HOW TO PROVE THE GAME IS HONEST:
Before you buy, read about the following features available in the app that you can use to prove to yourself that the game is honest and think long and hard about whether you understand and agree with the proofs.
OUR RESPONSES TO FALSE APP STORE REVIEWS:
Read our detailed responses to false reviews on the App Store here.
Novice players have been falsely accusing strong neural network-based backgammon programs of cheating for as long as they have existed. Although hard to believe, if you read reviews for all the backgammon apps on the app store, you'll find that even the weakest apps have people who think they cheat.
Most backgammon players are not expert players, even though many think they are. They greatly overestimate their own playing skill and are the ones who write scathing reviews falsely accusing various backgammon programs of cheating. If they claim to play at a skill level that can accurately judge how well Backgammon NJ on Expert level is playing, that means that they're claiming to be one of the top players in the world, which obviously isn't the case. Instead of listening to these people, draw your own conclusions by using the proofs we've provided above. If you don't understand and agree with the proofs, then don't buy the app. There's no risk to you.
Backgammon NJ absolutely does not cheat. Try playing other top backgammon games such as GNU Backgammon or Snowie. When set at the hardest skill level, these games play better than almost all human players. If you are not one of the top-ranked backgammon players in the world, then it will be difficult for you to win on a regular basis against Backgammon NJ on the Expert skill level.
Try playing the Easy, Medium, or Hard skill level. You'll have a better chance of winning, and you can work on improving your game. Expert level plays better than almost all backgammon players, will beat you more often than not, and may be frustrating for some.
It may seem to you as if Backgammon NJ is getting the rolls it needs. Sometimes it can get lucky, as any player can. But often, what appears as luck is actually playing skill. The neural network-based AI has evaluated millions of backgammon positions and can make extremely educated moves in almost every situation. It puts itself in positions that maximize the number of useful rolls for itself and minimize the number of useful rolls for its opponent. Unless you're a top backgammon player or have evaluated millions of positions like the AI, you can't expect to play as well as the AI on Expert skill level.
Backgammon is primarily a game of skill, but there's also a component of luck added by dice. There will always be a lucky set of rolls that can cause your opponent to win, even if you play perfectly. The same holds true for you. If you're honest with yourself and don't automatically attribute all your wins to skill, you'll notice lucky sets of rolls that cause you to win when you normally wouldn't have. However, advanced players know that what matters is their Error Rate and Checker Play Skill Percentage. Advanced players work to improve their moves and lower the number of errors they make instead of focusing on win/loss. If you change how you approach the game and work to lower your Error Rate and increase your Checker Play Skill Percentage instead of focusing on win/loss, you'll find that over time, your game will improve, and as a result, you'll win more.
Because of the high skill level that Backgammon NJ plays at, what it does really well is that it knows how well you're playing at any given point. If you make a bad move, it knows. Using Hints and Tutor Mode, it can show you how to make better moves and greatly improve your game. Many iOS and Android backgammon games have no idea if one move you make is better than any other.
We took great pains to develop a well thought out game with a strong AI that doesn't cheat. If Backgammon NJ isn't right for you, please do try other backgammon games.
If you do buy this game because you're looking for a worthy opponent that can improve your game coupled with a great user interface, we thank you very much for your support!
ABOUT APP STORE REVIEWS:
Backgammon NJ is one of the first portable neural net backgammon bots widely available to the general public for a nominal price. Before this, desktop neural net bg bots were available for prices ranging from $50-$350, which meant that they were used mainly by expert players. As a result, there are many players who are now facing a neural net bg bot for the first time in Backgammon NJ. They've never played against a world-class level opponent before, don't realize that neural net bg bots are exponentially stronger than other opponents they've played before, haven't studied advanced backgammon concepts, and don't have the technical knowledge required to understand how neural net bg bots work or the proofs we've given showing that our app is honest (see above). This leads to false complaints by players with limited exposure to backgammon who think that they're experts when they're not. Combine this with the fact that the app store review system is anonymous and ripe for abuse, allowing a small percentage of users to constantly bump false reviews to the top, and you have an environment that's not conducive to app development. If you pay close attention, you'll see the same users bumping false reviews over and over.
Read our detailed responses to the false reviews here.
If you have never played a top backgammon desktop program, we recommend that you try GNU Backgammon. Not only does it play at world-class levels, it is free and open source. Thus, you can look at its source code to see exactly how it works. If you play GNU Backgammon, you'll get a good idea of the type of opponent that you will face with Backgammon NJ.
We also believe that a number of the false and malicious reviews are posted by our competitors. This is a problem well known to honest developers but probably lesser known to the average App Store buyer. It is very easy for a competitor to buy an app for a nominal amount (as most apps are relatively inexpensive) and post false reviews with the intent of decreasing a competing app's sales and increasing their own sales.
We have not stooped to this level and never will. Not only are we honest, but we firmly believe that the quality of our app will stand on its own, without having to falsely disparage other apps.
If you are one of the people who has written a disparaging review of Backgammon NJ, and you believe firmly in what you are saying, we invite you to post on the BGonline.org forum. This is a forum frequented by experienced backgammon players where we also participate on occasion. If you think the AI isn't playing well, is cheating, or is doing something it shouldn't, post your Backgammon NJ match files and present your case in detail on the forum for critique. We have a sneaking suspicion that we won't be seeing any of these people posting on the forum...
If you are considering buying Backgammon NJ, please take any reviews you read on the App Store with a grain of salt, not only for our app but for other apps too. As it is, the App Store review system is quite lacking, and it's up to you to judge if you think the reviewer is an experienced backgammon player, has a good grasp of what the app does, how it functions, whether they're being honest, if they have ulterior motives, etc.
WHY WE CARE:
Some question why we take the effort to respond to false reviews. If you worked hard to create something that you knew was one of the best of its genre and that was 100% honest, but you had people lying about it and slandering you point blank, would you sit idly by and let them do so without responding? Of course not. People post false reviews with impunity on the iOS app store because they are anonymous, and developers can't reply. This is a failing of the iOS app store that we're doing our best to rectify.
Phew! ...if you made it to the end of this, thanks for your time! We appreciate your interest in Backgammon NJ.