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Exploring the mind-bending science of 4D in Miegakure

Videogames have always existed as multidimensional. Whether we were bouncing a ball from side-to-side in the perpetually flat, 2D Pong (1972), or playing as fully-realized 3D people, queueing up to learn how to shoot one another. It has always been us: 3D humans, observing multi-dimensional projections from a 2D screen. In a recent development update from Marc ten Bosch’s highly-anticipated puzzle game Miegakure, Bosch speaks of the science behind his foray into the unknown dimension of 4D.

In Miegakure, the player bends reality in order to solve puzzles. In the developer’s scientific-based vlog update on the game, Bosch said, “What you see is a 2D projection of a 3D slice, of a 4D object.” …That sounds like a lot of dimensions. In layman terms, the 3D polygons we are used to seeing in videogames are made up of hundreds of thousands of triangles, the simplest and most manageable shape for sculpting in 3D technology. In Miegakure, Bosch instead uses tetrahedrons (a polyhedron shape with four triangular faces) in the place of triangles, adding an extra dimension to all the objects created in the game: the fourth dimension.

In the 1884 novella, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, a lonely square meets a sphere, onsetting its first encounter beyond the 2D world it has come to know. Bosch has been explicit in naming his inspiration for Miegakure from the novella. He noted that players are much like the square in Flatland, as we’re seeing a 4D object within a 3D world and exploring it for the very first time, just like the square’s experience in Flatland.

We’re seeing a 4D object within a 3D world, and exploring it for the very first time

The game’s title stems from the Japanese term, meaning “hide and reveal.” Miegakure is the act of concealment in gardens popularized during Japan’s Edo Period (1600-1854). Hills and trees are often hidden from initial view in what are referred to as “promenade gardens,” contrasting from the Buddhist gardens before it (wherein all is visible at once). This method of “hide and reveal” is at the forefront of Bosch’s Miegakure, made possible by toying with 4D to reveal what would otherwise be obscured in the 3D world.

Miegakure’s implementation of 4D is unseen in the likes of videogames before, which is why it has become so early-acclaimed. In active development since 2009, Bosch’s exercise in exploring the fourth dimension in videogames has yet to foresee a release date. Back in May 2015, Bosch blogged about almost finishing up with the puzzles for the game, but learning about the wieldy mathematics and technology behind 4D, our enjoyment of the game could still be quite far off.

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While Miegakure’s 140 puzzles might seem miniscule compared to other puzzle heavy titles, the triple digit number still stirs excitement over 4D’s potential in the gaming sphere —and just how players will learn to wrap their heads around a new dimension. Bosch concluded his scientific explanatory video with a hint of optimism for players’ comprehension of 4D, as he mused, “While you could ignore all of this while playing the game, to me it feels even more beautiful when you know about what is happening.” 

Get all the updates on Miegakure by following along with its website.