Matchstick Game - shared actions

Intro

This post is inspired by a question on the Captivate forum, have a look at this thread: 'Advanced actions for a Matchstick Game'. After reading the question, I accepted the challenge. Some advanced actions are used, mostly to reset the game, but the two 
most important actions are shared actions. It is also a good example for a lot of tips I have offered in this blog:
  • Setup of a labeling system that makes it easier to choose parameters when applying a shared action.
  • Sequence of statements and decisions in a conditional action is very important because Captivate will always evaluate each statement and decision in sequence.
  • Choice of optional parameters for a shared action.
  • Using On Enter Slide events to reset variables and objects.
  • Using groups to simplify advanced/shared actions.

Game - rules

You can play the game:
  • goal is to create a word from the initial set of matchsticks by removing some of them;
  • clicking on a matchstick will remove it and a ghost image will appear instead of the original matchstick
  • you can reset the matchstick by clicking on the ghost image
  • maximum number to be removed is 6; you will be warned when you reach that number
  • you can try to remove a seventh matchstick, but I consider that as cheating :)
  • you have a Restart button

Objects - Labeling

The game is on one slide after the intro-slide. This is the Timeline panel:

From bottom to top you see:

  1. Gr_Match: group with the images of the matchsticks. For labeling I divided them in 3 groups. I_MS_11 is the most left matchstick of the first group, I_MS_22 is the upper matchstick of the second group, I_MS_35 is the bottom one in the third group, etc. Those numbers will also be in the names of the Outlines, the Click boxes and the associated variables. This group is initially visible.

  2. Gr_Outline: group with the grey ghost images (outlines). Same labeling discipline: I_OL_11, I_OL_22, I_OL_35,...This group is initially invisible

  3. Gr_Txt: which is expanded on the screenshot has the three messages that are used in the game. This group is initially invisible.

  4. Gr_CB: group with click boxes over the matchstick images+outlines. They follow same labeling system: CB_11, CB_22, CB_35...

  5. Bt_Restart:  the button to restart, reset everything

  6. Tx_Task: the title

  7. Tx_Rules: the explanation

Variables

To track the status of each matchstick, I created a boolean variable with initial value of 0 for each of them. Labeling is similar to those for the images, outlines and click boxes: 

  • v_11, v_12, v_13, v_14, v_15   for the first group

  • v_21, v_22, v_23, v_24, v_25   for the second group

  • v_31, v_32, v_33, v_34, v_35   for the first group

Three extra variables were needed:

  • v_moves: will track the number of removed matchsticks

  • v_correct: will track the number of correctly removed matchsticks

  • v_visit: needed to track if the intro slide is visited for the first time; a jump to that slide is used in an advanced action to reset the game

Actions

Advanced actions

I will not explain the simple and the 2 advanced actions, article would be too long. In a planned cookbook for shared actions I will explain everything in depth:
  • EnterIntro: conditional advanced action with two decisions that is triggered by the On Enter Slide event for the first slide 'Intro'. It will check the value of the variable v_visit and jump to the second 'Game' slide if it is not a first visit. 

  • ResetGame: a standard advanced action is triggered by the Restart button Success event, and by the On Enter Slide event for the second slide 'Game'. It will reset all the variables and restore the initial view of this slide (no outlines, only images).

  • Simple action 'Go to Previous Slide' is triggered by the On Exit event of the second slide 'Game'.

Shared Actions

Two shared actions are used:
  1. MatchStickNOK: to be triggered by a click box over a matchstick that should NOT be removed. This shared action is used  9 times. It is a conditional action with 3 decisions: 'Doing', 'Checking' and 'Cheating'. In the screenshot you'll see this action, with as an example parameters are set to the '11' matchstick. That is a matchstick that should in this case trigger the second shared action.
    This shared action has 6 parameters. The only optional parameter is highlighted in this screenshot, it is the tracking variable v_x associated with the matchstick. No need to define the other variables (v_moves, v_correct) nor the literals as a parameter.



  2. MatchStickOK: to be triggered by a click box over a matchstick that should be removed. This shared action is used 6 times in this particular example. The first three decisions 'Doing', 'Checking', 'Cheating' are pretty much the same as for the previous shared action, with one exception: increment or decrement for the variable v_correct. This shared action has a fourth decision 'End' that will display a Success message if all correct matchsticks are removed. Since this can only happen when the user removes a correct matchstick, this decision was superfluous for MatchStickNOK action. The sequence of decisions is very important: the condition 'IF v_moves is equal to 6' (decision 'Checking') will also be True if 6 correct matchsticks have been removed, but the commands in 'End' will override those of 'Checking' because of the sequence. There are two screenshots here:

    This shared actions has 7 parameters since the Success Message has to be added. Only optional parameter that was upgraded to a real parameter is again v_x, the tracking variable associated with the matchstick.


Enhancements

I hear you! How will it be possible to use those shared actions for a Matchstick Game with another setup? I have some ideas, what about you? Please post your suggestions in a comment.





Force first view - Captivate 8

Update: if you are on a more recent version, please check out this article:

Forcing First View with micro-navigation (shared action)

Intro

As a former college professor I don't like to push students/trainees to watch everything in an eLearning course. After all, you can watch without really seeing as well, that doesn't prove anything about the real 'learning' process. Apparently not everyone agrees with my personal opinion and again a question popped up on the Captivate forums in this thread: Force navigation upon FIRST view....

Problem

The course was totally linear, which is a requirement for the simple work flow I will propose here. To force the student the first time to have the slide played totally before being able to continue is simple: use a custom Next button, timed at the end of each slide, do not use a playbar but a TOC for navigation to previous slides. And set up the TOC settings to allow navigation only to already visited slides.
To improve the user experience, when he is coming back to an already visited slide, the Next button should appear from the start of the slide. That way he can skip part of the slide if wanted. The easiest way to solve that problem is by using an extra, replacement Next button. Because timing from start till end of a slide is the same for all slides, this can be a shape button put on the first slide that is timed for the rest of the project, always on top. It is not possible to use a shape button on the main master slide because such a button has no ID, which means it cannot be controlled, shown/hidden which is necessary for our use case.
The initial buttons can also be shape buttons and for a seamless user experience I'd recommend to use the same look for both the initial and the replacement Next button. However those initial buttons need to be individual buttons on each slides because not all slides will have the same duration, especially when they have VO attached as slide audio.

Example movie

Watch this movie to check the solution. To make the switch between the initial Next buttons and the replacement Next button clear I used a different style. Moreover I inserted a text container with two variables: the system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame and a user variable v_frames (see later) that are used to solve the problem. To navigate back to already visited slides, open the TOC with the red curved arrow top left. The TOC close button has a similar look. Refresh the browser to start the movie again. I didn't check AutoPlay, you'll have to click on the (ugly) arrow in the middle of the slide.


Events and Variables

I created one user variable: v_frames. The system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame will be used as well.
This variable will be used to store the current frame number when the user clicks on an initial Next button. Example: on the first slide the initialNext button Bt_One will appear at 5 secs and pause at 5.5 secs. When you click that button, you'll see that on the second slide the variable has the value '166' which is about the frame number of 5.5 secs at a speed of 30FPS. It is never totally exact (should be 5.5*30 which is 165, but index starts at 0, the exact number should be 164). But for the purpose it will be used, this is OK.

The used events are:
  1. Success event for the initial Next buttons: rBt_One, Bt_Two, Bt_Three, Bt_Four. I don't need a Next button on the last, fifth slide. Those button will trigger the same advanced action NextAction:
  2. On Enter event of slides 1-4 will trigger a shared action Show_Next:
  3. Success event for the replacement Next Shape button SB_Next executes a simple action: "Go to Next Slide"
  4. On Enter event of slide 5 (last slide) will trigger a simple action: "Hide SB_Next"

Advanced/Shared Actions

Advanced Action "NextAction"

This action, triggered by the initial next buttons on each slide except the last slide, has only two statements:
The frame number of the pausing point (which is where the action is executed by design) will be stored in the user variable v_frames. Then the Go to Next Slide command is done. 
Why did I prefer to use an advanced action over my favorite shared action? I don't need to change this action when applying to another button. You could create a shared action if you expect this action to be used in other projects because it is easier to transfer them using the library. In that case the shared action will not need any parameters. When you transfer it to another project, the user variable v_frames will be created automatically. That is certainly an advantage!

Shared Action "Show_Next"

This is the action that does the trick! It is a conditional action: 
When a user enters a slide for the first time, the frame number of the first slide frame will be greater than the frame number stored in the user variable v_frames. That user variable has in that case the frame number of the Next button pausing point that was on the previous slide. But if the user comes back to this slide, v_frames will store a frame number of a similar Next button pausing point on a later slide. In that case the condition in this shared action will be correct, v_frames will be greater than the cpInfoCurrentFrame. The appropriate button is shown or hidden. It is necessary, for an unknown reason (was not the case in CP6, when I blogged about toggle buttons), you also have to enable/disable as well. This is probably due to the buttons being in exactly the same location, but it was not necessary in a previous version. 
I defined only two parameters in this shared action:
It is not necessary to define the user variable v_frames as a parameter because it is always reused. It is a pity that objects have always to be a parameter, because in this particular case it would have saved some time to be able to deselect SB_Next (the replacement Next button, timed for the rest of the project) as a parameter. Maybe in a future version? Some will prefer advanced actions and duplicates to be edited for each button but remember: multiple instances of a shared action do not increase the file size, whereas multiple duplicates of an advanced action do increase file size. And I like the presence of the shared actions in the Library, and easy way to use them in other projects.

Conclusion

I love to solve this kind of problems, trying to find an easy solution that can be reused over and over again. If you ever are stuck with such a problem, please contact me. I am available as a freelance consultant, and having taught for many years in college, be sure to get some training on top.