It all started when I began to wonder whether it would be possible to play Minecraft, the game that is highly popular around the world, using Alexa. However, it is impossible to play an action game like that using your voice. Accordingly, I came up with the idea of incorporating the methods used in "Idle Games" that help a player to progress through no interaction in the game, which have been popular on smartphones recently, in order to control the main character semi-automatically.
I succeeded in creating an experience that is full of variety through the ability to upgrade mining tools. Then, I incorporated healing music to allow users to also enjoy this Alexa skill as ambient music, despite the fact that it is a voice-controlled game.
What it does
The main character is called "Pygmy", a young male dwarf. Your purpose is to assist him in his travels. Please help him save money so that he can continue to travel by replacing and repairing his tools and letting him rest at inns.
Each tool, such as shovels and pickaxes, has its own sound. Also, the rhythm of mining will change based on Pygmy’s proficiency level. You can relax and enjoy the changing sounds.
Tools and medicine can be purchased using in-game currency (ruby), but if you don’t have enough rubies, you can acquire crystals through in-skill purchasing.
You can listen to different soundtracks for each chapter. If you subscribe to the premium membership, you can listen to the soundtracks for past chapters at any time.
How I built it
I built out a program based on Node.js on VPC. By using Firestore for the database, I made parameters persistent. I manually edited the sounds using Garageband on Mac and also incorporated automatic editing using a batch program. I produced the character voices and dialogue using ssml, while paying utmost attention to how to make the most of the atmosphere.
Challenges I ran into
I automatically generated the sound files for mining scenes using a program. I tried to portray the appearance of the main character mining as realistically as possible. As I prepared sound files stepwise depending on the tools used and the proficiency level, the number of sound files reached 150.
In addition to pleasant sounds, I also paid attention to the game balance. Because I did not want to make this a game that can be completed all at once, I insisted on a UX that leads to daily play by adding elements that make users stop playing the game, such as by having the main character rest in an inn when he runs out of energy.
Setting up a mechanism for in-skill purchasing that is not persistent was another challenge. By making the purchases reasonable, I enabled users to enjoy playing to the fullest extent.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I was able to create a worldview that feels like you are immersed in the story. In addition, the sound files are so pleasant that users will want to just keep listening to them.
I believe that this is a new form of entertainment that is only possible through VUI.
What I learned
I learned a lot about mechanisms for in-skill purchasing. I imagine that there will be more opportunities to use your voice to make purchases moving forward, and this was good practice for that.
What's next for World of Dwarves - Pygmy Mining: Relaxing Mining Sound Game
I would like to create entertainment that masters voices even further. I would like to turn daily routines into entertainment through voices.