Mastering the Fire Sim Navigation Options in SimsUshare


Learn how to master the navigation options in the fire simulations you create with SimsUshare.


Welcome! My name’s Jonathan Kaye. This is a session on mastering sim navigation options in SimsUshare. Now, obviously, making navigation is one of the critical skills that you’re going to need in doing virtual fireground walk-arounds. So, this 20 minute, 25 minute webinar is going to go over the basics of how you actually can navigate among locations. If you have questions you can put a note in the chat or put a question in the Q&A. It should alert me about that and I’ll look to answer it toward the end of the session, but I’ll check it out to see if there’s something I need to stop at the moment.

SimsUshare Locations

So, if you just have a single picture, you don’t need any navigation. People already familiar with SimsUshare will notice this is our typical arrow cluster navigation. If you’re making a single picture, there’s no need to navigate. Now, you also know that we in SimsUshare talk about each slide as a location, or each view. So, again, if you’re just doing a single picture, no need to make any kind of navigation. But, obviously, SimsUshare is about doing walk-arounds and walkthroughs and changing conditions and so, most likely, you’re going to want to have at least a few different locations or views. 

Typical Use of Locations

So if you think about it as a sequence of slides, like a PowerPoint slide, when you actually create your locations, you’re creating basically slides. So you’ll create one called Alpha, maybe Bravo, Delta, Charlie, whatever. And so the sim navigation in a nutshell is really just jumping among your slides. Pretty straightforward. Now, typically you’re going to use navigation to simulate what it’s like on the fireground. So, let’s say you’re looking at the Alpha side. Going left would go to Bravo, going right would go to Delta. And so what we’re going to be doing is showing how you can use the SimsUshare navigation elements to set up your walk-arounds. 

“Locations” are Slides

As I mentioned, locations––sometimes I’ll call them slides because it’s easier to talk about them as a sequence rather than locations, but locations technically or slides can be either pictures of different physical locations, or they could be the same location just with a different condition. So for example, you can have a Bravo incipient slide and then you can make another slide or location that has a Bravo knock down or a Bravo extension or a Bravo defensive condition. Each of these are going to be different slides or locations and so it’s up to you when you’re actually creating the navigation in your simulations to decide how each slide or location should jump to some other slide or location.

Reasons to Change Locations

So, there’s two basic reasons why you would want to change locations or slides. You want to change the view for some reason––they’re moving to a different part of the scene––or you want to change the condition that’s not done with timing. You can change it, again, from essentially like an incipient view to some sort or fire extension or some type of evolution that would be disjoint, so not something you would do by timing a smoke or fire. So, for these two reasons you’re either going to be changing the view or changing the condition state. Now, when you think about that with your scenario, it’s a really good idea to map out where your different views are and how you would get to those views, and also what your different conditions can be. 

So we suggest making just a little table, and we have this simulation design document in one of the other lessons, it’s just a simple thing which says here how you help to map out your views and basically we call them state or condition changes while you’re designing your simulation. So what we suggest over here is putting your locations and your different conditions, and then documenting, where does it go when you move forward? Where do you want to go when it moves left or right? And these are the typical arrow navigation and the clustered arrow navigation. We’re going to see there’s another way of moving locations as well, but most likely you’re going to be using this arrow cluster. And even though it’s a bit artificial, the idea is I like to emphasize, a lot of times you students aren’t going to know how to navigate in a virtual environment. So having something simple even if it’s artificial––simple and consistent––just puts them more at ease. They know moving left is going to take them, let’s say from Alpha to Bravo, so they don’t need to have full, free range of motion. Using a simplified way––left, right, forward up, down––can be really most useful just to keep their expectations consistent.

Ways to Change Locations

Just getting to the heart of what we’re doing, there are three basic ways to change locations. You can create arrows––those sort of little red arrows on the navigation arrow cluster–– and that probably is the simplest way. You can create walkarounds very rapidly. The second way we call a location jumper and that’s almost like you’re pulling an arrow off of that cluster and just putting it anywhere in the picture. And right here, it’s in the shape of a white arrow, but in a simulation you can change that shade, and you can even make this invisible. And why you’d make it invisible would be, maybe you have a picture of a door, or we used a picture of a drone in another situation. The person thinks they’re clicking on the door or window or picture, and really what happens is it’s jumping to another location. So the location jumper is useful for having a special-purpose slide changer, and the location jumper also has a special property where it can be timed to jump. So whereas the arrows you have to press on them––the arrows in the navigation cluster so you have to press on them or use a keyboard, I’ll show you how that works––the location jumper can be set to go to after 10, 15 whatever number of seconds, transition to another slide. So you can automatically walk people through a scene or through conditions. 

The third way of changing locations really is nothing about developing simulations, it’s with the Command Training Center––the CTC––you can just pick people up and drag them over to a new location, but that does require that you are remotely controlling your participants. 

Arrow Cluster Navigation 

Let’s talk about the most basic, the arrow cluster navigation, or an arrow navigation cluster. So, the way that a participant will navigate is one of the three ways. They’ll either click on one of the highlighted arrows. They can use a keyboard shortcut, so you see over here, if you look at a key or if you look on your keyboard if you have one now, you’ll see the A, W, D, X is kind of like mirrored over here as you’ll see. A is the left––that would be the equivalent to clicking on the left button. D is equivalent to clicking on the right button. W is the up button and X is the down. And so these other keys like Q and E and C and Z––those activate the arrow, so that way you don’t have to click you don’t have to on the computer click on the arrow, you can use your keyboard. Now, if you want to use the center semicircle arrows, you can use the up and down keys also on your keyboard. Now, another thing people are not familiar typically with is tap regions, and I’m going to show what that looks like. 

So if we’re looking at SimsUshare right now, and let’s say we’re going to go and play a scenario, I’m going to go here to say Myrtle CTC. So right now here you’ll see we have, it’s like I can click to go forward, I can click to go back, I can use the arrow key. I’m going to click on the D. D is equivalent to the right arrow, so I can do D again. So long as it’s lit, I can use that arrow key. And now sometimes I actually hit the menu here, so I’m going to bring the menu back––show menu––that’s a very useful thing to make your simulations more immersive, you can go here and hit “Hide Menu.” There’s a little button at the bottom left here and that hides the navigation arrow. Now when that’s hidden, the cluster, I can still use the arrow keys––see I can move right, I can move left––but I just don’t see what I’m pressing. And this could be useful if you have some condition you want to change. Let’s say you’re using a middle button to change a condition, but you don’t want to show someone that you’re changing that condition. So I might hide the arrow key here and then just make myself move around with keystrokes.

Now, if I hide the key and see that there is now 10 different buttons, the tap region––kind of getting back to where I started this––when you hide this cluster, SimsUshare breaks up your screen into 10 different regions, and I can go here and say “Show Tap Regions.” So you’ll see here how these 10 regions mirror the 10 different spots in the navigation cluster. So it means when this is hidden, see I can move left or right here, and I’ll look at the tap region again. So if I now click in this area, that moves left or I go to the right, and that’s how I can use the tap regions to navigate. Now what the purpose of the tap regions is, we found that on mobile devices––iPads, Android, iPhones––you’re not seeing the cursor like you are here in Windows. And so if you’re projecting your mobile device onto a screen and you don’t want the person to see what you’re doing––I want to let’s say, escalate the condition––then all you have to do is tap on the screen and that will take them to a new location. And that way if you’re projecting it on a bigger screen your users aren’t seeing where you going, and that might just be a condition change. So if you had condition changes in here or movement, you can click on the tap region. And of course, if there is no navigation like here, there’s no left so clicking left doesn’t do anything. But if I hit that with the tap region, I would move that forward or back. So those are tap regions. 

Now, so how does a designer create these arrows? There are three basic ways. You can use the walk-around maker, set individual arrows, and then we also show you how to clear all the navigation. So, for example, let’s go into SimsUshare here. Let’s go back and look at this, I’ll just have this House 1. So now in House 1, let’s take a look. I’ve made four different locations––an, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and some living room. So if I hit play, right now I haven’t put any navigation in here. So let’s say I want to make a walk around, which is most typically what people will do for structural firefighting. So I’m going to use the location menu and say walk-around maker. Now as we go through here, this button over here says “Clear All Navigation.” There is no navigation now, so that’s why it’s not lit. We’re going to get back to that. So when I’m making the walk-around maker, on your left hand side you’re seeing all the locations. Here we only have 4, but you could have 5, 10, 20, whatever number. And you’re going to tell the walk-around maker which locations you want to use in the order, in a clockwise order. 

So I’m going to start with Alpha and I click on the greater than sign. Bravo and then Charlie, and I don’t have a Delta here but now what’s going to happen is now, notice as I put these in here, it’s now going to say “Make Loop.” And when I say make loop, now if I actually hit play, it has added in each arrow which we’re going to show how to do individually but for right now, when you make a walk-around this is the easiest thing to do. Okay I made a loop, I went left to Bravo, now I’m going left to Charlie, and if I go back left I’m going to be back now at Alpha and similarly Charlie, right, right, right. So I didn’t want living room as part of the walk-around and this was a really easy way to make my walk-around. So that’s how you use the walk-around maker. 

But remember, we can actually set these arrows individually and let’s see how we do that. So for one thing, let’s say Delta is blocked for some reason, so I don’t want to allow someone here to go over to Charlie side. So what I’m going to do here is I’m going to remove one of the arrows. So this is where your set navigation comes in. So set navigation is key to each side. So here, notice this is where you have to read carefully as you’re changing the navigation. Having the location set upfront beforehand is really useful so you’re following something you’ve planned and documented. It’s saying “Set navigation for Alpha.” It says click on an arrow to set that direction. Well, left I want to go to Bravo but I don’t want right to go to Charlie because let’s say I have a blockage on my Delta side and it’s inaccessible. What I can do as I can set Charlie and then say remove this path. And now when I’m done, watch what happens. When I go hit play, notice there is no arrow to go over to my Charlie. I have to actually circle this from Bravo. And now also notice here I am on Charlie, I have no arrow to go over back to Alpha. Let’s say it’s blocked off over here. So that’s how you remove a navigation arrow. 

Now, how you set an arrow, let’s say that I want to have an entrance here on Alpha. What I do first as I go and make sure I’m editing the Alpha location, I go over and say “Set Navigation,” and after set navigation, now if we can read this carefully––“Set navigation for Alpha. Click on an arrow to set that direction.” So I’m at Alpha and I want to go forward and actually into my living room. Over here the destination, you see this gives me all the destinations and now notice Alpha is not on this list because I’m already at Alpha, so there’s no reason to go from Alpha to Alpha. That’s why some people sometimes will be like, “Where’s Alpha?” well you’re at Alpha so that’s why it’s not showing. So it’s saying, once I click on the direction choose  the destination when “forward” is pressed, and I want living room. Once I click that, it’s telling me Alpha forward goes to living room. Now I hit click back, or actually I can hit done, and now as I hit play, you’ll see the up arrow there goes forward and goes back. Now you notice it does go back. I didn’t enter back in there. I didn’t do the down arrow to go back. Astute viewers will know that there’s a special switch under here that says “Reciprocal Navigation.” That means if I set something going forward, then if this is set to true, then automatically make the opposite happen to get back from my destination. 

So let me go back and try this again. If I want to remove the forward, see it says “Forward” there. I’m going to remove that path and reciprocal will also remove the return path. But now if I say, don’t do reciprocal and I say just go forward in living room, now it’s only going to go into the living room. It’s not going to give me the path back. So if I go here and hit play, you’ll see I’m here, it’s giving me forward, but now once I’m inside, no way to go back. And this may be if you wanted to individually plot how your person is the different arrows. So maybe the door is off to the left or something. So what I can do here in the living room, is I can say oh, well because of the perspective if they’re in the living room, let me now go and set the navigation, make sure reciprocal is off, and let’s say left is going to go back to Alpha, and maybe right is going to go right to Charlie. Actually think left, I have to set that again, right to Charlie and left to Alpha. So now, and reciprocal is off so we’re not going to have the return set for us. So now I’m in the living room and you’ll see here if I go left, I get to Alpha, if I go into the living room and I go right, I’m headed out to Charlie and because there was no reciprocal, there’s no way to get back in. So you decide. Sometimes these one-way paths are useful when you have someone responding. So you go forward, forward, forward––you don’t want them to go back, let’s say back into the road, back into the responding. So you can just use one directional, non-reciprocal. 

So let’s take a look now, and also very important here how you actually clear the navigation. In the walk-around maker there is a button “Clear all Navigation” if I wanted to reset that.

Location Jumper

So the second way you can actually navigate, that’s using the arrow navigation cluster, is use what we call location jumper. So how does a participant navigate with a jumper? You either click on it when it’s invisible, they’re clicking on an area that you think they’re going to click on the picture, or with timed movement. So let’s take a look at that. If I go back here, and let me show you a location jumper. If I go here to let’s say, 1015 Fairfield, what you actually see, you see a picture at the bottom here, which is a picture of a drone. Now what you’re not seeing is now if I use the selection rotator, you’ll see here there’s a green––this is an invisible location jumper. This is actually, if I click on this now, so I’ve made that invisible. You can see here if I make this opaque, I can go, you’ll see there is the white bar there. But I made it invisible, so when someone’s clicking on what they think is a picture, that’s really jumping to a new location. This location jumper is just something obvious. This is a location jumper. It doesn’t have that reciprocal effect, so when you click on it, it doesn’t automatically show up in the target place. You have to click again. So actually I’ll leave this for right now. 

I’ll show actually how you put this in. I’m looking over here, so this is just something if you wanted to have hot spots in your picture, they click on something and they go there. So if I click to overhead, you’ll see it’s jumping to an overhead. And I can use a combination of these clusters and location jumpers. The only catch about doing too many hot spots is if you have a few that are not clear, then your users are going to be clicking all over the place. They’re not going to be sure which are hot spots and which aren’t. So I really would say use this hotspot thing very judiciously, where it’s clear that they may want to jump to that. 

If I now want to move something along a time basis––let’s say I want to transition this slide to another over time––what I do is I bring out my location jumper, and by default it comes out as arrows. There are different shapes––arrows, different polygons as well. And my first step here is to set “Move To.” Where do I want to go? Now I could just say next location. That’s the next location in my sequence of locations. Or I can specify a particular location. Let’s say I want to go to, whatever this is, I’m going to go to Delta. And now, what’s key in here is now move on timeout. So, by default timeout is not true. So by default, you can click on it to get to Delta. But if you set move on timeout to yes, then what you’re going to do is say okay, delay before move at let’s say 5 seconds. And I can still hide this thing, so I may not want to actually show it. So I could make the opacity––bring it down to something like that here so we can still sort of see it there but make it invisible. So I’m going here and now we’ll do 4, 3, 2, 1 and there it switched over. So that’s the idea of how you can actually use a location jumper to move around timing. And if you want to move around a whole area, you can just copy and paste that location jumper, set to next location and it’s really easy to put in so you’ll have it do a sequence. Now, also location jumper, kind of like with this drone picture or behind the drone picture, can have also move on click, which is yes or no. So you don’t have to make it clickable. So that’s the idea with these location jumpers. 

CTC (Remote-Controlled)

Let’s get back over here. We can either have it click, on a click––it does not have a keystroke, that’s the only catch––or it can be with timed movement. So the third and kind of last way of doing navigation is with the CTC or sort of remote control. But this is not something that you would design or create. This is something that you, as the instructor remotely controlling a computer, you can basically pick someone up and drag him or her there. So for an example, if I have this scenario right like over here, and I’ll show you what it looks like, so here I have a participant in the scenario and I have my instructor here on a different computer. Now, I can move around as the participant, but the instructor can also say, okay I want to move you over to Charlie, or I want to move you over to the first floor. So that’s kind of navigation. So let’s say you might, if you want to control a participant screen completely, just don’t put any navigation into that simulation, and then that participant can’t move but you would be able to move the participant to whichever slide or location you want. 

Bonus: Voice Navigation

Now, those are three ways of doing it. One of the interesting things that I found recently in Windows 10, kind of a fun thing, is let’s say that you want to have someone move around but you don’t want them to use keyboard or you don’t want them to use a mouse. Well, I found this Windows program called voicemacro.net which is free, amazingly enough, it’s sort of donation ware, so shareware, you can support it. I know that we definitely do because it’s so useful but it is Windows 10 only. I’ve created a video, a 5 minute video of how to. So it’s over here. When I record this and put it up on YouTube I’ll also put the link in here, bit.ly/simsushare-voice. What’s really cool about this, let me go over here and I’ll show, so now I’m actually going to have it run and during the demonstration I’m going to toggle “Listen” here. And so now what I’ve done with Voice Recorder is I have made, which is very easy to do, a set of keystrokes that get activated when you say certain things. Like here, if I say move left, move right, move forward, move backward, and it’s going to then send the keystroke whatever the current program is. So if all goes well and I go here and say…well that’s not exactly right, let’s see…now let me see, move left, move left, move forward, move back, move backward, move right. So this is really a cool way you could actually put a microphone or have a microphone listening to your candidate in front of a screen, and that person could say, move right… I guess they have to actually have it set there…move left, move right, move right.

That’s a pretty cool thing. Now, that can be done with the keyboard navigation. Really just it’s a way of getting the computer the keys in a way that doesn’t make the user have to actually click on stuff and freeze you as the instructor up a bit as well. A little bit of getting it right just in terms of configuration, but a really, really simple way. Now, you don’t actually have to use “move left” or “move right.” You can make up your own keywords, which is great so you can decide. Typically they say don’t make it too short, but you can have a short phrase. As I say, the video that I took makes it really easy. You’ll see how I did this, set up voice macro right from the start of downloading.

So that really is voice navigation with voicemacro.net and there I’ve made a video, actually it really should be probably https://, but you’ll get that idea, and you’ll see I made move left, move right, and that kind of stuff. You can certainly ask me questions if you’d like to get this set up. I think it’s a really nifty feature that, especially as a free thing, could be very useful for the right situations.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, what we’ve seen here is three basic ways to change locations: navigation arrow cluster, the location jumper, and then the CTC remote-controlled is a way you can change, even though that’s really not under the user’s control.

I appreciate your attention. I’m going to look for questions now if anyone has that. Again, I have recorded this session and this is going to be shortly available probably this evening or tomorrow morning on our webinar archive. But I really look forward to hearing what you’d like to do, reviewing things that you’d like, and possibly getting some tips from you about what works best for your user navigation. Thank you again for your attention. Please use the Q&A or the chat window if you have any questions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”View All CTC Webinars” color=”success” size=”lg” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fsimsushare.com%2Fctc-webinars%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]