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Wednesday, 15-Feb-2012 05:50 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Facebook Scripts

There are many, many different social networking sites online and there is still room for more. With the right social networking script, any webmaster can create their own niche social network website and increase their profits substantially by doing so. Social networking sites are extremely popular and because there is an endless supply of interests and niches there is more room new social sites for people to communicate with other people that share the same interests.

Facebook Scripts

gardless of what type of social networking site you want to build, the first thing you will need is a good social networking script. With a social networking script it will contain all of the code that is necessary to build a networking website. Once you have installed the script you then customize it with the template you would like and then populate it with content.

There is quite a lot of different social networking scripts available ranging from free options to commercial solutions. Dolphin and PHPizabi are some of the free options that are available. There are other commercial options that you will need to pay for either as a onetime payment or as an annual subscription.


If you decide to buy a social networking script then you want to take the time and do your research before you purchase as you don't want to spend money on a script only to find that it doesn't do what you want it to. A good seller will have all the features and benefits listed on their sales page but it is always advisable to do further research to make sure they deliver everything that they claim. It is also good to read unbiased reviews to know if other buyers have been happy when using the script themselves. When you do research on a few different social networking scripts then you will soon begin to know what features each script offers and you will soon be able to decide which script is the right one for your needs.

When you have successfully installed your social networking script and have your networking site up and running you then need to begin to populate the website. You need to customize your social networking website to have it set up with the information and content that you want potential members to see and enjoy.

You can customize your social networking website with text, links, videos, photos, images and the more content you add to your site the more members you will begin to see. As more and more people join your networking site they will begin to invite their friends and family and soon your membership will grow.

A good social networking website all begins with a good social networking script, so do your research and choose carefully before jumping in and purchase. If you make a good choice in the beginning then you can enjoy the profits from your website for a long time.



The Facebook Platform has created a whole new market for online games and start ups such as the Social Games Network (SGN) and Zynga. I wrote about developing Facebook Applications a while ago as a overview of my experiences. Some of my apps are games and some are not - I'm a game developer so I prefer making games.

While going through my blog traffic data, I saw search terms specifically about developing games on Facebook. That leads me to believe that someone is looking for information about that. I have some of that knowledge to share!

I generally make games for Facebook using Flash and ActionScript. There really isn't a good way to make really interactive games using web languages and Flash is fairly powerful for 2D casual game experiences. You can find a list of the Facebook games that I've made or had a hand in from my developing Facebook Applications article.

There are basically three real games on that list: FlipCup Challenge, Sam's Solitaire, and Sheep Tycoon. Sheep Tycoon is by far the prettiest because there was a real artist on that project - the other two I just slapped some art together to get the game out quickly. I'm not really an artist.

Using Facebook API From Flash

Figuring out how to best make calls to the Facebook API from Flash was one of the first things we had to deal with. In Sheep Tycoon, the high score table shows up in the Flash part of the game opposed to FlipCup or Sam's Solitaire where I just did it in PHP. There are a whole bunch of Flash Facebook API's - I didn't like any of them.

The solution we came up with is to make a 0x0 iframe - basically invisible - on the canvas page and load a PHP script that would do all the Facebook API calls. So, if we needed to add a new high score to our database, we would load the script in the invisible iframe. This works for sending notifications or doing any sort of Facebook API call.

Getting the Friends

Although I didn't find doing this all that complicated, I did see a search term for it in my traffic data. The easiest way to accomplish this is to just get the user's friend ID's in PHP and then passing it into the game using flashvars. I don't see many cases where the user's friend list will change while the game is being played. Once you have the friend ID's in the game you can do whatever you want with it. We used it to show the list of your friend's high scores in Sheep Tycoon.

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The game takes the friend ID's from flashvars. When we need to get the high scores, we pass the same ID's to our PHP script that does all the database work and then returns the data in XML form for Flash to read.

Dealing with High Scores

You can display the high scores inside the game or you can display as a PHP page. I will generally opt to do the latter because there are less steps involved. PHP will get the data and display the data while Flash has to call a PHP script to get the data and then display it. However, displaying the high scores as part of the game itself is a better experience.

The semi-tricky aspects with high scores is how to record them and assign global ranks to each player. I've used time as a tie-breaker for scores that are identical. If you got the score first, you will stay above the person who got the score second. MySQL has been our database of choice and you can use ORDER BY with more than one field so it would be: ORDER BY score, time.

In FlipCup Challenge, each user has a global rank that is determined by their high score. This rank changes as players get new high scores. Updating everyone's global rank every time someone managed to get a new high score didn't seem like a good idea.

Firstly, to calculate the global rank, I figured out the number of rows that had a score higher than the score we are looking to get a new rank for. With that information, we'll know that the rank will be something lower than the row count. We then find all the scores that are the same as the score we are using and then determine where it fits in there. With those two pieces of information we can calculate the right rank.

Facebook Scripts

In order to make sure the scores are correct when anyone goes to look at the Scoreboard in FlipCup, we also update the ranks of all your friends when your rank changes. Global ranks are also recalculated every time you view the Scoreboard page. This will ensure that all the global ranks will be correct when someone is viewing it.

I'm sure there are better ways for determining global ranks than this but, for FlipCup's purposes, it works fine. The main objective was to make sure the pages loaded fast so the code had to do the work quickly.

Experiment

Game development on Facebook is still in infancy. I'm not aware of many sites dedicated to providing information about games and Facebook. The games themselves are still rather primitive as most don't really tap into the potential of social networks. I believe social networks are a powerful tool that can help spread new games and game ideas.

I have not looked much into development on the "new" Facebook even though I have switched to it and my links above point to the new Facebook. My apps are still working fine so I am not too concerned. The marketing and growth of apps are going to be affected. The chance of a Zombies-esque app prol

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