We love party games and think Alexa in general and Ho Ho Ho in particular could be great additions to the fun. We are also big fans of Christmas, hence the name, and we wanted to create a game that would be suitable to play at a family Christmas party and many other occasions.

What it does

It’s a fun, some might say silly, party game – you are given a category and a list of words and sounds and you need to work out how many fit the category, but there’s a catch you need to answer using a word suitable for the category. It’s hard not to laugh when you are trying to imitate a cat, Santa Claus or a detective.

Three categories are given for free - Cats, Christmas and Sailors - with a premium pack available to buy. The premium pack contains 15 more categories namely, Dogs, Horses, Farmyard Animals, Birds, French, Italian, Scots, Spanish, Babies, Easter, Halloween, New Years, Detectives, Singers and Cowboys.

How we built it

Written in Node.js and hosted on AWS as a lambda function. Custom sounds and images are stored in a S3 bucket. Scores and session data are saved to DynamoDB.

We used SSML extensively for Sound FX, speechcons and audio.

Starting off with one category and some wrong words, we were able to test with our user group to check the viability of the concept. Once, happy with the concept, we added the extra categories and increased the list of unassociated words.

We created an array of random words and sounds in 18 different categories and a larger array of unassociated words and sounds. On each turn, a random number of words in the category are selected. The rest of the list of 10 being made up of unassociated words.

We then added ISP and changed the gameplay so that 3 categories are available for free and with the option to buy 15 more categories in the premium pack

Challenges we ran into

Our biggest issue was that as the lists increased, the permutations increased making it impossible to ensure every option was valid, so we had to develop test functionality so that our testers could hear all the possible answers for each category - this not only ensured that each item in each category list was heard and sounded ok but also helped weed out obscure/questionable answers.

Once this level of testing was completed, we removed the testing functions and moved onto testing the playability of the game, confident that we had heard and validated every possible answer.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

  • Hearing people laugh when playing the game.
  • The random nature of the game, means that the gameplay is different every time.
  • Our testing strategy ensured that every possible word and sound was heard.
  • Successfully implementing In Skill Purchasing (ISP).

What we learned

  • How to use intents to help our testing strategy.
  • The use of SSML to create different sound FX and audio.
  • This was the first time working with ISP so we learned how to implement this.

What's next for Ho Ho Ho

We already have ideas for more categories and plan to add more premium content and themed packs.

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