Each course can have up to thirty stages; each with its own graphics, rules, targets, and props. The Stages menu provides options for rules, instructions, and quickly editing stage settings.
When you select the Stages menu at the bottom of the screen, the Info Bar at the top of the screen automatically switches to show stage options. You can use these to add, delete, and move between stages.
Each stage has its own set of rules. Rules are important because they can determine when one stage ends and another begins. The Rules command panel contains two limiting options for a stage – shots and time. Reaching the limit of either of these options will end a stage and advance the shooter to the next stage or end the course if the shooter is on the last stage.
The Shots Allowed slider can be set between 0 and 50 and sets the maximum number of shots allowed in a given stage. Moving the slider to 0 provides the shooter with unlimited ammunition.
The Time Allowed slider can be set between 0 to 120 and sets the maximum amount of time (in seconds) for a given stage. Moving the slider to 0 provides unlimited time.
These two rules act on “first occurrence” basis. The stage will end when the first of these limits is reached. For example, if Shots Allowed is set to 10 and Time Allowed is set to 30 seconds, the stage will end once 10 shots have been fired even if time is left on the clock. Likewise, the stage will end if 30 seconds is reached before all 10 shots are fired.
Note: Creating a stage with unlimited shots and unlimited time can create an endless stage with no trigger event to cause the stage to end and move to the next stage.
Because each stage can have different rules and requirements, it is often necessary to provide instructions to the shooter before the stage begins. The Instructions multi-select button provides four options for the purpose: None, Text, Image, and Video.
When None is selected, no instructions will be shown.
Selecting the Text option opens a window that allows you to enter text-based instructions, which will be shown prior to the beginning of a stage. The text dialog has two options indicated in the lower left corner of the window: Text and HTML. When in text mode, you can enter text simply by typing in the window. In HTML mode, you can use rich text tags to alter the appearance and layout of your text. These tags work like HTML or XML tags but have less strict syntax. This allows you to adjust the size, color, and position of text among other things. For a full description of acceptable rich text tags, please refer to the guide here.
Selecting Image will open a load dialog that will allow you to select an image to be displayed as instructions prior to the beginning of a stage. Instruction images are created outside of the DART program and must be located in the DART Data\Instructions folder. Instructions images must be in .PNG format and should be no larger than 1024 x 768 pixels in size.
Selecting Video will open a load dialog that will allow you to select an .MP4 video file that will be played prior to the beginning of a stage. Instructional videos are created outside of the DART program and must be located in the DART Data\Instructions folder.
The Instruction Time slider moves from 0 to 30 and sets the time (in seconds) that the instruction screen will be displayed. A setting of 0 sets the slider to Unlimited Instruction Time which means that the instructions will be displayed indefinitely until the mouse is clicked or a keyboard key is pressed.
Note: The Instruction Time slider will be inactive when Video is selected. Instead of setting the time with a slider, the entire length of the video will be played back prior to the countdown.
The Settings options are used to set a countdown at the beginning of a stage, add background sounds, and make scene lighting adjustments.
You can choose to add a countdown before the beginning of a stage so that the shooter has time to get ready. The Countdown button has three options: Audio Only, Visual Only, and Both.
- Audio Only will play audible beeps prior to the beginning of a stage.
- Video Only will display countdown numbers prior to the beginning of a stage.
- Audio & Video will display numbers AND play audible beeps.
Countdown in Seconds
The Countdown in Seconds slider can be adjusted from 0 to 10. A setting of 0 means that no countdown will be shown. A setting of 1-9 will cause a countdown between 1 and 9 seconds. As you move the slider, you will see the main display update in real time. You will notice that the background will blur slightly during a countdown in order to hide the exact nature of a target from the shooter until the stage begins.
Setting the countdown slider to 10 creates a special instructional break. In this case, a graphic is shown on the screen and will remain there until a mouse button is clicked or a keyboard button is pressed. This provides an extended pause that can be used as coaching time before the beginning of a stage.
Note: The instructional break graphic can be changed by replacing the file called break.png in the root of the DART Data folder. The file must be in .PNG format and should be 1024x768 pixels (or less) in size.
Load Audio (Ambient Sound)
In some cases, you may want to add background audio to particular stage. The sound of a siren or dog barking for example can be used to increase stress during training. Clicking the Load Audio button opens a dialog that can be used to load an audio file for this purpose. If you want to remove a previously loaded audio file, click the Remove button.
The Loop checkbox determines if the audio file will play once or continually repeat during the duration of the stage.
Time of Day
The Time of Day slider is used to simulate lighting that may occur at a particular time of day. The default setting of 0 simulates lighting at midday. Moving the slider to the right moves into afternoon and evening, while moving the slider to the left move through morning hours. Just like real world lighting, Time of Day affects shadow direction and intensity, ambient light color, and overall scene brightness.
Try It! Try moving the Time of Day slider back and forth and notice the effect it has on your scene.
Clicking the Environment button opens a dialog window used to load pre-saved environments. DART environments can alter the lighting and camera settings for a stage.
Try It! The default view in DART is approximately 5.5 feet above the ground, but what if you wanted to practice firing while laying on the ground. In this case you would use a different environment to change the view. Click the Environment button and load the environment called Default / Prone. Notice that your viewpoint is very close to the ground now - simulating the view laying on the ground.
The Stage Editor provides a way to quickly copy and rearrange stages with just a few clicks of the mouse. Since many courses are built from a number of similar stages, copying and modifying a stage can be much quicker than creating a new stage from scratch. Clicking the Edit button will open the Stage Editor window where you can name and rename stages, delete stages, add a new stage, clone an existing stage, and change the order of stages.
See The Stage Editor section for detailed information.