Peer2Poker

By | May 2020

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Game Design Document

  • Introduction
  • Target Audience
  • Market Research
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Player Mechanics
  • Features to Implement
  • Audio
  • Conclusion

Introduction
Playing Texas Hold’Em Poker requires a deck of cards, chips that act as the in-game currency (usually in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $25, $50 and $100 chips), as well as tokens to tell who’s the dealer, little blind and big blind.

Peer2Poker will allow people to play poker with what essentially everybody has: a PC, Wi-Fi and smartphones.

Target Audience
The target audience will be for the poker community who do not like carrying a big case of chips around or the constant shuffling of cards. This application will also be appealing for new players as there will be a help menu explaining the rules and winning hands while automating minor processes.

Market Research
There are already many online poker applications which can be downloaded for all sorts of devices. However playing online takes away a core mechanic of the game – bluffing and reading body language; there is a workaround by using webcam but many online players are not comfortable in doing so, and even then it does not capture the full experience.

There is an Android app called WiFi Poker Room that allows players to gather around with their smartphones, be connected to the same Wi-Fi network or hotspot, create a room and play. (Screenshot captured May 2020)
My version of using a PC and smartphones together was heavily inspired by Jackbox Games. A company called AirConsole has already achieved this by developing PadPoker but has some caveats: their “Starter Pack” has a selection of 11 free games (maximum of 2 players, with ads) and while their upgrade “AirConsole Hero” allows everyone else to join the game session for free, it is a monthly subscription for the person who has the AirConsole Hero pass. [Source]

My version will be on Steam and the people interested in buying Peer2Poker will only need to pay once while also receiving a key to upgrade their Android/iOS counterpart app. Steam owners can then invite their friends to download and play on the free version of the app – which will display non-intrusive ads.

Graphical User Interface
I cannot compare my GUI to PadPoker’s GUI because PadPoker is not in the AirConsole Starter Pack. This is my visualisation:

  • Only a PC, Wi-Fi and smartphones are needed
  • People will be able to gather around a PC, maybe project it onto a TV screen
  • Play normal Texas Hold’Em Poker without the necessary items
  • Read body language and facial expressions due to close proximity
  • Minimal setting up / packing away

Player Mechanics
The PC will host the Game Room and act as a local server. Once the Game Room has been created, all smartphones have to be connected to the same Wi-Fi as the PC to join the room. After the Game Room has been populated and prompted to start the game, the automation process takes over:

  • Players can randomise who starts as the small blind/big blind
  • Cards will be shuffled and the first 3 cards are dealt
  • If players wager money into the pot, automatic rules will be applied to make sure the minimum/maximum amount is wagered correctly
  • After all players have made their move, the next card is dealt until the game is concluded
  • The Game Room will show the players’ hand (if the player chooses to) and highlights which player has which combination of cards
  • The Game Room will calculate which player has the winning hand and awards the pot
  • If there is a tie or if there is a side pot, everything will be calculated and split accordingly

In the smartphone app, players can create profiles with a name and avatar which will show in the Game Room. New players can join as guests and will have an easier time learning the game due to the automation along with a help menu explaining the rules and ranking strength of card combinations.

If I have something like WiFi Poker Room, players will always be looking down at their phones; with this envisioned setup the phone display will feel more like “your hand”, then it’s possible to keep it hidden away while watching the rest of the players or the Game Room.

I will try make it so switching applications or pressing the power button won’t cut the player off from the game or have a very minimal update period.
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Features to Implement

  • Save an existing game and reload
  • See local scoreboard and rankings
  • Show who was the previous player, the current player and the next player
  • Order of play can be randomised, not in order of joining the Game Room
  • A timer can be added to limit the length of time taken during their turn
  • Steam owners will receive a key to upgrade their Android/iOS counterpart app
  • Players who download the free versions of the app have non-intrusive ads displaying
  • Custom avatars/card packs/poker tables/sound packs can be purchased through microtransactions
  • Steam Community Workshop creations can also be used

Audio
Music effects will be custom-made or purchased in a pack to maintain consistency:

  • Background soundtracks
  • Button presses
  • Joining the room
  • Cards shuffling
  • Cards dealing
  • Cards being flipped
  • Highlight card combinations based on strength
  • Celebration, jackpot
  • Splitting the pot
  • A player dropping out from the Game Room

Conclusion
A cool upgrade to this project will be converting it to virtual reality. The community would now be able to play online while reading body language; however reading facial experience would be nigh impossible unless there is a face scanner/camera being projected real-time in the VR environment…

Ultimately, I wish to translate tabletop games – which have many components the player needs to handle – into a similar format. Games like Chess, Go, Battleship, would not benefit from this translation. On the other hand, games like Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Blood Bowl, would benefit and Peer2Poker will be my proof of concept.

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