Tired of stodgy corporate games made by The Man and his minions? We're playing the 31 best indie games for a change of pace - and so we can judge them. Today, Miegakure.
In A Sentence
It's a puzzle game in four dimensions - really, they swear it - and it'll make your head hurt unless you are very, very smart.
State Of Completion
Not released, no official platforms or release date announced.
Imagine a flat plane. Let's say that flat plane was the terrain for a 2D puzzle game. Easy.
Imagine a three-dimensional object and a slice being cut through it. Imagine that that slice was the terrain of the aforementioned 2D game.
Now, imagine cutting a slice elsewhere in that 3D object instead, maybe a slice that is essentially your first cut flipped on an access. The second slice would share a single line's worth of content with your first slice. That new flat plane is the new terrain of your 2D game, with that one line of common ground.
Let's take it up a dimension.
Miegakure is a block-pushing and platforming puzzle game that lets players move a character on a 3D slice of a 4D object - and lets them flip that 4D slice as you would the 2D slice in that 3D object mentioned above. Got it? You know you want to try it and see if you can comprehend it. The game was nominated for Excellence In Design at the Independent Games Festival. It gave me a headache, but I'm blaming my brain, not the game.
Answers We Demanded
Kotaku: The entries of the IGF are an eclectic bunch, ranging from esoteric art titles to straight forward drop-in-and-play casual games. In creating your entry what do you hope to accomplish with your game?
Bosch: The fourth dimension might mean absolutely nothing to a player before they pick up the controller, but it turns out our brains are very good at understanding things instinctively via direct interaction and experimentation. In fact, as children we learned the rules of our world this way, by touching, interacting, and playing with everything around us. From an evolutionary standpoint that's probably part of the reason why we find playing games so much fun.
One important way in which games stand out from other medium is that they are especially well-suited for experimentation, and my goal when creating the game was to give players something to play with which they could never experience in real life.
I'm also hoping it can teach something fundamental, but hard to describe verbally, about our world. Something that we previously could only try to grasp using mathematics and our imaginations.
Kotaku: What was the inspiration behind your game?
Bosch: As a programmer I knew that position in a game does not 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 one 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".
Kotaku: How did you come up with the name to your game?
Bosch: 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.
Make sure to check out the rest of the Independent Games Festival finalists as we head toward the March awards show.