Caribbean Games - Part 1: All Fours

Caribbean Games is a series that is focused on highlighting games indigenous to the islands of the Caribbean. GamePyong will explore various local and regional games and pastimes, derive inspiration from them and create games based on them.

A Game of Trump

For a Trinidadian game developer talking about games native to the Caribbean, we would be remiss if we didn't kick things off with the most popular card game in Trinidad and Tobago: All Fours! All Fours is a trick-taking card game which originated in England in the 17th century and has since spawned numerous other card games including Pitch and Pedro. In Trinidad, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn't heard of the game.



The rules of All Fours are fairly simple. It's a four-player card game consisting of two teams. The goal of the game is to get more points than the other team by winning tricks with the most valuable cards. Points are also awarded for holding the highest and lowest trump and for hanging your opponents' Jack of trump. The full rules of the game can be found on Pagat.


The History

GamePyong's first public game release was All Fours Online (AFO) back in 2009. All Fours Online was written using Java by one final-year University of the West Indies computer science student and ran in web browsers via an applet. It allowed people from all over the world to connect and play All Fours with each other. The game became very popular in a short period of time with virtually no marketing at all. At one point we had over 200 concurrent players online from countries such as Canada, USA and, of course, Trinidad+Tobago.




Eventually Java ran into some security issues and we had to pivot away from the technology in order to keep up with the mobile-driven focus of recent years. HTML5 was gaining traction and stability at that time so we decided to rebuild the entire game using the fledgling technology. We used the excellent Phaser game framework along with cutting edge (at the time) HTML5 technology such as Websockets. The move to HTML5 gave rise to several benefits including being able to play on any modern browser on any operating system. We were also able to wrap the game using Cocoon.io to produce native apps for Android and iOS devices.


The Game

All Fours Online consists of two main parts: the client and the server. The client is responsible for handling user input and presenting things to the user on the screen. The server is a complicated beast. It coordinates the connection of many clients and is responsible for enforcing the rules of the game and sending messages between clients. This is a very broad overview of the system; there are many more little parts that work together to allow the game to function properly including chat systems, room management and gameplay logic.


Recently, we've released a single-player version of All Fours that you can play without requiring internet connectivity. This version features an AI opponent which you can play against. See below for links to the game. You can play directly from your desktop/mobile browser.

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