Creator control

Since nearly the beginning of Match The Memory, the person who plays the game has had a lot of control when it comes to the number of cards with which to play the game. The card count feature allows a player to select any number of cards, as I explained in a previous blog entry:

By default, when you come to play one of our memory games, you get all of that game’s cards. But at any point in the game play, you can decide to use fewer cards. Just use the “# of Cards” dropdown and select a lower number. Boom, you’re playing a much easier version of the game.

This can be somewhat problematic, for a couple of reasons. First, the player has to know to switch the dropdown. Some games (like the periodic table matching games that we created) contain a huge number of cards, which isn’t a great experience for the people trying to match those cards. Sure, a teacher could link to the version of the game that contains an appropriate number of cards, but not a lot of people know that trick.

The second reason this isn’t ideal is that the person who creates a game may want their players to use all of the cards, for whatever reason. It could be that they’re a teacher who wants their students to cover all of the material that the game presents. It could be that they’re a company running a contest, checking how many seconds or how many flips it took each player to complete the game. (Using the “# of cards” dropdown in this case could be an easy way to “cheat” and get a lower score.)

So this week, we decided to add a few new features that fix both of those problems and give creators more control over how their games are played, while still allowing players some flexibility in how they choose to play the game. All of these features are managed in the game editor page’s “Game Details” tab, under the new “Gameplay Options” section.

To address the first issue, we added the ability to set a default card count to each game. The game creator can decide what a reasonable default for their game is. That is, if someone goes to our “The Periodic Table Memory Game” without choosing anything from the dropdown, they’ll now get 30 pairs of cards, instead of cards representing all 118 elements. Each time they reload the game, they’ll get a random subset of all of the possible cards, the same as if the teacher had linked directly to https://matchthememory.com/PeriodicTableAll?card_count=30.

Any masochistic students may choose to still play with all 118 pairs of cards, but the default experience is much more manageable. If a teacher decided that 118 cards was too many, they could make a game with all 118 cards, but set the new maximum card count option to 50, or 20, or 10, to limit players to a random subset of 10 cards of the possible 118.

The default default number of cards, and the default maximum number of cards is the same as it always was — as many cards as there are in a game. However, we have updated all of the games that we created with large numbers of cards to have more reasonable defaults: 30 for the periodic table games mentioned above, 20 for our “US States” based games (capitals, shapes, flags, and nicknames), and 20 each for the vast number of characters in The Simpsons and Game of Thrones. We didn’t change any of our maximums — go nuts, GoT fans.

To fix the second problem, we created a new minimum card count feature that lets a user force their players to play with at least the number of cards specified. We could decide that our shapes game is too easy for those lazy preschoolers who only want to match two shapes. So instead, we can set the minimum to 4 cards, and allow the player to choose anywhere between 4 and 7 pairs to play with.

The minimum number of cards could be the same as the maximum, in which case the “# of cards” dropdown doesn’t even show up for the player.

We hope that these changes help you create games that your players will enjoy!

How Match The Memory is better than a physical memory game

I have a lot of experience playing matching games, since I create quite a few myself, and I curate all of the public games built by others on the site. So when my 3-year-old son got an old-school physical matching game for Christmas this year, I immediately started contrasting the experience with playing a similar game online with Match The Memory.

The Contenders

In this corner, the PJ Masks Memory Game from Ravensburger. It’s a basic physical matching game of the traditional Hasbro variety — a bunch of characters on cards, with each picture appearing on a pair of cards.

And in this corner, the PJ Masks Characters Matching Game on Match The Memory. At first glance, it’s pretty similar: you can find Catboy and Gekko and Owlette on both games. There’s a PJ Masks logo on the back. But we’ll see some significant differences as we get into actually using each game.

Storage and Maintenance

The first difference between these games is that the physical version is just that: physical. It takes up room on a shelf or in a closet. I know that in my house, our game cupboards are already packed to the gills, and it’s hard to find room for a new game. That’s not a problem with the Match The Memory version, which just takes up a few bytes on your computer’s hard drive. (You do have to have an Internet connection to start playing it, but other than during the occasional power outage, that’s rarely a problem in modern life.)

Another problem associated with being a physical game is that you can lose the pieces (especially when a 3-year-old is involved). In contrast, every time you pull up the digital version of the game, you’ll know that your Luna Girl card will be exactly where it belongs. Also, a physical version of the game can get banged up and chewed on, while the digital version will always look as new as the day you first created it.

Additionally, once a physical matching game is printed and sold, that’s it. You can’t exactly create a new pair of cards when a great new character is introduced, unless you’re extremely good with a magic marker and some Mod Podge. A Match The Memory game, on the other hand, can be edited at any point. If in season 8 of PJ Masks, they add a breakout dog character (Poochie?), it will be super simple to edit the game to add him. (If you weren’t the person who created the original game on Match The Memory, you can go make your own game that’s very similar and include that character.)

Setup and Gameplay

When you want to start playing, you notice some other big differences between a physical memory game and a digital one from Match The Memory. I noticed when my 3-year-old wanted to play with his grandma that it took several moments to actually lay out the cards on the table, aligning them all into a grid pattern that everyone could reach. (This process was delayed even further by his “helping” her place the cards.) In contrast, on Match The Memory, the computer does all of the shuffling and arranging for you, in less than a second.

Once you actually get going, playing a Match The Memory game is simpler than the real-life version too. Picking up a card and turning it over can be tough for a 3-year-old’s chubby fingers, especially if you’re trying not to disturb the other cards out on the table. On the other hand, selecting a card in the online version is as simple and pointing and clicking with a mouse, or tapping on a phone or tablet, both of which my son could do before his second birthday.

If you determine that you didn’t get a match in a physical game, you have to go through the whole process in reverse: take the flipped up cards, turn them back over, and put them back in their original place. I noticed that my son had a hard time with this last piece — he just wanted to put the card back wherever his fancy struck him, which took the “memory” part of this game to challenging new levels for his grown-up partner, and extremely frustrating levels for a pre-schooler. In contrast, in a Match The Memory game, the cards always flip back down exactly where they started that round, so you always know where that first Romeo card is once you locate the second one. (You can also turn on a grid feature that labels each card with a number and letter, if that helps you remember where the matches are.)

Finally, a physical game cannot automatically link you to additional content or encouragement when you find a pair or win the game. In the PJ Masks game on Match The Memory, however, there’s a fun surprise that pops up when you find all of the matches: a YouTube video showing the TV show’s opening title song, which my son loves to watch every time he plays that game. (You can also add custom content like this when the player matches a specific pair of cards, like a GIF or a link or message.)

To Block or Not To Block

A year and a half ago, we made a strategic decision to add Google Ads to our site pages. In general, it has been a good move for us, helping to offset the cost of running our servers.

But we understand that not everyone likes having ads show up on their games. Some people run ad-blocker software in their browsers that prevent our ads from showing up; we’re fine with this. We do it ourselves.

Recently, we got a request from a game creator to remove advertisements on their games. We decided to turn it into a win-win opportunity, and created a new product that allows a user to disable those ads while still providing some revenue to keep the lights on at Match The Memory.

You can see this new product on any game’s Buy page. After you purchase it, Google Ads will be removed for all visitors who come to play that game.

Most Popular Games – Week of 23 Dec. 2017

There’s not much Christmas spirit here, aside from the one Dutch “kerstmis” game. 🙂

All Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
2 Mr. Polum’s Landform Game
Chris Polum
3 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
4 States of Matter Breakout EDU
Shellye Wardensky
5 kerstmis
Jack Nowee

New Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 CREAMER’S CHRISTMAS BREAKOUT
Unknown User
2 Reindeer Games
Unknown User
3 Breakout – Winter Edition
Elizabeth Bell
4 SPICE SPICE BABY
Unknown User
5 Healing Potions
Unknown User

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Oh, there it is!)

In a previous post about tagging, I addressed some of the problems inherent in how Match The Memory is currently built, specifically that games aren’t particularly discoverable. At the end of that post, I promised that finding games would be better in a new version of the site that’s coming “soon”.

(Update: The “new version” of the site was released in August 2018, with both search and tags pages being *much* faster than their original implementations.)

Since then, I’ve gone on a holiday game building bender, creating several new Christmas games that I thought would be enjoyable to a broad range of people. But this week, my wife helped me see that adding a bunch of games doesn’t help if people can’t find those games. So I decided to do something about it.

Continue reading I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Oh, there it is!)

Most Popular Games – Week of 16 Dec. 2017

Now we’re getting some holiday spirit up in here!

All Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
2 Mr. Polum’s Landform Game
Chris Polum
3 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
4 The Christmas Symbols Memory Game
Mormon Matching
5 States of Matter Breakout EDU
Shellye Wardensky

New Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 The Christmas Symbols Memory Game
Mormon Matching
2 Skills Breakout
Unknown User
3 Símbolos de Navidad
Mormon Matching
4 2 Types of Reproduction
Cynthia Baumann
5 1.1 Las acciones en la clase
Señora Gilson

Most Popular Games – Week of 9 Dec. 2017

I thought that we’d be knee-deep into snowmen and Christmas carols by this point in December, but there’s not a holly leaf or a nativity anywhere in sight in the most popular games. Ya bunch of Scrooges!

All Games

Not much different here.

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
2 Mr. Polum’s Landform Game
Chris Polum
3 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
4 Nonfiction Text Features
Suzanne Hurley
5 PARTS OF THE HOUSE
Felipe C.

New Games

This is a first: we have games in 5 different languages in our top 5. Spanish, English, Croatian, Chinese, and Arabic.

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Accidentes geográficos
Unknown User
2 Louisiana History Review
Ali Thompson
3 Vuk i sedam kozlića Lidija
Lidija Pecko
4 VMV大比併(1)
H03
5 ارشادات الأمن و السلامة
Eman Alghamdi

Most Popular Games – Week of 2 Dec. 2017

I’m surprised that there aren’t any holiday games in here yet. I’m sure we’ll see more of these as the month goes on.

All Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
2 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
3 Nonfiction Text Features
Suzanne Hurley
4 Mr. Polum’s Landform Game
Chris Polum
5 PARTS OF THE HOUSE
Felipe C.

New Games

We’re covering a lot of the basics here: language, math, geology, civics. If you used all of these new games this week, you’d probably wind up with a pretty solid education. 🙂

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Culture
Unknown User
2 Module 7 Review
Unknown User
3 Weathering
Unknown User
4 DiSalvi’s Vocab Review Game
Christopher Disalvi
5 Chapter 4 Vocabulary Matching with Pictures
Kyle Heaslip

Most Popular Games – Week of 25 Nov. 2017

All Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
2 Thanksgiving Memory Game
Match The Memory
3 PARTS OF THE HOUSE
Felipe C.
4 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
5 Mr. Polum's Landform Game
Chris Polum

New Games

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Electricity Memory Game
StJosephsPrimarySchool
2 The Yummy Pie Memory Game
Curtis Gibby
3 4.2 Los animales
Señora Gilson
4 Kapittel 3
Arvid Georg Top
5 Zehnerpotenzen
Unknown User

Most Popular Games – Week of 18 Nov. 2017

All Games

More of the most popular games ever, plus one seasonal game made by yours truly.

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 Phases of the Moon Matching Game
Tori Keim
2 Mr. Polum’s Landform Game
Chris Polum
3 Thanksgiving Memory Game
Curtis Gibby
4 Irregular Verb Memory Match
Unknown User
5 PARTS OF THE HOUSE
Felipe C.

New Games

Makayla Van Fossen has made several games related to the creatures of Harry Potter, and they look really good! Check out her Magical Menagerie Party game and go from there to the others that she’s created. Plus, vocabulary from one of my favorite childhood books, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, which I read several times as a kid.

Rank Title/Image Creator
1 El cuerpo
Unknown User
2 Magical Menagerie Party
Makayla Van Fossen
3 Hatchet Vocabulary Match
Unknown User
4 Cosas de la Clase 1
Melissa Samson
5 Thy Way is in the Sanctuary
Kelissa Delva