The Software Behind Themed Slot Games
If someone were to plonk down Charles Fey’s 1894 invention onto your desk and declare it as the first-ever slot machine you might struggle to see the connection. But the Liberty Bell was the first of its kind in the world.
Up until this moment, no one had come up with a mechanically operated symbol generator that would result in a prize, should the characters align.
Sure, it’s crude, but just over a decade later in 1916, the Mills Novelty Company invented a slot machine that would instantly payout to the lucky winner.
It wasn’t until the invention of the electromagnetic slot machines in 1950 that the payouts were proportional to the number of coins fed into it. By 1975, video screens began to replace real-life reels and a decade later slot machines could be linked-up to create super jackpots.
This is where the slot machine began to supersede other, more traditional, casino games. Unlike card games or shooting craps, slot machines don’t require any skills to play, but players could still win, really big.
In 2003 a machine in Las Vegas paid out $40 million to one lucky player. But these days, thanks to technology you don’t need to travel far to play and win life-changing sums of cash.
A year before the Vegas win, one lucky online player won £23.6. But how is this possible?
Just before we take a deep dive, consider this. It takes a team of twelve developers a year or so before a game like Cleopatra Slots goes online.
Of course, we don’t have the time (or inclination!) to go through every single step of the process. But to keep things simple, we can highlight some of the ingredients that go into the software behind themed slot games.
To enable the mechanical randomness of the early slot machines, Random Number Technology (RNG) is at the heart of online slot software. RNGs are no more than algorithms to ensure the unpredictability of slot spins, which means that both the casino and the player are on an equal footing.
As these algorithms generate random sequences of numbers in milliseconds, they need to be monitored closely to ensure fair play. Some casinos even use an independent third party to guarantee everything is above board.
It’s all very well having 3D graphics and surround sound for your slots but, lest we forget, slots are a money-orientated business. Therefore, it’s critical that both the casino and the player are fiscally protected.
The software used for money transactions must be secure at both ends. With such large sums of money moving around, both parties aren’t just vulnerable to fraud, the reputation of the business is at stake too.
As we’ve seen, slot machines went from stand-alone concerns before being connected up until they went online. These days, mobile app developments and responsive web design allow gamers to play games on the go.
Accessing games on smartphones has become so popular we almost take it for granted. But it was this technology that helped the online gaming market turn over 63.53 billion in 2022.
Of course, it’s no good firing up your phone or tablet to enjoy a slot game with as much pizazz as Snake. Thanks to Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) slot games are visually stunning with liquid-fast animation.
Sound design also contributes to the atmosphere when playing slots, especially when in conjunction with a theme. Putting the two together and the dynamics are irresistible.
A bit like RNG or the banking side of slots, the user interface is one of those crucial aspects that peddles away, unnoticed, in the background. Or putting it another way, if this aspect of your game wasn’t slick and refined, you’d drop it like a hot rock.
It’s also one of the elements of software technology that applies across the board to every slot game, whatever the theme. Which brings us nicely to the most obvious aspect of a slot game.
In many respects, the theme is the easier part of the process because developers have a limited number of options when applying it to slots. Also, themes have to be engaging, almost to the point of triggering an emotional reaction when encountered.
This is why themes tend to be subjects with an escapist mystical quality (Fairy tales, Ancient Egyptian/Greece etc) or TV and movie-themed. Some have themes around hunting in one capacity or another or sports, anything that isn’t mundane or trite.
Whatever the theme, it has to grab your attention and let the software hold it there while you play. Just remember to shop around before you play and if you do jump into a game, take regular breaks.