An app for Backgammon in the Round
Backgammon is a round game - a player moves pieces around a board. The existing boards, however, all require some illogical maneuvering on a rectangular board. In 1975, I developed Backgammon in the Round (full story).
• The board shape is a more appropriate fit for the game.
• A dice well is reserved for dice - no throwing dice in the same area as the playing pieces.
• The bar is back at the beginning, where a piece can restart its journey.
• There is a dedicated trough for the doubling cube, allowing it to slide to each player's side.
It had been 37 years since I first created that round backgammon board. Even though the game is not as popular as it was in the 1970s, the round board still made so much sense. In June of 2012, I was enjoying dinner with Taylor and Karen at Tavern on Jane - a historic naberhood restaurant and bar on Jane Street at the very north edge of Greenwich Village. Taylor casually reminded me that I needed to develop an app for the round backgammon board. That nudge put the project on a front burner and I explored the idea upon returning to Oklahoma.
I was trying to adapt a round board to fit within the rectangular format of an iPad screen. The game was still a round game, but I now explored a compromise - leaving the home tables in a rectangle and the other half of the board in a circle - to convey the motion of moving around the board. The curve intuitively fits the game play. The resulting C or horseshoe shape is reminiscent of a stadium or arena bowl. A home board is now in front of each player. I drew the preliminary sketches (below) while at a freethinker conference in Tulsa. I always take work to do when attending conferences, meetings, or lectures. I sit off to the side where I won't bother others and sketch away.
Refined logo draft for the backgammon app
Link to info about the Round Backgammon logo
App layouts on the iPad
Set-up and instruction diagram
• Pieces moving into starting position on the board.
• Rolling the dice: tap to shake and roll, bouncing off of dice well.
• Doubling cube: tap to raise value, slide to side if accepted.
• Moving pieces: slide end piece to destination (not accept if miscount). Mimic board play. Offset stack pieces if no room.
• Captured piece: moves to bar.
• Piece on bar: tap/slide to destination (not accept if miscount).
• Bearing off: slide to trough.
• Game winner: Congratulations, New Game?
• Board diagram
• New Game (Are you sure?)
• Pause game/Resume
• Forfeit game
• Undo move
• # of players: _1 or _2 or online
• Player color: _Light _Dark
• Who goes first: _Light _Dark
• Level of difficulty: _Easy _Medium _Advanced
• Doubling cube: _On _Off (hide graphic)
• Sound: _On _Off
• Hints: _On _Off (options hilited)
• Match length: _3 _5 _7
• Board layout motif: _Silver _Green
• How to play, rules: Link to web
• The full story of round backgammon
• No more possible moves, skip play
• Forfeit game - Are you sure?
Some other layout options
Traditional app board layouts
Inspiration: August 30, 1975
Designed/sketched: September, 1975
Built wood prototype: November 5-12, 1975
Played games with friends: November/December, 1975
Met with box manufacturer: December 5, 1975
Met with Patent Attorney: December 9, 1975
Met with Small Business Administration: December 12, 1975
Registered name: December 18, 1975
Filed patent: January 1976
Showed prototype to Pressmans: March 5, 1976
Met with Oswald Jacoby: March 11, 1976
Met with engineers, Pressman factory, New Jersey: April 1976
Patent rights sold to Pressman Toy Company: May 1976
Patent issued: November 8, 1977
Discussion of app option: NYC, June 1, 2012
Sketched app: June 23, 2012
Developed app: June 28-July 6, 2012
Sketched/developed hybrid board: July 6-7, 2012
Home • Email Jim Watson • Filename to share: http://www.jamesrobertwatson.com/backgammonapp.html