Growing up, Rook was the game we played the most in my house. I had three older brothers (8, 10, and 12 years older), and when they would come home for the holidays, we would always play Rook. Rook was also played by my cousins. One summer, my cousin, Danny, and my brother, J.B., were bragging how they had taught their friends how to play Rook and beat them very badly. So, my dad, Ray, and I challenged them to beat us. Over that summer, my Dad and I beat J.B. and Danny 17 times in a row until they finally beat us. That is one of my fondest childhood memories.
When I grew up and started programming, I would always build games to learn a new programming language or technology. When I formed OTS Software, I decided that I would create some games as a side project to the custom software development I was doing. Boat was one of those of games. I didn’t want to worry about trademark or copyright issues, so I didn’t scan a deck of Rook cards and call my game Rook. Instead, I used the widely known acronym that Rook players often tell their partners, Bid Over Any Time or BOAT. I also decided to use a regular deck of cards substituting the Ace for 14, King for 13, etc., and I developed a custom BOAT card as a replacement for the Rook card.
Programming Boat was one of the more enjoyable programming experiences I have ever had. It is always fun to program a game and especially fun when you are challenged to make the Artificial Intelligence (AI) as real as possible. I decided to dedicate the game to that summer of Rook games playing with my dad against my brother and cousin. That is why when you play Boat, your partner is Ray and you are playing against J.B. and Danny.
I worked very hard to make the AI realistic and the game a challenge. When I completed the game, I gave it to my dad, brother, and cousin and asked them to try it out. With only a few minor modifications/bugs found, I released Boat for everyone to play. Boat has been played by people from all over the world thousands and thousands of times, and I have never had to fix any bugs or change the AI. I still play Boat frequently and even knowing how the AI thinks, I still only win about 67% of the games.
Jody Chaffin is the founder of OTS Software and creator of Boat. If you love Rook and would like a challenging PC version, Boat is the game for you. It is a freeware game, and it can be found at http://boat.soft112.com with gameplay instructions and screenshots.