Animal Farm P.I. – A New Hope

Back around the end of November, I dropped some hints that John and I were working on a new direction for Small Basket Studios that involved digital assistants.  As of the morning of February 5, 2018, and the public release of our first Alexa skill: Animal Farm P.I., these are no longer just hints.  It’s real.  John and I developed our first piece of original independent software and took it from conception to production.

And gosh darn it, we couldn’t be happier.

Animal Farm P.I. is our first crack at an interactive choose-your-own-adventure style story designed to work on Amazon’s Alexa.  For this outing, we cast off the horror tropes we’ve been dabbling in for the past few years and crafted a silly, theater-of-the-absurd style tale, in which our intrepid hero Petunia Pig helps Farmer MacDonald find his missing keys. Along the way, you are subjected to a series of misadventures and odd characters, all against a backdrop of comforting barnyard sounds.

The gyrations of writing and producing the story were very much in line with the indie-film sensibilities we picked up over the last few years.  In this case,  we brainstormed a story idea after watching an hour or so of Looney Tunes, wrote a script, recorded our own voices, found prerecorded sound effects we could use without paying royalties and then spent some quality time fumbling our way through Adobe Audition. We learned enough to mix and master any necessary audio files to Amazon’s specifications.

Oh, yeah.  We also wrote software to tie everything together and created a deployment strategy that would make any professional operations department proud.

And because it’s software, we even corralled a bunch of volunteers to beta test the product before it went out the gate.  It’s a good thing we did, because one of our volunteers found an issue we were able to patch and push out before taking this to production.

It may be news to some, but yeah, John and I know a thing or two about production software deployment :-).

Truth be told, we actually have bigger and grander visions, of which Animal Farm P.I. is really just a proof-of-concept, but at this point, we’re happy to consume this undertaking one byte at a time.

If you have an Amazon Alexa enabled device (e.g. Amazon Echo, Fire TV, etc.) and would like to see (actually – hear) what all the fuss above is about, just tell Alexa:

“Alexa, start Animal Farm P. I.”

It’s free to enable and we don’t collect any personal data. After you’re done, please give our Facebook page a like at:

Animal Farm PI on Facebook

And review our skill in the Amazon Skill Store:

Animal Farm P.I.

This is our first foray into this space and it won’t be our last. There’s more to come.

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