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!