Title:
METHOD OF GAMING, GAME CONTROLLER, AND A GAMING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of gaming comprising conducting at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating a game outcome; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.



Inventors:
Bennett, Nicholas Luke (Manly Vale, AU)
Curtin, John Andrew (Mortdale, AU)
Application Number:
12/192858
Publication Date:
07/09/2009
Filing Date:
08/15/2008
Assignee:
ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED (Lane Cove, AU)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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20060194628Multi-play poker apparatus and games with bonus featureAugust, 2006Novellie
20090270176PERIPHERAL UPDATE PERIPHERAL IN A WAGERING GAME SYSTEMOctober, 2009Motyl et al.
20030008715Program-controlled, money-operated entertainment and gaming apparatusJanuary, 2003Huber et al.
20090253515SESSION MONITORING ON GAMING MACHINESOctober, 2009Carr-greg
20070197297Apparatus and Methods of Physical Game ComponentsAugust, 2007Witchey
20040072618Random bonus prize shown on the system displayApril, 2004Bartholomew et al.
20030153377Poker with bonus round and related methodAugust, 2003James Sr.



Primary Examiner:
LEE, WEI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCANDREWS HELD & MALLOY, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A method of gaming comprising conducting at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating a game outcome; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein each game round is conducted as a dual game round.

3. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein each game round during a feature game is conducted as a dual game round.

4. A method as claimed in claim 1, comprising conducting the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

5. A method as claimed in claim 4, comprising conducting the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

6. A method as claimed in claim 1, comprising conducting the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

7. A method as claimed in claim 1, comprising conducting a sequence of dual game rounds.

8. A method as claimed in claim 7, comprising conducting the sequence as a free game sequence.

9. A method as claimed in claim 1, comprising randomly determining whether to make the special award by: allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made; randomly selecting a number from the range; and comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

10. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the special award is one or more of: a prize amount; one or more free games; one or more repeat win games; addition of a special symbol to the game; and an award of a feature game.

11. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the dual game round is a game round in: a spinning reel game; a dice game; a ball draw game; a pin and ball game; or a card game.

12. A game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to: conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating a game outcome; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

13. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

14. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to conduct each game round during a feature game as a dual game round.

15. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

16. A game controller as claimed in claim 15, arranged to conduct the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

17. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

18. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to conduct a sequence of dual game rounds.

19. A game controller as claimed in claim 18, arranged to conduct the sequence as a free game sequence.

20. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, arranged to randomly determining whether to make the special award by: allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made; randomly selecting a number from the range; and comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

21. A game controller as claimed in claim 12 comprising: a outcome generator arranged to generate the game outcome; a prize evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and a special award module arranged to determine whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

22. A game controller as claimed in claim 21 wherein the special award module is arranged to determine whether to make a special award each time the outcome generator generates a game outcome.

23. A game controller as claimed in claim 12, implemented, at least in part, by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

24. A gaming system comprising: a display; and a game controller arranged to: conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating a game outcome for display on the display; determining whether to make an award in respect of the displayed game outcome; and randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

25. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

26. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round during a feature game as a dual game round.

27. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

28. A gaming system as claimed in claim 27, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

29. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

30. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct a sequence of dual game rounds.

31. A gaming system as claimed in claim 30, wherein the game controller is arranged to conduct the sequence as a free game sequence.

32. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is arranged to randomly determining whether to make the special award by: allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made; randomly selecting a number from the range; and comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

33. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24 wherein the game controller comprises: a outcome generator arranged to generate the game outcome; a prize evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and a special award module arranged to determine whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

34. A gaming system as claimed in claim 33, wherein the special award module is arranged to determine whether to make a special award each time the outcome generator generates a game outcome.

35. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the game controller is implemented, at least in part, by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

36. A gaming system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the display forms part of a player interface further comprising a bet mechanism to enable the player to place a bet.

37. A method of gaming comprising conducting at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome; and determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

38. A method as claimed in claim 37, comprising conducting each game round as a dual game round.

39. A method as claimed in claim 37, wherein the secondary game is a feature game.

40. A method as claimed in claim 39, wherein the feature game is a second screen feature game.

41. A method as claimed in claim 37, comprising conducting the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

42. A game controller for a gaming system, the gaming controller arranged to: conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome; and determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

43. A game controller as claimed in claim 42, arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

44. A game controller as claimed in claim 42, wherein the secondary game is a feature game.

45. A game controller as claimed in claim 44, wherein the feature game is a second screen feature game.

46. A game controller as claimed in claim 42, arranged to conduct the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

47. A game controller as claimed in claim 42, comprising: a base game controller arranged to generate the primary game outcome and determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome; a secondary outcome generator arranged to generate the secondary game outcome; and an evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

48. A game controller as claimed in claim 42, constituted at least in part by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

49. A gaming system comprising: at least one display providing first and second display areas; and a game controller arranged to: conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by: generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game in the first display area; determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome in the second display area; and determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

50. A gaming system as claimed in claim 42, arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

51. A gaming system as claimed in claim 49, wherein the secondary game is a feature game.

52. A gaming system as claimed in claim 51, wherein the feature game is a second screen feature game.

53. A gaming system as claimed in claim 49, arranged to conduct the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

54. A gaming system as claimed in claim 53, comprising a bet mechanism operable by the player to place the wager.

55. A gaming system as claimed in claim 49, wherein the game controller comprises: a base game controller arranged to generate the primary game outcome and determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome; a secondary outcome generator arranged to generate the secondary game outcome; and an evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

56. A gaming system as claimed in claim 49, wherein the game controller is constituted at least in part by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

57. A method as claimed in claim 1 and further including a computer program code which when executed implements the method of claim 1.

58. A method according to claim 57 and further including a computer readable medium comprising said computer program.

59. A method according to claim 57 and further including a data signal comprising said computer program code.

60. A method according to claim 57 and further transmitting said program code.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a non-provisional application, which claims priority to Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 200790445 filed Aug. 17, 2007 and Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 2008900351 filed Jan. 25, 2008, which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a method of gaming, a game controller and a gaming system.

In some existing gaming machines, such as slot machines, prizes are awarded based on whether a randomly set of selected symbols matches a pattern set out in a pay table. For example, on a five reel slot machine with a card based theme, prizes might be awarded for the pattern Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 on a single pay line.

In some prior art gaming machines mystery prizes are awarded which are triggered by a pattern which is not identified in the pay table and is typically of an obscure nature, such as symbols position three on reel 1, position 5 on reel 2 etc. The symbol positions chosen for the mystery prize typically give a required frequency of mystery prize award. The choice of position is also determined by the game designer to avoid other pay outs which could cause confusion or push a prize over a total allowable limit for the game. As a result such mystery prizes do not occur at the same time as a jackpot prize.

There is a need for an alternative gaming system.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, the invention provides a method of gaming comprising conducting at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:

generating a game outcome;

determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and

randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

In an embodiment, each game round is conducted as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, each game round during a feature game is conducted as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting a sequence of dual game rounds.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting the sequence as a free game sequence.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises randomly determining whether to make the special award by:

    • allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made;
    • randomly selecting a number from the range; and
    • comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

In an embodiment, the special award is one or more of:

a prize amount;

one or more free games;

one or more repeat win games;

addition of a special symbol to the game; and

an award of a feature game.

In an embodiment, the dual game round is a game round in:

a spinning reel game;

a dice game;

a ball draw game;

a pin and ball game; or

a card game.

In a second aspect, the invention provides a game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to:

conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:

    • generating a game outcome;
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and
    • randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round during a feature game as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct a sequence of dual game rounds.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the sequence as a free game sequence.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to randomly determining whether to make the special award by:

    • allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made;
    • randomly selecting a number from the range; and
    • comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller comprises:

    • a outcome generator arranged to generate the game outcome;
    • a prize evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and
    • a special award module arranged to determine whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

In an embodiment, the special award module is arranged to determine whether to make a special award each time the outcome generator generates a game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is implemented, at least in part, by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

In a third aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising:

a display; and

a game controller arranged to:

    • conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:
    • generating a game outcome for display on the display;
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the displayed game outcome; and
    • randomly determining whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round during a feature game as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to receipt of a bet.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the dual game round irrespective of the type of bet received.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the at least one dual game round in response to a trigger condition being met.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct a sequence of dual game rounds.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the sequence as a free game sequence.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to randomly determining whether to make the special award by:

    • allocating at least one number of a range of numbers to a winning outcome in relation to which a special award is to be made;
    • randomly selecting a number from the range; and
    • comparing the selected number with the allocated at least one number to determine whether there is a winning outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller comprises:

    • a outcome generator arranged to generate the game outcome;
    • a prize evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome; and
    • a special award module arranged to determine whether to make a special award independently of the game outcome.

In an embodiment, the special award module is arranged to determine whether to make a special award each time the outcome generator generates a game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is implemented, at least in part, by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

In an embodiment, the display forms part of a player interface further comprising a bet mechanism to enable the player to place a bet.

In a fourth aspect, the invention provides a method of gaming comprising conducting at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:

    • generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game;
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome;
    • generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome; and
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting each game round as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the secondary game is a feature game.

In an embodiment, the feature game is a second screen feature game.

In an embodiment, the method, comprises conducting the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a game controller for a gaming system, the gaming controller arranged to:

    • conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:
    • generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game;
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome;
    • generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome; and
    • determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the secondary game is a feature game.

In an embodiment, feature game is a second screen feature game.

In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to conduct the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

In an embodiment, the game controller comprises:

    • a base game controller arranged to generate the primary game outcome and determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome;
    • a secondary outcome generator arranged to generate the secondary game outcome; and
    • an evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is constituted at least in part by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

In a sixth aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising:

at least one display providing first and second display areas; and

a game controller arranged to:

    • conduct at least one dual game round, each dual game round being conducted by:
      • generating and displaying a primary game outcome of a primary game in the first display area;
      • determining whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome;
      • generating and displaying a secondary game outcome of a secondary game independently of the primary game outcome in the second display area; and
      • determining whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

In an embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to conduct each game round as a dual game round.

In an embodiment, the secondary game is a feature game.

In an embodiment, the feature game is a second screen feature game.

In an embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to conduct the primary and secondary games in response to receipt of a single wager from a player.

In an embodiment, the gaming system comprises a bet mechanism operable by the player to place the wager.

In an embodiment, the game controller comprises:

    • a base game controller arranged to generate the primary game outcome and determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome;
    • a secondary outcome generator arranged to generate the secondary game outcome; and
    • an evaluator arranged to determine whether to make an award in respect of the secondary game outcome.

In an embodiment, the game controller is constituted at least in part by a processor executing program code stored in a memory.

In a seventh aspect, the invention provides computer program code which when executed implements the above methods.

In an eighth aspect, the invention provides a computer readable medium comprising the computer program code.

In a ninth aspect, the invention provides a data signal comprising the computer program code.

In a tenth aspect, the invention extends to transmitting the above program code.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments of the invention are described in relation to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the core components of a gaming system.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a stand alone gaming machine;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the functional components of a gaming machine;

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming system;

FIG. 6 is a further block diagram of a gaming system;

FIG. 7 is a flow chart of an embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of another gaming system;

FIG. 9 is a flow chart of another embodiment; and

FIG. 10 is a screen shot of an example.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings, there is shown exemplary gaming systems having game controllers arranged to implement games which involve dual game rounds. In one exemplary embodiment a game outcome is generated, it is determined whether to make an award in respect of the game outcome and, independently, it is randomly determined whether to make a special award. In another embodiment, primary and secondary game outcomes are generated and it is determined whether to make an award in respect of each outcome. In an embodiment, each game round of the game is conducted as a dual game round, without requiring any special bets. The gaming system can take a number of different forms.

In a first form, a stand alone gaming machine is provided wherein all or most components required for implementing the game are present in a player operable gaming machine.

In a second form, a distributed architecture is provided wherein some of the components required for implementing the game are present in a player operable gaming machine and some of the components required for implementing the game are located remotely relative to the gaming machine. For example, a “thick client” architecture may be used wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable gaming machine and part of the game is executed remotely, such as by a gaming server; or a “thin client” architecture may be used wherein most of the game is executed remotely such as by a gaming server and a player operable gaming machine is used only to display audible and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player.

However, it will be understood that other arrangements are envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming machine is networked to a gaming server and the respective functions of the gaming machine and the gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming machine mode, “thick client” mode or “thin client” mode depending on the game being played, operating conditions, and so on. Other variations will be apparent to persons skilled in the art.

Irrespective of the form, the gaming system has several core components. At the broadest level, the core components are a player interface 50 and a game controller 60 as illustrated in FIG. 1. The player interface is arranged to enable manual interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes the input/output components required for the player to enter instructions and play the game.

Components of the player interface may vary from embodiment to embodiment but will typically include a credit mechanism 52 to enable a player to input credits and receive payouts, one or more displays 54, a game play mechanism 56 that enables a player to input game play instructions (e.g. to place bets), and one or more speakers 58.

The game controller 60 is in data communication with the player interface and typically includes a processor 62 that processes the game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and outputs game play outcomes to the display. Typically, the game play instructions are stored as program code in a memory 64 but can also be hardwired. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server.

A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which are displayed representations of a game 16 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism 24 which in this example includes a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. Other credit input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. A player marketing module (not shown) having a reading device may also be provided for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. The player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device.

A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.

The display 14 shown in FIG. 2 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type.

FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of FIG. 2.

The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.

The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers.

In the example shown in FIG. 3, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 including one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107, a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation.

In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the central controller, server or database.

FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.

It is also possible for the operative components of the gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 to be provided remotely from the game controller 101.

FIG. 5 shows a gaming system 200 in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 10,100 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, or may have simplified functionality depending on the requirements for implementing game play. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.

One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.

In a thick client embodiment, game server 205 implements part of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 implements part of the game. With this embodiment, as both the game server and the gaming device implement part of the game, they collectively provide a game controller. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided.

In a thin client embodiment, game server 205 implements most or all of the game played by a player using a gaming machine 202 and the gaming machine 202 essentially provides only the player interface. With this embodiment, the game server 205 provides the game controller. The gaming machine will receive player instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. In a thin client embodiment, the gaming machines could be computer terminals, e.g. PCs running software that provides a player interface operable using standard computer input and output components.

Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming network 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.

The gaming network 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided. Further, persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a plurality of games servers could be provided to run different games or a single game server may run a plurality of different games as required by the terminals.

Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown a gaming controller 60 having a processor 62 which implements a series of modules including a random number generator module 621, an outcome generator module 622, a prize evaluator 623, a special award module 624 and a display controller 625. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that not all modules need to be implemented by the processor 62. In other embodiments, for example, the random number generator 621 may be provided as a dedicated hardware circuit is data communication with the game controller 60.

In the embodiment, when the player initiates a play of the gaming system by placing a bet using the player interface 50, the outcome generator 622 employs the symbol selector 622a to select symbols from the symbol data 641 using the random number generator 621. The game outcome thus produced is displayed on display 54 under control of the display controller 625. Accordingly, the game outcome in the embodiment results in the display of a plurality of symbols at a set of display positions. Where the embodiment embodies a reel type game, the symbols will be displayed as forming part of a plurality of reels. The prize evaluator 623 then determines whether the pattern of symbols is in a pay table specified by prize data 643 in memory 64 and determines whether to award a prize. In the case of a reel type game, this also involves determining whether the pattern of symbols is on a play line being played by the player. Any awarded prize is displayed on display 54 by the display controller 625.

Independently of the award evaluation by the prize evaluator 623, a special award module 624 instructs the random number generator 621 to select a number from a range of numbers specified by range data 644. The special award module 624 then compares the selected number to determine whether it corresponds to one or more allocated numbers 644a, and if so makes a special award. Any special award is displayed on the display 54 under control of the display controller 625.

Thus, the method of the random award is different to prior art systems. In particular, it is possible to randomly win the special award concurrently with winning a jackpot at the same time a feature is won.

In the embodiment, the special award module 624 is arranged to determine whether the special award is to be won during each game round. Accordingly it will be understood that such game rounds are dual game rounds in the sense that two separate award determinations are made. It will also be appreciated that there may be more than one game round in a play of the game, for example when a series of free spins is triggered in a spinning reel type game. In alternative embodiments, the dual game rounds may only be available during a limited part of the game, e.g. a feature game. It will also be appreciated that in an advantageous embodiment a special bet does not need to made in order to access the dual game rounds.

The prizes that can be awarded as special prizes can be any prizes known in the art including but not limited to:

    • a prize amount,
    • free games,
    • repeat win games where a win in a prior game is repeated on each of the next end spins,
    • adding a special symbols such as a wild symbol to the reels of a slot machine,
    • award of a feature game.

A person skilled in the art will appreciate that the embodiment can be applied to all types of games including slot machine games with spinning reels, card games, dice games, ball draw games such as Keno or Bingo, and pin and ball games such as Pachinko.

If there is a limit on the maximum prize that can be awarded, and it is determined to make a special award concurrently with making an award for the maximum prize or to make an award which is sufficient to exceed the limit, the special award can be deferred.

A person skilled in the art will appreciate that it is possible to randomly win the special prize repeatedly. For example, on a series of five deals in a card game.

A person skilled in the art will appreciate that while the above description has been made in connection with the single game controller which would typically be implemented on an electronic gaming machine, it is possible for the special award module to be located remotely from the game controller 60. For example, each time the outcome generator generates an outcome it may make a request to a independent server for a special award module to advise whether a special award would be made. In a further example, a system connected to a gaming machine via a player marketing module could monitor the game outcome of each game round and independently determine whether to make a special award.

The method 700 of the embodiment is summarized in FIG. 7. A bet is received 710 and a plurality of symbols are selected 720 in order to generate a game outcome. It is determined 730 based on the game outcome whether there is a win. If there is a win a prize is awarded 740. If there is no win the method proceeds to obtaining a random number 750. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that irrespective of whether a prize is awarded based on the game outcome, a random number is obtained 750 and it is determined whether it is a winning number 760 and hence whether to award a prize 770 or to proceed to the end 780 of the dual game round.

In an alternative exemplary embodiment of FIG. 8, the gaming system is described as being arranged in a manner to implement the game as a secondary, feature game which runs in a top screen of a top box 26 while, another game, referred to as the base game runs simultaneously in the bottom screen 14 such that the feature game runs concurrently with the base game and the gaming system effectively provides a dual game round where for each play made by the player, an outcome is generated for each of the base and secondary games.

It will also be appreciated that separate displays need not necessarily be provided. This is illustrated in the functional block diagram of FIG. 8 which shows a first display area 854A and a second display area 854B as forming part of the one or more displays 854 of the player interface 850 and could be implemented on a single display or two displays. In the embodiment, the secondary game is conducted each time the base game is conducted. In another embodiment, the secondary game may be conducted only after a trigger event occurs in the base game, for example, during a feature game composed of free spins, the secondary game may be conducted concurrently with each free spin.

Referring now to FIG. 8, a player operates credit mechanism 852 to establish a credit on the game controller which is stored as meter data 844. A player than operates game player mechanism 856 to place a bet. The bet which is placed will depend on the nature of the base game and how bets placed in the base game are related to the secondary game. In the embodiment, the player's bet in the base game is advantageously used to determine the player's prospects in the secondary games. In an alternative embodiment, the player may place specific bets in base and secondary games.

In the embodiment, the base game is a spinning reel type game where a player makes a wager by selecting a number of lines to play which are known as “pay” or “win” lines and an amount to bet per line. In other embodiments, players may make a wager in other ways, for example by selecting a number of reels to play. The player specified wager is provided to the base game controller 821 which carries out a base game in accordance with base game rules 845 including determining whether to award the prizes. The base game controller controls the first display area 854A to display the outcome by means of display controller 825 and updates meters 844 to reflect the deduction of credit for the bet and any wins by virtue of the outcome of the base game. The base game controller 821 also advises the secondary outcome generator of the amount bet per line. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the secondary outcome generator 822 could also obtain this data in another way, for example by retrieving it from a defined place in memory 864.

Secondary outcome generator 822 implements the secondary game in accordance with secondary game rules 842. In this embodiment, the secondary outcome generator 822 is arranged to determine whether to award a player the current value of the jackpot prize specified by jackpot data 843.

In the embodiment, the secondary game rules 842 specify a grid made up of display positions. One pair of opposed sides of the grid are assigned to a major jackpot prize and the other pair of sides of the grid are assigned to a minor jackpot prize. The number of display positions in the grid can be set in accordance with the requirements of the game designer. In one example, there may be five display positions along one axis and seven display positions along another axis. The longer axis being the one linking the two sides associated with the major jackpot prize such that it is harder to win the major jackpot prize than the minor jackpot prize.

In the embodiment, a wild selector 862B determines how many of the display positions in the grid display positions are to be filled with wild symbols which can substitute for any other symbol, based on the amount bet per line received from the base game controller 821 and the number of wild symbols specified for the amount bet per line in the secondary game rules 842. The wild selector 822B then selects positions for these wild symbols. Depending on the embodiment, grid positions may be filled in accordance with fill rules, for example such that the wild symbols are arranged in designated patterns, selected randomly using values obtained from the random number generator 823 or selected randomly with some constraints, for example, constraints which cause the symbols to be spread across the grid. Thus, it will be appreciated that the selection of positions for the wilds forms part of the symbol selection for the symbols which will be ultimately displayed in the grid. Once the wild symbols have been selected, the symbol selector 822A selects which symbols of the symbol set specified by symbol data 841 will be displayed in the remaining grid positions. In the embodiment, the symbol selector 822A selects which symbol will appear at each display position independently of each other display position. (It will be appreciated that the wild symbols form part of the symbol data 841). In another embodiment, there may be no wild symbols.

In one example, there may be two different symbols such that each display position of the grid will either have a wild symbol, or one of the two available types of symbols.

In the embodiment, either of the symbols is able to form a line across the grid—i.e. between two opposing sides. That is, one of the symbols in combination with wild symbols may traverse the entire grid.

Accordingly, the line evaluator 824 determines based on game rules 842 whether a line has been formed. The nature of a line may vary from embodiment to embodiment. In some embodiments it will need to be a straight line along one on the horizontal or vertical axis. In another embodiment, a line may be formed by a set of contiguous symbols from one or more horizontal or vertical lines. If the line evaluator 824 determines that a line has been formed in accordance with game rules 842 it makes an award of the minor or major jackpot specified by jackpot data 843 depending on which sides the line joins. Thus, an award may be made of either of the jackpot prizes.

It will be appreciated that the secondary outcome will be displayed under control of the display controller 825 in second display area 854B. The display may be enhanced by highlighting any completed line or indeed by highlighting the nearest to completed line. In this embodiment, the secondary, feature game thus falls under the broad category of second screen feature games.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that a number of variations may be made to the above embodiment, for example additional symbols could be added to award different prizes or to trigger different features.

In an alternative embodiment, symbols of one type may act to form lines while symbols of another type act to block lines. In another embodiment, one symbol may be assigned to each jackpot such that only symbols of one type can complete a horizontal axis line and symbols of another type can complete vertical axis lines such that the lines act to block each other. In some embodiments it may be possible for both jackpots to be awarded simultaneously, for example wild symbols may be allowed to complete two lines. In others, such is that described above where one symbol is allocated to each jackpot, only one jackpot can ever be awarded at once. In another embodiment, only lines completed between a specific pair of sides result in an award. In a variation of such an embodiment, a rotation or a random determination may be made to determine which pair of sides is active at any time.

In an alternative embodiment, the grid is formed by a hexagon having three pairs of opposing sides. Other grids could also be employed.

The method 900 is summarised in FIG. 9. A bet is received for a base game 910 and the base game is conducted based on the bet and any prizes are awarded 920. Concurrently the method involves determining how many wilds should be added 931 to the grid based on the amount bet. Positions are selected for the wilds 932 and symbols are selected for the other positions 933 such that symbols are selected for all of the display positions. It is then determined 934 whether a line has been completed and hence whether a jackpot should be awarded. If a jackpot is not awarded the method proceeds to the next game otherwise a jackpot award is made and the jackpot is reset 935.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the embodiment could be used with other base games, for example, rather than a spinning reel type base game, the base game could be a poker game, another card game, a dice game, a ball draw game, a pin and ball game or the like.

Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method of the embodiment could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a computer readable medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by transmitting it from a server to a gaming machine).

EXAMPLES

Example 1

The game is designed so that the prize that is to be awarded as a special award is to have a 1 in 500 chance of occurring. That is, the prize is expected to occur once in every 500 game outcomes, where each game outcome is a spin of the reels in a slot machine.

The player places a bet, the reels are spun and stop. The symbols stopped in the window of the gaming machine are evaluated for an award by the prize evaluator 623. The special award module 624 then employs the random number generator to select a number in the range 0 to 499. If the number is 0 then the player is awarded the special prize. The player is also awarded any prize based on symbols patterns on win lines the player is playing.

Example 2

Example 2 occurs in the same manner as example 1 but the player is in the middle of a free game sequence. During each game of the free game sequence, the reels spin and stop and are evaluated for a prize based on the prize data 643 stored in memory 64. The random number generator is accessed at the end of each reel stop (i.e. each game round) and if the random number is zero then a special prize is awarded in addition to any prize from the reel stop.

Example 3

Referring to FIG. 10, there is shown in exemplary display 1000 of a grid formed by five rows 831 to 835 and seven columns 1021 to 1027 such that there are thirty five display positions in total in the display 1000. Completing a line along the vertical axis is assigned to a minor jackpot such that the upper and lower opposing sides 1002A, 1002B are displayed as being related to the minor jackpot and the left and right opposing sides 1001A, 1001B are displayed as relating to the major jackpot. In this example, a jackpot is awarded if a straight line is completed vertically or horizontally. That is if one row 1031 to 1035 or one column 1021 to 1027 is completed by the same symbol including substitution by a wild symbols.

It will be seen in FIG. 10 that there are three types of symbols, a wild symbol 1011, a cross symbol 1012 and a nought symbol 1013 such that the game is styled after the game of noughts and crosses or “tic-tac-toe”. In the exemplary grid 1000 of FIG. 10, ten wild symbols have been placed in the grid at random locations in proportion to the amount bet per line in the base game. For example, either one wild per credit per line bet in the base game or two wilds per credit would work with the examples of a ten credit bet or a five credit bet respectively. The remaining display positions are filled randomly. It will be seen that the symbols take the form of tiles. The tiles can be displayed as either flipping or spinning each time a new game is conducted. It will be seen that in this example, row 1031 has been completed by noughts and wild symbols and accordingly that a major jackpot will be awarded. All the symbols in row 1031 would be lit up in order to indicate awarding of a prize. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that many other symbols could be used.

It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, features of the above embodiments and examples may be used to form further embodiments.

It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art, in Australia or any other country.

In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.