Hello fellow card sharks! I’m Phil Gaskell, Creative Director of Poker Club, the Texas Hold’em simulation which launches today on PS5 and PS4. Here at Ripstone, we’ve been bringing the best-loved pastimes including poker, pool and chess to PlayStation platforms for close to a decade. So for myself and our small team, working with impressive PS5 hardware is a dream because it allows us to make simulations more immersive, seamless and social, taking full advantage of the lightning fast SSD and DualSense controller.
The PS5 is empowering us to deliver what we call “true immersion” in our games by enhancing all of your senses as you play.
PS5 has allowed a small team like ours to create a visual experience that would never have been possible before. We are taking advantage of the powerful hardware to dial up the level of fidelity to 11 in all of our worlds, rendering them in the most beautiful and realistic way possible, with true to life reflections and shadows, all while maintaining a smooth 60fps and 4K resolution.
I’m proud of what our team of three artists have been able to achieve with both the environments and lighting; shadows and reflections in particular. Vibrantly lit casinos in Poker Club have a stunning sense of scale and openness, and if you’re playing on a freshly polished high-roller table, your cards will show reflections on the surface with brilliant clarity.
It’s amazing to be able to layer in tiny details we’ve never had the power to create before. So when you play from the first-person perspective you’ll be able to see the grainy imperfections in the table’s speed-cloth, or the oily fingerprints fading from the playing cards as the dealer lays them out in front of you. This level of detail is unprecedented and it all comes together to heighten the sense of actually being there, present at the table, with the cards in your hands as you play.
The controller has always been one of the most important elements of simulation gaming and what the DualSense controller brings to the table is truly breathtaking.
For me, the DualSense is the most exciting part of the PS5 platform, because I love the subtle, extra layers of feedback I can deliver to the player about the world and the action going on around them. It’s the connection you feel to the world you’re immersed in, and it needs to stay out of your way while deepening your connection with what’s happening on the screen. I’ve had a lot of fun discovering what’s possible and where the sweet spots are for enriching the gameplay, without overusing it or overloading the player’s senses.
The adaptive triggers allow us to provide degrees of tension for the player. In Poker Club, we can use this as you squeeze the trigger to bend the cards back and have a peek at the hand you’ve been dealt, to give you the realistic sensation of your cards resisting against the playing table. The degree of subtlety when we do this is important, because if it resists too much it would feel gimmicky, but getting it right transcends the experience to genuinely increase your immersion. It’s a delicate balancing act.
Designing for haptic feedback is extremely exciting too. The way the DualSense embraces this technology is so advanced that we can replicate very particular sensations. We’re able to play with the feel of the weight of the chips as you place them on the table, and as you push them across the speed-cloth when you make a big bet.
Even the poker chip tricks can have a tangible and satisfying feeling too – rolling the chips across your knuckles, or shuffling a stack of chips, will be correctly represented in your hands through the power of the directional feedback and vibrations in the DualSense controller. Even the smallest details can be conveyed through the controller, such as the palpable heartbeat of your player while you think about making your big move as the clock runs down.
3D audio is very cool technology that we’ve actually been working with for a long time. However, with PlayStation 5, we’re now able to use it in many more ways, which can drastically improve your feeling of presence within a game, especially within a simulation.
The amount of depth and layers to how we can implement the tech is, quite frankly, ridiculous — in all the best ways! With our first-person in-game camera, we use 3D audio to accurately simulate the sounds around you based on the position of your head — which creates a truly immersive aural experience. The weighty clink of poker chips, the sounds of skin and cards rubbing across the tables, the background music playing on the venue’s wall-mounted speakers, and many other subtle but distinct sounds all work in concert around you to place you in the world and give each venue a unique atmosphere, so you can lose yourself in the action.
We can take all three of these senses to new places on PS5, to deliver a much deeper and more believable sense of immersion and presence in our simulation games, and it’s all enhanced even further by the lightning fast loading that the SSD brings.
It’s been our dream to create a truly next-generational experience that uses all the latest technologies to let players live the life of a poker pro, and connect with other players around the world who love the game. Whether you are playing secret back room games in dingy clubs, deep in the high stakes excitement of a glamorous casino, or competing in a professional poker tournament for up to 228 players, Poker Club on PS5 will emulate that experience with the level of true immersion we have always wanted to achieve.
Following the launch of Poker Club we will continue to add and improve our support for PlayStation 5 features. We love to raise the bar with every game we create, and we’re excited about our future on PS5. Thank you to everyone who has bet on us and our games in the past, we really hope you enjoy a poker night or two in Poker Club.
Poker Club is available now on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 as part of a cross-buy bundle for $24.99 (£19.99 / €24.99). We will continue to add and improve support for PlayStation 5 features following the launch of Poker Club and you can stay up to date with the latest news over at pokerclubgame.com.