Interview: NASEF + CLG Minecraft Summer Camp with Brian Dickman, Founder of Cleverlike Studios
The NASEF + CLG: Second Annual Junior CLG Virtual Camp is coming up this July and will feature four different camps to sign up for. The Minecraft camp, taking place from July 19 – 23, will be led by Brian Dickman, Founder of Cleverlike Studios.
Learn how to code new entities, create animations, customize textures, make crafting recipes and design your own skin! The skills learned in this camp are super fun and will provide an on-ramp for gamers that want to pursue a career in the video game industry.
Please note, attendees will need a valid license of Minecraft on Windows 10 or a valid license of Minecraft for iOS or Android to participate.
For more information and to register for the camps use the following link: Second Annual Junior CLG Virtual Camp.
This is a weeklong Minecraft camp that students can sign up for, what are the various areas they can learn about in this camp?
We are going to teach the attendees the skills that Minecraft game developers use to build content. That includes: how to create their own entities and code them, how to retexture things, how to make crafting recipes, and how to make their own skins. Each day will be a quick workshop on how things work.
You mentioned crafting recipes there, does that include how to balance each requirement?
Basically, you can build a custom crafting recipe—you could mix three blocks of wood to create a diamond block if you wanted to. It won’t teach them much about balance. That goes further into the progression of the game and that’s not something that really fits into our scope. We want to show them what’s under the hood and how it happens. That will enable them to keep experimenting on their own after the camp.
You also mentioned how this is focusing on Minecraft game developer skills, will the skills they learn be transferrable to other games?
In some cases, yes. Learning how to do textures, learning how animations work, and learning how entities are programmed—there are some skills that will translate the way coding is done. The tools that are used can be used for other applications, but it’s not something where you can import your new Minecraft entity into Roblox. The skillset we develop will be transferrable.
What’s the idea behind offering a different area of focus each day rather than just doing an intensive on one area?
For me, I created my own summer camp called “A Week of Geek” where every day we did a different thing. My experience as a technology teacher is that there are different things that interest different people. What I like to do is give people the opportunity to see how things work so their curiosity is kickstarted and so they can be prepared with the toolset to follow their interests further. That’s why I took this approach from my own summer camp. My camp had animation, electronics, robotics, computer programming, and 3D printing. It gave you a variety of things.
I wanted to do a similar thing for the Minecraft camp. So you’ll learn how to code the behaviors, here’s how to make your entity/character look a certain way, here’s how to make a crafting recipe, here’s how animations work. Just like you were alluding to earlier with the crafting recipe, how it links with the planning, game design, and storytelling aspect of it all. It’s more of The Wizard of Oz mechanics of controlling the environment, whereas creating an entity with specific behavior allows you to accomplish a unique mechanic in the game that doesn’t normally exist, like creating a speedboat or something.
I just want people to explore different areas and explore their curiosity.
Who will be teaching this course?
I will be teaching this course.
In my previous experience at Minefaire, I found that you have to really make these like cooking shows where things are just ready to go so you don’t get bogged down in the intense processes. There’s a lot of blank areas that we need to fill in if you want to do this professionally, but if you’re interested all you have to do is fill in the blanks and your abilities will explode.
Why is Minecraft a great game for students to learn and create with?
There are no limits to the game. Okay, obviously, there are some, but there are very few restraints in the game and that opens it up for creativity. It allows people to do whatever they want. That makes it really interesting because other peoples’ work inspires more people to do stuff. The platform being so open to being customized by people allows it to be really attractive.
Final words about the camp?
There are a couple of things. The skills I am going to teach are skills that adults and teenagers get paid to do. There are job openings for the skills I am teaching in this camp. But also, I encourage students to join with a friend, parent, or guardian of some sort to sit with them and learn with them. That engagement will give more legs to the student’s learnings and their abilities when they have someone to work with, even if they’re doing most of the work.
I like to encourage that and make sure parents aren’t just there on their phones ignoring everything. They should be curious and ask questions and find out where the value is. Be the partner that your kid needs to stay motivated, interested, and curious about it.