Ripstone — a UK video game developer — might be in the right place at the right time. At the same time coronavirus started turning public places into poison, they were on the home stretch of developing the perfect poker home game simulator.
Ripstone specializes in making indoor activities even more indoors-y. Previous titles from their Newcastle offices include computerized versions of tabletop games like Achtung! Cthulhu, board games like Chess Ultra, a snooker simulator, and a game called Pure Hold’em.
This week they announced Pure Hold’em‘s successor: a new poker simulator entitled Poker Club.
♠♦ Introducing Poker Club ♥♣
— Ripstone Games (@RipstoneGames) September 1, 2020
All-in on next-gen
The game is designed for the new Xbox, the Series X, but will be compatible with the Xbox One. And it will also be getting a PC port.
“We’re creating a brand new premium poker experience for players on PC and console,” Ripstone’s Creative Director, Phil Gaskell, wrote. “We’ve gone all-in and are betting big (I’ve been saving these poker puns for this very moment) on next-gen, and on Xbox Series X you can expect a jackpot of audiovisual goodness. Expect up to 4K visuals at 60 fps and advanced rendering techniques that make the most of the Unreal Engine 4 feature-set, including ray tracing.”
Ray tracing is a much-vaunted graphical trick in which the game engine fully simulates the movement of light as a series of rays.
This allows the engine to create more realistic and nuanced lighting effects. Shadows are more subtle and surfaces can reflect in a wider variety of ways.
So, the seven locations Ripstone has built for the game should look spectacular. These locations range from the
PokerGO — sorry — Poker Club studio to the back room of Ralph’s pizzeria. See the trailer below for details.
It looks like a lot of effort has gone in to producing what is effectively a tarted-up play-money version of PKR.
Home games from homes
But with everyone sheltering in place now, one aspect of the game might make it a favorite for actual poker players the world over. That is Poker Club‘s online private game feature.
Poker Club is going to be a social, multiplayer game. You can play against a pool of real players (very much like an online poker room). Or you can set up a game for just you and your friends.
The latter option means you can play your pub league or home game on Ripstone’s software. The character customization and detailed animations lend immersion and personalization to the game. More so than do the 2D interfaces of the various dotcom poker sites. Plus, this game is rake-free, try getting that deal from your Stars home game.
All you need is a trustworthy friend with PayPal to act as escrow and you can get right back to bluffing each other out of beer money. It’s almost like its 2019 again.
This line of thinking does somewhat inspire a question. Who exactly was this game for, prior to lockdown? Are there many people who long to play poker but who can’t get over the moral iniquity of gambling? And how many of those people are willing to spend real money on an iniquity simulator? Even one with seven meticulously rendered locations?
“There are enough people who want this kind of thing,” seems to be Ripstone’s answer. And good luck to them. If games like this convert gamers into gamblers, all the better for the poker economy. In the meantime, I’ve got a game to get to at Ralph’s pizzeria.