How we built a customer simulation

 Hi everyone! 

My company had to build a course on sales skills for an airline retail chain. To make things more relevant for the learners, we decided to add a branching scenario game. We used basic PowerPoint assets and Presenter. Here's what we created: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/11433463/branching_demo2/player.html

This is a short sample from a much larger 5-chapter game. If you're interested, here's the branching script for one such chapter: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/11433463/branching_demo2/articulate-script.PNG

The client loved it, and it was easy to build in PowerPoint+Presenter. However, the end result suffered from a number of issues:

- not being able to see the branching structure (like the above chart) lead to errors (wrong links and broken links)
- manual work of moving changes to the script in Excel into the actual course - reviews were painful
- overall "PowerPointy" feel because each page was just it - a separate page
- having to re-publish the whole presentation for each little change

So later we built many more games (another sample), tried other tools, and even invested into a Flash-based engine. Lastly, we tried Storyline, but the main issues still remained. 

We spoke to a lot of people and found they had similar problems. So we solved it with BranchTrack.com (yes, you knew I was going to pitch something, didn't you?)

You can look at the customer dialogue game that was built in just a few minutes here:http://www.branchtrack.com/projects/on029pq6

I am pretty sure that it is really easy to integrate such dialogue into Articulate Storyline/Presenter as a Web Object, but I haven't tried it yet. If anyone could try doing this and share the results, this would be just super. I would also love any opinions and experiences related to building engaging customer simulations.

Thanks, and have a nice end of the week!

16 Replies
Cheng Li

Hi Brian,

Interesting thread. I've tried BranchTrack, and it is a really neat tool. Simple to create branches, and easy to use, and it's free! 

I successfully integrated the branch game that I created into Storyline, and it works really well. All you have to do is insert a video from website and embed the link that BranchTrack creates for you. The only thing that is worth mentioning is that you have to publish it in order to view it, and it has to run in HTML5 (maybe two things worth mentioning...). 

Speaking of simulation, it takes a lot of work to create in Storyline, esp with all the triggers that you have to create for each branch. But still, Storyline can definitely create branch simulations.

I couldn't get into the samples you shared, so maybe when I can, more ideas will generate. 

Thanks for sharing!

Cheng

Sergey Snegirev branchtrack.com

Hi everyone! 

I'm the inventor and CEO of BranchTrack, so feel free to ask any questions directly!  We've had quite an influx of people from the Articulate Community recently - THANK YOU!

We will add email-based registration in our next update in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Best,

Sergey

Laura M

I stumbled upon BranchTrack the other day and created a short interaction that I hope to build out.  I never got around to publishing the course to view it, so it's good to know that you have to publish to view it.  I was worried I wasn't using the right tool to insert it into Presenter.

Thanks Sergey - I can see a lot of possibility with this product!

Brian Griffin

Mike Anderson said:

I just stumbled on this post as I am working on a branching scenario.  I tried out BranchTrack and it is very helpful in coming up with my script.  How do I get the items in the zip file into an Articulate Storyline projectt?


First, download your project as zip (it's under the Deliver tab in the dialogue editor) and then follow this step-by-step guide for inserting local HTML content into Articulate: http://community.articulate.com/tutorials/products/adding-web-objects.aspx

The above tutorial is for Storyline but I think it should work in a similar manner with Presenter.

Miranda Verswijvelen

I have just finalised a quite complicated branched scenario in Storyline about newborn resuscitation. Storyline worked brilliant because I use lots of multimedia including videos and photos to choose correct actions, hotspots on dials, triggers changing variables with gauges to indicate changes in baby's heart rate and saturation stats). So lots of decisions, lots of consequences on wrong and right actions.

However - t's a bit of a nightmare trying to check whether all the branching is correct in Storyline!! The story overview interface needs some working on that!

Branchtrack in it's current form would be great to make the script review a breeze for the SME. Will be interesting to see how the full product will pan out AND the cost. (as I guess it won't be free forever).. - I have also been working with Skilitix Interact which does exactly the same as Branchtrack but is fully developed on all other features.

Sergey Snegirev branchtrack.com

Miranda Verswijvelen said:

I have just finalised a quite complicated branched scenario in Storyline about newborn resuscitation. Storyline worked brilliant because I use lots of multimedia including videos and photos to choose correct actions, hotspots on dials, triggers changing variables with gauges to indicate changes in baby's heart rate and saturation stats). So lots of decisions, lots of consequences on wrong and right actions.

However - t's a bit of a nightmare trying to check whether all the branching is correct in Storyline!! The story overview interface needs some working on that!

Branchtrack in it's current form would be great to make the script review a breeze for the SME. Will be interesting to see how the full product will pan out AND the cost. (as I guess it won't be free forever).. - I have also been working with Skilitix Interact which does exactly the same as Branchtrack but is fully developed on all other features.


Hi Miranda,


We aim to keep BranchTrack very simple to use and accessible for most IDs and developers. I also mean the cost. Enterprise-grade simulation platforms tend to include "everything for everyone", which results in steep learning curve and enterprise-grade prices. For every company that can afford the time, cost and skills to develop a full-blown simulation, there are dozens of instructional designers and developers who are stuck with rapid development tools that quickly turn a branching scenario into a nightmare, as you noted.

Our focus is on dialogues and human interaction, rather than simulations of equipment interfaces, heart rates, financial systems or anything else.

I loved your idea of using BranchTrack for prototyping and reviewing a simulation with SMEs before building it. If you have ideas on how we could make this process better, feel free to get in touch at sergey@branchtrack.com. We'll see if this area can be explored, too.

Kelly Prince

I agree that a more complex scenario pulls you in and is more engaging.But, there's absolutely a need for a scenario 'lite."  Last year I created a great branching scenario for my internal client, but it was "too much too soon" as my supervisor put it.   I think the branchtrack is going to be a great way to introduce my clients to a branching scenario, but without all the uncertainty. It's clean, it's obvious where you are as a learner.  Plus, the development time is minimal, so you can use this when you need to get things out quickly and save the sophistication for a more marquee project. For the time investment, you are putting out a more interactive and higher fidelity solution. I have found the save feature a bit quirky when I go to zip the file. It says my file is isn't saved and I get in an endless loop.