Case Study

Alexa Skill: Trainer Tips

Alexa Skill: Trainer Tips

When I joined the Alexa team, the Skills store was still in its infancy. One of my first responsibilities on the team was to perform skill submission reviews, which gave me a unique perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the early Skills platform. Still, I wanted to learn more deeply, and the best way to do that was to dive back into coding and develop my own Alexa skill.

Do you have an Alexa device? Install the Trainer Tips skill for free!

I developed Trainer Tips in early 2016, and it was one of the first 1000 skills approved on the platform. Leveraging my own passion for the Pokemon franchise, I developed Trainer Tips to assist me – and other gamers – with the complex type matchups that occur during the game. While Pokemon types are essentially a modified Rock, Paper, Scissors game, it’s difficult to track 18 different types with strengths and weaknesses.

My key design goal was simplicity. I wanted to optimize for one-shot invocation, and to keep the number of intents to a minimum so I could focus on quality. Too many skills at the time were trying too much, or treating simple requests as lengthy conversations.

This was a solo effort: I built the interaction model and developed the code in Node.js from scratch. The skill continues to see engagement 2 years later, and the skill has an average review in the Alexa skills store of 4.4.

Supported intents

The Trainer Tips skill supports three kinds of requests:

Type Strengths

Check the types that a particular “hero” type is strong against. Ask questions like:

“Alexa, ask Trainer Tips about Steel strengths”
“Alexa, ask Trainer Tips what’s weak against Fire”
Alexa will also mention any known immunities the hero type may have.

Type Weaknesses

Check which types will cause extra damage to your hero type. Ask questions like “What are the weaknesses of Psychic types?” or “What’s best against Water types?”

Trainer Tips

Ask for a random battle tip. You can submit ideas for new tips by Tweeting at me – use the hashtag #TrainerTipsAlexa

“Alexa, ask Trainer tips to teach me something new.”
“Alexa, ask Trainer Tips to give me a tip.”

Interaction Model

As with many Alexa skills, the Trainer Tips skill supports sessions and one-shot invocation. If you just have one question for Alexa, use one of the sentences below. If you think you’ll have lots of questions in a row, start by saying “Alexa, open Trainer Tips.” From then on, you can leave out the “ask Trainer Tips to” part of any of your requests. Then you can do something like this:

YOU: “Alexa, open Trainer Tips.”
ALEXA: “Welcome Trainer! I can help you choose the right team for battle. Ask me about a type’s strengths or weaknesses, or ask for a trainer tip. “
YOU: “Alexa, What’s strong against Rock?”
ALEXA: “Rock types are weak against water, grass, ground, fighting, and steel type attacks.”
YOU: “Alexa, what’s weak against Steel?”
ALEXA: “Steel types are strong against ice, rock, and fairy type attacks. Steel types are also immune to Poison attacks.”

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