Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays Sale!

Happy Holidays to all from our family at Fuller Systems to you and yours.  What an exciting year it has been, and in appreciation to everyone for the support we are offering our "Cribbage Pro Online" for Android at a significantly reduced price (just 0.99c USD).

Download now, this price is only going to be out there for a few days!

If your on your Android device now, click here to go directly to the download.

Thanks again to everyone for your support,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Bonus Program - Help Us Help You With Cribbage Pro Online Bug Reporting

Today, we are announcing a new way that you can help us make Cribbage Pro Online play even better and at the same time get some extra points to brag about.  Whenever you encounter any issue in online play, if you report the issue through our online reporting form, and we verify it as an issue on our servers (meaning it was not just someone disconnecting/quiting from the game), then we will award your account with some extra bonus points.  Reports verified will result in 15 bonus points awarded to the first reporting player for each incident up to 4 incidents per week and 10 per month up to a life time maximum of 350 points. Reports must be filed within 8 hours of the error to be verified and counted.  An email will be sent to the account holder after points have been awarded or with any follow-up or clarification questions as needed.  Only the first report of any incident will be counted, and all reports must be complete/valid entries.

Start reporting any issues when they happen by going here:

We hope you all find this helpful as well, and we look forward to working out any remaining bugs you all may find to help make the game even better for everyone.

Happy Pegging!
-- Josh

P.S. The bonus program is for a limited time only - so start now!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Over 250,000 Downloads And Going Strong!

Thank you all for your support of Cribbage Pro on Android!  This morning we were pleased to find out that we had crossed the 250,000 download mark for the game in well under a year of release.  All the community feedback and support is what has really enabled us to get here, and honestly we could not have done it without you all.

With that, we think it is about time to start talking about the next release that is coming as we are nearing the final phases of testing now.  So here are some things coming in this next release:

  • Much improved network stability and reconnection in online multiplayer
    • We heard you here, and we have found even more ways to improve network stability in the flaky world of mobile devices.  It's not perfect, as nothing in the mobile data services area ever is, but we really think you will find it to be a vast improvement.
  • A new "landscape" horizontal mode of display - rotate your phone and the game flips and rotates too.
    • Think of this as the "left handed" players mode.  The screen layout changes around quite a bit to "make sense" in a horizontal frame, but we think it works out quite well and are looking for any feedback you all may have if you find anything less intuitive.
  • A new "dealer" indicator icon on the avatar of the player who is currently the dealer in the game
    • Another common request, and one that frankly we should have delivered sooner.  The new "D" dealer icon will show next to the player who is the dealer as yet another indicator of who has the crib and who is "dealing" the cards.
  • A new method to selecting the "cut depth" when cutting cards that involves a spread out deck and a tap inside of the spread deck to select the card to cut.
    • The old "Tap to set cut depth" thing just was not working for us anymore and many have suggested a simple spread out of the deck to pick a position to cut to.  So, that is what this is.  The cards are simply laid out left to right with each card in the deck represented.  We also enforce the minimum and maximum cut depth rules of the game of cribbage as well - meaning no cutting less then 4 cards and you must leave at least 4 on the bottom.
  • We now do a "cut for first deal" - so you will be cutting a card from a "real" deck to pick who is the dealer first (low card wins) to better match a real word scenario and to better comply with the rules of the game.
    • Randomly selecting who was the dealer on the first play probably was yielding the same results as this now will, but this new method is actually a rule in the game of cribbage and we think really brings the feel of play into a more complete experience.  This change applies to both single player and multiplayer versions.
Aside from all these new things, there are also a few bug fixes and improvements inside in the game and on the multiplayer side of things too.  We are really excited to bring this release to the market soon, and hope you will find it as exciting as we do.

Thanks again for your support, and as always leave us comments here or email us with any ideas or questions you have.

-- Josh

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cribbage Pro Shuffling & The Deck

So lately it seems popular to dig on the shuffling and claim that we are stacking the deck in the game to favor the computer player.  I'm not going to go into the "Hey, your game cheats" thing again and why people like to think the computer is cheating when they lose, and I'm not even going to go into how the game does it's dealing "every other" and so it could not favor one player over the other.  However, I do want to give everyone some actual data points for the discussion since it seems lots of people are excited about it.  So, for this post, here is some information you may find interesting.

As was mentioned in our last post about the latest release, we use a random number generator in single player mode to randomly pick the location of a card in the deck - so as to shuffle it.  In multiplayer it is from a truly random source, but in single player we use a "tried and true" pseudo-random source based on the "Mersenne-Twister" algorithm.  So what does that really mean though, what is the result of doing that and what does it look like?  How fair is it really?

Let's define some terms first.  We will call "fair" something that in all measurements possible seems to be as truly random as possible.  You may have a different opinion (like it should match a real world shuffle as strictly as possible), but we will not go there for this as there is so much debate about that single point we will simply not solve it here.  The second definition is around a "shuffle".  For this argument, let's agree to define it as the process used to randomize the deck.

So, without further delay, here is the code that does our "shuffle" in the game today:

            rand = new MersenneTwisterRNG(new SecureRandomSeedGenerator());
            //Loop through each card giving it a random value
            for (int n = 0; n < cards.length; n++) {
                cardList.add(new Card(cards[n], rand.nextDouble()));
            //Sort by that random value
            Collections.sort(cardList, new CardSortByKey());
            //Store back into the byte array
            for (int n = 0; n < cards.length; n++) {
                cards[n] = (byte)cardList.get(n).getOrdinal();

There you have, it.  That is all there is to it and it is a direct copy/paste out of the game with comments and all.  If you can't read it, what it is doing is first getting that random number generator I mentioned earlier, the MersenneTwister.  It "seeds" it with the same kind of source that is used for security on your phone (that SecureRandomSeedGenerator makes that happen).  It then takes random numbers from that and assigns one to each card, and then it simply sorts them by that key and stores each card in that location.

So that is the shuffle, but what does the result look like?  Well, one of the best ways we have found to show this is in what is called a scatter/plot graph.  Now we could show you every single card and where it landed, but trust me, you could not read that graph/chart.  So what we will show you is what we will call "marker cards" in the deck and where they ended up after the shuffle.  We chose the "ace" card from each suite for that purpose, but we could just as easily choose anything else, it was just convenient to do that.  The data shown here comes from thousands of real games played - not just us running this in some test area - these are real decks used in real games that some of you may have played.  We got the data from a set time period and stopped at 3,000 decks.  Going anything beyond that and it gets very hard to visualize, but we could of course go to many, many more.

OK, you have been waiting patiently.  So here is the first graph:
This graph is for the ace of hearts (AH) and it is showing for 3,000 decks, where that AH was in the deck from position 0 (top of the deck) to position 52 (bottom of the deck).  As we progress this forward, what you end up getting is what really is a very random distribution.  If there was an inequality, it would stand out as a cluster surrounded by a lot of blank space - and you really just don't see that in the data.  Sure, there are some spots that are darker the others and some not as much, but in the end if you zoom in even, you will find that distribution is quite random from one deck to the next.  Just for informational purposes and to complete this thought, here are the other cards as mentioned:

So that is the distribution of cards in the deck as given by sample marker cards in the deck.  You will see that none of them look the same, this is a good thing, but at the same time don't get too into these and try to read much into them either.  I show it here to say simply this - it is clearly not favoring any deck position over any other.

There is one other way that we have found somewhat helpful in determining not just how distributed a card might be from one deck to the next, but generally how "well shuffled" a given deck might be.  To do that, you can consider looking at what the relative position of a card is now against the card that is positioned next to it in the deck and it's original position.  In other words, two cards may have started as being 1 position away from the other card, but how far apart are they now?  So if you give each card a starting point form 0 to 52 and then you shuffle and see how far apart they are from where they started relative to each other you get an interesting picture.  Of course the theory here is that the more that the results show some random separation, then it could be considered a good shuffle.  There is no "gold standard" we have found in this regard, and maybe we are the only ones looking at this.  Anyway, here is our data of a deck we grabbed from one at random:

Here it is averaged over 5 decks:

Now over 10 decks:

Do  you see a trend?  Here is at the 3,000 mark:

Yeah, we think it looks cool too.  It is almost smiling at you.  In fact, I think it looks like a really good distribution in a good random shuffle.  Things settling towards being equally distributed in the deck on average - meaning each has a decent chance of showing up just about anywhere.  If you consider the possible combinations of a deck, the more you approach that factorial, the more this graph will get flat.  That is exactly what should happen.  I think that is cool.

Feel free to add your interpretations in the comments or ask for other views of the data.  If you have some cool graph you would like to see (and you can tell us how to construct it somewhat), we will do what we can to give it to you.

In summary, we think this shows two very good perspectives on the shuffle and distribution in the game.  We hope you found it interesting and informative.  We think it fairly clearly shows the unbiased nature of the game and the random nature of it's results.  I'm sure some will disagree, but if you do disagree, please let us know why and what you may find more compelling or if there are parts we did not discuss that you would be interested in knowing more about.

-- Josh

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Manual Counting & Muggins Comes to Cribbage Pro!

After what seems like a very long time to me, and I'm sure to others outside of Fuller Systems as well, we are simply over the top excited about the new manual counting and muggins features of the latest version of Cribbage Pro that was put to the Android Market early this morning (around 3am PST).  As we were playing, I mean "testing", this release I have to admit we all got very addicted to counting manually and mugging each other at every possible moment.  It really adds a new dimension to the game and it is a lot of fun.

We spent a long time in testing on this one too, as we developed it for both single player and multiplayer versions at the same time and it introduced a lot of complexity to the turn, count and point systems.  I mention this because although we did thousands of tests against it, you all are much better at testing all the variations then we are (there are over 150,000 of you now), so if you find any bugs or quirks, please do let us know at

Other features are in this release (version 1.0.8) as well, that are worth mentioning here.  We have traded out the old "comic" style default avatars for a new set while at the same time letting you change the image to your own custom upload as well.  Although I know many of you really liked the old avatars, there were just as many who did not, and so we felt it best to go more neutral with the default set we provide while still giving the option for everyone to have whatever they want to represent them.  You can find the old ones with some searching if you really want your old one back.  The only other note on this feature; please keep it clean.  We will remove avatars from public view (you can keep them on your phone of course) if we get complaints and find that they are offensive. We reserve that right at our sole discretion as is noted in the EULA, but really don't ever want to have to use it.  Right now everyone seems to be doing good with it (mostly dogs and family actually).

Some other things changed too.  We changed the settings/options screens to be categorized and added a password protection setup/registration to the process.  This let's you move from one device to another (say one of those cool new Droid X phones) or create an entirely new account should you ever need to.  It will also let you recover your account more easily, without having to contact us and wait.  Perhaps more obviously, it also lets you keep your pesky friends/kids/significant other from killing your points and ranking or making you look bad in multiplayer.

Before you ask, we did also tweak the shuffling a bit in the release too.  Most everything is the same, except we changed the algorithm that generates our random numbers to use what is called a "Mersenne-Twister" algorithm that we seed with random bits from the device.  I'll spare you the details, but in the end we think it is faster (easier on your CPU) and produces a better random result in our tests.  You will find that many computer based card games use this algorithm when a true random source does not exist.  I doubt you will find it much different, but if you think the card mix is different in this release, I suppose it could be this change (although you would probably have to be a computer analyzing hundreds of thousands of hands like we did to really notice). I should note here that on multiplayer games we actually have a true random source (it uses a mix of sources you can find by doing a Google search like for example).  This means the results you get in multiplayer games for a hand are as true to random as anything could be (that we know of anyway).

Finally in regards to changes, you will notice some UI tweaks in the game that include updated and bigger buttons, a mix of other alignment changes (like the lobby chat in multiplayer) and a new "Multiplayer Top 50" button in the stats page.  This new "Multiplayer top 50" is really just the same point system used for the regular/old "Top 50", but you have to have played at least 5 multiplayer games to be on that list.  We will make a few more changes to this list as time goes on to help provide a purer look at where players stack when put up against other real players.

To sign off for today, a final thought/request of you all.  What do you want to see next?  We have our ideas, but would love to hear from you!  Leave us your comments here, or email them to us.

-- Josh

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cribbage Pro Update Coming Soon!

Well, it has really been a while since we last posted, and this post will also be fairly short. I'm writing to let you all know that all is not quiet here at Fuller Systems, Inc. We are actively working on our next release of Cribbage Pro, and we are quickly approaching a release date.

We are very excited about the new features coming to the game, and just can't hold it in anymore - so here is a quick list of what is coming next:
  • Multiplayer! - Yes, it is finally coming and I have to say it has been a lot of fun just testing it out and playing it amongst ourselves. There are a ton of features in this category from time limits for games to in-game chat and a game lobby. Unfortunately, manual counting and "muggins" did not make this release, but it is coming soon afterward.
  • Improved Shuffling - Yet even more improvements to our shuffling algorithm to improve the distribution of the cards overall. The most significant change is for multiplayer, but the single player game also has a version of the improvements that can work on a mobile device effectively.
  • New Game Board - An improved layout and color for the game board to make it a little easier to read and to look a little more like a standard game board. It's not perfect yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
  • Dealer Selection - We have improved the random selection of who is the dealer for new games and now make sure that the loser of the last game is the dealer of any next game started immediately afterward.
  • Bugs... - Yes, we still had a few bugs to kill, and this release will squash them. Primarily this is the "resume state" bug where if you send the game to the background and come back it was not picking up where it left off - this is now fixed along with a few other minor bugs.
  • Improved Help File - We have spent some more time in the help file in writing out more about what the game is doing and why, and added in an FAQ section to help answer some of the common questions we get.
Well, this is the short list of what to expect coming next. If things clear through testing in the next few days, you will see this release in the Market. Until then, feel free to comment here or email us with your thoughts on these improvements and what you would like to see next. We always love hearing from you.

-- Josh

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Of Points and Ranking

We have recently had a few comments and questions about the points and ranking system used in the Cribbage Pro game. These comments and questions have been very insightful and helpful in understanding a different perspective, and in response to some of this we are making a few changes to the system.

So, effective immediately, the following changes are now live in the "Top 50" tracking system:

  • Players with unfinished games over 50% of finished games will not qualify for the "Top 50" - they will simply not show up in the top 50 at all until they have played enough games through to bring the percentage back above the line.
  • Players at level 6 or above (points >= 2500) will not be awarded points for a win against a Novice computer player (and no loss of points for a loss) going forward. Players who have already accrued points, will retain their points.
  • Players at level 8 or above (points >= 2750) will not be awarded points for a win against an Intermediate or Novice computer player (and no loss of points for a loss). Players who have already accrued points, will retain their points.
  • The minimum award for a win against the advanced computer will be increased from 2 to 4 points, the intermediate win will stay at 2 but the novice will be decreased to 1.
We believe that these changes will close some of the "loop holes" players have found in the system and will make the ranking in the single-player game more "fair".

Please keep your comments and questions coming in, and let us know what you think.

Since I am writing a post on points and ranking, I should also spend a minute explaining the system being used. Again, if you have sent us an email with this question, the below is going to look familiar.

The first thing to mention here is that it is not a "Ladder" system or a simple points system, it is actually a ranking system which can be foreign to some, so I'll explain what that means. In the next update, we will include more details about the points system we use in the help file to make it more clear what is going on. It is definitely a miss on our part to not have that already included there.

In regards to the points specifically, it is a bit of a technical explanation, so I'll try and explain as best I can. The system is designed for ranking each player as accurately as possible, not a points system as stated earlier, and so as such we give virtual "points" or rankings to the computer players you are playing against (the advanced player is ranked as a "2500" point player). So the points then really is your "Rank" against all others, and just as others win and lose, their points will follow the same algorithm. Those computer players only have so many points themselves to "give away", and as your level goes beyond their level, you get fewer and fewer points up to the minimum amount of 2 points for a win (now adjusted as noted above). Similarly, if you lose then the system works in reverse and so the penalties are larger as your points are larger then theirs (up to the maximum of 41). The system we are using is very close to this one:

It is intended for player to player ranking more then computer ranking, which is why it seems odd right now. When we add the multi-player functions, it will make a lot more sense. However, we may change/tweak the algorithm as well as we are still in beta with it, and it can be concerning to be ranked high and lose so many points so quickly when you lose a game. We will likely keep this one for multi-player either way, as we believe it proves out to be the fairest we have found.

The three point levels the computer players are:

Advanced: 2500
Intermediate: 2000
Novice: 1500

You can use the formula given and these point levels of the computer players to calculate a potential win/loss point award as well. No extra points are given today for a skunk or double skunk beyond what you get by winning by so many points, and we currently do not have plans to change that.

-- Josh

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hey, Your Game Cheats!

So I have debated for a while now about writing this post, as it can be perceived negatively by some. However, over the last few days we have seen a lot of downloads of the Cribbage Pro game on the Android phones, which is really awesome, and at the same time there has been a rise in the number of comments and emails we have been fielding from players who seem to insist the computer is cheating on the various levels of play. I think the vast majority of players realize this is not the case, as many of them we can see in the statistics are winning against the computer an incredibly large number of times. Similarly, we get emails and comments from others that say the computer is simply too easy to beat and they never lose on any level. I think something inside of us (and yes, I mean "us" as some on our staff have honestly asked the same question) want to accuse a computer of cheating when it beats us soundly in a game. This I suppose is one of the draw backs of creating a game that is indeed challenging to win at.

Initially, I found the accusations funny, because I wrote the game and I know every line of code and piece of logic that is in it inside and out. The funny part is that it would have taken me longer and more code to write a game where the computer is cheating then what we actually did in spending our time researching game play strategy and writing a game that simply knows the rules of cribbage very well and how to win. So let's start with a clear and straightforward statement - I stake my personal reputation and that of the entire Fuller Systems Inc. staff, brand and name on everything we make, and this game is no different. With that in mind, I can say with extreme and utter certainty that the game in no way shape or form is cheating. The computer play is playing a completely "fair game" in every sense of the phrase.

With that said, let me explain what is going on in the game a little, and how it works. If you have received an email from me on this topic, this will look familiar.

First, the hands dealt are done so exactly the same way for each and every difficulty level, with the only difference in the levels of play being which cards the computer may choose to hold or discard. This is why on advanced, the hands the computer ends up with tend to score significantly higher then on the other skill levels. The code for the game runs in such a way as to do the deal of cards exactly the same way each time and the shuffle is as natural as possible for each hand. I fully understand that sometimes the computer can/will achieve hands that are consistently higher in the advanced mode, but this is due to the level of computations it goes through in determining what the best possible holding of cards could be. It is in no way doing anything other then just that - working with the cards it is dealt. This is not to say that the computer can not go "on a run", just like a human player might, and get a series of good hands dealt to it - that is just as likely for the computer as it would be for a human player if that human player were to make the same discard decisions. Just as we don't manipulate the deal or play to give the computer an advantage, we don't handicap it either.

To go a step further, here is the exact code used during the dealing of the cards from the deck which is a simple object that holds an array of cards that have been shuffled prior to this step.

// 6 cards for each player - 12 total
for (int i = 0; i < 6; i++) {
  //Deal to pone player first, then to dealer
  if (isP0Deal) {
    player1Cards[i] = deck.nextCard();
    player0Cards[i] = deck.nextCard();
  } else {
    player0Cards[i] = deck.nextCard();
    player1Cards[i] = deck.nextCard();

If you know code structure, or can read through and derive the basic thought from this, you can see that it has no consideration for the computer player (player0) then the other player and that it deals out the cards as per cribbage rules based on who is the dealer. Unfortunately there is not much more I can add here, short of sharing the entire game code with everyone, which we can not do for obvious reasons. So one could claim that this code is not the real code, or that later in the game code changes are made or something. Please understand, there would be absolutely no value for Fuller Systems to have a game that we give away for free, cheat in any way. In the future releases of features we add, you will see more on why that is (yes, think multi-player). In those future versions it becomes even more critical that we ensure no player has any advantage in the deal over any other player.

Lastly, we are working on finding an independent authority to audit and review the game to prove it is fair and accurate in it's play, which we hope will remove some of these concerns. As of yet, we have not found an independent organization that is capable of doing this, so if you have suggestions, please let us know by email or in the comments here.

Thank you for letting me take the time on this blog to respond to some of the accusations, and if you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions, please don't hesitate in letting us know.

-- Josh

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone. What an exciting year we had in 2009, and what we have planned for 2010 is really getting me fully energized and raring to go.

Much of what we are doing right now is around the Android platform (aka the "Google phones"), and so a short pre-announcment seems fitting. A new release of Cribbage Pro for the Android is coming out very soon. It will include some exciting new features that the community has asked for either in comments or emails to us, and I can't say enough how great it is to hear from you all and see your support for us and the game.

So what is the new release going to include, well some of that you will have to wait and see, but here are some highlights:
  • A new shuffling algorithm - producing a more "natural" shuffle and reducing the number of times you see the same cards or same mix of cards in a hand.
  • Full game "Save" and "Load" feature - Allowing you to stop in the middle of a game and come back any time later to continue playing.
  • Full game statistics - The system will track and record all your completed games with all the juicy details you might want to know like wins, losses, skunks, double skunks, highest hand, highest pegging and more!
  • New preferences/settings screen that shows you the card images to choose from and also adds a few new setting to change your player image or "avatar" as well as a "user name". Why a user name.... well....
  • A new "Top 50 Stats" page will let you see your ranking against all the other players of Cribbage Pro! Enter a user name in the settings screen, and you can access the top 50 list any time, from anywhere!
  • Bug fixes and more! We have fixed a few minor bugs as well as tweaked a few things here and there to make the game play even better.
So as you can see, there is a lot going into this release, and as we wrap up testing over the next few days you will see this update hit the market place for you all to download and enjoy.

As usual, keep the feedback coming in and let us know what you would like to see added and it may just be the next thing on the list.

-- Josh