"Das Ultimative Musikquiz" is an interactive game for Amazons Alexa. The goal of the music quiz is to become the most successful and engaging application in Germany in the field of entertainment. The main focus is on customer centricity. We want the user to be the center of the gaming experience. The Beyond Voice competition gives us the opportunity to complement our application with a voice user experience by addressing the sense of sight. We are convinced that by implementing APL we create added value for both ourselves and the user.

What it does

The use of APL provides the user with relevant information during gameplay in addition to what is heard. On the one hand, the graphics show selection options such as "Choose the decade", which can be operated by voice or touch. On the other hand, the graphics display information about the current game (no touch function), e.g. the current score. The following scenes are supported:

  • Welcome Screen
  • Choose the number of players
  • Choose a decade
  • Search your fellow player (single player mode) and rules (multiplayer mode)
  • Right or wrong screens, including current score after each round and the correct answer (total 7 rounds)
  • Winner, Loser, and Draw Screen

How we built it

In the beginning, we reviewed other skills that already support APL. After that, we contacted a graphic designer to brainstorm and discuss ideas that we have. After deciding which images to use we've built the screen templates for APL and added the APL support to the skill code.

Challenges we ran into

One of our key challenges when using APL is the number of screens available. Since the music quiz has a single-player mode as well as a multiplayer mode (up to 4 players), we needed to provide views for the different game scenarios. In other words, the effort required is multiplied. This was a challenge that we initially underestimated.

From a development point, the main challenge is that the skill is already in development for ~2 years, and has lots of features. Adding new functionality to a sophisticated skill means take into account whatever small things that makes the game experience nice and smooth for every player on every level, and update every corner of the source code.

Switching visual content. There are several points in the game where the Alexa's reply consists of 2 parts: it reacts to the user input and then moves to the next step. In visual representation, this transition needs to be supported by showing 2 different screens for these 2 parts. We ended up using APL Pager with delay to show different screens and SetValue command to change just a phrase.

Support for games in progress. Currently, our skill allows users to store their game on exiting and restore it when users come back. Also, having ISP implemented, the session needs to be stored and restored appropriately. The extra challenge is to make everything work when a user comes back to restore their old game that was saved BEFORE the new version of the skill becomes live.

Code review. Adding visuals to the skill means that every response for ~20 intents needs to be updated to properly support the feature.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are very proud that Musikquiz is one of the most popular applications in the German-speaking Alexa Universe. Especially the average length of time players stay in the music quiz shows that they appreciate the user experience and like to come back. Based on the decades played, we see that both young players and older target groups are addressed with the skill. These findings show us and especially the voice community that interactive games can be realized over longer periods of time.

What we learned

We have learned that the development of APL in interactive applications is much more time-consuming than we had assumed. Nevertheless, we are convinced that we are taking the right step because the use of graphics significantly improves the user experience on screen-enabled devices. This addresses a new sense, namely seeing, and in this we see an added value for the user. We hope that the players will like APL.

What's next for TEST

On the short plans, we would like to extend support for round screens (currently the support is limited to some images only). We also would like to include a countdown timer for the answers, so that there is a visual support to indicate when the player has to guess. Globally, our mission is to make the gaming experience even more pleasant and challenging.

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