This is part one of a three part series on designing, developing, and launching a voice-first trivia skill on the Amazon Alexa platform.
Trivia and quiz skills are among the most popular skills in the Alexa ecosystem—they’re entertaining, challenging, replayable, and a natural fit for conversational interfaces. We’ve worked with a number of partners to launch trivia skills such as The SpongeBob Challenge, The Match Game, and The Ground Tour.
To help us better inform our customers, and to get a sense of what makes a trivia game fun and compelling, the PullString Customer Success team decided to create our own trivia game, The Temperature Game.
Best Practice #1: Focus on replayability and avoid repetition - nobody likes having the same conversation twice.
Trivia games need to have enough content to be replayable—users don’t want to be asked the same questions with the same answers over and over again. So, when it came to deciding on a theme for our skill, we knew we needed to develop a dynamic skill with enough content that would keep people coming back for more. After discussing a few ideas, we decided on a game that would integrate with a weather API—what could be more dynamic than the weather?
The Temperature Game asks you to guess the current temperature of four cities either in the United States or, for a challenge, around the world. With this approach, even if a user is asked to guess the temperature of the same city across different days, the answer will always be different.
Best Practice #2: Design a first-time user experience that’s short and informative, but can offer more assistance if needed.
The first time a user opens your skill they may need a quick overview of the game, instructions, and possibly an example to get them started. However, returning users who know how to play will most likely want to jump directly to the game. To accommodate both new and returning users, we track how many times a user has played The Temperature Game.
On first play, users are given a short description of how to play and then prompted to either start playing right away or to get more information: “Welcome to The Temperature Game! You will be asked to guess the temperature in four cities. Would you like to get started or learn more?” We also start users with U.S. cities only to get them used to the game. Return users are greeted with the following: “Welcome back, let’s get started!” and the game starts instantly.
Best Practice #3: High scores are fun!
Users of The Temperature Game are asked to guess the temperature in four cities and then are scored based on how close they were to the actual temperature. We track the user’s high score for both game modes (U.S. cities and world cities) and encourage them to come back and try to beat their score.
Best Practice #4: Vary lines of dialogue.
To keep the game fun, we have multiple variations of how Alexa will react based on how close you get to the actual temperature. For example, if a user guesses the right temperature, instead of saying “Good Job” and moving along, we may reply with, “Outstanding, that’s an A+!”, “Perfect! Wait a second, did you look that up?”, “Wow—you’re better than a weather forecaster!”, or something similar. Not only is this an opportunity to create personality, but it’s also keeps the experience from getting stale.
Best Practice #5: Use screens to support your voice-first experience.
Since more and more people are using screened Alexa devices, we decided to include a simple visual component to add an additional layer for Echo Show and Echo Spot users. The key here is that The Temperature Game is fully rendered experience with voice only—we use the screen to either display the question or, in the case of the score, to provide a visual breakdown of how the points were awarded.
How to Expand The Temperature Game
This post just scratches the surface of what’s possible with trivia games on Alexa devices. There are some great features that have been successful in our other trivia games that we would love to employ in The Temperature Game, such as limiting the number of times you can play per day, adding bonus content, and even using a celebrity voice (we’re looking at you Jim Cantore).
Related Amazon Alexa Posts:
- PullString and Alexa hit the road on 'The Grand Tour'
- Voice UI Design for Alexa Skills
- Creating a Quiz Game Skill - The Temperature Game Part 2