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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Q & A with Slot Game Developers

12 March 2003

The multi-line, bonus round video slot revolution that has been raging at casinos has stolen the thunder from traditional spinning reel slots. Imaginative games and graphics, exciting bonus rounds, and interactive play combine to create an environment that has brought a whole new dimension of entertainment to the world of electronic gaming devices.

You've probably encountered the games on your casino visits. Williams Gaming's line of some 26 video slot themes, which started with "Reel 'Em In" in 1997, includes such player favorites as "Hot Toppings", "Big Tippers", "Life of Luxury", "Money to Burn", "Yukon Gold", "Money Groove", "Jackpot Party", "Winning Bid", and "Filthy Rich", among others.

International Game Technology, a late entry into the multi-line, bonus round video slot market, has countered with its own line of game formats including "Enchanted Unicorn", "The Frog Prince", "Cleopatra", and "Creature From the Black Lagoon".

The new generation of video slots has brought with it a new aura of mystery and superstition that has been associated with slot machine play since Americans first started dueling with "one-armed bandits" more than a century ago.

In an endeavor to preserve the mission of this column of helping readers become the smartest, most informed casino players they can possibly be, I e-mailed some questions to Larry Pacey, the vice president of game development for Williams Gaming. What follows are my questions and Larry's answers that he prepared in conjunction with senior game designer Joel Jaffee, followed by my brief analysis:

Q-Are the bonus rounds associated with the machines random events activated by the player, or is the player only given the perception he or she has a choice that has an effect on bigger/lower rewards?

A-The player's choice does affect the immediate result since each selection item in the bonus has its value assigned prior to the player choosing. However, since the selectable items in the bonus are randomly assigned, the player's luck will even out over time.

Analysis-When you do have touch-screen selections to make, the decisions you make will affect the amount of your reward. Get lucky on your picks and you'll reap the rewards.

Q-If the bonus choices are a random event, how does each individual unit maintain its programmed "hold percentage" over the long run?

A-Each bonus event will converge close to its average value after only a few hundred bonus triggers. Sometimes a particular game doesn't hold its average over the course of a month. Then, the casino may investigate to see why this is happening. In most cases, the game in question hasn't been played enough times to converge to the theoretical average.

Analysis-Just as with traditional reel slots, no video slot is ever "due to hit." The chances of hitting the jackpot are the same all the time. Players can win big or lose big during the brief windows of opportunity we choose to play a particular machine. Over the course of a year, everything balances out.

Q-Are the combinations of symbols on each reel that appear after a play is activated predetermined by the RNG (Random Number Generator) and game EPROMS (computer chips) as they are in traditional reel slots?

A-Yes. The software determines the reel stop position after the "play" button is pressed by using a random number generator. In between presses, the random number generator is running hundreds of times per second so that consecutive plays cannot be predicted. U.S. gaming regulations require this method of programming for all slot machines.

Analysis-Video slots, at least in this respect, are no different from their reel cousins. The entire screen that appears after a play is activated on a video slot is predetermined by the machine's internal computer program.

Q-On machines which give players the option of stopping the reels themselves, is the combination they get the same predetermined combination they would have gotten had they allowed the sequence to progress on its own time?

A-It doesn't make any difference whether they stop the reels themselves or wait for the reels to stop naturally. The feature just gives the player some control over the speed at which they play.

Analysis-My advice is to not use the "stop reels" option. The faster you play, the more you subject your bankroll to the casino edge.

Q-Do games such as "Pictionary" and "Monopoly" (etc.) differ from games such as "Yukon Gold" and "Jackpot Party" (etc.) in regards to lease agreements or the per diem fee that casinos pay to have the units on their floors?

A-With Pictionary and Monoply, WMS owns each machine and charges the casino a daily fee to use them. In the case of Yukon Gold and Jackpot Party, the casino purchases each machine from WMS.

Analysis: Since the casino has an added expense with branded games such as Pictionary, it may be better over the long run to play the games the casinos own outright.

Q & A with Slot Game Developers is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp