I am about to purchase 50+ custom Minecraft tee shirts for a party, and I was just thinking, how did this Minecraft craze get started? Two of my pre-teens love it, and are addicted to playing this game all the time. If you look on YouTube there are tons of videos made by adults on Minecraft, some are the ‘how to’ videos. It is simply amazing that this guy from Sweden created this game craze. The game even has a once a year expo, a gathering for the fans, which was sold out in a matter of hours. So how does it relate to education?
The game, Minecraft, allows the user to create worlds from basic building blocks. It teaches the user basic concepts of creation, building upon objects from other objects, and interaction of objects with other objects. Instantiation of objects is a concept in object oriented programming. Concepts working within two dimensional space with emulated three dimensional objects, and those objects interacting with each other. Each of the basic components are cubed objects, which fit in nicely with the creation of a world. These concepts also translate to concepts in computer artificial intelligence, rules engines. Minecraft also presents the user with concepts in this world, such as mining for minerals, and using these minerals to create, or craft complex objects in this imagined world. Some of the elements include: coal, charcoal (i.e. burn wood to create), gold, iron, and diamond.
There are also planes of existence which allow users to interact with one another in the cloud type gaming worlds (i.e. LAN/WAN), in some circumstance they can work together to construct worlds, as well as do battle with one another. There are also user modifications which vary from altering your player existence, to changing your user created worlds.
The phone carriers like Verizon are putting out their own storefronts to distinguish themselves from other Android based phones from other carriers. So far, with little success.
The secret might be in the game architecture, and not in the storefront to both attract customers and developers. NVIDIA at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show conference was touting their new gaming as a service. This architecture enables game developers are able to develop and host their games using hosted cloud gaming servers to maximize the game performance and consumer experience. The carriers could host these racks in their data centers and offer these services to their developer partners: super fast gaming, with state of the art technology. The lure for their customers: amazing blazing fast games.
The lure for game developers? They will be able to access high end graphics capacity, and if the carriers keep pace, and upgrade as new revisions come up. Developers may salivate at the opportunity to get the access to the latest cloud tech computing. The chip advantages are not only with the on demand cloud capacity for the gamer’s lighting fast experience, but the abilities of the graphics processors are leading edge in the industry.
Today I talked with a few brilliant engineers about their latest, to be released Chipsets, and was I blown away by the brilliance of these product engineers and managers. Two chips I would like to briefly highlight today are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, and the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset advancements.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Chipset is so off the charts amazing from a consumer standpoint, they had a room with a tablet plugged into a large high definition headset, and the room encapsulated a complete set of surround sound speakers, as well as each chair was equipped with a common headset. The tablet was plugged into the HD system through an HDMI cable, and that was it. I won’t bore you about 2K verses 4K High Definition upgrade standards, but what I can tell you was the video sequence they played on this Android tablet was of such high caliber quality and no lag whatsoever, and the sound was so superb, it would in fact give ANY of the movie theaters I have been to ever, a run for their money. I have been to quite a few movies in my lifetime.
The Nvidia team had us put on the headsets, which were your basic headsets, nothing special, but the same N channel surround sound that came out of each channel, e.g. center, front & side left, front & side right, and back channels was emulated through the headsets with the same superior sound quality, and power. The demonstrators had us remove our headsets as they were blasting sound through each channel, and we couldn’t believe the sound was not coming through the speakers, but was coming through the headsets themselves.
Qualcomm is looking at the second half of this year for general release to be pushed to their partners, and/or the consumers. That part was unclear, however, what was clear, was the amazing power you will have in your Android tablet coming soon.
I had the rare pleasure to speak with an amazing engineer at NVidia that took the time and patience to go through advancements of the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset. Instead of giving you the granular tech jargonese that we went through, I will sum it up in two ways. The Nvidia Tegra 3 Chipset already had an efficiency with a 5th core that primarily remained idle, and was used to gain battery life in mobile phones. What it did, and continues to do in the Tegra 4, at an idle period of the phone, instead of using these four massive processors to burn up the battery life, this 5th ‘light weight’, low power consumption core would handle the idle times, and give the four massive boys a rest. This extends the battery life significantly. Well, now the boys and girls at Nvidia said, after Tegra 3, hey, we have this 5th core, let’s allow ourselves to push the envelope slightly, not only use this core for battery life efficiency on your phone, but let’s let the mobile applications have access to this core so now you have 4 mean, powerful cores hard at work, and one slightly advanced core being used for both efficiency and graphical applications, like games. Brilliant.
Finally, Nvidia doesn’t stop there, it is now in the business development phase of bringing you cloud gaming, essentially Elastic Computing for Graphical Calculations in a cloud with an exponential set of these Chipsets, where you can subscribe to this gaming service, and all of the hard core tough calculations of rendering graphics at lighting speed is done in the cloud, and just the basic pixels get pushed to your phone, relatively a really light weight signature. Your phone or computer becomes a terminal emulator, which can focus on your inputs, instead of graphic rendering, and the cloud does all the hard work, again, brilliant, and the future of gaming. The engineer and I just looked at each other, and we knew, this was the pie in the sky for the gaming industry. Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a wild ride. Now, they are still in the stage where they must solidify the details with a cloud company that hosts these servers, and provides the gaming service, e.g. business development, but the technology has arrived. In addition, engineering and science packages like Mathematica may also use this type of Elastic Computing High Yield for massive calculations.