The rumors of the game being part of 1 vs. 100's legacy are true. "This is pretty much a spiritual successor" to the popular-in-certain-circles event-based massively multiplayer arcade title, says lead designer John Scott Tynes. But rather than a snappy trivia game show, this is definitely a Texas Hold'em poker game -- there's no celebrity hosts or mob members here. If you don't know your straight flush from your two pair, ace high, the game does have a tutorial to teach you the basic rules, but you'll have to find your own way to figuring out when and how to go all-in.
The basic idea of Full House Poker is that your Xbox Live avatar has a gambling addiction. Sitting down at the dealer's table as your system avatar, you can try making a lucky fortune as a single player, invite your friends in to play according to a set of house rules (in a number of different cosmetic settings), or even join a few planned tournaments, in which up to thirty people battle it out for the whole pot.
But the real centerpiece of the game is a mode called Texas Heat, which is where the legacy of 1 vs. 100 ties in. "When we began working on Full House Poker," says Tynes, "our intention was to do sort of a World Series of Poker-style thousand player tournament, like a big massive tournament every week or month. We just realized that spending four, five, six hours straight at one of these giant things is just not a really very viable idea. 1 vs. 100 inspired us to instead take the tack of: What can we do with thirty minutes? What can we do with poker in that time frame that would be fast and fun?"
Throughout it all, players are rewarded with XP and avatar awards. Avatar awards are mostly for in the game, but players will be using their real Xbox Live avatars to play, so, says Tynes, "yes, Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, and the guy from Assassin's Creed will all be playing poker together." XP is rewarded across all of the game's modes, but it's especially used to reward non-paying moves in Texas Heat -- even if you don't get the cards you want to win big, but make a smart move like folding at the right time or raising on a good hand, you can still get an XP bonus. That XP is tracked across the game, and Tynes says that will be the real indicator of the best poker players. "The smartest players, the best players, not necessarily the richest, are the ones who are going to be the best overall."
As for price, Tynes says that "all of the XBLA games we're doing these days are 10 or 15 bucks, and we expect we'll be in that range." That's for the entire game -- the Texas Heat events will be free with purchase. Not all 1 vs. 100 fans will probably be thrilled to know that the "successor" is so poker-centric, but poker fans will definitely be intrigued by this avatar-based take, and the impressive social features should keep things interesting hand after hand. Look for Full House Poker in Microsoft's House Party lineup, starting up this February.