Miegakure is a platform game where you explore the fourth dimension to solve puzzles.
There is no trick; the game is entirely designed and programmed in 4D. Because humans can only see and move along three spatial dimensions, pressing a button allows to “swap” one regular dimension with the fourth, invisible dimension. The protagonist can use this ability to see inside closed objects, walk through walls, move objects from one dimension to another, hide under 3D shadows of 4D objects, and more.
As a programmer I knew that position in a game doesn’t have to be limited to three coordinates, and collision detection often isn’t much harder to program in higher dimensions. I started prototyping game ideas but only really made progress once I read Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. It’s a famous 1884 Novella that explains higher dimensions by analogy to the perspective of a two-dimensional character living in a two-dimensional flat plane (a piece of paper for example). A number of actions we three-dimensional beings take for granted feel like absolute magic to this two-dimensional character. For example, if there is a circular wall around an object in 2D, it is essentially closed-off, since to reach it you would have to leave the 2D plane. It is also impossible for an outsider to know what is inside. But us 3D beings can see the object from above, and also simply lift it off the ground to move it outside, essentially teleporting it. Now by analogy a four-dimensional being could perform many similar miracles to us living in only three-dimensions. My goal was then to make a game that would allow you to perform these “miracles.”
Other people have attempted to make games based on the fourth dimension, but to my knowledge, no one has managed to turn the idea into a full-fledged game.
It took about a month to prototype the basic concept. Since then I have been working on the game for about 6 months.
There were many difficult parts, both from a design and programming perspective. The first difficulty came up when I needed to set up the rules of the world. In which direction is gravity pulling? What is the simplest mechanic that would allow the player to move along four dimensions, when as humans we can only see three? How do you fill four-dimensional space with meaningful objects the player can interact with? Part of my strategy was to decide on rules that would extend the natural three-dimensional rules to four dimensions, while keeping them intact. Once I decided on a rule set, then came the time to program it. I had to extend traditional 3D game logic to 4D, but also write code to decide at every instant which parts of the 4D world are visible to the player and which ones aren’t. This involves computing 3D cross sections of 4D objects, which is a rather complex task in the general case. In many cases, I couldn’t completely imagine what I was going to see on screen until after the code was written! Then a lot of development time was spent making the game easy to pick up and play, even for people who are not familiar with the concepts. It turns out our brains are very good at figuring these things out instinctively via experimentation. Games are an especially suited medium for that.
I was browsing the web for names that would include the notion of “Hidden” in their meaning. Because the player can only see along three out of four dimensions at a time, most of the world is always out of view. The traditional Japanese garden landscaping technique called Miegakure came up. Miegakure is a means of imparting a sense of vastness in a small space. It’s probably already familiar to you: as you walk around a garden, a tree or hill might obscure your view, letting you imagine the invisible part. This creates the illusion of depth and impression that there are hidden beauties beyond. Not only is this a particularly fitting title, it also inspired the Japanese garden setting for the game.
DigiPen Institute of Technology for undergrad, then Brown University for grad school.
I spent a brief time at EA.
I met the guys that are doing the audio for the game at last year’s global game jam. At the time the game was still a prototype. When I decided to turn it into a full game, they joined in.
I don’t play that many games anymore. And when I do it’s mostly for research. The last game I really enjoyed was Braid. Lately I’ve been playing Eliss on iPhone.
There are too many to list.
PS3 and iPhone.
We make super-awesome games.