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Lakecraft Possibilities

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Nick Floersch

on 27 June 2014

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Transcript of Lakecraft Possibilities

Camels Hump
seen from
Lake Champlain
What is Lakecraft?
Lakecraft is the love-child of merging a popular game with a desire to teach kids about Lake Champlain (in Vermont)
So, Lakecraft is a Game?
Lakecraft is an educational tool built inside of an existing game named
Ok. So, why?
What's the goal?
First, some background...
Minecraft - that
fantasy game??
is often confused with the game
, based only on its name.
They are nothing alike!
The Potential of Lakecraft!
Game from Reality
Camels Hump
modeled in the
game Minecraft
"We could write our own game from scratch... or we could modify a game that already exists, and is already wildly popular with kids at every level of K-12 (and beyond!)."
So what is Minecraft?
"Imagine living in a world made of Legos. Minecraft is not so much a game as a giant box of Legos and the infinite possibility that that represents."
The project was initiated by two employees of the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, extracurricularly. ECHO is Burlington, Vermont's only aquarium and children's science activity center
A struggle for ECHO, and with children's museums in general, is to continue engaging children after they leave the building.
What if ECHO could actively work with kids anywhere that has internet access?
Friendly, Blocky, Minecraft Guy!
Initial Ideas For How To Use Such a Tool Were "Traditional" Uses of Virtual Reality and Bandwidth...
Let kids examine historical places that shaped the lake and Vermont
Let kids who can't SCUBA dive, virtually explore some of the many shipwrecks on the lake bottom
Help kids visualize environmental problems affecting the lake
Let kids explore all around the lake, virtually, even though it is a very big lake and takes a long time to drive around in real life
Explore the topography of the lake's watershed and how it feeds the lake
Nina our
John our
mad hippy
The more the team learned about Minecraft, the more ideas we had.
If a virtual 'toy' model of our lake and watershed were available...
and, if the interface was immersive and kid approved...
and, if many kids could use it together at the same time...
Gigabit Internet
Civic Cloud
Software Lending
Solves problem of Minecraft client be a pay-to-play product
On Demand Hosting
For each School
For ECHO events
Many Game Worlds (Instances) at Once
The "official" versions
School specific versions
Different time periods
Different data focii
Any type of GIS data
Lakebed vs Mountain Top
Land cover vs Community Layout
Low Latency
Large # Users
Students teaching other students
Massive Synchronization
Multicast to many instances at once
Centralized Bi-directional communication
Data Streaming
is a basis for
Core World Updates despite a large file size
Software Defined Networking
so we could
But what is
"I mean, if this is an internet game server...
where are we going to put it?

The Code for America Brigade Captain in Burlington Vermont Says There's This Other Project...
The Burlington Civic Cloud
the Civic Cloud?
Burlington is a
So some big players donated some big hardware to help BTV build an
The Civic Cloud will be a private community cloud for use by non-profits, government, and education interests in Burlington.

US-Ignite has made Burlington it's 14th US-Ignite City and the Civic Cloud is an unusual resource among the US-Ignite cities.
And the Civic Cloud team is looking for interesting seed projects!
We were Struck With A Brain Storm!
(Pun Intended)
Hey! Lakecraft could be a Seed, watered by the
Civic Cloud
What CAN a cloud infrastructure built on top of super-fast internet tubez do for us and ECHO and the community?
Gig Allows
Gig Allows
Gig Allows
Gig Allows
Prioritize non-profit / school / internet 2 traffic
Partition network used by game so traffic does not impact other users of Civic Cloud
Control access to game network to help keep children safer from online predators
Control access so only BTV residents can use the game network
Separate game networks per school / cloud host / classroom / or organization
Special Events
Disaster Simulations!
Tropical Storm Irene State-Wide School Response Simulation
Guest Presentations
ECHO Scientist or university professor discusses and visualizes pollution or deforestion in-the-game
Share updates to the world between instances
Simultaneous game-play and audio/video broadcasting
Real-time data integration
GPS based real-world input
Water conditions
"Official Source" updates vs "Unofficial Source" updates (like a Linux repo!)
Ship Wrecks modeled by the Maritime museum
Official Fort Ticonderoga model
Student provided "unofficial" visions
New Road Layouts
River Management
Community Design
Then Add A Cloud!
Cloud Helps With...
Cloud Provides...
Cloud *might* Help With...
Cloud Hosting Allows...
So, where is this project at in development?
A Year Later The primary game modification that models a game world from GIS data is done.

We used USGS Digital Elevation Model data, National Hydrography Dataset data, National Land Cover Dataset data, and Vermont Transportation Agency data.

Work Began At The 2013 National Day of Civic Hacking... Hosted By The Local Code for America Brigade - Code for BTV
The Game Server Is Available For Beta Use ... in the Proto-Civic-Cloud
We are ready to move into the next phase where we really try to push the Burlington infrastructure.
Coding has begun at the 2014 National Day of Civic Hacking to start the streaming of GIS data directly into a running game world.
We are looking to integrate geocoding into the game so you can type in a real-world address and teleport there in the game
And we see so many possibilities.
We see...
Later that summer, and early protoype was used in summer camps hosted at the ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center. We interviewed the kids at the end of the camps and got some feedback...
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