I created a Captivate activity with a custom effect using motion and scaling to animate two cars driving away to the horizon. Each car moves depending on how you answer a series of questions. Try the activity yourself.
The movement is saved as a custom effect (drive_away) so I can reuse it, as explained by Lieve Weymeis on her blog. The custom effect contains a Left-to-Right movement (which I edited to move up instead of left to right) and a ScaleTo 0.8. One note about these custom effects: they seem to be very glitchy and unstable. I had the entire activity working perfectly and then went back to add the Restart button and make a few minor edits. In every Advanced Action that I edited, the custom effect started scaling larger instead of smaller, even though the exact same action was being called. I had to re-create the effect a second time and save it with a new name. Lieve says these Effects and Advanced Actions don’t play well in Captivate 8, so she prefers to build these sorts of effects in Adobe Edge Animate. You can see the glitchy version from before I edited it to see the problem. Sometimes the cars get larger; sometimes they get smaller.
Each Yes/No button triggers an Advanced Action, so I built two Advanced Actions for each question. The Advanced Actions do several things:
- Increment a variable (Points_ID or Points_Dev)
- Apply the custom effect
- Show the next question
- Hide the previous question
I have 8 questions total. Questions 1 through 4 look like this:
Questions 5 through 8 required conditional actions. Once the score for either variable exceeds 4 points, I apply the effect, show the appropriate final feedback, display the restart button, and hide the sign for the questions. The IF action checks the score and finishes the activity if the score is above the threshold; the ELSE action matches the earlier questions to continue to the end. The action for the final question checks if Points_Dev and Points_ID are equal. If they are, the final feedback message shows that you’d benefit from both an ID and a developer.
If I was creating an activity like this again, I might use Shared Actions instead of Standard Actions. For this time, I wanted the flexibility of being able to add more lines to the action (like adding the Restart button), which isn’t possible with a Shared Action. Now that I know all the actions needed, I’d be able to save some time with Shared Actions in the future. I would also investigate Adobe Edge Animate if I was doing more of these after the problems I experienced.
The car image came from Storyblocks; I edited the license plate and recolored a copy of the same image. The roads are built with Smart Shapes directly in Captivate.
The original concept for this activity came from another instructional designer on a recent project where she wrote the storyboard and I did the Captivate development. In the original version, learners weighed the benefits of two different types of insurance plans. I thought it was such a cool activity that I wanted to re-create it on my own with non-proprietary content. You could use this type of activity for anything where your audience needs to weigh the benefits of different choices: investments, employee benefits, hiring decisions, project management, face-to-face training vs. e-learning, time management, healthy eating, selecting the right equipment for a job, etc. Instead of cars, you could animate people moving along a track. With just ScaleTo in one dimension, you could animate a glass filling up or a thermometer rising.
Are you feeling inspired to create something like this yourself? How could you use a comparison activity like this? I’d love to hear about it if you use this as the basis for your own activity.
Originally published February 10, 2015. Last update August 12, 2019. The original version of this activity was only viewable with Flash, since the custom motion effects weren’t available for HTML5 output in Captivate 8. The current version, updated in Captivate 2019, is in HTML5.