Article·Tutorials·Aug 11, 2023

Calling Your Video Game With Your Phone: Part 3

Nikola Whallon
By Nikola Whallon
PublishedAug 11, 2023
UpdatedJun 13, 2024

In this final part in the 3-part series, we will look at a simple game made for a game jam which uses a slightly modified version of the server from "Part 2" to offer a unique gameplay twist! That game is Robot Dreams, made for the Godot Wildjam #55.

The code for the backend server can be found on the robot-dreams branch of the game-twilio-deepgram-distributor repository here, and the Godot game which is a client to this server can be found here.

The Game Jam at a High Level

The duration of the game jam was a little over a week, and games made for it had to attempt to match the following theme and optional "wild-cards":



There were 93 entries to the game jam, which were collectively rated 1423 times in the week after submissions closed. The ratings for Robot Dreams can be seen here. Overall, games were rated by a passionate, enthustiastic, and supportive community, and I encourage anyone to participate in these sorts of events, and feel free to add interesting new tech to your game jam games!

Robot Dreams

Our entry, "Robot Dreams", aimed to match the theme of "Dreams" as well as the wildcard "A Fork in the Road" by use of the call-your-game system described in this series. You begin the game as a human falling asleep in your bed, only to wake up as a robot in a construction site against the backdrop of a cityscape. In order to wake up, you, the player, must find a way to get the robot to jump from a great height. Each time you do, you wake up in another level - another dream. After 3 levels, you wake up - but as a robot - implying you are in an infinite cycle of dreams!

The only way to truly wake up - as a human - is to find a payphone in Level 2, which instructs you to call a phone number and tell the AI on the other end a secret password - if you do this with your IRL phone, you skip ahead to the "good" ending.

A bit of a mini, meta game, the actual phonecall has very little interaction involved, but even still it adds a very cool sense of delight when your real-world action causes immediate in-game consequences!

Some Technical Details

The technical changes with respect to the server presented in "Part 2" of this series are very minor and can be reviewed here. The main change is the ability to specify a config file via the command line using --config=some_json_file. This config file will enumerate all game codes that can be used to patch phone calls into game session. The config file used for the deployed version of Robot Dreams is abbreviated below:

    "game_codes":["apple", "banana", "kiwi", ..., "oregano"]

there is a pretty small, finite number of game codes in the list, but with no expectation of large numbers of simultaneous game players, this isn't an issue. One can imagine modifying the server further to interact with a database of game codes, with POSTGETDELETE, etc endpoints if one's project were to scale - surely there are many other mechanisms to populate allowed game codes.

The server was run on an AWS instance using docker and docker-compose - after building the docker image browncanstudios/robot-dreams-server:0.1.0, it was spun up with the following docker-compose file (sensitive information redacted of course):

version: '3.7'
    image: browncanstudios/robot-dreams-server:0.1.0
      - "5000:5000"
      - /home/ubuntu/config.json:/config.json:ro
      - PROXY_URL=
      - DEEPGRAM_URL=wss://
      - AWS_REGION=***
      - AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=***
      - DEEPGRAM_API_KEY=***
    command: --config=config.json


This was just a quick game made in a little over a week, and has many short-comings. For one, there is no feedback on the phone when the AI is unable to make out a game code you may be saying, and indeed the AI is only listening for English and isn't optimized for many English accents. Deepgram, and other vendors, provide models in many languages and accents, and even offer automatic language detection (although usually not for real-time streaming applications), so improving in this area would be huge for accessibility. Speaking of accessibility though, requiring a phone call to achieve the "good ending" itself can be a blocker, and I would recommend that any serious game looking to get published should offer these types of features as options, and not as requirements to enjoy the main aspects of the game. That said, voice technology, and even interfacing with your phone can be seen as expanding accessibility if done correctly.

Besides these thoughts, I don't have a dramatic take away from this series other than "hey this is pretty cool!" and maybe that's just fine - games are sometimes meant to just "be neat."

Further Reading

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