Basics - Objects, Triggers, and Scenes

The basic conceptual model for ARIS authoring involves objects, triggers, and scenes.
  • Media content = objects
  • How a player accesses content = triggers
  • Organizational units for triggers = scenes

objects and triggers in the ARIS Editor
Objects, triggers, and a scene as seen in the Scenes tab of the ARIS Editor

Objects and Triggers

Objects in ARIS are containers for the content you'd like your players to see and interact with. There are many types of object, but they are each a format of media. The text areas are actually html fields capable of executing arbitrary javascript as well. You can make these pretty fancy by looking up a few common html tags and how to use them. The media asset can typically be an image, video, or audio clip.

For the actual settings for each object see their pages:

  • Plaque
  • Item/Attribute 
  • Conversation
  • Webpage
  • Factory (a meta-object)
And for media specifications, look here.

You can create objects and see them in the left sidebar of the main (Scenes) tab of the Editor. 

To make your object available to players, you must also create at least one trigger to point to that object. Each trigger lives in a scene.

Triggers are what connect the game world to the physical world and to itself. In a very basic sense, a trigger is how a player gets to an object. If you want a plaque at one specific place on earth, you would use a location trigger to point to that plaque, and move that trigger to the intended place. But that is just the beginning. There are many different types of triggers. Below, there is a basic description but for details see the Trigger Types page.

  • Location (AKA GPS) - ARIS places a trigger at a location in the world using geospatial coordinates. A player can access the object pointed to by being close enough to this location.
  • QR code - Players can scan an image to access an object in ARIS using their scanner (in ARIS). Alternatively, they can enter a corresponding string into their decoder. 
  • Locks - Internal game logic. Things that a player has done before, not yet done, their current state, or the state of their team or the game world as a whole (that's a lot of options) alone can trigger further interactions. No action in the physical world is needed.
  • Timer - A self-refreshing timer that triggers an object each time it counts down to 0. 
  • Beacon - Another form of location detection. Instead of GPS coordinates, this trigger works on player proximity to small devices called ibeacons or Bluetooth beacons. 

How to add triggers to scenes

You add a trigger to a scene using the (+) button in the upper right corner of a scene. There are many types of triggers, each of which is an action in relation to a game object:
  • Start Conversation
  • View Plaque
  • Inspect Item
  • Visit webpage
  • Switch scene
  • Run event
More on the details for each of these basic types of trigger below, after notes on scenes.  

What Are Scenes?

The Scenes tab is the main tab in the Editor. It is a visual interface to design stories in ARIS. It helps you organize your objects, quests, and moments of player interaction. Instead of a long list of objects, you can see the structure of your games and stories directly in this window. This should help authors think about the progression of their creations, right in ARIS.

Every game needs at least one scene. Every object needs at least one trigger to provide the player access. A trigger is created within a scene.

Objectively, scenes are containers for collections of game objects (plaques, conversations, etc.). But the metaphor is with cinema/theater. A scene is a basic organizational unit of design to help you think about the different parts of the story/game you’re making as separate productions that are linked together. A story will typically be made up of several connected scenes, and the branching connections between scenes could become quite complex if you want.

Scenes are about helping you to tell stories more efficiently using ARIS. They are likely more useful for larger, more important games. When you're just getting started, it may be best to use a single scene, and simply add all your triggers to that.

How to Use Scenes

You create one or more scenes, and add triggers to these scenes to move action along within them. Every moment of the experience you’re creating for a player will take place within one of your scenes.

Every game needs at least one scene. Add a new one by clicking the big, “add scene” button when you are in the Scenes tab of the Editor.

  • Scenes can be titled, and moved around within the main window of the editor.
  • A player can only be in one scene at a time. Triggers in other scenes will not be available to players regardless of the locks you put on them. Scenes can be a convenient way to segment your games, but you need to learn how to use locks to move players in and out of scenes.

Pro-tip: Until you are indeed a pro, or have a real need, just use one scene for everything. Switching scenes is a bit tricky to set up and not immediately obvious to players so it is easy to break your game (and have a hard time seeing it) when you have multiple scenes.

Switching Scenes

One special type of trigger is the one you use to send the player to another scene. By default, the player starts in the first scene you create. You can change which scene is your first scene in game settings. If you want them to see your objects whose triggers are in other scenes, you need to send them out of their initial scene and into another one. You do this with a switch scene trigger.

Using multiple scenes may help you organize your storytelling

Using Triggers 

Each trigger has many options for when and how the player can access it. You edit them by clicking on the trigger within the scene.

A scene with a bunch of triggers. Notice the custom icons for each type of object. 
A scene with a bunch of triggers. Notice the custom icons for each type of object.

In the left sidebar, you will see the available options, grouped into three categories:

  1. Edit Object - Details about what the player sees and does once they are looking at or using your object.
  2. Locks - This replaces the former notion of requirements in ARIS. If you are familiar with requirements, this is the same, just with a better name. If not, Locks are what allow you to not have your objects show up at the same time for the player. You lock an object, and by doing certain things in the game, the player can unlock it.
  3. Trigger Type - Various mechanisms for a player to actually go about getting to your object. It could be being in a specific place, scanning a QR code, etc.

Edit Object

The first section of buttons you’ll see is “edit item” (or edit plaque, etc.). Clicking on the button brings up a small window where you can change the media, text, etc. for the object itself. 

Locks

Clicking on Locks brings up the Locks Editor, where the big plus button adds new locks. Locks prevent players from triggering objects. This is a powerful and intuitive approach to the AND’s and OR’s involved in logically connecting complex chains of game objects. You can read more about locks at the link below, but the short version is:

Grouped locks need to ALL be unlocked by the player to unlock the object, and satisfying ANY of the ungrouped locks will unlock the object.

All about Locks

Trigger Type

There are several ways that a player can gain access to the objects you create in ARIS. You can choose among them here.

  • Location (AKA GPS) - ARIS places a trigger at a location in the world using geospatial coordinates. A player can access the object pointed to by being close enough to this location.
    QR code - Players can scan an image to access an object in ARIS using their scanner (in ARIS). Alternatively, they can enter a corresponding string into their decoder. 
    Locks - Internal game logic. Things that a player has done before, not yet done, their current state, or the state of their team or the game world as a whole (that's a lot of options) alone can trigger further interactions. No action in the physical world is needed.
    Timer - A self-refreshing timer that triggers an object each time it counts down to 0. 
    Beacon - Another form of location detection. Instead of GPS coordinates, this trigger works on player proximity to small devices called ibeacons or Bluetooth beacons. 

Notice, you need to hit enter or click save after selecting any of the toggles to make them active. You will be able to tell which is active from the small blue icon next to the object’s icon in the scene window (place marker for location, mini QR code for QR code, chain link for sequence).

For details on how each type of trigger works, see the Trigger Types page.

Comments