The Wizard of Oz is one of our favorite movies, and we’re always excited to start a new slot game based on it. We enjoy making The Wizard of Oz games as much as you enjoy playing them!
When we began the Journey to Oz™ game, we knew the base themes (the King of the Forest™ and Wild Poppies™ games) would be 1024 way with the potential for some pretty big payoffs. Quite a few times we won jackpots over $1,200 while playing in our lab. That would be fake money, Mr. IRS (alas).
Connecting a bank of these base games would be a collaborative Big Event® bonus, where every eligible player shares the total won (multiplied by their individual multiplier). Each player would also take turns picking, and that picking would affect the outcome of the bonus for all players.
This is used to great effect in the Dorothy™ free spins bonus, where before each spin a randomly selected player gets to make a pick to enhance the spin. If you pick Glinda™, she’ll appear in her bubble to award 1 to 5 WILD reels for that spin – just like Glinda in our other Wizard of Oz games. (As a wink to the observant players, we used the same symbols from our first Wizard of Oz game as a nostalgia throwback.)
But when we started, our Journey to Oz game was different. I can’t reveal too much because we’re likely to use the ideas in future games, but suffice to say our first pass had more bonuses and one big bonus with backdoors into the smaller bonuses.
Not all of our ideas were good, however.
Before we begin a game, we first take it to our brain trust to get it greenlit. Preparing for the greenlight, we lock ourselves away at a coffee shop for days and dream up as many ideas as possible, then whittle them down to not only what we think are the best ideas but also what’s feasible within the time we’re given.
A favorite quote of mine is from Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who said, “Make no small plans.” We definitely like to dream big.
But sometimes while brainstorming, we can be led astray before finally coming around to the heart of the idea.
Such was the case with the Cowardly Lion™ bonus.
When the Big Wheel spins and lands on the Cowardly Lion, you enter his bonus.
In the game as it‘s now in casinos, the Cowardly Lion has run off into the woods. Your job is to help him find courage via medals hidden behind bushes. For every bush selected, you get credits. Every medal found will later multiply the credits of a random bush that you’ve already selected.
How the bonus was originally conceived was with a Scare-o-meter that involved Toto™. The Cowardly Lion is afraid of his own shadow, and our idea involved finding Toto who would grab the Cowardly Lion’s tail to scare him.
The more he was scared, the more credits you’d win. As indicated by the meter.
It’s certainly clear now what was wrong, because why would we want to frighten our beloved Cowardly Lion even further, much less profit by winning credits off his fragile emotional state? We enjoyed the sight of Toto pulling the Cowardly Lion’s tail so much that we couldn’t see the, uh, forest through the trees.
So we reversed it and gave the player a sense of empowerment by helping the Cowardly Lion find a way out of being scared. Almost like a certain Wizard might do, hmmm …
We all liked that much better and the bonus clicked together.
But one day we’ll have Toto pulling the Cowardly Lion’s tail. Just in a different context. And maybe after one too many cappuccinos
THE WIZARD OF OZ and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Turner Entertainment Co. (s12) Judy Garland as Dorothy from THE WIZARD OF OZ. (s12)
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