PokerStars VR: A Social VR Platform Based on Poker

PokerStars VR is a social VR poker game which was released late last year in Early Access on both Steam and the Oculus Store:

Based on the trailer alone, it sounds as if the closet thing to PokerStars VR which I’ve already reviewed on this blog is VR Trivia Battle (formerly known as Kiss or Kill). PokerStars VR would appear to have the same kind of simplified, head-and-shoulders avatars with disembodied hands.

PokerStars VR is a free-to-play game, so I decided to download it and give it a spin, just to check out the social aspects of the game. (I should add that I am not a card player at all, so don’t expect any sort of reviews as to the level or authenticity of poker gameplay.) You start off in an opulent casino lounge, where you can spin a large prize wheel to win in-game currency to gamble with, once every eight hours:

After that, you have the choice of joining an existing poker game, or hosting your own (in one of several different settings such as Macau 2050 or The Monte Carlo Yacht). Each game can have up to 8 players. I did notice that some games required you to know a passcode in order to join.

Like I said, I know zero about card games in general, and I’m particularly clueless about poker in particular. So I can’t really comment on the gameplay in PokerStars VR. I’ve had people tell me on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server that they’ve found the game very social and that they’ve made new friends. I have added PokerStars VR to my ever-growing list of social VR/virtual worlds. Note that you do need to have a VR headset (Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) in order to play. 

PokerStars VR is a good example of a niche social VR platform, which is limited to one thing only (poker), and which it seems to do well (at least, according to all the positive reviews on Steam and the Oculus Store). Since I don’t plan on learning how to play poker, I am going to leave it at that.

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Twisted Spring Hunt

The Twisted series of hunts in Second Life are renowned for being the hardest hunts on the grid, and giving you absolutely no clues to work from, unlike other SL hunts. You’d think a spinning golden cube would be easy to find, right? Wrong. And every time around, I always land up tearing my hair out, searching for those goddamn little cubes anyways! This round has a gold-and-white divine god/goddess theme, so I diligently went hunting in a few stores, and I got lucky this time! Here are Twisted main hunt and side hunt items from three stores:

  • Appliqué Chic (main hunt only, no side hunts)
  • Dreaming Thicket (a main hunt and 7 items in a side hunt)
  • Roped Passions (a main hunt and 5 items in a side hunt)

Our first look is the Divine gown (the Twisted Hunt gift for women by Appliqué Chic), paired with the Celestial Necklace and gold Laurel Crown by Dreaming Thicket (two side hunt gifts):

This stunning gown can be worn both for fantasy and formal outings. This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Giselle Bento head by Altamura (no longer available for free; this was an Altamura gift from Christmas 2017 at the eBENTO event, and you had to join the Altamura group for L$50 to get it).
  • Mesh Body: Jenny Bento body by Altamura (this was a free gift from the 2017 Women Only Hunt, and on this version, you can remove the head and replace it with any other mesh head, as I did here. Note that this free mesh body is now available at the Freebie Megastore at London City (more information here), but you cannot remove the head on the newer free version.
  • Hair: Jessi hair from Sn@tch (free gift at a past event; no longer available)
  • Wings: white Icon angel wings by Blueberry (Bento enabled; I bought these at the Christmas 2017 Shop and Hop event using the free L$500 giftcard, which is no longer available; however, you can pick these up at the Blueberry mainstore)
  • Gown: Divine gown (main Twisted Hunt prize by Appliqué Chic)
  • Necklace: gold Celestial Necklace (side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Laurel: gold Laurel Crown (side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Shoes (not shown): white flats by Garbaggio (part of the free sample pack for Slink feet; available on the SL Marketplace). Altamura mesh avatar bodies have Slink-compatible feet.
  • Halo and hand and body particle effects: Valkyrie silver halo, aura, and hand effects by Cole’s Corner
  • Sword: from the Marcus avatar (one of the Second Life fantasy starter avatars)

Here’s a second look, featuring several more hunt gifts:

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head and Body: Giselle Bento head and Jenny body by Altamura (same as above)
  • Hair: Jessi hair from Sn@tch (same as above)
  • Headdress: Divine Warrior headdress (side hunt gift from Roped Passions)
  • Wings: white Icon angel wings by Blueberry (same as above)
  • Dress: Asphodel Chiton dress (main Twisted Hunt women’s gift at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Necklace: gold Celestial Necklace (side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Boots: Thorn boots (side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Shield: Hoplite shield (comes with a defensive pose; side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)
  • Spear: Hoplite spear (comes with several poses; side hunt prize at Dreaming Thicket)

Pictures from the Multi-Con VR Festival in High Fidelity

The producer of my show Metaverse Newscast, Andrew William, was an official photographer at Saturday’s Multi-Con VR Festival in High Fidelity. He kindly let me share some of his photographs with you (please click on each picture to see it in a larger size):

(The final image is me, wearing one of Cedar Librarian’s avatar creations. I popped in and out all day Saturday.)

Capsa: A Brief Introduction

Capsa is a virtual world based on the Unreal game engine, by a company called Vetron (which appears to have gotten its start making vehicles and other content for Second Life). It is currently in Early Access launch on Steam. And it’s free! According to their press kit:

Development began in 2016 at a time when we were developing vehicles (such as aircraft) for other platforms. We decided rather than focusing solely on making assets that it would be great to have our own game world; where, not only could we use our creations, but could also incorporate our love for open-world exploration.

Much like High Fidelity, players can host their own servers, although the company does have a main default server which consists of seven tropical islands, filled with lots of hidden places, caves, tunnels, bunkers, and underwater caverns:

The seven islands of the default Capsa server

There’s a bit of a learning curve associated with Capsa, so you might want to keep the Getting Started guide handy. You do have a good variety of ways to tweak your avatar to your liking (which is automatically named after your Steam account) :

Once you have your avatar set up, you can begin exploring your surroundings, a lush tropical island dotted with small houses which you can claim and customize:

As you might expect from a company that got its start making vehicles, you do have a few ways to explore the islands:

I’m actually rather surprised that I hadn’t heard of Capsa before (somebody gave me a tip to check it out). If you like open-world exploration games you might want to give it a try. Here’s their promotional trailer:

And here’s another trailer showing their vehicles:

One annoying aspect of Capsa is that it does take a long time to load this game (several minutes), even on the second or third time you play it (and I have a high-end gaming machine and a fast internet connection). At times you get a black screen, and at other times it feels as if the game has frozen (especially when you choose to go back to the Main Menu). Basically, you start loading Capsa, and go away and fix yourself a coffee or a sandwich, and it might be ready by the time you get back…

I also found the default mouse camera controls to be a bit on the touchy side (although I assume you can adjust this somewhere in the settings).

Also, at one point it seemed to me that you could select an option to run Capsa in VR mode, but I was unable to find that setting on subsequent plays of this game. And there is zero mention of VR support on their Steam page, aside from this discussion. So I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game to see if I could find that setting again (because I’m sure I didn’t imagine it!), and sure enough, there is a SteamVR mode when you launch the game from within Steam:

However, when I loaded the game in Steam VR mode, I found it would not work for me in my Oculus Rift headset (perhaps it only supports the HTC Vive VR headset?). So, yeah, VR support is problematic at best.

For more information on Capsa, you can follow their Twitter or join their Discord server. I have added it to my list of social VR/virtual worlds.