Classic game of solitaire with playing cards

Posted by sere on December 18th, 2020

The classic game of solitaire with playing cards has been keeping people amused for a couple of hundred years. The advent of computers has only helped make this genre of card games more accessible, easy, and fun to play.There are real advantages in playing a digital version of solitaire. But what are some of the options for playing digitally? 

To help figure out which digital resources are best, let's first talk about what you should be looking for in a good program. What features should you look for in a software program, app, or browser based implementation that allows you to play Solitaire? Personally I find that programs which offer an option that provides a "winning deal" much more enjoyable to play, otherwise you can quickly get stuck after a random hand that doesn't let you progress very far. But for you this may be completely unimportant, so a particular feature might be more important to one person than another. But there are general considerations you should keep in mind, weighing up which of these are most important to you.

So here are three key elements you should keep in mind when selecting a digital version of solitaire that is right for you.

1. Games: How many and which games are included?

One of the first things I look for in a program is what games are included, and how many there are. All the special features in the world won't compensate for a poor or minimal selection. Are you the kind of person who is content playing your favourite solitaire game over and over? Or do you want an app or program that gives you a much wider range of games to choose from? And do you want a selection of the classic games, or do you enjoy trying more obscure solitaires? Some programs, apps, and websites only offer a handful of different games, while quite a few offer as many as a hundred, or even as many as more than 500 games, especially when you take into account all the possible variations.

Closely related to this is whether variations are offered for some games. Many popular solitaire games have alternate rules or variants. It can be a little frustrating when your favourite game of solitaire is implemented in a different way than what you're used to, or if it adopts different rules than what you prefer. The best programs include all these alternate ways to play, either listing them as separate games, or giving options within the game to customize the rules.

2. Usability: How easy is the software to use, and what is the user interface like?

One developer that I corresponded with indicated that he's learned from user feedback that a good user interface is the number one priority for the majority of users. People want to have a million features, but they also want everything to be just a click away, and the less clicks the better. Anything that gets in the way of enjoying the game, or makes it longer to get to where you want to go in the program, becomes a point of complaint.

Some programs may have the greatest looks, but a poor user interface gets in the way of having fun with the game-play. I can testify to this from my own experience. Unfortunately some apps have very counter-intuitive menus, or a maze of icons, and every time you're playing you're struggling to find what you want. When moving a poker card in the game takes twice as many clicks as it otherwise could, you will soon abandon that program in favour of something that gets the same job done with only half the effort.

3. Looks: What is the quality of graphics, and what customization is possible?

Does the program look a hideous remnant from the 1990s, or does it have a sleek and modern look? Some programs do have a distinctively outdated feel about them. Technology continues to progress rapidly, and the latest apps especially tend to take good advantage of hardware and software improvements. The graphics not only need to be clear and sharp, but I personally enjoy having a range of different styles of deck to choose from, which includes a variety of faces, card backs, and backgrounds.

Customization is important, and the best software will often include or make available add-ons which give you this kind of choice, to help personalize your experience. With technology today, there's really no good reason not to offer this. A game of solitaire can have a different feel when playing with a traditional deck, or when playing with cards that have a completely different look. This isn't just about functionality, because it's a given that poor graphics shouldn't get in the way of user experience. Really it's more about personal preference and feel, and developers would be smart to cater to this.

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