Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Scenic Routes in Plates Across America®

Plates Across America Scenic Route Sign
In the Plates Across America® game, you (virtually) travel across and throughout the country.  There are the country-spanning routes that serve as the main travel options, but as you travel these longer routes, you will unlock shorter ones, most of which are famous scenic routes and byways.

The Scenic Routes

There are over 180 different scenic routes in the game. These were chosen from some of the popular and most scenic highways and byways that exist across the United States.  Here's a sample of some of the scenic routes available in the game:

  • Beartooth Highway
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway
  • Connecticut River Scenic Byway
  • Country Music Highway
  • Dalton Highway
  • Flint Hills Scenic Byway
  • Going to the Sun Road
  • Great Basin Highway
  • Hamakua Coast Drive
  • Michigan Gold Coast
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Ohio River Scenic Byway
  • Overseas Highway
  • Pike's Peak Highway
  • Red Rock Scenic Byway
  • San Juan Skyway
  • Selkirk Loop
  • Seward Highway
  • Texas Hill Country
  • Top of the Rockies
  • Utah Route 12
  • Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Scenic Route Signs

One of the main goals of designing our game was to instill a sense of traveling. One way we have done that is to reproduce the type of signs you would see along the way. We have a Blog Article that discusses the road and route number signs we added, but for the scenic routes and byways, they often have their own special sign designs. 

For example, the Texas Hill Country Trail scenic route includes these road number signs:

Plates Across America Texas Hill Country Route Signs

However, you will also occasionally see these special signs along the way which look like this:

Plates Across America Texas Hill Country Trail Scenic Route Sign

In the game, we reproduce this experience by also occasionally showing the special signs instead of the road sign numbers.

State-wide Scenic Route Signs

Plates Across America Colorado Scenic Route Sign

For many scenic routes, like the Texas Hill Country Trail, they are special enough that to have a dedicated sign, but not all scenic routes take this approach.  Many states will have their own scenic highway designation with a corresponding state-wide sign. For example, in Colorado, many of the scenic routes, like Top of the Rockies, will use the the same sign as shown at right.

National Park Road Signs

Plates Across America National Park Scenic Route Sign

Some of the game's scenic routes are road inside National Parks. These do not usually have any special designation along the road, but we did create a sign for them that fits in with the other signage you typically see along the roads in the parks (see image at right).


We hope this gives you a little extra insight into Plates Across America®.  There's a lot of game design work that went into creating these route signs and though this is not a prominent feature of the game, we feel that these subtle additions are important to give the players a better sense of the traveling dynamics of the game.

If you have not played our game before, try it out here for free:

Happy Travels!

Plates Across America Route Sign Collage

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Plates Across America® New Membership Levels

Plates Across America® membership badge

We recently launched a new multiplayer version of Plates Across America®. This new mode of playing is geared toward playing in groups be it families, friends or work teams. With that release, we also introduced new membership levels tailored for group play.

Membership Benefits

The "Plates Club" is our membership program that helps unlock additional game features. You can play much of the game without becoming a member, but membership gives you the following added benefits:

  • Premium vehicle avatars. As you earn points in the game, you can use them to upgrade your vehicle avatar and accessorize it. Membership allows you to choose from a wider range of vehicles and accessories.
  • Bonus routes. All of our major, main routes are accessible to all players, but many of the additional bonus and scenic routes you encounter along the way require membership to unlock. Traveling on these additional routes allows you to add to your collection and reach travel goals more quickly.
  • Additional daily group games. Anyone can play our multiplayer group game, but are limited to a few a day. With membership, you gain access to play more group games per day.

Individual Membership

Plates Across America® Membership

This is the membership level we have have always offered which is limited to one person sign ups.  We retained this for those that predominantly plan to play our single player travel game and are not interested in adding more members to their account. 

Friends & Family Membership

Plates Across America® group membership

This new membership level is intended for families and small groups of friends.  When you join at this level, you can invite your friends and family members to join your account and get the same member benefits.

Team Membership

Plates Across America® team membership

This level is aimed at larger groups including large families and work teams.  With this membership level, you are able to add many more people to your account to get the same member benefits.

Why is Membership Required?

We love creating Plates Across America® and want as many people to play as possible. However, to keep the game running requires us paying a service to host the game. The more the game is played, the more it costs us in hosting fees. For this reason, we have to put some restrictions on free playing. The membership program is how we allow more playing without the risk of going bankrupt.

Final Thoughts

Plates Across America® logo

Although we encourage people to sign up for membership to help support Plates Across America®, we also make a good portion of the game available to anyone. We hope that after playing the game that you enjoy it enough that you will want to access the extra benefits that a Plates Club membership offers.

Whether you are interesting in joining our Plate Club or not, you can play the game for free using these links:

Single Player Game

Multiplayer Game

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Multiplayer Word Game

Plates Across America multiplayer game  for online team building. Also for families and friends.

We've recently released a new multiplayer feature of Plates Across America®. Previously, we offered a two player, head-to-head version of the game, but we have now expanded this so that up to 10 users can play at a time.

Family & Friends

We had noticed our game being played as a group with multiple family members contributing answers to a single person playing the game. Everyone wanted to make their guess.  This made the group game seem such a natural and obvious feature that we are somewhat ashamed to have taken so long to get around to it.  All of our previous user testing was focused on one person playing the single player version. Naturally, this new feature is not restricted to just families as it can be just as fun for a group of friends to play. 

Inviting Players

Plates Across America: multiplayer game invotation.

When you start a multiplayer "group" game, you have two ways you can invite other players:

  • send them a link that allows them to join your game; or
  • have us send an invitation email.

The first one is best if you are all together at the same time and can easily share the URL with everyone. Depending on your perspective, it can be an advantage or disadvantage that anyone who gets a hold of that URL will be able to join.

On the other hand, the email invite option allows you to invite people and notify them directly about joining your game, even if they are not online at the time.  Another possible benefit of this approach is that the link they receive in their email only allows that individual to join. Even if they share the URL, it will not work for anyone else.

Warmup Puzzles

One concern we had with the multiplayer game is inviting new players into a game without their being familiar with the rules. No one likes to compete when they are at a disadvantage like that.  To help new players get over that uncomfortable feeling, we create a special practice "warmup" page that allows them to read the rules and try their hand at some puzzles before heading into a group game.

Warmup Puzzle Page

Plates Across America warmup oage

Two Player Game

Plates Across America 2 person race

The two-player game is not very different from a group game with two participants, though we differentiate this for one important reason. With a group game, you manage and invite the players, but with our special two player version, we will automatically find you a compatible playing partner.  We call these auto-assigned games a "Race" and use a checkered flag icon to help differentiate them from other group games.

For races, we use sophisticated, next generation AI to match up players...or really, we don't, it just seems the thing to say nowadays.  However, we do have a player matching engine that compares player skill levels to help pair them up so the games can be more competitive and fun.

Online Team Building

Plates Across America multipalyer game for online team building

Another good benefit of our group game is that it can be used for online team building. Remote working is here to stay and this means that more and more teams are looking for online group activities to help team members get to know each other better.  There is no shortage of articles suggesting activities for online team building, but frankly, we find most of them fairly corny, not universally applicable and often heavily skewed toward extroverted personalities.  

Though word games like Plates Across America® may not be everyone's cup of tea, we are confident that our game is far removed from the "corny" category, is more inviting than many alternatives and is a whole lot of fun for word game enthusiasts.

Final Thoughts

The group games are still a relative new feature, so we will be refining it as we get user feedback. Please have a try and let us know what you think and whether you have any suggestions to improve it. You can try it out here:

Group Game Page

Happy Travels!

Friday, March 10, 2023

Game Location Types in Plates Across America®

Location Icons in Plates Across America®

As you solve the word puzzles in Plates Across America®, you (virtually) travel along various routes across the country and visit thousands of interesting locations. In the game, we have created a number of different types of locations which have special significance. 

Some of the location types are the basis of the game's "Travel Goals" that help you win the game, while other types will unlock extra game features. Here we give an overview of all the various location types found in the game.

Collectible Location Types

To win the game, you must achieve 63 travel goals to complete building your flag (13 stripes + 50 stars = 63). Some of these travel goals require visiting a certain number of given location types. For example, visiting 25 state capitals, 10 caves, 5 ghost towns, are some of the possible Travel Goals. (You can read more in our Travel Goal Blog Article.)

Collectible Location Type Icons in Plates Across America®

Below are the 9 different collectible location types that serve as the basis for Travel Goals. The image to the right shows the icons we use to represent these location types:

  • Bridges
  • Caves
  • Ghost Towns
  • Mountain Passes
  • National Monuments
  • National Parks
  • State Capitals
  • Tunnels
  • Waterfalls

Remaining Location Types

There are dozens of other types of locations, many of which will unlock a "Lightning Round" when visited. (See our Lightning Round Blog Article for an explanation of that feature.)  A few of the more interesting ones and their icons are shown below.
Plates Across America® Location Type Icon Highlights

In all, there are 44 different types of locations in the game. Here's the full set of them along with the icons we use to represent them.
All Location Type Icons for Plates Across America®


We hope this gives you a little extra insight into Plates Across America®.  There's a lot of design and data work that went into creating these location types and though this is not a prominent feature of the game, we feel that these subtle additions are important in giving the game more visual appeal.

If you have not played our game before, try it out here for free:

Happy Travels!