In this tutorial you will find all the information you need to start developing and using your games in Epik. We will start by explaining what can be done on the dashboard; then how the development screen works, and finally how to create, generate and distribute your games. If at any moment you want to leave this page because you want to try something we mentioned, or for some other reason, you can always come back by selecting the "How to ... ?" link on the bottom of all Epik pages, and then choose "How to develop an Epik game?".
Understanding the Dashboard
The dashboard is the section presented to you each time you sign in into Epik. Understanding this section is crucial because everything you create on Epik can be managed with it. This section is divided into four different subsections: Activities, Resources, Projects, and Games (image below). A more detailed explanation regarding each one is presented on the following subsections.
Actvities can be seen as the challenges you can create for your students in your games. For now an activity can be either a question or a group of questions. The main difference between them is just that by using a group of questions in a game, instead of a question, a random question from this group will be chosen to be presented to the players.
In this area you can manage those kind of activities by creating, editing, or deleting them. If you prefer you can also import your activities from a LMS. Either way, you can then associate hints and resources to questions. Hints can be used in your games for the Request Hints help and resources for the Consult Learning Materials help.
The image below is an example of this section with some questions listed. The plus button on the top (to the right of the section title) can be used to create new activities or import them from a LMS. The smaller buttons displayed on the right of the hovered question can be used to edit, associate hints, associate resources, or remove the activity, respectively. A reload button can also be displayed on that area in case the activity was imported from a LMS. You can only associate hints and resources to questions. Those options are not available for groups because the hints and resources belong to the question and not to the group. To associate resources you must first create them on the Resources Section in the Dashboard.
Resources are files: more precisely, audio, image, video, or PDF files. Those files can be used in your games to display concepts to players, or as design elements. For example, you can use a audio resource as background music, or as a way to present a concept to players. A resource can be either a file you provide or a file from a URL you found on the Web (for videos you can also use Youtube or Vimeo links).
In this area you can manage those kind of resources by creating, editing, or deleting them. If you prefer you can also import them from a LMS. Resources can also be associated to questions in the Activities Section of your Dashboard to be used in the Consult Learning Materials help in your games.
The image below is an example of this section with some resources listed (on this case images). The upload button on the top (to the right of the section title) can be used to create new resources or import them from a LMS. The smaller buttons displayed on the right of the hovered resource can be used to edit, or remove it, respectively. As mentioned for activities, a reload button can also be present on this area in case the resource was imported from a LMS.
If you want to know how activities and resources can be imported from a LMS please consult this page. You may need your LMS administrators intervention to do so, because your LMS may not support this feature by default.
Projects, or games projects, allow you to create your games skeleton. Basically, you need to create a project in order to create a game. In the project you define the game scenarios and their rules and design. After that you can export a project as a game and it will appear on your Games Section in the Dashboard.
In this section you can manage all your projects by creating, editing, or deleting them. You can also open them to make changes or improvements. Besides those options, you can also choose to export them as a game, which will create a new game available on your Games Section in the Dashboard.
The image below is an example of this section with some projects listed. As for activities and resources, the plus button on the top can be used to create new projects, and the smaller buttons can be used to edit, export, or remove a project, respectively. The export as game option must only be used when your project is finished and ready to become a game, we will explain how it works later on.
Here games refer to all games you have created and that you can edit or remove. To create a game you must export a project as a game.
In this section you can consult your games profile, test them by choosing the play option, consult their sessions logs, or remove them.
The image below is an example of this section with some games listed. The actions mentioned above are displayed on the right of the hovered game. By clicking on the game name its profile will be displayed, where you can find the information needed to distribute it through Epik or through a LMS.
Now that you understand how the Dashboard works and what it can be used for, its time to start developing your first game.
Developing a Game
Creating the Project
To start developing a game you must create a project. To do so, open the Projects Section in your Dashboard and click the plus button. This will open a window asking you to provide a name and a description for your project (you can change both fields later). Let's call it "My first Project" for now and then click on continue.
Now you must choose the game type and a template for your project. As you can see on the image below, you can choose the type of game by using the select box on the right. The templates and a description for this type of game will then appear below. If you hover a template, a description of its contents is also displayed. You can start with a blank template, or with a template that already defines some of the game properties. If this is your first project, to keep it simple, choose the "Collaborative Quiz" type and the "4 Lectures + 12 Questions + 4 Hard Questions" template as displayed below.
Now press "Finish" and on the following window click on "Open Project", or in case you close the window accidentally click on the project name in your Dashboard.
The Development Screen
You are now on the development page (image below). Here you can still perform most of the actions available on the Dashboard as, for example, create new activities and resources, or export your project as a game without leaving the page. But you can't, remove a project or consult a game sessions log. This page is divided into 4 different sections: the toolbar (on the top), the explorer (on the left), the canvas (in the center), and the properties (on the right). Each section is described in more detail on the following sections.
The toolbar, as shown below, provides you with several tools for creation, edition, and insertion. Most of those tools are probably familiar to you, so we'll just introduce the most important and less obvious.
The first tool on the left is the "New Menu", presented below on the left. It provides tools to create new scenarios, projects, activities, and resources. The last three are the options already available on the Dashboard. However, the scenarios were never mentioned before.
A scenario is a game screen. Think of it as a slide in a presentation, where each slide usually contains text and images, and in some cases animations and other multimedia content. Here scenarios are very similar to the slide concept, but on this case they are interactive, so besides text and multimedia contents you can also add activities to them. The kind of text used must also be different, since we are talking about a game and not a lecture in a classroom. As you can see on the image, you can create Lecture Scenarios, Activities Scenarios, or choose a scenario template.
Basically, a lecture scenario must be used to present a concept, or topic, to the players using text and resources. Whilst an activities scenario must contain activities for the players to solve, although they can also contain text and all the other available elements for lecture scenarios. Choosing to create one of those types of scenarios from the menu in the left would create a blank scenario, but if you choose to create from a template, you can then choose one of those types of scenarios with some empty elements on it which you can then fill.
Next to the "New Menu" is the "Import Menu" and "Export Menu" (displayed on the right), as their name implies they can be used to import activities and resources from a LMS, and export a project to other formats, respectively.
Lastly, there are the insertion menus, identified on the toolbar image above by: texts, shapes, resources, and activities. If you choose to insert a title, or a square, it will be immediately created and added to the current scenario. But if you choose to insert an image or a question, a window will be displayed from where you must choose an image, or a question you previously created, to be inserted on the current scenario.
The canvas is the area in the center of the page where the contents of the current scenario are displayed. Almost every edition action you perform with the toolbar is related with the current element selected on the canvas, be it a scenario, or an element contained in it. You can use this area to select, reposition or resize the elements on a scenario. Besides that, it can also be used to cut, copy, and paste, for example, by using the right click context menu.
The players panel is also always visible on this area, but you can't interact with it, unless when the players general property is selected. We will talk more about this on the following sections.
The Explorer Panel
This is the panel on the left side of the page that allows you to change between the game scenarios and properties. The first two items on this panel refer to the general game properties and general game scenarios, respectively. Below them, after the horizontal separator, are listed all the game scenarios you created and their respective contents. The image on the left is an example of what you will find when you create a project using the template mentioned before.
The available game properties are: the logo image position, the scores and helps names and values, the players panel position and colors, and the game sounds and music. They can be used to change general aspects of the game that are independent from the current scenario. Their meaning and how you can use them is explained in more detail on the next section.
The general scenarios are common to all games you create on Epik and they are displayed here just for you to be able to preview them, since they do not provide any customization options. The existing general scenarios are: the game start, the game instructions, the waiting room, the teams or players rankings, and the game over. On the image below is displayed how they are linked between them.
Your scenarios, as mentioned above, are listed below the horizontal separator. Their order is not important for the game flow, as you can order them as you want on this panel. Inside each scenario there are 3 or 4 folders that separate their contents by texts, shapes, resources, and activities. By clicking on a scenario or on its contents on this panel, it will select them on the canvas, and the inverse also works: when you select an element on the canvas it is immediately selected and displayed on the explorer panel. Besides that, you can also drag your scenarios to sort them, and use the right click context menu to cut, copy, paste, remove, etc.
The Properties Panel
This is the panel where the current selected element properties are displayed. There are some properties common to almost all elements, such as the element name, the width and height, the position, the background color, etc. And there are also several properties specific for each type of element. The image on the right is an example of this panel when an activities scenario is selected.
The list below explains what can be found on the properties panel for each general game property (Remember: you can change between them using the explorer panel).
- Logo - it allows you to reposition the Epik logo on the game screen;
- Scores and Helps - it allows you to determine the name for each type of score and also which ones you want to be registered on the activity logs. It also allows you to define the maximum number of helps available throughout the game. For activities scenarios you will then be able to limit the number of helps the players are allowed to use based on the value you specify here;
- Players - it allows you to change the players panel position and colors;
- Sounds - it allows you to change the game background music and the sounds played when a player answers correctly, or incorrectly to a question, and when he receives a help request, or response.
All the properties specified above already have default values even when you start a game from scratch (by choosing a blank template) and you don't need to modify them if you don't want to.
When a scenarios is selected, besides some styles properties, there will be two kinds of properties available that aren't present on any other type of element: the rules and the flow (you can see them in the image on the right). The rules (only available for activities scenarios) allow you to limit the number of helps players are allowed to use, the types of bonus they can receive and if you want the points received for each bonus type on this scenario to be logged. The flow can contain different fields for each type of scenario and it must be used to link your scenarios between them. In total you have the following flow options:
- Game start - this field can only be selected for one scenario in your game, since you can only have a starting scenario. The scenario with this property selected will be the first to appear after the waiting room scenario, mentioned before.
- Timeout - it allows you to specify a time limit for the current scenario, when the time is over it jumps to the specified scenario on the select field;
- Everyone finished activities - it allows you to specify to which scenario the players must be sent when all of them finished the activities on the current scenario;
- Continue - it is only available on lecture scenarios; it allows you to create a continue button that must be clicked by all players before sending them to the specified scenario;
- Skip - it is only available on activities scenarios; it allows you to create a skip button that if clicked by at least one player all will be sent to the specified scenario, even if they finished all activities.
The properties for all the other elements that a scenario can contain are similar, except for questions, and questions groups. Besides the styles properties, those types of elements provide the scores and helps properties. The scores properties allow you to specify the question reward score, the penalty percentage applied to the reward score each time a player makes an incorrect attempt, and the collaboration timeout. This timeout is the time a player has to answer a question after receiving a help from another player. If he answers on time, a penalty won't be applied to the question score and the other player can receive a bonus for collaborating, but only if you specified it on the scenario rules. Whereas the helps properties allow you to specify which helps will be available for the selected question. For the Consult Learning Materials help you can also select the resource to be used, and for the Request Hints help you can select the hints to be used (these two last properties are not available for questions groups because they will select a random resource or hint for those two types of helps).
Finally, it is also important to note that template elements (like the ones on the image below) have a very important property, the "Choose button". Those elements are empty resources or activities and to fill them you must use an already existing resource or activity. But instead of using the button on the toolbar to insert a new element, you must select them and use the choose button on the properties panel.
Creating and Distributing the Game
You are now ready to create your first game. On the project you created before, you just need to select each scenario and fill the text fields with your own text and then fill all resources and activities templates with your own. If you want you can also add new scenarios, change the game flow, change the general properties, etc. When you are finished, it is time to convert your project to game format.
Before trying to convert a project to a game, you must make sure that your project satisfies the following requisites:
- There is a start - you must specify which will be the first scenario using the flow options;
- No isolated scenarios - you mustn't have isolated scenarios in your project, this is, all scenarios must be linked to some other scenario using at least one option from the flow properties;
- No cycles - you can't create cycles in the game flow, this is, you can't go back to a scenario already displayed to players. If you want to do something like that you must create two scenarios with the same contents for each scenario you want to be repeated.
- No template elements - all resources and activities on your project must reference a resource or activity created by you. Empty elements are not allowed in the game, if you don't want them just delete them from the scenario.
In addition to the requisites specified above, there are also other aspects that must be satisfied. But don't worry, if you forget about some of them, when you try to create your game, the creation will fail and the errors found in the project will be shown so you can correct them before trying again.
It is also important to note that a game cannot be edited as you can only change its name or icon later, so make sure that your project is ready and saved before continuing.
Converting a Project into a Game
Assuming your project is ready, let's try to convert it to game format. If you are on the development page, select the export menu on the toolbar (mentioned before on the toolbar section) and then choose "Export as Game". If you are in the Dashboard, hover your project and on the right click on the gamepad button. On the opened window you must provide a name for your game and a description, the name will be displayed on the first game scenario, but the description will be visible only for you. Click on continue and then you must specify if your game is public or private (this option is not yet fully working) and you can choose an icon for your game (this is not mandatory as there is a default icon for all Epik games). Lastly, click on finish and wait. If everything goes well a page with two buttons to view and play your game will be displayed, otherwise a page with a list of errors will be displayed (if this is the case you must solve those errors before trying again).
After you create a game, it will be placed onto the Games Section in your Dashboard. If you want to test it, just click the play button displayed on the right, and in case it is a multiplayer game you must ask someone else to play with you.
Distributing the Game to Students
If you want to distribute your game to your students you can do it in two ways:
- Use Epik - for this you just need to open your game play page by clicking on the play button, copy this page URL and then send it to your students. Session logs generated from this approach will be organized into the Public Sessions category (more about this on the following section).
- Use a LMS - for this your LMS must support the IMS LTI standard. If you want to know more about this consult, this page. The main advantages for this approach are that by creating an activity on a course (or context) in a LMS only students from this course will be able to play between them, and when the session logs are stored they will be organized by course and LMS, so you can easily identify who played on a certain game session. In addition, when the players finish the game, a grade of 100 is sent to the LMS to indicate that they completed the activity. This grade can be changed later through the LMS, or through the session logs page here on Epik.
Consulting the Sessions Logs
Sessions logs are the generated logs for each finished game session. A game session is created each time a player starts a game and it can contain one or more players that are playing with each other. Players that cannot interact are on different sessions. The generated logs contain only the information you chose to log while creating the game, which can be used for students assessment. To consult them use the chart button on the game profile page, or on the right side in the Dashboard.
On this page, if anyone has already played the game, you'll find all the sessions organized in tables (image below). Public sessions are always on the beginning. Below, if you have ever distributed your game through a LMS, you will find one table for each. Each row from those tables represents a session and the first column for each table always contains the course or context name.
If you hover a session a "More" button will appear on the right, just like on the Dashboard, click on it to consult the session logs. On this next page you will find the session information divided by player/student. For each player, there is a table for the global scores, helps, received bonus by scenario, and activities scores by activity (image below). If you distributed your game through a LMS you'll also find on this page a field or each student that allows you to send a grade to the LMS between 0% and 100%.