The Alexa Web API for Games opens up a new frontier in gaming with Alexa, giving you tools to create new multimodal experiences for your players. Whether you’re enhancing an existing voice-only game or creating a new skill with the on-screen experience as the star of the show, you can follow these design best practices to make your skill a memorable gaming experience.
Through Alexa Presentation Language (APL), we've learned what best practices make for great multimodal experiences. Your Web API for Games skill can build on these design insights to make your game even more accessible and fun to play. Here are some best practices for any multimodal Alexa skill:
Whether you’re building a game only playable on Alexa Web API-capable devices or enhancing a voice-only game with the Alexa Web API; Alexa experiences are voice-driven, and your players will expect to play the game primarily with their voice. This means:
Since the Alexa Web API for Games reaches FireTV and Echo show devices specifically, design for how customers use these devices. Customers frequently view TV and Echo Show screens from distances of three feet to ten feet.
It may not be possible to realize your full game design on all Alexa-enabled devices. Speaker-only devices, like the Echo Dot, and older devices like the Echo Spot do not have the Alexa Web API for Games support. Here are some best practices for games that can only be played on Alexa Web API capable devices:
For your voice-only experience, follow best practices for any voice-first/voice-only skill for Alexa experiences that do not have a screen. Learn more in the Alexa Design Guide.
Because the Alexa Web API for Games unlocks new kinds of experiences for your players with features not available for other skills, you’ll need to consider a few additional design possibilities for these interactions.
If you are creating a skill-side authoritative Alexa game, you are putting the core of your game logic in the back end. The cloud side will be the authority of the game and the HTML side of the experience will be purely additive. If you have built any Alexa skill before, you will be familiar with this approach as it is the only approach you can take without the Alexa Web API for Games! This comes with the main benefit of being easy to create a voice-only experience, allowing you to reach more players with your game. Here are some design considerations if you want to build a skill-side authoritative game:
The Alexa Web API for Games gives you a large design space to explore. While much of the general multimodal skill design wisdom still holds true, the possibilities open up with the power that the Alexa Web API for Games gives. Design for voice first and follow best practices to make your game accessible and fun to play. You have more tools at your disposal with web audio, the microphone interface, and extended skill session APIs to make some novel and immersive games. Let me know what you are building next @JoeMoCode on Twitter.