AlexaDev Tuesday: Alexa Skills With Reusable Code

Publication Date: 5/29/17 – There are a lot of good reasons to focus your efforts on developing Alexa skills with reusable code. It saves you time and effort, makes it easier to drive users to your new skill releases, speeds up the development cycle, and allows you to capitalize on proven concepts rather than having to reinvent the wheel every time you want to get a new skill published.


Recycling Boss


Follow Mobile App Developers’ Lead: Create Skill Collections
Some of the most popular and successful mobile game apps are variations on a single theme. A given app dev comes up with a very high quality version of a game like Mahjong, Solitaire or Sudoku, then releases a dozen differently-themed versions. Hidden object adventure games also generally follow the same general template in terms of gameplay, so all the developer has to do to bring a new app to market is change the puzzle content, graphics, text and splashscreen.

Given that Alexa skills’ graphics are limited to the skill icons and their “splashscreen” is limited to a single, enhanced Home card (which is optional, you can go with a basic home card too), following the same process for Alexa skills is even easier. Build the bones of one very strong, robust, high-quality skill, then re-theme it with different content to create different versions of the skill. Once you’ve got your code flawlessly fetching your content in the way you want it to, creating a new skill is as easy as changing the content.


Template-able Game Skill Ideas
There are many types of game skills that can be a great fit for this approach. Pretty much anything that lends itself to different themes or subject matter areas can work.

High quality Create Your Own Adventure decision tree skills are very popular with users and require lengthy user engagement. Most devs have shied away from this type of skill development because they’re time consuming to create and require deployment of resources like audio clip files. But now that Amazon’s paying royalties based on user engagement stats this is the ideal type of skill to be publishing. Creating that first decision tree skill template for yourself will take a lot of work, but it’s worth it to iron out every possible wrinkle and test out every possible use case until you’ve got a bulletproof framework where you can simply plug in different content (e.g., a mystery story, an adventure story, a fantasy story, etc.) to create different skills.

Guess the Song -type skills are another great fit: release a different version for different music genres. Word game skills can be broken out by topic, just as mobile app developers do, with puzzles based on book titles, movie titles, historical time periods, scientific disciplines, and so on. Twenty question / guess the person skills can be based on areas of fame or accomplishment, such as sports, politics, business, science, entertainment, book or movie characters, et cetera.

If the first skill in your collection is a hit with users, they will be happy to play the entire collection.


Look to mobile app game collections for inspiration, and then start brainstorming some game skill collections of your own. So long as the initial framework you build maps out a high-quality, highly engaging skill, you can get an entire suite of high-performing skills published in a fraction of the time and effort it would’ve taken to build each skill from scratch.