123 Replies
Jerson  Campos

@ Burgaluva

I do apologize for all the secrecy. The first video seemed like I have everything figured out, but I'm still running into a few problems here and there. But I do plan on creating a tutorial so I can share the knowledge, but as Skip pointed out this is also a great business opportunity.  I'll release the video when I'm closer to launching my marketplace for some of the illustrated characters I'll be creating. I plan on having 4-6 characters when I first launch and then create a new one every 1-2 weeks. I've received a lot of great feedback from this forum and ideas on what most people need.

I think I've spend about 60-70 hours so far. Most of which has been figuring out how storyline reads the info for the characters,a easy process that could be followed, and trying out new things to improve the characters. One of the improvements I'm working on for the characters is having them face in different direction than the body. So if you have a front facing body,  you can choose a 3/4 view of the face or a profile (side) view of the face. This is a problem when you have something blocking the face butI think this will add a lot more flexibility of the characters.

Nancy Woinoski

Jerson campos said:

@ Burgaluva

I do apologize for all the secrecy. The first video seemed like I have everything figured out, but I'm still running into a few problems here and there. But I do plan on creating a tutorial so I can share the knowledge, but as Skip pointed out this is also a great business opportunity.  I'll release the video when I'm closer to launching my marketplace for some of the illustrated characters I'll be creating. I plan on having 4-6 characters when I first launch and then create a new one every 1-2 weeks. I've received a lot of great feedback from this forum and ideas on what most people need.

I think I've spend about 60-70 hours so far. Most of which has been figuring out how storyline reads the info for the characters,a easy process that could be followed, and trying out new things to improve the characters. One of the improvements I'm working on for the characters is having them face in different direction than the body. So if you have a front facing body,  you can choose a 3/4 view of the face or a profile (side) view of the face. This is a problem when you have something blocking the face butI think this will add a lot more flexibility of the characters.


Awesome!

Skip Hagan

That's great, Jerson! Keep us posted on your offerings. Something you might consider, if you have the time and inclination to do it, would be to produce "custom" characters, based upon photos that clients would provide. e.g.

I could send you photos of some of our folks, out in the plant, in various poses. You missioin, should you choose to accept it, would be to rendor vector graphic character sets, in these poses, and with the company color scheme uniforms. Perhaps, just khaki uniform with the ability to change the khaki fill color.

One thing about colors; in an industrial environment, hardhats come in lots of colors. White and yellow are the most common, but if the characters are all wearing yellow, it's a problem for those whose company standard is white. I know this may seem to be a very minor  issue, but it can be a problem when your trying to meet the desires of a "picky" (discriminating, discerning???) client.

While this example is about hardhats, the corporate color scheme used by various clients can be a problem to match up.

We're all waiting to see what you come up with. No pressure, right?  This is really exciting!

Skip Hagan

Thanx, Nancy! I had no idea how the characters were stored and accessed. Of course, I know the images are local, as we have to install them, I just wondered about the manipulation of the pieces/parts and how they get included in the "catalog." It would be fascinating to me, to know how that is done.

This is all so cool and interesting. I love having these kinds of resources so readily available.

El Burgaluva

Hi, Jerson

The "secrecy" comment wasn't directed specifically at you, incidentally (although, I suppose it's applicable). It was more of a "general" comment along the lines of "Gee, you'd think this is a KEY feature that a lot of folks would want -- right out of the box -- oh, and lo and behold, lots of people have expressed an interest in this very thread... and yet nada re: help in making it possible for those who are so inclined.

I greatly appreciate your willingness to create a tutorial to share the knowledge.

Re: commercial opportunity... good for you! If you can get it to work and make some money from it, then that would be a great thing.

Really, what I'm getting at is... once you've "cracked" it, then it's 4-Minute Mile territory; two dozen other people will work out how to do it pretty quickly -- love-sharing tutorial or no. I don't think the commercial opportunity is in the working out how to insert custom characters. Rather, I expect it's in the quality of those custom characters.

Once we all know how it's done, then the commercial opportunity exists for everyone with digital artistic flair and some tech savoir-faire. (Or am I wrong about this? Is there, in fact, some advantage in being first to market? There could well be. And if so, this entire comment is moot. So more power to ya.)

If my position is correct/valid, then there should be plenty of commercial opportunity to go around because (the way I see it, at any rate) it's based on the quality, style and applicability of the character packs being sold. As an end-user, I don't care who worked out how to do it, I'm only interested in the wares on offer by the vendor. Indeed, I'll buy from every custom character-pack vendor if what they product fits my needs.

So if what I'm arguing is correct, then why not draw on the amazing pool of tech-head talent on this very forum? There are, no doubt, folks who'd be willing to help "crack this nut" for nothing more than the technical challenge. (And the never-ending prestige amongst elearning geeks!) Why slog your guts out on the thing that (it seems to me) is incidental to the actual commercial opportunity?

By putting our heads together, we can probably come up with a robust and modular solution that then allows those people with the greatest artistic ability and market research to best take advantage of the opportunity.

Am I raving? Have I missed the point by a country mile, somehow?

Leslie

Carol Ridlington

Jerson this is brilliant and I'm all anticipation to find out how you did it!

I need to have child characters in my courses and there are none so far that I've found suitable - so I think I'll have to create my own too!

You have been so generous with your advice - can you please share the name of the 'free' software you've been using to create your characters?

Thanks again!

Jerson  Campos

@ Skip

I plan on offering custom character creation as a service, but unless you need something very specific like a person dresses in a yellow jump suit, big red shoes and hair with clown makeup, I don't see doing this often because of the cost. One thing I do plan on doing is creating a tutorial that will show you how to modify the characters so you can easily change the colors of the items such as a hard hat.  And you would also be able save it as a new file so you can keep still use the original file and the new one you modified.

@Burgaluva

Back to the secrecy again, I know what you mean. I have asked Articulate support (emails and this forum) for any POC that might be able to shed some light on some details about this process, but the answer is always the same. This is something that they cannot (or will not) help me on. So I've spent many hours just working out the details myself. Mostly it's been to try something out, insert into storyline, if it works great, if it doesn't, delete file, try something else, restart storyline and test again. So it's more tedious than anything else.  Actually it isn't very technical at all, you'll probably bang your head against the screen once I put out the tutorial. 

But I do agree with you on the the deciding factor being the quality of the characters, I plan on doing several different styles to suit everyone's needs. ( but it doesn't hurt to be first right?).

@ Carol

I've actually been using Illustrator to create my character(s). But you can use inkscape as well. I've used inkscape only a little so I'm not very familiar with it, but it will save in the correct file format that is needed.  Even if it doesn't, it still needs to be in a vector format.

Eric Rohrer

Brian Dusablon said:

Second what Bruce said.

I understand Articulate wanting to make money selling their own libraries, but this is a feature that should be standard. I'd love to know why it isn't.


I brought this up during the beta. I've been wanting to create some cool learning apps for my son's bilingual school and wish there were characters I could "buy" that are children versus adults. I think Articulate should consider the k-12 market/audience.

Debee Stanton

How exciting! I know our team would love to purchase some more characters but we have some questions regarding legality.

Is there any chance the custom character process violates the TOC? What I think my organization is most concerned with is "jailbreaking" Storyline or overwriting files that would potentially get us into legal trouble. 

Skip Hagan

OK! You can tell me. Am I becoming obsessed, or what? Here I sit, at my desk, on my lunch break, headphones on, and watching Articulate tutorials or surfing all these fascinating articles. Call me slow, but it just dawned on me what "El Burgaluva" means. 

It's not bad, actually. Munching on a pot pie and learning all this cool stuff.

Jerson has certainly created a wave of enthusiastic interest in this topic. It seems to to me that we all agree that it is the quality of the illustrations as well as the variety of the selection that we are most concerned with. I "dabble" with Illustrator and Flash to build relatively simple mechanical devices and machinery, not characters; more like a draftsman, than a cartoonist. The thing is, I need high quality characters to populate my training material and they need to be in "industrial" garb.

Let me assure you, I am not the only person who is developing training for workers in an industrial setting. There seems to be a lot of focus on education, business, and medical fields, but very little for petro-chemical and utility workers. This might prove quite lucrative for the illustrator with the talent to put it together. Did I mention, I'm in the market for such characters?

Just out of curiosity, where ARE these characters stored, on the PC? What format are they?

Well, time to sweep the crumbs off my desk and go back to work. Y'all have a great weekend!

Darren Mc Neill

I found a directory to the Characters here:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Articulate\Characters\

I'm not sure why this is top secret and has not been shared.

The Character files seem to be in a .acp format and the Photograph set seems to be .apc format.

I do not know how to open these files yet or where the actually photos and illustrations are stored.

Seems to be top secret......

Jerson  Campos

@ Darren

That all it basically is.  just change the files from .acp to .zip and then you can open them.  All the artwork files are .wmf files and can be opened with inkscape or illustrator.  Just take care of changing the artwork. Before you manipulate any of it,  just make a copy of the original file and give it a different name. If you mess around with the file names or the .csv file in there you can cause some errors in storyline.  Nothing serious, just delete the file, restart storyline, and try again. I'll be putting up a screenr of what I figured out so far about the "database" (.csv file) and how to create custom characters. 

This doesn't work for the photographs though. You can still peek inside the file if you change it to .zip, but you can't extract the images since it is password protected. 

Skip Hagan

Just a little sidebar.

After copying the files to a "working" folder, I started to rename the individual .acp filenames and thought: "This is dumb! You used to know a quick way to do this." Sure enough, I had an epiphany! The old "DOS" command line (now, cmd): ren *.acp *.zip. Sure enough, the old dog still remembers some old tricks.

Yuk, yuk, yuk....    Sometimes I surprise even me!

Jerson  Campos

As I was trying to produce a short video to show how somebody can edit the already installed characters, I found out you can't.  Well you could, but it's would be a lot of work.  When I modified some of the files, I used both inkscape and illustrator to confirm my findings. I exported the file as a .wmf. The problem isn't in modifying them, its in the exporting them.  When the file is exported it changes the dimensions of the file and causes errors when Storyline reads it. So if you add something to the head, like sunglasses, and then export it (from inkscape or illustrator), It changes the dimensions. So you end up getting a tiny head on very large body. So what you'll have to do is export each art file in the same program you used so that the dimensions are the same.  I've come across this when I first started messing around with it, but I didn't pay much attention to it because I started creating my own custom characters and they have been coming out ok. I used illustrator to export the files so the dimensions for the head and body where the "equal".  

So for those of you who wanted to modify the existing characters, sorry for the bad news.  

Sara Fromme

Nice job on the characters.

I like the characters however since I work for the government we would never be allowed to use them because they were created as a violation of the terms of service which state that one cannot "disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer or otherwise try to discoverany source code or underlying structures, ideas or algorithms of the Software or encryption for the Content"

We ran into a similar issue when we purchased some old greeting card software that had images on it. We only purchased the software from a discount bin to use the images that came with it. Since we have to document all of our asset sources, our legal team told us that it was a violation of the EULA even if the software was out of business.

Will you make the characters available without being tied to the license violation. Also, we do lots of work for military contractors and would need uniformed characters. Any plans to create those?

Jerson  Campos

@ Sara

I plan to have a few restrictions, mostly that you can't redistribute or resell the files.  But you would be able dissamble and modify them to suit your needs.  For example, the charactor has a yellow hard hat but you need white, then you can open the art file up and modify them.

I do plan on creating uniformed characters in various style. Some cartoon, some more "realistic" looking.  I'm currently working on opening up a marketplace for them. You can sign up for updates and an announcement when it opens at Visual-e-Learning.com.

Arthur Binotti

Going off of what Sara says, how do you get around the EULA in Storyline that states you can't reverse engineer or decompile the character content? You also violated the encryption of the characters which also seems to be against the licensing agreement.

We also work for a local government and we couldn't use those characters if they were derived from a licensing violation.

Nancy Woinoski

Arthur Binotti said:

Going off of what Sara says, how do you get around the EULA in Storyline that states you can't reverse engineer or decompile the character content? You also violated the encryption of the characters which also seems to be against the licensing agreement.

We also work for a local government and we couldn't use those characters if they were derived from a licensing violation.


Why don't you just ask for clarification from Articulate. They know about Jerson's efforts here. I assume they would have nicely asked him to stop doing this if they felt it was in violation.