdown at Step S31, the fault restoration means 18d automatically restores the game status immediately before the fault has occurred, such as the betting amount, the gained game value, the win/lose of the player, the hand, or the like, for example, based on the restoration data read out from the non-volatile storage medium.

This case is the case where the fault has occurred in the status (C1), that is, the status after the tip for ante is bet, before the adjustment processing of the tip data corresponding to the win/lose of the game of the round is performed, and the kind and order of deal of the cards are fixed (the status after the second timing), or the status where the sub-game is being executed and before the adjustment processing of the tip data is performed.

Upon restoration of the game value, the fault restoration means 18d restores the data such as the game value possessed by the player at the latest check point (the tip for ante and the additional betting amount, or the game value gained in the sub-game) or the like. At this time, if it is determined that the win/lose of the game is not settled based on the restoration data, the status at the latest time point is restored including the game value in which the distribution destination as the payout is undetermined to thereby be pooled temporarily, as described above.

Here, the restoration processing from the fault after the additional betting operation will be described.

The poker game according to this embodiment is not the game in which the win/lose is always settled immediately by the hand ranking of each player once the kind and order of the cards are fixed, but the game which proceeds by the additional betting by the player and the opponent after the hand ranking is fixed and in which the payout gained when the player wins with the hand ranking (or the amount lost when the player loses) varies depending on the win/lose determination after the additional betting.

In such a game, if the power disconnection would occur, for example, before the win/lose is settled, the fault restoration means 18d reproduces the betting of its player as well as the betting of the opponent upon restarting the game to compensate the betting amount which was supposed to be gained if the game proceeded without the power disconnection. For example, the fault restoration means 18d recognizes the game stage upon occurrence of the fault based on the restoration data, and if it is determined that the fault has occurred at the timing when the player himself/herself and the opponent are allowed to perform the additional betting after the hand ranking is fixed and before the win/lose is settled, performs the reproduction of the game status and replay of the game (restart of the game of the round at next Step S33) (Step S32).

<Game Restart Processing>

Next, the game is restarted at the time point when the time is counted down at Step S31 to “0” (Step S33). The game restarted at Step S33 is the game starting from the status (C3), wherein, as the game of the round is finished, termination processing is performed without the next game being continued (Step S34).

<Termination Processing of Fault Restoration>

As the termination processing, it is determined first whether or not the card flag is on, and if it is on, the latest data including the playing records of the player recorded in the IC card is written, followed by the card being ejected (Step S35). Subsequently, with a medal payout instruction by the player, the medal payout mechanism is driven to pay out the number of medals corresponding to the total amount of the game value at the time point when the game is terminated to the return unit. Then, the control mode is set to the standby mode to establish the standby status, the predetermined advertising screen is displayed on the image display unit 15 (Step S36), and all of the fault restoration processing is terminated.

Other Example(s)

While the seven stud poker game has been described as the example in the embodiment described above, the present invention can also be applied to other kinds of poker games (five stud poker, low stud poker, draw poker, lowball, deuce-to-seven, flop poker, or the like). In addition, the game to be executed is not limited to the poker game, but it is sufficient that the game is the computer game involving the betting operation (a simulation game of blackjack, slot, baccarat, roulette, a horserace, a motorboat race, a motor race, mah-jongg, or the like).

Particularly, the present invention can be suitably applied to the game in which the win/lose is not settled immediately after the hand is fixed but the win/lose of each player is settled at last at the time point when the players who have not fold open the hands, and thus the kind of the game or the hardware configuration is not limited to that described in this embodiment. In other words, the present invention can be appropriately utilized as long as, by the rule of the game, the game applies a rule that the processing performed when the power disconnection occurs, that is “from which status the game is restarted” upon restarting the game, may vary due to “the game is abnormally interrupted after the hand is fixed and before the win/lose is settled” by the power disconnection.

In addition, while the present invention has been described using the commercial medal game apparatus as the example, it can also be applied to the commercial game apparatus other than the medal game apparatus (a Pachinko machine, the slot machine, or the like).

Moreover, while the embodiment described above has been described using the case where the restoration data is stored in the non-volatile storage medium in the game apparatus as the example, it may have a configuration in which the data is stored in the storage medium on the server-side connected with the game apparatus via a network or in the external storage medium (the storage medium possessed by the player), such as the IC card attached to the attachment unit of the game apparatus or the like. Furthermore, while the case where the check points and the restoration data are preliminarily set has been described as the example, it may have a configuration in which, in response to calling from the game program, a group of data specified at that time point is stored, and where the fault is restored by reading out the group of data at the latest time point or the specified time point.