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Get some key tips on making audio adventures for Amazon Echo devices

February 8, 2017 | By Bryant Francis

More and more, we’re filling our homes with computers that respond to the sound of our voice. And while that may be a potentially Big Brother-esque scenario for some, for others it’s an opportunity to push the boundaries on making games and interactive experiences. 

So who’s racing out for this new frontier in game design? Two of them are developers Bonnie Bogovich and Michael Lee, who created the Amazon Echo interactive audio adventure Baker Street Experience. The pair worked on the game during their mutual time at Schell Games, and will be giving a talk on the game’s production at the 2017 Game Developers Conference. 

To get a preview of their talk, we sat down with Bogovich and Lee to talk about what lessons they learned working on their Sherlock Holmes-themed adventure, and what design constraints guided their creativity during the process. One point that Bogovich brought up that might be of note to aspiring Echo developers is that the file size limitations Amazon mandates on audio files for the Echo mean developers should be prepared to only record 90-second audio clips for their interactive game. 

“At first it was ‘oh god no not 90 seconds! We have four minutes of dialogue,” Bogovich exclaimed. “But as you’re developing an interactive story, you learn that people don’t want 90 or more seconds of someone reading to them. If it’s an interactive game, you start to lose people.” 

“It actually helped us craft our story and our dialogue for the game.”

For more design constraints you should be aware of when diving into audio adventures, you can see Lee and Bogovich’s full talk at GDC 2017, or watch the full interview above. (Stick around for the improvised foley session!)

And while you're at it, be sure to subscribe to the Gamasutra Twitch channel for more developer interviews, editor roundtables, and gameplay commentary. 

Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas

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