Facebook App Fotospel (Game in HTML5)

Target audience: 30-55y.

Launch date: September 2012.

The FotoSpel is a Facebook word game in the Dutch language.


The game is setup with various puzzle themes. For example famous Belgian artists, famous cartoon characters, famous Belgian people, popular Music DJ’s, popular beaches in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Each theme contains 100 – 300 puzzles.

The player has to solve one puzzle, one character/letter at a time. A related photo is shown for each puzzle, and more and more of the letters of the puzzle are shown over time, but… the longer the player waits, the less points he will score. The scoreboard registers all scores; the scores are stored in my database but they are also published using the Facebook Gaming API (=viral effect).


  • To learn how to develop games in general.
  • To write a good gameplay.
  • To develop a Facebook Game App (using the Facebook SDK Gaming API and the Facebook App API for Canvas).
  • To publish an app in the Facebook App Center and a related Facebook Page, both with appealing media.
  • To develop a number of related back-end services and an Administration Dashboard.
  • To design an appealing user interface and user experience.
  • Feature a single-page-app design for this game.
  • To implement modern HTML5 web app features.
  • To develop smooth animations using the HTML5 DOM.
  • To apply gamification techniques.

Design and implementation

This project was a real challenge due to its complexity. I got up to speed reading some good ebooks about game plays and advanced Javascript. At some point I was uncertain if I could deliver the project, but eventually I finalized it.

This FB Game App in the Dutch language is not implemented in Adobe Flash (which won’t run on tablets) but implemented using HTML5, CSS3 and advanced Javascript (such as Promises and Animations and HTML5 Audio) and has both a client part and a server backbone (LAMP with REST API). The server is implemented using PHP, mySQL and a variety of libraries.

The Facebook Page contains various custom tabs, developed in PHP, that are hooks into specific puzzle themes of the game.

The Admin Dashboard has been developed to monitor the games, to manage contests and to handle cheaters. The game interacts heavily with the Facebook Backbone.

The deployment of this game also meant that we had to create these puzzle themes from scratch, defining the puzzle phrases, and to collect, optimize and store an image for each of these 1000 puzzles.

Note that this Facebook Game has been barely promoted and amazingly it still attracts plenty of traffic. I think we ran about 3 contests (with real prizes) since the launch date and that is all. The inbound traffic is primarly the Facebook App Center. The Facebook Game has one big advantage and that is that an app administrator can send notifications to all the active players in the future to announce for example new contests.