ConFusion 2021 Reveals Platform


It’s finally time to show off our platform! Welcome to our virtual world.



Music: ConFusion2021 Theme and Confusion2021 Incidentals by The Light Dreams – commissioned and licensed directly from the artist, check out their other work:​
Photo: Autumn Park – licensed via Envato Elements
Host: Keith Smith
Guests: Diana ben-Aaron, Serena Culfeather, Zoe Deterding, Vanessa May, James Shields, John Wilson
UFO sound: Keith Smith – donated to ConFusion2021
3D animation and video editing: Keith Smith


Full transcript of the video

Keith: Hello! Welcome to the next video in the series on bringing the convention to life. This one’s really special because this is the announcement video where we let you know what our primary social platform’s going to be. It’s the platform that you’ll be interacting with the most and it’s called Gather Town. It brings together all of the convention components and all of the convention people into a single environment and I think you’re really going to like it. To use Gather Town, you need a modern desktop browser, that’s it! And, I’d like to think that if you are watching this video, then you already have all the skills you need to use the platform. One point to note though, Gather Town doesn’t work on mobile devices yet, it’s strictly laptops or desktops only for the moment. So, without further ado, let’s get into it … and here it is!

Welcome to our social space, in fact the primary space that you’ll be interacting with, not only with all those components that I was just mentioning but also all the people in the convention, everyone that you might meet along the way. This particular space by the way, the tool that we’re using here, is a tool called Gather Town if you want to look that up, but this particular space is showing a demonstration environment. That demonstration environment is actually a park, in fact you can see the park, there’s a map, a handy map function. If you look at the bottom of the screen here, one of the tool tips is this mini map and if I bring up the mini map you can see an overview of the entire park area along with a “you are here” logo of where I am relative to the rest of the map which is a lake and some buildings and various trees, all looks very uh quite pretty actually. Uh anyway so let’s go and see who we can find. There’s a path here let’s see, let’s travel along the path and see what we can find. To, to move I’m using my cursor keys by the way, um that’s how you move around in the Gather Town space. Oh and I can see some people coming up over here, they look a bit ghostly at the moment but let’s walk up to them shall we.

Zoe: Hi Keith

Keith: Hello there

Serena: Hi Keith

Keith: I see a Zoe and I see a Serena. Hi guys, what are you guys up to?

Serena: Well, we’re just we’re just hanging around having a look around here um we’re new to this little, little layout it’s quite good fun. What I’ve discovered um because you’re beside me you’ll be able to see this, there’s a clock um just in front of us now, that the tall thing on a pole is a clock

Keith: oh yeah I see it

Serena: yeah if you go nearer to it, it suddenly gets a glow round about it, a yellow glow

Keith: i see it yeah

Serena: and what I’ve discovered is that that means that you can actually interact with it and the screen tells me that I can press x to interact

Keith: oh yes I see it here this is a message on my screen, press X to interact

Serena: yep

Keith: so if I press x

Serena: press x, if you press x I can tell you what it is because I’ve just had a quick look at that. If you press x it brings up a screen with some information for you. So it’s an information clock, this particular one tells us about our Guests of Honour so I can tell you very briefly we have Dan Abnett and I can read there that he is a New York Times bestselling author, he’s also an award-winning comic book writer and has written over 50 novels which is quite astounding. Our second Guest of Honour there is Nik Vincent Abnett, there is a connection, she’s a freelance editor but has also been published in her own right and had a book published in 2016 by Solaris called Savant and I’ve discovered that she throws pots as well so she’s a potter which I didn’t know. And then we have Dave Lally who I think is probably known by most people. If you don’t know Dave Lally, you can go and read all about him on our clock, um obviously he’s well known amongst the Irish and the European fandom. He attended his first Eastercon in 1984 and has been unstoppable since!

Keith: Wow, fantastic and I suppose so, so to get back to, to stop looking at this information I just um press x or click on the close button up here I guess?

Serena: if you, yes, there’s a close button at the top right on there and you should come straight back to us here.

Keith: Indeed I have, fantastic, and whilst I was looking at that I could see you and we could all talk as well fantastic.

Serena: Yeah so very clearly.

Keith: Yeah really too. So, Zoe, so what have you been up to?

Zoe: Well I’ve realized that this is actually a very large area and there’s lots of things you can interact with here so if you wanted a quick way to get across let’s say across the water uh there is something else you can interact with over here um yeah

Keith: I’m following you.

Zoe: Yeah so there’s all sorts of ways of getting around this large area you can either walk around or there’s this fancy uh portal device so you can go into that and you can meet people on the other side I believe we’ve got other people who are waiting to talk to you and you need to ask them about Monty.

Keith: About Monty, okay so I just I just moved on to this portal device?

Zoe: Yeah just get closer and keep going and magically you’ll appear somewhere else.

Keith: Alright fantastic, well maybe I’ll see you guys later. Yeah, thanks guys, see you. And indeed ooo far out, yes I’ve beamed to the, to somewhere else, let me just check my mini map to see where I’ve landed. Um oh and yeah so what Zoe was saying is absolutely right I’ve beamed from one side of the lake here to the other side of the lake, that’s very convenient. And who do I see, I see a John and James. Hi guys, um I’ve come bearing a question, I’ve been, I’ve been told to ask about Monty, uh what is Monty?

John: Monty is our cat, he happens to like sitting on people’s laps, falls straight across the keyboard and muting, uh muting us is the least of uh our problems, he can completely reset the entire laptop.

Keith: that sounds like typical cat behaviour, especially during lockdown times.

John: yeah unfortunately true.

Keith: Indeed. Have you found anything else of interest about the environment?

John: Well, yes, I mean getting around here is uh quite easy, um I understand you’re planning a dealer’s room here.

Keith: ah that’s a great point, yes there is intent … we do intend to have a dealer’s environment here, it’s actually not part of the demonstration area but there’s going to be, in the convention space right in Gather Town just like this, um an area for the dealers and it’ll work much the same as you would experience it if you’re at an at person convention. You’ll be able to walk up to the dealer’s table or the dealers stand, you’ll be able to speak to and interact with the dealers, you’ll be able to have a look at their catalogue and you’ll even be able to make purchases right there and then while they’re talking to you. It’s going to be absolutely awesome. Um oh hi James, what have you been up to?

James: Hi Keith, I’ve been exploring and meeting people and I really like the environment it’s, it’s much more like a convention than a bunch of heads on a screen so, but yeah I’m looking forward to seeing how we make the convention work in this space and uh do things like panels and videos and all the other convention activities. So, I hear right now there’s, there’s a video playing in a little house in the middle of the island or in the middle of the lake uh so if you, if you follow the path to the right it will take you there.
Keith: okay cool, so um let me just bring up the map, oh yeah the house in the middle of the lake I see it, yep okay, I’ll follow this path down here and get there. Fantastic. All right guys see you see you around

James: see you later

John: see ya bye

Keith: And off I go. Okay so we’ll follow this path and make our way around. You’ll note that as we moved away from this from James and John there, they faded out because we’d literally walked away from them and I’ll just make my way across the ground here. Oh there’s another one of those portals, I wonder where that takes me maybe I’ll come back to that later. So I come into this building and enter the building here we’re going inside now. Oh i can see that there’s a couple of people.

Vanessa: … looks like that, hello

Keith: Oh hello there I see a Diana and a Rogue or otherwise known as Vanessa. How are you guys?

Vanessa: Otherwise known as Incognito.

Keith: Oh Incognito. Okay. So um I’ve been sent on a quest, I understand there’s a video playing here, is that correct?

Diana: That is correct.

Keith: How do I, how do I access the video?

Diana: Well you look at your screen and you can see the area that we’re in look marked out in lighter, you know, lighter colour and then if you look at the lower left, next to your control bar, you should see an oblong that says interview with Vanessa May and it’s got an arrow on it similar to videos embedded elsewhere in the net, do you see that?

Keith: I do yeah, so I take it I can interact with that and we’ll just bring it up?

Diana: Yes you can press play to play and you can also make it full screen by doing the x so that’s interacting with it the same way you’ve interacted with other objects and to exit the full screen do x again, it’s a toggle.

Keith: Brilliant let me just, okay let me just play this. Yeah I’m about to let me play a few seconds of the video so I’ll set that going and indeed I can now see and hear the video playing I imagine you guys can’t because you’re watching it on your own machine and I’ll pause that. That’s fantastic, that’s awesome. So presumably that means because we could hear and see each other whilst that was going on that if, if I’m watching a video or if I’m attending a panel or something like that if my next door neighbour on the chair beside me, as it were, they want to say something they could or likewise if someone wanted to come and find me to interrupt me for something important or urgent they could come and do so even though I was listening or watching the panel just like an in-person convention, is that right?

Vanessa: Yes

Keith: That’s awesome. So what else can this do?

Vanessa: What else can, oh the platform? So yeah, there’s a couple of hidden little gems based on participants. So first off, you can chat to any participants, you can chat to a lot of participants, you can chat to just a few, or one. If you look at the left hand side of your screen and go down you’ll see two speech bubbles together.

Keith: Aha, I see it, I’ll open that, yep.

Vanessa: And then you have the option of choosing everyone, those nearby, or just individual people, and you can send them a message.

Keith: Right, that’s awesome. So, I will choose nearby. So I assume with nearby that means that if I, if I was to write a message here, um it would send literally that message to everybody who was nearby me at the time?

Vanessa: That is correct.

Keith: Wow. So, that also means that everybody’s chat history is going to be very different because it’ll all be relating to where you’ve gone and who you’ve interacted with and all that sort of jazz, is that correct?

Vanessa: that’s right

Keith: Wow. Okay. You said there were two things, what’s the other one?

Vanessa: Well so if you look one, one more down below the speech bubbles you’ll see two uh silhouettes of people and that’s our participants list and if you click on that this should bring up a list of people who are here with us now. Click on any one of those people and you will see an option called follow and if you click on follow that will take you to that person, anybody, anywhere within the environment.

Keith: Cool, okay, and I can see I can also message them as well or I can locate them on the map. I’ll give it a go, try it out now. All right guys, well thank you very much, uh I’ll no doubt see you around

Vanessa: All right see ya.

Diana: Bye

Keith: So I’ll click on follow and look – no hands! The, the system is doing it all itself um it’s taking me to Zoe, oh hi Zoe!

Zoe: Hi Keith

Keith: I suppose, I should keep having, having arrived at you now I should probably uh stop following you okay there we go. That’s, that’s awesome. Um, okay guys, well um I think that brings us to the end of this very short introduction video on the platform, the social space called Gather Town, as we’ve been saying. I hope you found it as interesting as we’ve enjoyed providing this uh introduction to you. Hope to see you next time. Have a great day! Bye!