Ready to enjoy a fantastic immersive narrative audio experience?
“You go down the stairs. The smell of dampness and blood makes you sick, but you’ve done this too many times to let it stop you. Every move you make, every time you go down a step, is echoed by a moan. But it isn’t you…”
Written by Santiago Eximeno, narrated by Bob Carter and with the musical production of Javier Labaka, "Obey Me" is a choose your own adventure short horror story for adults, where the choices you make determine the outcome of the plot.
Follow your senses and become the protagonist of this interactive sound fiction, enhanced with narration by a professional actor, and it unique soundscape and music production.
Available in English and Spanish
What it does
Just open the Skill and answer the narrator "yes" or "no". Depending on your decisions, the story will take you to a different ending.
If you don't understand a question you can ask him to repeat it, saying "repeat the question".
You can go back and forth within the story, for example saying "go forward" or "skip" and "go back" or "return". Doing so, you will hear a summary of the part of the story you are accessing and the corresponding question.
You can also say "repeat the story" if you want to hear the full version again.
You can restart the story by saying "restart" or "start over."
How we built it
We counted on the services of an award-winning professional writer for the story, who has received special recognition for writing interactive fiction. We recorded professional voices in English (Obey Me) and Spanish (Hazlo) for the audio experience. Then we enhanced the experience by designing specific soundscapes and composing and producing original music for the story To produce the skill, we used Node.js, S3, APL, APL for Audio, APLT, AWS, DynamoDB, Aurora, Lambda. We have developed a stable and robust skill plus a sistem that allow us to collect important information about user behaviour, allowing us to create reacher reports than the one Alexa offers, that truly show us how the user live the experience.
Challenges we ran into
Our main challenge in producing this Skill was to implement the idea we had about what we wanted to see on the screen during the experience. Our goal was to maintain the focus of the user on the audio experience, so the screen action had to be a vehicle for the screen action, rather than the opposite. To achieve this aim, we decided to show on the screen a few (key) words at the same time as the story and play with the background colour. The background starts in black, at the beginning of the story, since you are completely at the dark, but this colour changes depending on how dangerous the story becomes.
To have this level of experiences control we decided to work with videos and pagers. We had to use the lenght of each part of the story (modules) to know if the user arrived at the end of the module (so the mic was on) or not, to activate the buttons on the screen. We tested several solutions as we wanted to introduce the button in and out animation but it was not possible to use these animations simultaneous to video, so finally we decided to include buttons inside each video. That allowed us to introduce other animations that were not possible at the time we produced this part of the Skill (January 2020). We produced 4 different sizes of videos, to offer the best quality experience on each APL device, from Echo Spot to a Fire TV.
On the other hand, we were excited to be able to use video because it allowed us to deliver a better audio quality experience. Now, with APLA we finally have the chance to offer "only audio" users the same quality experience, and that was the upgrade we introduced in November 2020.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Obey Me/ Hazlo is a short story (4 to 7 minutes long dependings upon the decision you make) that allows any user to enjoy a completely interactive narrative audio experience beyond the usual offering made with the standard " Alexa-only voice". We are proud about the quality of it content and we expect this Skill will show other narrative Skill producers what can be achieved when you really work with all the audio narrative components.
What we learned
We learnt that integrating video was not such a wise move, because videos are more consuming data transfers, especially those produced for Fire TV (we are talking about transfer Gb!). When users started to use the Skill we had to move it to a private Amazon account and then we learnt THE COST of this decision.
What's next for Obey Me: interactive short horror story for adults
Now that there are other options to produce animated screen content, we will change the APL experience in order to reduce its maintenance cost.
We hope you enjoy playing with our Skill. If you like it, please kindky consider rating it and sharing your feedback. Will you dare to try? Obey me! Do it now!