MPN Launches New “Prima” Poker Client
The Microgaming Poker Network released a brand new online poker client yesterday, marking a sharp change in how it develops its software. The aim is for the software to be more stable, streamlined, and easier to change as the network sees fit.
Rather than just being called “MPN Client v3.0” or whatever, Microgaming gave the new software a great name, which also adorns the tables: Prima. The name hearkens back to the early days of the network at the very beginning of the poker boom, when it was called the Prima Poker Network or Prima Network. I have fond memories of Prima, as the very first online poker room on which I played for real money was a Prima room. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it gave me $10 for free with no deposit required. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but somehow ran it up to $100. I used that $100 to deposit elsewhere and began years of profitable bonus whoring and affiliate rewards. I will always have a spot in my heart for Prima.
But back to the software.
A couple weeks ago, Microgaming’s Head of Product, Alex Scott, previewed the Prima client, explaining the philosophy behind what the company was doing. This is a completely new piece of software, built from the ground up. The very first thing MPN needed to do in this case was, as Scott phrased it, build a strong foundation. He said the old client was built in C++, which has the problem of being complex. This complexity, in turn, makes it difficult for developers to understand each other’s code, which leads to errors. C++, said Scott, also has bugs that newer programming languages don’t. Thus, MPN needed to modernize.
One of the big advantages to re-doing things completely with a modern programming language is that MPN will be able to “develop a feature once, and release it to all supported devices at the same time.”
Scott went on to explain the Prima strategy further:
Building from the ground up might seem like a mammoth task, but it has its advantages. In addition to getting rid of some of the enormous complexity that existed in our old client, we’ve been able to reconsider some of the fundamental design decisions that were made many years ago, and evaluate those in the context of poker in 2018. We know so much more about user experience and the behaviour of poker players now than we did in the past, and we’ve been able to build every feature with that in mind. We’ve also been able to build in some bonus features that would be very challenging in our old client, but almost trivial in the new one, such as Ultra HD graphics. These improvements manifest in numerous small ways in the new client, and the overall impact is poker software that is easier to navigate, more intuitive to play, and more enjoyable.
Impressively, it only took the MPN development team six months to build Prima. Part of that speed, though, means that Prima will not be as feature-rich as it will be at a later date. This was by design, though. Alex Scott calls the initial release of Prima a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), meaning that it will be just enough to be useful and enjoyable, but without many extra features that could bog things down at the outset (like table chat). As time goes on, MPN will add features and evaluate how they are working. Fortunately, as mentioned, the redesign means that features only need to be built once in order to be rolled out to all platforms.
“In the past, we would design new features to accommodate everybody, but now we will design a feature that we think is viable, release it to market quickly, and test it,” Scott wrote. “If people like it, we’ll build on it, taking into account their feedback. If people don’t like it, we’ll drop the feature or deprioritise any further development of it. (This is why we have built a feedback mechanism into the client, which players can use to send feedback directly to the team).”
He used the example of the old bet slider, which could have worked in the following three ways:
1 – You call the 100 and raise 300, to a total of 400
2 – You raise to 300
3 – You raise to 420 (20 bet + 100 call + 300 raise)
In Prima, MPN is not going to try to be all things to all people. Developers will build a feature the one way they think it should be, launch it, and see how people like it.
Right now, Prima has been rolled out to just six of MPN’s skins. The skins can decide initially how they want to handle the new software; they may launch it skin-wide or allow players to use the old software if they would like. MPN would like as many players on the Prima client as possible by the end of the year.