An introduction to interactive flowcharts

Although the flowcharts for some interactive videodiscs seem to resemble the wiring plan of a space shuttle, most are really not very difficult to interpret.

Only eight symbols were needed to create this flowchart of the familiar story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This interactive version is told mainly with titles (which are single frames repeated a certain number of times) and sequences (which are like parts of a movie). But because it is interactive, there are also many points at which the viewer is required to do something, andthose must be represented with special symbols. This flowchart is shown again on the following pages with the activity printed inside each of its symbols. This is not the way a flowchart or videodisc script is actually written, but merely a device to make it easier to understand how flowcharts work.

Why Goldilocks? Partly because it’s a story that no one will have any trouble following. But also because it is about choices (which bowl of porridge to eat, which bed to sleep in), and choices are an essential part of any program that makes use of the videodisc player’s ability to branch directly from one section of a disc to another. So if Papa Bear’s porridge turns out to be too hot, the viewer can help Goldilocks sample Mama Bear’s or Baby Bear’s.

Stills are indicated by rectangles, action sequences are the shape of TV screens.

A small diamond under a rectangle indicates a pause. The viewer must select one of the options in order to continue.

A large circle indicates a move to a new sequence or title. From sequence 2, it travels to title 18, The End, and the disc stops (small circle). From Title 3, it travels to sequence 2 or 4, and play continues.

Overlapping diamonds represent stepped stills. The viewer must press the Step Forward button on the keypad to advance from one still to the next. Here, the door would be slightly more open in each still, until Goldilocks can enter.

Overlapping rectangles indicate timed stills, pictures or titles that are shown for a set amount of time. In this case, three photos of the bowls with written descriptions.

The number in the circle indicates how many seconds each still is shown.

Goldilocks will make two more sets of three-way choices among big, medium, and little objects. Both will follow this format.

The multi-track audio capabilities of an interactive videodisc (or a DVD) can be used for much more than alternate language versions or director’s comments. Click here for an example of another kind of audio using this Goldilocks script.

Copyright © 1984, 2002 William Dyckes