Tips for a great-looking memory game

I’ve created more personalized memory games on Match The Memory than anyone else by far, and in the process I’ve learned what makes a good-looking game stand out from an unattractive or boring one.  Here’s some tips that may help you when you’re making your next custom game.

  1. Make the card layout (Portrait or Landscape) match your photos.  If most of your photos are horizontal, make the cards horizontal — and vice versa.  This is important because the cards are really all about the photos you put onto them.   The colored backgrounds are fun, but your pictures are larger on the cards when the orientations match — and I’d rather see a big photo than a bunch of color any day.

    Horizontal vs. Vertical
    The horizontal card looks better because it wastes less space on the background color and instead shows a larger version of the horizontal picture
  2. Add some text to personalize it a little bit more.  Many of the games that have been created recently are just pictures on the front, plain colors on the back.  That’s fine, but a little bit boring.  When you put your words onto the cards, it makes the game feel like YOU made it, instead of some cookie-cutter company.  It gives the player a little insight into what you were thinking when you were making the game, what fun memories you were trying to share.  This can be done either as text overlaid on the cards themselves, or in the window that pops up when the player gets the match.  A corollary to this tip: don’t just make the back a blank color — add the game name to spice it up a bit.  (“Best Friends” in the  example below.)

    Best Friends game with text popup
    The popup window adds some context and tells what this picture is all about, while the "Best Friends" text on the back describes the whole game.
  3. Make the fronts and backs complement each other, but give them some contrast. When I first started building the game from scratch, I only had one option for colors on the whole game — the fronts looked exactly like the backs.  But when I actually started playing the games, I realized immediately that I had to add an option to make the front look different from the back — everything was jumbled together and I couldn’t tell what was going on in the game as I was playing it.  I figured out that they had to be different to show progression as you matched more cards.  One trick I learned was to make the font color and the background color look good together on the front, then use the same colors in the opposite places on the back.  In the example below, the blue background color and yellow font color of the cards are reversed for the back — yellow background color and blue font color.
    Spanish Vocab game
    The backs and fronts are easy to tell apart because their colors are complementary but different

    So there you have it.  I hope these hints will help you make a better game in the future.  If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in the comments.

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