Blackjack Gold Kudos and Catcalls

Thoughts from the creator of Blackjack Gold

Originally released as Blackjack Royale on January 27, 2000 and later beefed up and released as Blackjack Gold on November 8, 2002, our blackjack game has been around for a decade.

What would a great review be without the honesty of a poor one? So we’ve included both. We are sharing some of the best and worst feedback we’ve received thru the years from “you rock!” to “you suck!” My best advice… download it for yourself and give it a whirl. Who knows? Your opinion might end up here…

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From the Blackjack Gold mailbag…

“You did a great job with Blackjack Gold as it has almost everything a game pack of blackjack should have… could you add a dealer button like in elimination blackjack tournaments?” — Constantin G (version 1.3.2)

“I am really enjoying the program, even in the freeware form. But now that I’ve got the full version, it’s mind boggling!” — Sonny H (version 1.3.2)

“It’s one of my favorite diversions — easily the best blackjack program out there!” — Denise P (version 1.2.4 upgrading to 1.3.2)

“Another happy blackjacker! You have proven to be a great investment. I look forward to purchasing more products from you.” — Javier D.

“Some time ago I have purchased a license for your fantastic Blackjack Gold 1.2.9 Software. I have used the program successfully for training and was able to draw some cash from Swiss casinos (only a couple of hundred Swiss francs so far)… With kind regards..” – – Ulf G

“I cannot fit the game to my screen. I like your product and I would pay twice as much for it if you could make it easier for me to see… I am a bit disappointed.” — James W. (version 1.3.2)

“Thank you for your prompt response and patient courtesy. I am up and running again. I really love your game…my heart sank when I lost it briefly. I appreciate all your efforts! Thanks again!” — Steve E

“Haven’t gone through all the features but having so much fun with it I completely lost track of getting back to you.” — Joe W

“BTW, on a whim I clicked on the About Us page of your web site and was surprised to see an actual picture of you, dog, husband, etc. 🙂 You won me over right there. So many companies that do business on the web seem like ghosts that it was refreshing to know that the Sharon who has processed my order is that Sharon right there who was the same Sharon that is developing the software….a very nice touch.

“I did activate BJG. It is amazing!” — Ronnie A.

On top of that, I chose to go ahead and pay for the bigger version of this program because it is the best that I have seen yet after having tried quite a few. I’m not much of a gambler but I’m trying to push up my math aptitude. Learning blackjack strategies is a fun way of doing that. Good job on developing such a good/fun tool for learning the game.” –Brett D

“You’ve got a pretty good game there. You might be surprised at how many other blackjack games you surpass.” — Lawrence S

“And I use it often still! It’s easy to get rusty counting cards and all. I’ve more than paid for the cost of Blackjack Gold many times over because of the card counting features. Thanks for the continuing support!! ” — Andrew W

“And my compliments to you on some fine programming work! Very impressive. It’s obvious that you spent a great deal of time researching this game.” — Kevin T

“Thank you for your remarkedly fast response. I have looked at a number of blackjack games on the internet as well as in computer stores and yours seems to be the best. It is so full featured, I am surprised that it was so reasonably priced. (The best graphics I have seen so far is Blackjack Ballroom, but this has no where near the features of your game: also, it is sponsored by a casino and seems to be very easy to beat. I ran “$1,000.00” into “$9,000.00″ the first time I played it. I wonder how well I would have done if I had been playing for real money, as they wish? Thanks again.” — Jerry W

“Anyway, because I play this damned game about 100 hours a week to avoid working I have become hopelessly addicted to it… You’re so close to utter perfection don’t stop now !! ” — Dean A

“I just returned from Vegas and did very well there. I truly believe that playing with Gold helped me to make my trip a winning one.” — Ed F

“I am very impressed with your BlackJack Gold software. How can I purchase this as a gift for a friend? ” — Ed F

“Overall, nice action for a Blackjack game. You have the pace of a casino game down pretty good.” — Rick C

“Thanks, I love this game! “– Rodney M

“Thanks for your efforts in creating great software at prices everyone can afford.” — Steve P

“Another update to your fabulous Blackjack game… I played to turn on the dealers lovely and sometimes wise-cracking voice… Thanks for an excellent game. I do like the chips action you have added.” — Greg W

“I’m glad to have a more professional and graphical BJ game now.” — Doug D

“Please keep up the fantastic work, I really love that program! By the way, do you have anything on Craps?” — Joe M

“I will tell my friends as this can be used for serious practice.” — Charles C

“I really like the capabilities and features of Blackjack Gold.” — John L

“Thanks Sharon!!! All is OK!! I LOVE the sounds!!! ” — Regards, Ben

I just read your lovely description of yourself and your company. You write beautifully! I hope your site is extremely successful, and fun for you! I practice on it (Blackjack Gold) all the time and have spent hours and hours on it. I find it enjoyable and therapeutic.” — Edee

“I wish you the best of success as you and Barry are deserving of it. BTW You have a good heart.” — Ben F

“Your software is the only one that I’ve seen that has everything I need so far. Thanks.” — Franco B

“I love the game format and set up! I’ve looked at many other BlackJack software games but yours is the best! ” — Shane H

“Have been enjoying the Blackjack Gold software lots.” — Kerry S

“Yes, Love the game and I am not much of a game player.” — Chris B

“Of all the Blackjack games for the MAC I have looked at, this one is by far the best. I will be traveling to Vegas early next month and want to get a good start on strategies. Your game fits the bill.” — Frank Z

“I love the game! ” — Keith K

“Yes, my sweet convalescing wife is up and running — so kind of you to take time to follow up… Thank you again for asking, in a world where most would not.” — Tim O

“I’m home from the hospital and have been enjoying it ever since. It’s addicting! ” — Susan O (Tim’s wife)

“…what a fun game you have developed.” — George S

“Can’t thank you enough; you’ve been most kind to this old man.” — Ray W

“BJG is a good implementation of blackjack.” — Doug D

“I’m flying to Vegas tomorrow and want to practice on the plane.” — Kris W

“I am happy to tell you that I am up and running and enjoying every minute of the game.” — Richard D

“I am amazed at how responsive you have been today, on the weekend. Much appreciated.” — Art R

An amusing thought from Sharon… he would be even more amazed to know that I was responding to emails and filling registrations while on my honeymoon…

“I did buy another blackjack game, but I really like yours better. It is more realistic… By Jove, I think you have done it! ” — Audie P

“I have 5 more chemo treatments left and the blackjack game helps a lot.” — Jeff D

“How often do you release new versions? Don’t you ever sleep? I went to Carnegie-Mellon where I met a lot of
hackers, but your update rate is stunning!” — Jeff K

“As much as I love the different ladies’ voices telling me I better register… I want all the features now hehehe.” — Don C

“Thanks for the great support! “– Greg M

“I do think it’s one of the better ones I’ve found.” — Don H

Download Blackjack Gold game

Download
Blackjack Gold Macintosh
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!
Download
Blackjack Gold Windows
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!

Reflections on Kudos and Catcalls…

One of my favorite authors is James Herriot, the country vet from England who wrote the book All Creatures Great and Small and several sequels. I’ve re-read his books many times and know quite a few of the stories by heart. He talks about life as a veterinarian, traveling the countryside of Old England ministering to farm animals. He weaves a great tale and I highly recommend his books no matter what animal you love best. But what does this have to do with the reviews of Blackjack Gold?

James Herriot wrote of both his successes and failures as a country veterinarian. Sometimes his patient would die. Other times the recovery would be truly miraculous. He often encountered the farmers at the local pub or marketplace and his experiences with happy farmers and unhappy farmers rang very familiar.

If he treated a cow and the cow promptly died, the farmer would tell the tale at the marketplace, LOUDLY regaling the story of the dead cow to everybody who could hear. He would invariably add juicy details of his own flavour and the story got bigger and bigger with each new telling. The cow was alive, James Herriot came to see about the cow and the cow promptly dropped dead.

But the farmer whose cow James pulled from the brink of death, that farmer would inevitably be a quiet sort of man, speaking in barely a whisper. He would share the miracle but with all the hustle and bustle, his whisper would get lost in the crowd.

I can relate to this aspect of human nature. As a game developer I’ve seen it, too. The unhappy folks yell the loudest while the happy folks whisper in my ear. It’s hard to read the reviews posted in public forums because the folks who email me with their kudos rarely post to public forums. In addition, the sad truth of many public forums is that some game developers resort to very nasty tactics to keep their games ranked high while stomping the competition.

I do not engage in that behavior. I do not ask my friends to load me up with five star ratings while sending them to give one star to the competition. I do my best to keep it real, honest and aboveboard. I only wish the competition would be as honorable.

The majority of genuinely helpful feedback that has shaped the game thru the years has come primarily thru email. Many added features came from suggestions that were offered by the players of Blackjack Gold themselves.

Download Blackjack Gold

Download
Blackjack Gold Macintosh
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!
Download
Blackjack Gold Windows
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!

Blackjack Gold – from the public forums

Note that Blackjack Gold is currently up to version 1.3.4 and possibly higher by the time you read this.

A five-star VersionTracker.com review of the fully activated game with all the game options enabled:

“Let me amend my earlier review. This has to be one of the best blackjack games on the net. The full version has an amazing amount of customization options. The product support is unbelievable! Best I’ve ever encountered. I use it for casino practice, I can select any number of settings Atlantic City, Vegas, both on the strip and down town, Reno and the Mississippi gulf coast. (each having different rules of play) It supports a number of card counting systems as well as modifying/ entering your own. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy fun and adaptable blackjack game. ” — Rick C

His earlier three-star review was on the Lite version of Blackjack Gold:

“The shareware version had some fair game play…over all, if you want something to use to play a few hands, download it and see what you think. Just don’t expect standard casino Black Jack.”

One VersionTracker.com reviewer wrote of version 1.0.9:

“I must admit that I feel badly giving this application a poor review. It’s obvious that the actual strategy algorithms are solid. I just shudder in abject horror at the truly awful GUI and graphics. My goodness … it’s as if somebody asked for a good blackjack simulation with the worst possible “useability” and overall feel. For the relatively high price of the shareware, my advice is to shop around.”

A very happy reviewer wrote of version 1.2.2 in direct contrast to the above review:

“I paid for it immediately. The GUI and sound effects rock! It looks GREAT on my G5 with 23″ Cinema Display and it is so addictive that I can’t stop playing. This app is well done and definitely recommended. 5 Stars for sure!”

Another wrote of version 1.1.3:

“This is probably the best, and most alterable, version of Blackjack that I have seen that is now available. (We need to talk to the people at camelsmokes.com to bring back their casino to the Internet — awesome.) I am going to deduct 1 star because in the startup screen one is only allowed to bet after clicking on the “Done” button. Dumb! Another star deducted because the playing field is NOT full screen, I feel like I have retrogressed to 1984 and the original Mac’s screen. All in all though I will buy this package as it is the most realistic version available.”

I renamed the Done button which had been confusing to a lot of folks. The very next version made the game window bigger. You get free lifetime updates when you buy the game so this fellow got his wish shortly thereafter.

Another wrote of the beta version 1.1.8b1:

“There’s some significant Mac-ification necessary to polish this game. It could easily be best of breed, but to do so may force the developers to leave behind their Windows roots and bone up on Mac UI guidelines. So much potential, but until that’s in place, the shareware price isn’t warranted.”

This one hurt because I am a Mac developer first and foremost. I only use Windows to test the Windows version. I see the game from a Mac point of view. For me it was almost blasphemic to be told I was not Mac-ified. I did, however, make some adjustments to the menus in response to his email feedback. You gain a lot more emailing me with your requests and feedback 🙂

I develop on a Mac. I love Mac. My first computer was a Macintosh LC II. From there I went to a blue and white G3 and then to a MacPro. Most of you are probably light years ahead of me with your computers. I tend not to upgrade very often.

The next reviewer also got his wish as the hole card option he referred to was added in a later version, the game window size was also increased from version 1.0.1 which he was reviewings:

“Lot of potential for those who like to play serious blackjack. Lots of features to help hone skills. The play is authentic with one quibble. This probably varies by locality but in Nevada, the dealer always checks his hole card when he shows a 10 and ends the hand and collects if he has 21. Or maybe that is an option I’ve missed. The graphics are fine. I’d like to see an option for a bigger window although that would probably affect play speed.”

One memorably awful review from MacUpdate.com, version 1.1.5:

“You suck! First off NO I did not try your product…” (the rest deleted but you can find it there… note that he did not actually try the game, he blasted it because he could not play the full version of the game for free…)

From Download.com, version 1.1.1:

“Not worth a penny. After a few plays, it enters “demo mode-” making play even worse than before. The strategy algorithim is nice, but the sounds are pathetic and the animation cheap. Not worth a buy, and because of “Demo Mode,” not worth the download, either.”

I have been blasted primarly for three things thru the years. The first being the GUI (Graphical User Interface) meaning the overall ease of use and layout. I’ve adjusted the GUI as far as menus but generally, my goal was to make the game appear very much like a genuine blackjack table. I downloaded every competitor out there when I first created Blackjack Gold, and some of the GUI’s I encountered did not remotely resemble a game of blackjack. They were very confusing to play. I now have more sophisticated competitors as the casinos themselves have jumped on the bandwagon. They have deep pockets for spiffy graphics and the burning desire to find a way to lure you to their online gambling venues.

The second most common complaint was the size of the game window. I made it bigger in version 1.1.4 and folks are now generally happy with the size and card graphics, though one fellow thought the Kings and Queens were “creepy” because they were staring at him.

The third major complaint is that I do not allow the user to try out all of the features before purchasing. You get the basic version of the game in Lite mode for free. The full set of game options only become available after you purchase. I did try to offer a full Try Before You Buy version but the sad fact of shareware is that people find ways to keep that free trial going forever and hence do not purchase. As a small company I could not afford to keep giving games away for free. Your support genuinely makes a difference to a small shareware company like mine. I have a long list of things I want to bring to you but it only happens with your support.

A review of the very first release of Blackjack Gold version 1.0:

“… this is a fair representation of 8 deck black jack and can help strengthen your game especially in the area of money management and betting strategy… the developer is responsive to concerns about things that are currently not working correctly or hangs the application entirely and is willing to possibly add some of my favorite side bets. Side betting at the casino I find to be more interesting than the actual game itself. I am seriously considering purchasing this software, after all it is about the price of what i would spend on an evening of black jack but has the potential to help me improve my game drastically when I gamble and have the potential to win. Let’s see if the demo makes the full version free for me :)”

Later versions began to add several side bet options and variants such as Double Exposure, Over Under 13, Spanish 21, Super Sevens and European rule sets.

Another review of the same version on a different platform from an avid follower of our games:

Blackjack Gold is up to the usual high creative standards of Gypsy King Software games. I own several and thoroughly enjoy them all. Sharon is quick to respond to customer enquiries. The intuitive interplay programmed into the games takes BJ Gold above the ordinary. Some kinks are still being worked out but the game is worth the price and warrants 5 stars from me.”

A comment on the above review, posted a couple days later:

“This game is horrible. I don’t know what product Dr. 5 was reviewing, but I strongly suspect ties to Gypsy King. Download it yourself and check it out. Graphics are terrible, interface is very NON-intuitive, and the sound effects are distracting at best, horrifically annoying at worst… the cards are so small and poory rendered that you have to concentrate on squinting to see your hand, so you probably won’t notice the ad.”

Had he watched the versions grow thru the years, he would have seen that version 1.1.4 made the game window bigger, made the cards bigger, and added spiffy new card graphics.

We’ve gotten many feature requests thru the years and the game has grown accordingly. We keep a list of all feature requests and when we upgrade the game, we go thru the list for ideas.

Download the game Blackjack Gold

Download
Blackjack Gold Macintosh
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!
Download
Blackjack Gold Windows
from Download.com
Get it from CNET Download.com!
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