I rarely do these things and should probably do more, but after seeing the awful scenes coming from India I felt compelled to help raise awareness. The Coronavirus has struck India hard and they’re running out of medical supplies and oxygen. People are dying in the streets simply because they do not have access to oxygen. Please reach into your pocket and give if possible, every bit no matter how small helps.
Hello fellow IG devs. With the introduction of the new minimum performance standards rule that is now in place on Facebook Instant Games, many of us (most of us actually) will see our games removed from the platform very quickly. This is a sad day but probably what is needed for the platform to evolve into something better for everyone.
Some time ago I realised that IG was a platform that was incredibly difficult to crack so I wrote a direct replacement of the FBInstant class called IGX SDK. I started this endeavour to enable myself (and others) to deploy our games to web without having to change our code bases. However I took IGX a few steps further and started turning IGX into a common API for the many web portals out there. Using the same IG code you can use IGX to deploy your games to portals such as Kongregate, Crazy Games, Poki and Game Distribution (more coming soon) and use other services such as Google Analytics, PayPal, Xtralife and AdsInPlay. You can even deploy your web games to Android and iOS app stores using the supplied Unity plugin.
Want to start getting your games onto web game portals right now? Here are the direct links to the developer portals for all currently supported web game portals:
Good luck everyone and may you live long and prosper.
Support for the Poki web game portal SDK has been added to the IGX SDK, so you can now deploy your games to Poki using the latest release on Github.
I have also deployed a number of my Facebook Instant games to Crazy Games using the IGX SDK:
- Merge Babies on Crazy Games.
- Australian Patience on Crazy Games.
- Golf Soltaire on Crazy Games.
- Soltaire Reverse on Crazy Games.
- Tri Peaks Soltaire on Crazy Games.
- Soltaire Social on Crazy Games.
Support for collecting the users language has also been added so FBInstant.getLocale() should now return the users browser language.
Deploying HTML5 games that utilise the IGX SDK to mobile feature will now give you access to a debug logging console that you can log text strings to and display on-device. This is great for debugging awkward issues across different devices. The Debugging service is automatically created for you when you create the Unity vendor via default service creation:
if (FBInstant.ext !== undefined) // Make sure that IGX is available
You can now access the debugging services via FBInstant.ext.debug. The following functions are available:
- FBInstant.ext.debug.clear() – Clears the debug log
- FBInstant.ext.debug.log(string) – Sends a string to the debug log
- FBInstant.ext.debug.show(show) – Shows / hides the debug log overlay, show is a boolean that specifies the visible state
IGX – Cross portal and cross platform SDK for web game and instant game developers
IGX stands for Instant Games Extension, it is basically a replacement object for the Facebook Instant Games FBInstant object which enables developers to:
- Deploy games created that use the Facebook Instant Games API to the web and mobile with little to no code changes
- Deploy HTML5 web games to mobile
- Provide a common API across web portals
- Build instant game features into existing games before deploying to the Instant Games platform, saving valuable time and money
- Bolster the existing Instant Games platform with new features via FBInstant.ext, such as real time user to user communication
Web to mobile
Today I pushed the latest version of the IGX SDK to Github which provides support for deploying IGX SDK compatible games, including Facebook Instant Games and general web games to Android and iOS.
Games are hosted in a web view within Unity 3D. A new library has been provided which plugs into the IGX SDK and communicates between the web view and Unity which provides access to native features such as in-app purchasing and adverts.
Supported features include:
- Adverts via Unity Ads (Admob is work in progress)
- In-app purchasing
- Social login via Game Centre and Google Play Games
- Leaerboards via Game Centre and Google Play Games
- Native sharing
- Analytics via Unity
- Open external URL’s
- File uploads
- Localisation support
The IGX SDK wiki has been updated providing instructions on how to set up a Unity project to host your game and content.
Below is an example of a deployed Facebook Instant Game which has been deployed to Android and iOS stores:
Who is the IGX SDK for?
The IGX SDK is for web and and Facebook Instant Game developers that would like an easy route to take their products from web to mobile platforms such as Android and iOS. IGX provides an alternative solution to the likes of Cordova, PhoneGap and CocoonJS.
As of yesterday apps defined as personality quizzes on Facebook Instant Games have been limited to prevent their virality, which is basically the death knell for these self gratification apps. If you have written one of these apps (like me) then how will the changes affect your app? You will no longer have access to the users profile photo, their connected friends or the ability to switch to any of your other apps. As these apps rely heavily on the users profile picture being heavily featured to personalise the content it makes these apps even more useless than they were previously.
Its sad news, but developers have been enraged by these personality quiz apps appearing on Instant Games and polluting the very idea behind Instant Games. That said, there should be a place for personality quiz apps because there is huge demand for them, so please Facebook, create an Instant Apps :).
One major positive that has come out of this is that the many developers filling their personality quiz apps with unlicensed imagery will finally stop profiting off the back of other peoples work! For that reason alone it also time for celebration.
Whilst the title says “ban hammer”, I was being being a little creative. These apps are not currently banned, however Facebook are updating their policies to get rid of them, so they will be banned in due course.
Spent some spare time over the last few weeks noting down information that I do not want to forget regarding Facebook Instant Games development. I’ve been away from it for a bit and plan to spend more time away from it so want a nice easy reference for when I return.
I decided to turn my notes into a bunch of Facebook Instant Game tutorials to help other budding game developers out there.
You can read the tutorials here.
The individual links to each are:
- Introduction to Facebook Instant Games
- Setting up Your Development Environment
- Basic Facebook Instant Games Integration
- Getting the Players Information
- Saving and Loading Game State
- Entry point data
- Working with Contexts
- Connected Players
- Monetising your Game with Adverts
- Monetising your Game with In-app Purchases
- Working with Leaderboards
- Game Switching and Shortcuts
- Logging Analytics Events
- Working with Chat Bots
- Social Sharing
- Real-time Messaging
- IGX SDK and Moving Beyond Facebook Instant Games
- Introduction to Booty5 Game Engine and Editor
I will cover more topics when I return.
Its well known in the Facebook Instant Game developer community that Facebook Instant Games is a bit of a wild west. In the beginning god created…, just kidding :D. In the beginning some developers were taking well known web games and just dumping them onto IG to earn a quick buck, eventually the copyright holders arrived to the platform and got many of them taken down.
After this phase of stupidity, along came blatant ripping off of well known IP such as Pokemon, Mario, PUBG, Minecraft etc.., this is still prevalent today. You would think this would be limited to just small developers that don’t have much to lose if sued, but unfortunately it is not. The top app on Facebook Instant Games is called OMG, with around 130 million users and it uses well known questionable imagery from many movies, stars and musicians. Facebook however adopt the position that it is ok to use copyrighted materials and will not remove games and apps that use them unless the copyright holders complain.
Today Facebook Instant Games took a new turn with the arrival of Huber, which is basically a hard core porn version of OMG. I’m not against porn, but I am against it ending up in the hands of young kids. The app should really be restricted to 18+ but a fellow developer confirmed that it is searchable from their child’s phone.
The big question is, how did a hard core porn app make it through the Facebook Instant Games review process without an 18 restriction slapped on it? Well, very little is known about the review process, we have no idea if the process is done by AI or humans so who knows. The issue with the Facebook Instant Games review process is you submit an app or game with relatively harmless material but can change the material after the review process. Many of these OMG style apps host the visual content on their server with the Facebook or Messenger app basically acting as a web browser. This enables the developer to change the content on their server at any point in time with no review process. So basically its very easy to circumvent the review process.
Hopefully Facebook pull up their socks and slap an 18+ on this app and any others like it so kiddies can’t get a hold of it.
How can this issue be resolved? It can be resolved very easily by blocking access to external imagery so that all imagery has to be included with the zip file when the app is submitted to Facebook Instant Games. In addition, app updates will likely have to be reviewed for new developers. Existing developers that have developed a level of trust should be able to bypass the update review process.
Finally released my latest Facebook Instant Games offering to IG and Google Play.
What is TODAY? Have you heard of Nametests or OMG? Well its an app very similar to those with the exception that it does actually contain game elements. It was developed not in HTML / CSS but as an actual game. Why when surely HTML5 / CSS would have been much easier? Well a) I don’t like too easy and b) When you play TODAY you will discover that is very different to the likes of Nametests and OMG. Everything animates, questions open up in a dialog instead of shunting you back to the top of the page and shuffling up all the questions (that I hate, it confuses the hell out of me). But best of all it has actual games, games that encourage user interaction on their Facebook timelines as well as arcade mini-games.
How is it performing on Facebook Instant Games? Well, its tanked like every other game that isn’t being pushed by something. The likes of Nametests and OMG have upwards of 150 million monthly active users (MAU), why not TODAY? My theory is that apps like OMG need to be pushed by something, maybe a well known web site or Facebook page or some other social mechanism. Its easy to spot with Nametests because its been around for a long time, has millions of Facebook followers and a well established click bait web site. However OMG user acquisition is still a mystery to me. If anyone finds out how they are doing it then please let me know :).
Anyway, I had a Google Play version up and running immediately thanks to the IGX SDK which takes my game from Facebook Instant Games and gets it running on web and mobile. An absolute god send, because deploying to mobile these days just isn’t really worth the effort of filling in the app store listing :D. Seriously that is how bad it now is if you don’t have any marketing spend. Don’t believe me? Deploy an app to Google Play or the Apple AppStore and listen to the crickets :D.
You can play the games here:
I may release an iOS version, who knows.
Funny story actually about the Google Play version and their review team. The app was suspended almost immediately after I published it because it has a picture of two bodybuilding twin guys with their shirts off. Google Play stated that it was pornographic 😀 😀 😀 :D. I literally fell off my seat with laughter. Luckily I managed to get it re-instated. This is not my first run in with the Google Play review team and probably won’t be my last.
TODAY like all of my Facebook Instant Games was developed using the Booty5 game engine and editor. I really need to change the name of Booty5 to something a bit better.