My friend Chris Brand and I had talked previously about creating an iPhone game, but in March he asked me if I'd be interested in helping him put together an idea he had for a blackjack game.
We started doing research and decided that while there are a plethora of blackjack games for iPhone none of them had elements that we were looking for: decent graphics and simple, authentic game play.
The majority of blackjack games use a horizontal gameboard with some kind of 3D representation of a casino table, with chips and cards so small you need a magnifying glass to read them and more buttons on the screen than actual play space. It didn't take us long to realize we could make better use of iPhone gestures, turn it vertically, and do away with the 3D casino table. This meant that the game could now be played with one hand. We envisioned commuters on trains, holding on with one hand and playing our game with the other.
We incorporated as many real-world features as we could, including using the same table gestures used in Vegas to indicate Stay and Hit plays. We also introduced another real-life feature of using a "Penetration" card, which is used at a real table to indicate when the shoe should be re-shuffled. By randomly placing the Penetration card in the shoe we bring another level of authenticity to the game play.
Chris decided the name of the game should be Bona Fide Blackjack. I thought it would be a great idea to play off the “bona fide” aspect as a brand that we could expand to other games as well. It also seemed natural that the design fit around a pre-prohibition design theme, inspired by the Coen brothers’ ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’.