A Toy Ball - Will Miegakure make me understand the fourth dimension?

I am working on a trailer (the first of many!), which will go deeper into the gameplay, as well as show off the new graphics (which you can really only appreciate in motion). In the meantime, I am going to share more about the game, starting with some of the philosophy behind it. These are expanded notes from a talk I gave at NYU recently.

Toy Ball

People often ask me: will this game make me understand the fourth dimension?

The thing about this question is that there are multiple ways of understanding something, so we have to define which way we mean.

I think about Miegakure as a toy ball. I mean that in the sense that by playing with a toy ball as a kid you intuitively learn about how gravity works. You can adjust the throwing angle and force and see the different paths the ball takes. You learn about parabolas without even knowing the word for them.

This is very different from knowing the second-order differential equations of motion under the force of gravity. Clearly you don't need to understand them to know how to throw a ball.

In the same way, Miegakure doesn't explain anything explicitly about the fourth dimension, it just lets you be inside of a 4D world. If someone wants to learn the mathematical theory, however, it can be built upon stronger instincts.

...

I have watched tons of people play Miegakure and I see people fall along a spectrum between two types: intuitive and reasoned.

The intuitive types try something, fail and try something different. They often don't understand how they are able to solve the puzzles or know exactly what they are doing and why. But they gradually build an intuition for the patterns they encounter.

The reasoned types, on the other hand, when put in situation they do not understand, stop and think: what is this system I am interacting with? They formulate theories and test them. They move a little bit, think, press a button and examine the results. Some people go back to previously solved levels in order to test theories. They quickly build a model of how the rules of the game work and it is this model that allows them to solve puzzle effectively.

This is not to say that any type is better. I have seen very smart people in both categories. I have seen someone play for 4 hours, beat almost the whole game, all on intuition. At the end I asked: so can you explain to me what happens when you press the "rotate" button? Their first answer was no, but as they started thinking about it they had an epiphany: oh! I see this is how it works!

I can tell a lot about the way someone thinks from the way they play Miegakure. I am reminded of David Sirlin's great GDC 2012 microtalk [Blog Post] [GDC vault link]. It is about the difference between conscious thought and unconscious thought, and contains this quote from Capcom's Seth Killian :

I can learn more about someone by watching them play 10 seconds of Street Fighter than 10 hours of an RPG

<Part 1>[Part 2][Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6]

19 Responses to “A Toy Ball - Will Miegakure make me understand the fourth dimension?”

  1. Hypersapien says:

    I am sure I am not the only one drooling in anticipation.

  2. DIego says:

    I'm waiting for this game for so long. Thanks for every each email you send, please don't stop informing us 😀

    • marc says:

      Thanks! Can I ask: did you get a single email? I got around 7, and I hope that it is only because I am an admin and have a bunch of test accounts.

  3. Ben says:

    Will there be an option for 1st person mode? It'd be incredible if we could walk around in 4 dimensional space while wearing an Oculus rift; Incredible and yet probably quite painful on the brain.

    • marc says:

      The game was very much made for third person, so it would be expensive to make it look good in first person, so probably not.

      • M3diocritus says:

        NONETHELESS, please consider adding stereoscopic 3D later on -- no reason why it has to be 1st person to support stereo 3D. I encourage you to give the Nintendo 3DS or Oculus VR a try if you haven't, maybe try the 3D Super Mario. It's incredibly charming and effective, as long as you can make the sprites not seem like paper cutouts. : )

  4. daniela says:

    I also received a single email.
    I never had the opportunity to make it at the events it was presented and I am now quite envious of the person who played it 4 hrs 🙂

  5. poet says:

    The developers of Miegakure appreciate one of my favourite game designers David Sirlin. How awesome is that?

  6. Mathew Reiss says:

    I've been tracking progress on this game for years now, and I'm just as excited now as I was when I first heard about it. Any chance a physics major with a background in game design could get a shot at a beta-test?

  7. Moeez Siddiqui says:

    I did not realise this game was trying to go on about the 4th dimension, very cool to hear about players tried different ways to solve puzzles.

  8. I asked this question on quora recently: "Has anybody ever claimed to be able to visualize 4-D space in their minds?" http://www.quora.com/Science/Has-anybody-ever-claimed-to-be-able-to-visualize-4-D-space-in-their-minds

    One of the people responding pointed me to your game. We all want it!

    P.S. Assuming you spent a lot of time in 4-D space recently, how would you answer my question?

  9. […] with the fourth dimension, allowing for four-dimensional movement.” Obviously. He’s said that we needn’t fully understand 4D space to play, in the same way that a child with a ball […]