Amazon Echo’s ready to Catch Them All

Or at least help you brush up on your Pokemon knowledge. I’ve been radio silent about working on my game and I promise, it’s not because I’ve been taken over by Pokemon Go. Part of it has been work, part travel, a good portion has been a new project, BUT a little of it has been about Pokemon. I’ve been a fan for awhile now and I remember when I first found out about the Alexa skills kit, I couldn’t wait to dive deep and try and build something myself. Then a super dev, awesome user and all around community hero went and built the Amazon Echo Pokedex.

Fans of the series know that the Professor is the one who helps you keep track of the different types of Pokemon you catch, while also providing tips. When you’re out there playing Pokemon Go in the real world, you may feel a little let down because not all of the game mechanics from the beloved series have been released yet. Not to fear, if you’ve played Ingress before and read the numerous press releases around the game you’ll know that Niantic is planning on adding pvp and live events sometime in the near future.

Even with all those additions, we’re still sorely missing the interaction with the Professor. Well, she might not be a perfect substitute, but Alexa can definitely help you learn if you should place your water type or ground type in a battle against the fire type currently holding your neighborhood gym. (Water types do double damage against Fire types, but know that Grass types shouldn’t be played against a Fire type. Also, I am in no way repeating an actual scenario that happened to me. YOU DON’T KNOW ME   🙂 ).

Can you name them all?

Gamer, Developer and Alexa fan Vince Pale Jr (pale2hall) created an Alexa skill that utilizes Poke API to access a vast database of information on all your favorite pokemon. In his reddit post last year, pale2hall explained that he is using AWS’ Lambda to host the code, wrote it in Node.JS, and then used the ASK Alexa Skills Kit to format the questions. And when his powers combined, he formed Captain Planet the Amazon Echo Pokedex, a real life voice activated pokemon directory.

The great thing about ASK is that it makes it much easier for anyone to get started. In fact, even my own household has played around with it (me included) and made some silly trivia skills to learn how to use it. Between the forums, the blog posts, Amazon’s Developer Evangelist (all of whom are awesome and totally accessible via Twitter), the awesome community and super devs like pale2hall, you can duplicate these steps yourself and create your own Pokedex (with a little extra work)!

@thedavedev has a great blog post on Getting Started and I promise you, it’s simple enough that even I could follow along! You can check out the simplified steps below or visit the Amazon Echo forums for more information.

It’s Easy to Get Started

To get started with the Alexa Skills Kit, review the following materials in order:

  1. Read the Getting Started Guide, which details how users interact with your Alexa skill and how to conduct a conversation with your customers.
  2. Read the AWS Lambda documentation.
  3. Check out the Voice Design Handbook for best practices on voice user interface design.
  4. Review the Alexa Skills Interface Reference to learn more about the syntax of the requests that will be sent to your service.
  5. Check out the reference skills to see sample code.
  6. Learn how to test your new skill with an Amazon Echo.
  7. Sign up for a free account and register your skill on the developer portal.

If you’ve created another skill that you think might be useful for Pokemon Go, share that as well! Even if my cynical side thinks that the battery life issue might dampen the enthusiasm for this game a bit (let’s not even get into server issues), I love the creativity and ingenuity of both communities (Echo and Pokemon) and can’t wait to see what the community creates next.

Also, Go Team Instinct!

I did not make this photo, although I wish I did. :p  Props goes to Steven H. Garcia and Peter Armado for sharing via Facebook