Stop!

A conversational game experience made with Google and Fanatee.

CLIENTS: GOOGLE AND FANATEE

Google and Fanatee invited us to design a conversational version of the trivia game Stop! for Google Assistant to be played in smart speakers and smart displays. 

At this time I was already very into conversational design, but working as the only designer in this project, I had the opportunity to explore a little bit of the Voice User Interface world.

Background

Stop! is a game developed by Fanatee that is a complete success in Brazil and I was already a great fan of the game. So, I was very happy to be part of this project.

For the launch of Google Assistant voice in Portuguese, Google invited Outra Coisa (the studio I was working at the time) to design this conversational game that would be one of the first ever experiences available in Portuguese.

My role

As the only designer in the project, I worked through all parts of the process. That includes: all the flows, characters personalities, visual design etc. Besides that, I also worked side by side with a UX writer to define the tone of voice of the characters and the whole phraseology of the game.

Diving into VUI

Available for multiple devices

One of the biggest challenge of the project was that the game was going to be available in multiple devices with very different technologies, such as Google Home, Smart Displays, Smartphones and Smart Speakers. 

These are some of the devices in which the game would be running

During the process, we had to consider many different scenarios while designing the game so we could achieve a consistent and coherent experience across all of them.

A voice-first approach

Although the game would work in devices with screens such as smartphones and Google’s Nest hub, we designed the game using a voice-first approach in which our primary goal was to make the experience smooth for voice interactions, even for devices with screen.

When playing in a speaker, users should feel in control of the experience. And we should make it as easy as having a conversation.

Although the game would work in devices with screens such as smartphones and Google’s Nest hub, we designed the game using a voice-first approach in which our primary goal was to make the experience smooth for voice interactions, even for devices with screen.

We design the experience to be as easy and fun as having a conversation even on devices with screen.

Technology

We built the game using a framework called Interactive Canvas that allows developers to add visual, immersive experiences to conversational Actions. That means we could use HTML, CSS and js to build an awesome experience for smart displays, making the it not a Voice-Only game. 

The game

Now, a little bit about the game :)

Game flow

When designing a Voice User Interface, flows can get massive because we have to consider all sorts of fallbacks, such as: users cursing the characters or each other, when the microphone stops working because the player took too long to answer, when the STT (Speak to text) doesn’t work properly and we need the player to repeat and it goes on to lots of different scenarios.

Characters

When designing a voice interface, it’s really important that users can relate and connect with the system they’re talking to. Because of that, we really didn’t want to simply using Google Assistant voice as this would mean a robotical experience that doesn’t sound familiar and personal. 

So, we created a characters to guide users through the game. These character would have their own voice, recorded by a professional voice actor. But, before going to studio to record their lines, we spend some time defining their personality and tone of voice.

Defining personalities

We used Jungian archetypes as a tool to build characters’ personalities and tone of voice.

John
John is a Jester, which means he lives the moment and seeks enjoyment for himself and others. Basically, his mission is to have a great time and lighten up the world. He is a charismatic game host that leads users through the experience with his remarkable and fun personality. 

Ed
Due to a technical constraint, we couldn’t use John’s narrator voice to say dynamic words such as: letters, categories, names of players etc. We needed to use the TTS voice, so we created Ed, John’s robot assistant. 

He is the caregiver archetype, always there to help and care for others. His biggest qualities are altruism, compassion and generosity.

Going to the studio

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photo or video of the voice actor recording the lines in the studio. It was such a fun part experience and, as I really want to show you guys the awesome work that was done in the studio, I’ll let John speak for himself:

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Game modes

We adapted Stop! regular game into a conversational flow, but we felt that the biggest strength of a VUI game was making it a party game so players could hang out and bond while playing in the same room. So, we defined for the first releases to have 2 different games modes.

Time attack
In this game mode, Ed finds an opponent for players to battle. It’s an online game where the one that get more points at the end of the round wins.

Hot potato
This is a party game, a mode designed to be played in social environments, such as when hanging out with friends, during a road trip or while cooking with your significant other. In this mode all players compete against each other.

Evolution

A bit about the post launch strategy.

Iterations and evolution

Because refactoring something related to voice interactions involves going to the studio again to record new lines for the characters, we had to be various cautious while defining what would be the MVP.

So, we decide to do it in an iterative way by releasing new features and game modes as we learn with the previous releases.

How to play the game

To play the game, just open your google assistant and say: “Falar com Adedonha!”. Adedonha is how the name is called in Brazil. The game is only available Portuguese, sorry folks. 

If you’re in a hurry, here goes a video of me and my wife playing the first version of the game.

Other projects: 
Talkdesk platform