Branching Scenario Tools

During this lesson, you need to decide whether you’re going to keep developing in Twine or switch to another tool for your final product.

I will teach how to develop and create a polished product with Twine within this course. However, if you are comfortable using Storyline or another tool, you may prefer working in a familiar environment.

You’ll need to rebuild your scenario if you choose another tool, which means a lot of copying and pasting. My typical workflow in the past has been to use a combination of Twine and Storyline. I write and prototype in Twine. It’s fast, and it provides a functional, text-only prototype quickly to aid the revision process. Once most of the structural revisions are done, then I migrate the content to Storyline. More recently, I’ve shifted to doing more complete projects in Twine without switching to another tool

Twine

Pros

  • Creating the branching structure: Twine is strongest at creating the branching structure and writing the decision paths. If the branching is significant, or the scenario is long, I can build the initial prototype in maybe half the time it would take in Storyline. 
  • Revising the structure: Twine is best for revising the branching structure. Being able to drag and drop the passages to organize particular parts of the branching makes it much easier to see what’s happening. It’s also easier to see when a revision would break the structure and figure out how to fix it.
  • Responsive output: Twine creates a responsive output (it’s HTML). With the sidebar hidden, it works well even on a small phone. 
  • Save time: Especially for purposes of this course, continuing development in Twine means you don’t have to transfer the content to another tool. This is the fastest and most efficient option.
  • Game features: Twine is used by many independent game developers. If you’re interested in game features like variables, randomization, scores, and customized feedback, Twine has the power to do all of that.

Cons

  • Harder to track: Twine doesn’t automatically export to SCORM or xAPI. It’s possible to track in an LMS or LRS, but it requires some technical tweaking.
  • Layouts: It’s harder to set precise layouts in Twine.
  • Images and audio: Images and audio require some HTML code. I’ll teach you (and it’s fairly simple code), but it’s not as easy as dragging and dropping onto the page.
  • Animation: Twine has a few transition effects, but it doesn’t have as many animation options as some other tools.

Storyline

Pros

  • Animation and Media: Storyline is great for timed animation, special effects, and controlling exactly what each slide will look like. It’s also much easier to do audio in Storyline.
  • SCORM: Storyline makes SCORM output easy.
  • Familiar: It’s a tool you may already know well, which means you can jump right into development.

Cons

  • Rebuild: There’s no automatic way to import content from Twine to Storyline. It’s like moving from a storyboard in Word to Storyline; you have to copy and paste everything to rebuild it.
  • Time: Storyline can be time consuming to develop in, especially if you don’t have much experience in it.

Rise

Pros

  • Easy to build: The Rise scenario block is easy and fast. As long as you’re happy with the layout in Rise, it’s fast to create something
  • Responsive: Like everything in Rise, it’s responsive.

Cons

  • Lack of flexibility: Rise relies on templates. That makes it quick and easy, but it also reduces your flexibility.
  • Rebuild: There’s no automatic way to import content from Twine to Rise. You have to copy and paste everything to rebuild it.
  • No structure view: You can’t view the branching structure in Rise. That can make it tricky to revise.

iSpring

Pros

  • Structure and presentation: iSpring’s TalkMaster lets you build the branching structure with a drag and drop tool. You can also create the final presentation in the same tool, without needing to rebuild it.
  • Fast: It’s fast to build in iSpring.
  • Characters: You can use built-in characters and assign them one of 5 emotions.
  • Built-in scoring: It’s easy to assign a score for each choice and create an overall score.
  • Conversation simulations: iSpring is great for building quick conversation simulations; that’s what it’s designed for.

Cons

  • Limited formatting: It’s fast to build because there just aren’t that many options. For example, the font size for options is a little small, and you can’t increase it.
  • Fixed layout: Your layout is going to look the one way that it’s set up by default. Unlike building with iSpring’s regular PowerPoint-based development, you can’t change it.
  • Pass/fail only: At the end of the scenario, you can change the action based on whether the learner passes or fails, but there’s no in-between. You can’t provide multiple levels of feedback at the end based on score ranges or variables.
  • Harder for other simulations: It may require some creativity to use iSpring for simulations that aren’t conversations with another character.
  • Less common tool: iSpring is a less common tool in the industry.

Google Forms

Pros

  • Collect data: Because it’s a survey tool, Google Forms automatically collects data on responses and provides charts. Without requiring an LMS or even login, you can build and share a branching scenario that collects data.
  • Free: Google Forms is a free tool, and many educators are already familiar with it.

Cons

  • Style: The look and feel of Google Forms is set. You can add images to individual questions, but it’s still going to look like a form.
  • Rebuild: There’s no automatic way to import content from Twine to Rise. You have to copy and paste everything to rebuild it.
  • No structure view: You can’t view the branching structure in Google Forms. That can make it tricky to revise.