A grand display and fun community play mark Scientific Games’ “Dragon Spin”
By Frank Legato
Walk into any casino, and you’re bombarded by a cacophony of sights and sounds. There are always a few things, though, that rise above the din—like, say, a huge circular slot carousel and display with crowds of cheering players all around.
That was the idea behind Scientific Games’ new Pro Wave 360 game setup, which places five slot machines in a circle under a giant curved LCD video screen that wraps around to serve as a continuous bonus display for all the games.
All the new hardware setup needed was the perfect game to launch it. Scientific Games has found it—Bally “Dragon Spin.”
Like the name says, Dragon Spin is an Asian-themed game centered around the classic festive Chinese dragon. It is a strong game in itself, with stacked symbols, three distinct free-spin events and five levels of progressive jackpot won through a picking bonus event. The features are that much more fun when placed on the fantastic Bally Pro Wave cabinet, with its giant concave-curved monitor facing the player.
The game also can be set up against a wall or back-to-back in casinos that don’t have room for the big circular setup, with the same fun community-play feature, and the dragon still traveling among the machines.
“We knew there were not a lot of casinos that could take something as big as the Pro Wave 360,” explains John Vallejo, vice president of game development for Scientific Games. “The animation is contiguous, so we knew it would also work on five units against a wall, but we were able to come up with three-game and back-to-back configurations as well. And so far, so good—it’s been fantastic.”
All the features of the game are certainly enjoyable in the other configurations, but the 360 setup—currently in place at the Venetian, Aria, Bellagio and other large casinos—takes this game to another level altogether.
Normally, games are designed on computer screens and then a cabinet is chosen for the presentation. In this case, the game was created to take advantage of the radical display setup. “It was design following form,” Vallejo says. “Hardware designs can inspire a lot of creativity, and having this big circular package really inspired the design.”
That design was accomplished by Producer Chris Guerrero, who says he focused on how to make the best use of that bonus display for community play. “With the 360 monitor, you really want to share the event,” Guerrero says. “We decided to have the dragon float around to announce the event—to let everyone know the bonus has been triggered—in addition to appearing on everyone’s screens below.”
He says it’s an extension of the excitement winning has always generated on the slot floor, from the bells and buzzers on the earliest reel-spinners on. “When one player wins, people around take notice, and the fact that people are winning generates excitement in itself,” he says.
The Chinese dragon provides a perfect image to glide around that circular monitor, dropping wild symbols and other intricate sculpted topper with a giant, glowing pearl in the middle and one can see why crowds of players are gathering around this game wherever it’s placed.
When a player triggers one of the free-spin bonuses, the dragon flies through the configuration while 360-degree surround-sound announces to all players on the bank, and in the vicinity, that a big event is about to occur.
During the free spins, the dragon chases a magical pearl around the display to deliver wild symbols and stacked symbols to random players. The whole experience causes a delightful ruckus, with players cheering as the dragon approaches, anticipating receiving the extra reward.
The free spins are delivered in any of three unique features, triggered through a gateway event—scattered Golden Jade symbols on the three middle reels fire up the big overhead display, and the player is awarded one spin of the “Dragon Spin Wheel.” The wheel lands on either Raining Wilds Free Games, Reel Blast Free Games or Locking Wilds Free Games.
In Raining Wilds, players are granted five free spins as the dragon travels his route around the circular display, dropping anywhere from three to 10 wild symbols on the reels of one of the machines on each spin. In Reel Blast, the screen splits into three reel sets, with the second, third and fourth reel in each set acting as one gigantic symbol—effectively creating a nine-symbol stack.
In Locking Wilds, the dragon flies around the monitor again, this time dropping one to seven wild symbols that lock in place for the remainder of the free spins.
Ian Arrowsmith, director of game development at Scientific Games, says it was a significant design accomplishment to take those experiences to an entire bank of players. “There’s a significant amount of under-the-hood stuff going on to drive those (overhead) screens,” he explains. “One of the machines is designated as the host, and it is conducting the sequences as they appear on the top screens and the dragon appears on the bottom screen.”
He adds that Guerrera’s team synchronized the video with the audio to generate more excitement. “When the dragon’s flying around, you can hear him approach your machine,” he says. “We had really wanted to do more Chinese-themed games, and the vision of the dragon flying around came to mind immediately. And Chris did a fantastic job in making that a reality.”
There’s plenty of action in the primary 30-line game as well, including a feature called “Mystery Stacks.” During the base game spins, each reel has mystery symbol positions that are randomly replaced by like symbols in stacks, to increase the chances for five-of-a-kind wins. And of course, there also is the “Progressive Pick” mystery progressive jackpot feature, which is available at all bet levels.
At the end of each base-game spin, if a white orb appears on the first or fifth reel, the screen transforms to display 15 orbs. Players pick until three match for one of the five jackpots, with resets in the standard penny version ranging from $20 to $2,000. The manufacturer has all denominations available in this game, and those jackpot levels can become huge in the higher denominations. There’s even a $250 denomination available for the game. (Check the high-end room for that one.)
Vallejo says the interactive community features of the game are what really make it special. “This is what we consider a perfect community game,” he says. “You have this vicarious experience with the dragon character flying from game to game, and everyone gets the feel of when a bonus is in play.”
“It is a true community game,” adds Arrowsmith. “We’ve observed people watching it, lining up to play the game, and crowding around the game.” In fact, he says the next versions will include the dual sound chair normally used for two-game setups rather than the single chair, because players have been stealing chairs from other games to sit around the Pro Wave 360. “It was a great problem to have to solve,” says Guerrero.
Since its launch at Bellagio, players have mobbed the games, whether on the Strip, in Florida, or just about any other market as it spreads around the country. Vallejo says this is only the beginning for the Pro Wave 360, with a two-year product roadmap already in place to create different themed community experiences around the grand display.
By all indications, players will welcome them with open arms. Says Arrowsmith, “There are a lot of happy people playing these games.”
Five-reel, 30-line video slot; five-level progressive jackpot; random stacked wild symbols; three separate free-spin bonus events; penny through $250 denominations
PAYBACK PERCENT RANGE
AVERAGE HIT FREQUENCY 30.21%
Progressive; resets at200,000 credits times denomination ($2,000 in penny version)
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