I’m starting to detect a pattern

Most of the images that we originally built into Match The Memory fit with our original vision for the system — family-oriented sharing of one’s personal life. These images were mostly in the “scrapbooking” vein with color schemes that reflected the late 2000s.

Today, we’re announcing a refresh of the default images. The most popular images that launched with the site are sticking around, but we did some spring cleaning and got rid of many images that were rarely used.

In their place, we’re adding light and dark varieties of some basic patterns that work with whatever background color you’ve chosen. From bubbles to zig-zags, these patterns have lowered-opacity white and black colors to subtly brighten or darken your color palette.

Check out all of the patterns below.

Thanks to Hero Patterns for providing the source images.

More fonts, more languages

When we originally conceived of Match The Memory more than 10 years ago, we had no idea that creators from all over the world would eventually make games in hundreds of languages using dozens of writing systems. As such, we picked fonts that we thought were fun at the time, not considering localization support in the slightest.

In the mean time, a lot has changed on the web in general, and specifically on the site, and it’s time that the typefaces available to game creators on Match The Memory reflect those changes as well.

Continue reading More fonts, more languages

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.

Continue reading Creator control

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!)

Counting Cards

Sometimes you come across a Match The Memory game that has too many cards for you to complete at once. Theoretically, you could match all 118 elements on our Periodic Table memory game, or all 50 US states in our states shapes game, or even all 58 denizens of Springfield, USA, but it would probably take you a long time.

We have a feature that lets you bite-size any game. We call it the “card count” feature, and it shows up in the top right corner of each game.

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.

The Match The Memory system randomly chooses that number of cards, along with their correct matches. In this People of Springfield example, I picked a much more manageable 10 cards, for a total of 20 matches.

You’ll notice in the screenshot above that the URL changes to show how many cards you selected. You can link to a version of the game that has as many cards as you want by adding a query parameter to the URL. So a chemistry teacher can give her class a big challenge by linking to the full https://matchthememory.com/PeriodicTableAll web site address, or make the game a bit easier for the students by sending them to https://matchthememory.com/PeriodicTableAll?card_count=10 , where they’ll only get 10 different chemical elements.

Have fun counting cards!

Tag, you’re it!

Match The Memory was conceived as a way to share the details of your life. A fun photo here, a memory of a vacation there. It was supposed to be public, yes, and shareable too, but not necessarily viral or discoverable. A customized memory game featuring your family photos is interesting to your Facebook friends or Instagram followers, but not the world in general, so why would there need to be a robust way for someone to search for your games?

In practice, the site hasn’t been used in quite the way that I originally intended. Few people use Match The Memory to replace their annual family holiday letter, and many people instead create general-interest games that appeal to broad audiences. Teachers especially make games that help not only their own classes, but also any other students of their subject. That’s not a bad thing in the least, but it does expose some flaws in how I originally built the site.

In the beginning, the Play page was the only place to find new games to play. It shows a few random games and gives you a search field where you can type, and a list shows the titles and addresses of public games that match your query.

This works fairly well at filtering, as long as the game you want happens to have the word you’re looking for in its title or address. But it doesn’t allow you to see the games themselves, so you’re left with some questions: do they have pictures and text, or just words? Is the text too small for your target audience? Did the creator design the game in a way that’s pleasing to the eye? You have to click into those games one at a time to try them out.

In time, I decided that games needed to be taggable, and searchable not only by the keywords in the title, but also by anything else that the game creator decided was relevant. For example, games about Motion and Forces should also be accessible by someone searching for physics and science. So I added the feature and the tags page was born. There, you can browse some of the most popular tags on the site, and click into see games tagged with those terms.

The page where you view games for a specific tag has an advantage over the rudimentary search on the Play page: you can see the games’ preview images, as well as other tags that have been applied to each game. A matching game is a visual thing, and it’s easier to decide whether a particular game works for you based on a picture of that game, rather than just its title.

But the tags page has problems of its own. First and foremost, it only shows the most popular (and as of last week, the most recent) games that are associated with each tag. There may be 100 or 1,000 games on Match The Memory that have the keyword you’re interested in, like Spanish or French, but you can only see a few games in those very broad categories. There was no way to drill down to easily find a game about animal names in Spanish, or colors in French, unless those games also happened to be tagged with animales or couleurs respectively.

So last week, I built a feature to allow searching by multiple tags. Now you can find games that are tagged with both “Spanish” and “animals”, or “French” and “colors”. Just add as many tags as you’re interested in to the tag search field, separated by commas, and you’ll be taken to a tag page showing games that match both tags.

You can get to this page by changing the URL in your browser yourself. Entering


takes you to the same page as using the search field.

This is not as good as a real game search engine that would take multiple search terms and show you the most relevant games based on all of those terms. That’s coming in a rebuild that we’re currently working on, so you can look forward to a better search experience coming soon (depending on your definition of the word “soon”). But in the mean time, it’s now quite a bit easier to find the perfect matching game for you.

Play it again, Sam

Previously, when you finished playing a game and wanted to play that same game again, you had to reload the page. We had a “Start Over” button that helped you do this instead of manually triggering your browser, but the effect was the same. You had to transfer a bunch of data from the Match The Memory site again. This was a vestige of the very first version of the game that used some old technology.

Continue reading Play it again, Sam

Put a pin in it

No, we’re not talking about Pinterest. You’ve been able to save a Match The Memory game to Pinterest for several years, and many people have done so.

This post is about a new feature requested by one of our users. A teacher named Sydney emailed me the other day, asking if I could implement a new feature:

… add a toggle to hold after each guess. So if I guess one card, it flips, then I guess a second card and it flips. Then, if they aren’t matches, the cards stay flipped over until I click something to flip them back.

Continue reading Put a pin in it

Going to class

I recently got a request to add a classroom mode to the site.  Someone was creating a personalized memory game and wanted to be able to use it in a large group setting where one person would control the computer, but many people would be able to call out which card to flip over.  It took me a few weeks to get around to coding the solution, since I was also working on the canvas-based version of the game, but Classroom Mode made its debut on the site this morning. Continue reading Going to class

Other kinds of personalized memory games (and why Match The Memory is better)

When I first decided to create Match The Memory, it was a lightning-struck-my-brain kind of moment.  I didn’t know anything about what other kinds of games existed, either to play online or for purchase of a physical game.  It was just an idea while I was at my parents’ cabin: I could create a pretty cool game that someone could personalize, play online, and print.

Once I got home and started creating the site, I looked into my competition, and I what I found didn’t impress me much.  There are three basic kinds of memory games out there, and I’ll go through each of them and discuss their shortcomings and how Match The Memory overcomes those faults to make for a great game experience. Continue reading Other kinds of personalized memory games (and why Match The Memory is better)