candle's website

this is my website where i put things related to digital creative tools and communities around them

zone timeline (wip)

this history of zone begins with the covid-19 pandemic, lockdown, and the german happy hardcore band scooter


scooter's covid lockdown livestream concert

i share the scooter stream on the bitsy talk discord


while discussing various scooter-adjacent songs in the bitsy talk discord, em comes up with the idea for zone. i remember that something like that already exists: wizmud

i hop in to an empty wizmud and start the party going, soon to be joined by em, max, tom, and others from the bitsy talk discord

listening to vengaboys in the first wizrave

would like to know what song this is. the gif encoder was unhappy

em plants the seed for the sainthood of britney within zone

the night ended with wizmud's youtube search breaking, leaving us unable to queue any more videos--this was to become a common occurence

planning to return for another round of what was now dubbed "wizrave"

think we're listening to the boys are back in town

spitballing zone

the night after the scooter stream and first wizrave, i spoke to max and floated the idea of making our own space

i went to max because i knew they were already interested in the idea and i myself didn't know a thing about running public services or browser-accessible servers

identifying two key features to support wizraving

establishing early that bitsy is an inspiration but not a template

this feature because less important when i added the bitsy style emotes, but i still want to implement it eventually

max sent me their take on the features we needed

prototyping zone

the next day we had put together a prototype that exchanged chat messages, including a command to trigger a specific youtube video to play for everyone

we were fooling around with trying to run our own servers but ran into issues dealing with https etc. i set up a glitch project just to make a temporary test server--this ended up being the home of zone for a long time

the initial prototype used youtube's official embedded player, hidden underneath a placeholder frame. the chat was aligned to the side of the screen, with the video centered, so it doesn't appear in many of the screenshots

a later prototype included a sketch of how i wanted zone to look: a bitsy-like cinema screen with theatre curtains and bitsy cat to represent the presence of a user

i added support for each user to have a move their own default bitsy avatar around, including the capability for three emotes based on bitsy's text effects

a sidebar on the left shows the available commands--search simply queues the first video it finds

a frequent problem with our sessions on wizmud was that we would exceed youtube's extremely restrictive quota on searchs and be left unable to queue new videos. wizmud used a pool of API keys to expand the quota but even this was easily exceeded

zone avoided the search problem at first by simply working directly with video ids. users find video via their browser and then plug them into zone--there's no limit to the embedded player, just the public search API

i looked into solutions to the search problem, but as far as i could tell there is literally no way to get a reasonable quota for the search API, so instead i experimented with very basic webscraping (i later found a robust module for this)

with the default avatar and 2d perspective, standing next to each other looked like holding hands

i figured out i could use css to blend the video so it looked projected on a wall (similar to wizmud)

by this point the template of the zoning experience is pretty much set

pretending to swim in a video

first era zone

i replaced the chat with bitsy-like text rendering i had already made for flicksy, giving us access to the expressive text effects

[to be filled in]

the first demonstration of zone3d and the new spin emote

snapshot of 3d zone just before it was discontinued

i had been poking around on cameo to see if there was anyone interesting (and cheap) that i could get to record a funny intro for zone--partly inspired by the Bristol Bad Film Club who sometimes managed to get the stars of certain films to record intro messages for the showings

not too long after the da vinky video was going viral, the voros twins put themselves up on cameo for a reasonable price, and since the meme was still going strong and we had a movie night imminent, i got them to record something

reaction to the voros twins' special guest appearance