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March 21, 2019Cami Williams
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is in full swing! Yesterday Alexa evangelists Memo Doring and Amit Jotwani joined me for a full day of live streaming from the Alexa Twitch channel to discuss how to build voice-first games using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). Here’s a recap of what we covered.
The stream began with a recap of what we covered at Alexa Developer Day at GDC. In short, we described the categories of games trending on Alexa. The first are standalone voice-first games, such as Jeopardy! and Yes Sire, that provide a fully immersive experience with audio. The second trending category is voice-companion games that enhance your currently existing game or fandom, such as Call of Duty and Pikachu Talk. The final category of games is integrated games, or games that redefine the boundaries of voice and where it can go. We see this in skills that feature Echo Buttons or reconstruct traditional board game mechanics to incorporate voice. We then overviewed the capabilities of in-skill purchasing (ISP), using Yes Sire as our primary example, and how to gracefully incorporate upsells and purchase flows into your voice interaction. Check out this blog post for a deeper recap of the Developer Day session with insights from voice gaming experts.
For the second half of the stream, we programmed an Alexa skill to be paired with the popular board game, Avalon. We built the skill using Node.js, but the concepts that we covered are language independent. We covered how to build an interaction model with custom intents and slots, sound effects, and entitlements for in-skill purchasing.
To start, we overviewed the Alexa Developer Console and how to create an interaction model. We attached our Alexa skill to an AWS Lambda service. Within the service, we programmed the logic for the board game assistant, which allowed you to define how many players are in your game, and what special characters (Minions of Mordred and Servants of Arthur) you will be using in the game. In the skill, we featured complex logic to handle all of the possible combinations of the board game characters.
Once we finished our free tier of the game, we incorporated premium content via ISP. We modeled our premium content after the available features from buying the expansion pack for Avalon. In our case, we added the ability to use Lancelot. In order to do so, we built in a one-time purchase for the skill—once the customer has purchased the premium content, they have access to the character forever.
We will continue to build skills for the rest of the week featuring advanced skill-building concepts and features in the Alexa Skills Kit. Tune in today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) at 10:00 am PT and learn about what Alexa Games has to offer. You can visit the Twitch event page and click on the purple “remind me” button to get a reminder to join the stream before our show starts. Or, register for the live streams to get the recordings and additional resources delivered to you by email.
The fun doesn’t stop when GDC is over. After GDC, we will be hosting a voice games workshop and hackathon in San Francisco. Join us in April to take what you have learned from GDC and apply it to your Alexa skills at the AWS Loft on April 9- 10. Click on the links below to register: