Danny Schwartz, Sam Liokumovich, Tyler Jackson Layden
We set out to make Chipped Out! for two main reasons: to make a fun twist on a classic game and to hopefully make poker more approachable and enjoyable to people who’ve never played.
To this end, we tried our best to preserve the bluffing aspects of poker as well as the hand-value structure while introducing mechanics to supplement them and make them more beginner friendly; namely, the action cards. By giving players more opportunities to interact with the game and the other players, we believe that Chipped Out! makes for a lower stakes environment than the poker scenes often seen in media, where several grizzled white men sit around a table and toss in chips without a word.
Simplifying the betting system was a decision made to further reduce pressures from the original game of poker. Where money/chips are a more central focus in poker, we instead opted for a more casual-player-friendly point system (still symbolized as chips, because they are integrally linked with poker and tactilely satisfying).
Overall, we hope and expect players of Chipped Out! to receive a soft introduction to poker and especially have a nice time with their friends betting, bluffing, and dueling in a soon-to-be classic card game!
Concept Map —-> Gameplay Flowcharts:
Initial Formal Elements
Players: This is an extremely important element of Chipped Out. Chipped Out is a party game where many players interact with each other. Our initial decisions revolved around creating a game that was engaging for all players regardless of their turn or the amount of chips they had. Poker is an inherently player vs player game but our twist with action cards can sometimes create different player dynamics. Action cards could incentivize short term collaboration against certain players or for mutual benefit. These action cards only create non player vs player dynamics in the short term since the underlying game revolves around individual players collecting as many chips as possible.
Resources: Along with players, resources are equally important formal elements to our game. Our initial design had playing cards, action cards and chips as the main resources. The playing cards were critical to creating a transition from other poker games to Chipped Out. Chipped Out is based on creating the best poker hand, so having the same set of playing cards for poker and Chipped Out would make an easier transition for players who are familiar with poker. Similarly, in our initial design concept we used chips to represent similar incentives in poker. This would hopefully transfer the dynamics of bluffing and other poker strategies to Chipped Out. To create chipped out unique from poker, but to also capture the essence of these poker dynamics we added action card resources. These action card resources could push dynamics in certain hands. In normal poker players can choose when to buff. However, if an action card forces a player to show a card, this could force a player to deceive others of the strength of their hand. If a player has one strong card and one weak card, will they show the strong card to give off the impression they have a really good hand or will they show the weaker one to downplay the strength of their hand? These action card resources drive the game to be a unique and unorthodox twist to the poker games they are accustomed to.
Objective: The objective of the game is to collect as many chips as possible. Players will try to outwit others to maximize the amount of chips they can win.
Testing and Iteration History
Read the game rules before reading this section; a general understanding of the rules of Chipped Out! is necessary to have proper context to understand the iteration history of our game. All of our three playtests were conducted with TAs and fellow students from CS247G.
At our initial playtest, the game differed from the final version in several ways. The largest difference was the first we changed after asking our first round of playtesters if they would be interested in the change. Initially, we based our game on the “5 Card Draw” variant of poker; this means that each player was dealt 5 cards at the start of each round, the pool did not exist, and any action cards making reference to the pool were not in the game. We didn’t actually know whether reducing the number of cards dealt to each player to 2 and introducing the 5 card pool (reminiscent of the popular “Texas Hold ‘Em” variant of poker) would be a positive change until after our second playtest, when players confirmed it. We then added several action cards only possible with this change, like the one that can remove a card from the pool.
At our second playtest, we realized that the scope of our target player base included people who did not have previous experience with poker; this caused significant confusion and pacing issues with the game, so we added a visual aid that displays how to evaluate a poker hand. We also realized that one of the action cards (called ‘Trade!’) was too complex and slowed the pace of the game, so we removed it. We also noticed that players would disengage with our game after losing all of their chips, so we altered the end condition from ‘when only one player has any chips left’ to ‘when any one player has no chips left’.
At our third playtest, we received positive general feedback and noticed some tense, exciting gameplay. Players also suggested alterations to the betting round to increase tensions. We’d been struggling with how to do this without increasing the complexity of the game, but we settled on forcing each player to bet one chip at the start of the play phase. They can still decide to play or fold, and if they play, they will ante another chip.
Rules for Chipped Out
Chipped Out! can be played with 5-8 players.
Players sit in a circle. Four tokens are given to each player at the start of the game. One player is designated as the dealer for the first round.
A round is played in phases, with players taking turns in clockwise order starting with the player to the dealer’s left. At the start of each round, the poker deck and action deck are shuffled and the dealer distributes two poker cards and two action cards to each player. Five poker cards are dealt face-up to the center of the table; this group is called the ‘pool’ and these cards can be used by any player in hand construction. To construct a poker hand, players must choose a set of five poker cards in total from the cards in their hand and the face-up cards on the table.
There are two phases of a single round: the action phase and the play phase. The action phase is first. During the action phase, each player chooses to play an action card (if they have one) or pass. If every player passes consecutively, the game moves to the play phase.
At the start of the play phase, each player who has not yet folded this round puts one of their chips into the round’s pot as ante. Then each of these players, starting with the player to the dealer’s left, decides whether to fold or to play. When choosing to play, a player must pay an additional chip into the pot (if possible). The dealer must choose to play. After this, all players who chose to play reveal their hands. The player with the best hand (evaluated with traditional poker rules) takes the entire pot and the round ends. Players that have no chips are then eliminated.
Before the next round starts, the player to the dealer’s left is designated as the new dealer.
The game is played until some player has no chips remaining, at which point the player with the most poker chips wins.
Here is a link to our playtesting video and other visual media.
Here is a link for the resources needed in order to play Chipped Out!