When to Choose Each Tool

Simple conversation: Rise or iSpring

For a simple 2-person conversation simulation without extensive branching, I might use the Rise scenario block or iSpring’s TalkMaster tool. Both are very fast, but they have fixed layouts based on templates that can’t be edited.

The big drawback with Rise is that you can’t see the structure at all. Without any visual of the flowchart, you have to either have a simple structure or track the structure in a tool like Twine.

iSpring does have the ability to see the layout and to drag and drop, which is a big point in its favor. But, the layouts are fixed. The default text size for choices is quite small, and there’s no way to make it more readable. It also lacks the ability to do multiple levels of personalized feedback controlled by variables and some other features in more powerful tools like Twine and Storyline.

Complex animation or media: Storyline

For more complex visuals or animation, like simulating text messages, I use Storyline. Maybe I could come up with a way to replicate this in Twine, but it would honestly be hours of work. It’s much smarter to build in Storyline for this version.

Text message simulation

Chat simulation: Twine

For a simple chat simulation, I would use Twine and not rebuild it in Storyline. Twine with the Trialogue or botscripted format would be much faster than anything in Storyline. I built a whole chat simulation with 50 passages in 2 hours using Twine. There’s no way I could do anything equivalent that fast in Twine.

Extensive branching: Twine*

For more extensive branching, I would at least plan everything in Twine first. For example, this project ended up with over 70 slides. I could have planned it in Storyline, but building the links across that many decision points would have been clunky in Storyline. Twine lets me drag and drop all the passages so I can clearly see the bottlenecks and branches, as in the image below. Storyline shows the branching structure, but you can’t reorganize it by simply dragging and dropping.

Branching scenario with color-coded passages in Twine, one of the tools for building branching scenarios

However, I did eventually build the project above in Storyline after the Twine prototype was reviewed and revised. If I was doing it again now, with the recent improvements to Twine, I’d probably keep it in Twine instead of building it all a second time in Storyline.

Collect data: Google Forms

If I wanted to collect data on every choice learners make in a scenario, without needing an LMS, Google Forms is a good choice. This could even be an option for a quick prototype to see if your distractors were plausible or to see if the question difficulty is appropriate.

I personally probably wouldn’t use it otherwise, since I have other tools available, but it’s a good option for people with limited budgets or who are already using a lot of Google tools (like many teachers and higher ed instructors).

Other tools

BranchTrack, H5P, Yo Scenario, and other tools also have the ability to create branching scenarios. I just haven’t used them enough to clearly compare them with other tools.