Guide to Construct 2's advanced event features

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Tutorial written by AshleyOriginally published on 13th, April 2012 - 4 revisions

Construct 2 offers some advanced features in the event sheet. These can allow expert users to make the most of the event system, enabling more sophisticated logic than normally possible with standard events. This tutorial summarises the event features that are intended for advanced use or work differently to normal events, with some tips and tricks.

This tutorial is intended for experienced users. Be sure to read How Events Work if you haven't already, as this tutorial builds on those basics.

Special conditions

The System object has three conditions that work differently to normal conditions. For more information, see system conditions in the manual.

Trigger once while true
This condition effectively makes a continuously-true event in to a trigger. It tests "if did not reach this condition last tick". Usually it is placed as the last condition in an event, because if it is the first condition, it will be reached immediately and therefore never satisfy its test.

One of the places Trigger once is useful is for playing sounds. Consider the following event:

A bad event for playing audio.
This is a common mistake - remember that the event is run every tick, which is about 60 times a second on most computers - and results in the sound being played and replayed continuously as long as the player's health variable equals 0. Often the result sounds awful. Instead, we want to play a single sound effect the first time the health counter equals 0. Adding Trigger once achieves this:

A correctly played sound effect.
Now the sound will only play the first time health reaches 0. It will not play again until health changes to something else then goes back to 0, when it will play a single sound again.

A useful trick is to put Trigger once by itself in a group of events:

If the group is being enabled and disabled during the game, this will run the event once when the group is enabled. It acts as a sort of "On group enabled" trigger.

Pick all
As described in How Events Work, events typically work by filtering instances that don't meet the conditions. A subset of instances are left which meet all the conditions, then the actions run on those instances.

Pick all is the only condition which works in reverse: it restores all objects, so subsequent conditions pick from all instances again. It is difficult to come up with a simple intuitive example of this, but it can be useful for advanced users having to deal with deeply nested subevents where it is convenient to reset the picked objects.

The Else event runs if the previous event did not run. It cannot be placed after a trigger, and must be the first condition in the event. If the Else is not in the right place, it will appear red indicating you must move it, as shown below. You cannot preview or export your project if Else conditions are in the wrong place, since the logic does not make sense.

An incorrectly placed 'Else' condition.
A common place Else is useful is when toggling a flag or variable. Often new users make the following mistake to toggle a variable, in this case when pressing Space:

An incorrectly set up toggle.
Notice how if MyFlag is 0 it is set to 1, but then the next event immediately sets it back to 0 again, because MyFlag is equal to 1! (This is where the order of events is important: remember events run top-to-bottom.) This event does not have the intended effect and MyFlag remains 0 no matter how many times Space is pressed.

One solution is to set MyFlag to 1 - MyFlag. However, this only works for numbers, and is not always very readable. Else can solve the problem:

The fixed toggle event.
Now pressing Space correctly toggles MyFlag between 0 and 1, because the Else only runs if the previous event did not.

Pressing X is a keyboard shortcut to add an Else event after the currently selected event.

Note Else does not pick any objects. It literally just means "last event did not run". Consider the following example:

A misleading use of Else.

The intent may be to make monsters on-screen rotate toward the player, and make the rest point downwards at 90 degrees. There are two problems with this. Firstly, the Else event will not run at all if any monsters are on-screen, since then the first event has run so the Else does not run. Secondly, even if the Else event does run, it does not specifically pick monsters which are offscreen: it affects all monsters, because it does not pick instances. In this case, it is better to simply replace the Else with an inverted Is on-screen condition, as shown below. This will have the intended effect on instances on and offscreen.

An alternative to using Else.

Else can also be chained in to "Else-if" blocks by adding extra conditions to the Else event, and then adding another Else event after that. This is shown below.

Else-if chain.

This can be read:
If ItemCount is 0: set text to "You have no items!"
Else if ItemCount is 1: set text to "You have one item!"
Else: set text to "You have lots of items!"

This mimics else-if chains in programming languages.

While loops

Another interesting system condition is the While loop. The other loops (repeat, for, for-each) are relatively straightforward, but While works slightly differently and so deserves its own mention.

While runs the event infinitely until either:
- a condition following it becomes false, or
- the Stop loop system action is used.
Most commonly it will be used with a condition following it, like so:

An example 'While' loop.
This will keep moving the player 1 pixel up until it no longer is overlapping 'Ground'. It happens instantly, so will repeat as many times as it needs to until 'Is overlapping Ground' becomes false.

Be careful not to accidentally create infinite loops. If the condition never becomes false during the loop, or the 'While' condition is used on its own without a 'Stop loop' action, it will hang while it loops forever.

'And' blocks vs. 'Or' blocks

Normal events use 'And' logic: all conditions must be met for the actions to run. In other words, "condition 1 AND condition 2 AND condition 3..." must be true. In contrast, 'Or' blocks run for any of their conditions that are true. In other words, they run if "condition 1 OR condition 2 OR condition 3..." are true. Consider the following example:

Picking conditions in an 'Or' block.
The intent here is to stop any monster which is left of X=500 or above Y=500. In this case, if any instances meet either condition, the event runs. The instances picked for the event will be those matching either condition.

Note how in ordinary 'AND' blocks, subsequent conditions filter out instances not meeting the event - progressively reducing the number of picked instances. In contrast, 'OR' blocks add instances meeting the event - progressively increasing the number of picked instances.

By default event blocks are the normal 'And' type. They can be toggled to and from 'Or' blocks by right-clicking the event margin and selecting Make 'Or' block, or pressing the Y keyboard shortcut.

Normally, only one trigger can be placed in an event. However, this does not apply to 'Or' blocks. Multiple triggers can be added to an 'Or' event, and the actions will run when any of the triggers in the event fire. For example, below shows an event which plays a sound if either the A, B or C keys on the keyboard are pressed:

An 'Or' event with triggers.
Note that since normal ('And') blocks cannot contain multiple triggers, this event cannot be turned back in to an 'And' block until all but one of the triggers are deleted.

Using subevents, you can combine 'Or' blocks with 'And' blocks to create more advanced logic. For example:

An advanced 'Or' example.
This will play a sound on pressing A, B or C, so long as either Control or Shift are also held down. Alternatively: "If (A pressed OR B pressed OR C pressed) AND (Control is down OR Shift is down): play sound".

If the second event was not an 'Or' block, it would read "Control is down AND shift is down". Therefore, a sound would play if you hold down Control + Shift and press A, B or C. Alternatively: "If (A pressed OR B pressed OR C pressed) AND (Control is down AND Shift is down): play sound". So using subevents can help you make more advanced conditional logic.

Other useful advanced features

Unique IDs (UIDs) and Instance IDs (IIDs)
UIDs and IIDs are often useful to advanced users for advanced instance picking.

A UID can be used as a "reference" to an object. A UID can be stored in a variable and the object later picked with the Pick by Unique ID condition.

IIDs can be used to retrieve specific instance's expressions. For example, Sprite(1).X will return the second Sprite's X co-ordinate (since Construct 2 uses zero-based indices). For more information see Object expressions in the manual entry on expressions. IIDs can also be used to pick instances using the Pick Nth instance system condition, but beware that an IID is not a permanent reference to an object: for that a UID should be used instead.

For more information, see UIDs and IIDs in the manual.

Most advanced of all...

If you have previous programming experience or just want to take it to the next level, you can use the Javascript SDK to write your own plugins and behaviors for Construct 2. The overview page has a list of links to help you learn Javascript.

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Animate 12.6k rep


Friday, April 13, 2012 at 10:42:44 PM
Kyatric 75.7k rep

Indeed thank you.
Another insightful tutorial to let us know how our favorite tool works inside and can allow us to make some serious programming.

All praises to you Ash and again thank you.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 6:20:42 PM
sheepy 6,903 rep

Very good tutorial, keep up the good work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 4:53:36 AM
omrpps 6,974 rep

Thanks Thanks is a good turorial

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 3:03:21 PM
farsmile90 10.9k rep

good tutorial ! easy understand

Wednesday, May 09, 2012 at 10:38:05 AM
serhazten 4,937 rep

Very good tutorial, thanks

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 at 8:00:04 PM
rahulkathet 2,395 rep

Sound cant play on Ipad and iphone, is there is any possibilities??

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 2:21:20 PM
Ashley 202.3k rep

@rahulkathet - I think you've posted in the wrong place, try the forum.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 3:16:29 PM
Darklinki 5,555 rep

Big thank you, thought already my programming skills dont help me in construct 2 but now I know that if/else/loops and more are possible in construct 2.

Friday, October 19, 2012 at 9:09:21 AM
darktoad 3,211 rep

More super helpful stuff. This should help me with setting up my states system

Thursday, November 08, 2012 at 1:38:06 AM
Rhindon 15.5k rep

The UID/IID section was most helpful. I was searching for detailed info on how to actually call on an instance of an object, and this cleared things up. Now to test things...!
Thank you as always!

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 5:30:37 AM
Doo89 7,089 rep

Thank you very much, very good tuto

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 8:30:02 PM
jojoe 6,485 rep

Great tutorial, I learned a lot of things here 8)

Thursday, February 07, 2013 at 4:27:24 AM
oosyrag 75.5k rep

Thanks for the great tutorial for pointing out ways to get the most out of the event system! I wish I had found this sooner. Maybe link to it from the "How Events Work" section of the manual?

You mentioned Pick All for advanced users in deeply nested subevents. Maybe I'm using it wrong, but would a simple example be to cancel out the filtering effect for the following action? For example, highlighting (or destroying) all instances of an object when clicking on any single one of them. Instead of performing the action only on the instance the mouse is over, by adding Pick All, the action would apply to all instances of the object.

Monday, March 04, 2013 at 2:36:31 AM
anealumor 2,431 rep

Brilliant Tutorial

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 at 3:28:37 PM

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