4D Puzzler Miegakure Continues To Twist My Melon

I still don’t understand Miegakure [official site], and I doubt I will until I get to play the four-dimensional puzzle game myself. We’ve been talking about it for six years, and each time I think “Yes, yes, I’ve read Flatland, I should understand this”, then I see the game in motion and I’m stumped. Four-dimensional space represented in a three-dimensional view and displayed on a two-dimensional screen? I’m lost. But! Miegakure creator Marc ten Bosch explains the technology behind it in a new video and… I think I’m starting to get this? I would like to play it. Look:

So. Miegakure is a puzzle game set within four-dimensional space – that’s a whole extra dimension beyond the three we know, a w in another direction from our x, y, and z. Something. Mathematics. Look, I’m more into words than numbers. The point is, Miegakure shows 3D slices of 4D spaces, so paths and solutions hide in places we can’t initially see (or understand, evidently). We’ve known the premise all along, but it’s only really starting to make sense to me after seeing that video’s explanation of how its crystals are made, then watching them shift across dimensions. I can almost feel it. Not quite yet.

Old Man Rossignol played an earlier version in 2014 and was jolly impressed:

“While I doubt this game will have as much general genre impact as Portal, I had the same sort of response to playing it for the first time: Miegakure’s dimension shifting is a brilliant conceptual flourish that, like Fez before it, snags the imagination to drag us down a rabbit hole of problem solving. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”

Sadly, we’ve still no clear idea of when we’ll get our paws on it to all have a play. Miegakure will be on Windows, Mac, and Linux whenever it does arrive.

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24 Comments

  1. stevecentra says:

    I’ve been following this game since i was a teenager… Always loved the idea of extra spacial dimensions and the Flatland idea. I hope it comes out soon!

  2. Freud says:

    While it sounds fancy, since there is no way to actually predict what the ‘4D’ will look like at any spot it seems like puzzle solving will just be trial and error. Go to a spot and shift from one of the 3D views to the other 3D view.

    Fez on the other hand enabled the player to plan what to do.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, sounds like it. Still could be a fun toy.

    • Bradamantium says:

      Earlier videos seemed to highlight moving block puzzles, I get the impression it’s less trial and error than exploration. But instead of exploring a 3D space, it’s scrubbing through 4D space in an attempt to understand and navigate 4D shapes.

    • 9of9 says:

      I think the clever trick Miegakure employs is that while in essence you’re made to navigate a 3D cross-section of a 4D world, most of the time your character actually moves around a 2-dimensional plane. So that means that simpler puzzles like the previous video titled ‘How to Walk Through a Wall in 4 Dimensions’ are actually fairly easily intuitable, since they can just be thought of in three-dimensional terms.

      I imagine the reason this game has taken so long to develop, besides just the technological demands, is that it must take a lot of balancing to then gradually introduce more complicated spatial puzzles which the player will be able to reasonably intuit given their previous knowledge.

  3. c-Row says:

    I still don’t understand it.

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      Skabooga says:

      It’s pretty simple. You have these, uh, dimensions, and they, well, hmmm, and so on.

      I don’t understand it either.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      Haha. Yeah, my brain hurts now and I’m going back to farming in Stardew Valley.

  4. RobinOttens says:

    Really curious to see what the actual puzzles will be like and if they’ll be fun/well designed. I love the idea and fancy engine tech though!

  5. Tinotoin says:

    There’s a nice wee interview with him on Computerphile from last year too.

  6. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    My brain hurts… Will there be titty?

  7. Napalm Sushi says:

    It makes me think of those dreams where you discover that the walls of your house contain whole rooms, corridors and other spaces that couldn’t possibly fit in them.

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    Angstsmurf says:

    Come on, you all know that the fourth dimension is time. This is a 5d game.

  9. udat says:

    You know, you talk so hip…

  10. Janichsan says:

    That hurried and slurred narration for this video didn’t really help…

  11. Urthman says:

    I love that the game looks so tiny, when in fact it’s got to be enormous. My mind doesn’t really grasp how enormously larger a 4D hypercube is than a 3D cube.

    If the playable area is 400 pixels on a side, changing it to 500 pixels on a side increases the total number of pixels in a 3D scene by about 60 million. But that same extra 100 pixels would increase the size of a 4D scene by about 37 billion (37,000 million) pixels.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Even 3D games aren’t generally defined in pixels (voxels – and the likes of Minecraft doesn’t count – it uses voxels only as a coarse data structure, not for the actual graphics)
      2D is the only reasonably feasible thing to define in discrete pixel grids… beyond that, vector based graphics are the only real way to go, and for this “4D” game, there probably isn’t a supercomputer on earth that could push that sort of… hypervoxel?… density.

      Even polygonal data probably gets pretty dense when an extra dimension is added :-)

      • KillahMate says:

        As the video says, when it’s 4D they stop being polygons and become tetrahedrons. You don’t get to the polygons until the space has already been sliced down to 3D.

        The tech they’re creating for this is quite fascinating in itself – I can only hope the game matches up to it.

      • Urthman says:

        I was just using the pixel as a measure of distance to illustrate how much bigger this gameworld is than it looks, not talking about the pixel/polygon performance issues.

  12. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Seems like the only things that have a true 4d representation are those procedural tetra-dodeca-hedral things. Objects that look like real things (trees etc) only move, stretch, and clip. Which makes sense, since, as he said, there’s no 4d content creation tool. Perhaps some procedural evolution could have been used, like a tree growing from a sapling, essentially making the extra dimension a compressed version of another time dimension. Would have probably made it more intuitive as well. Right now it seems like it would be just massively unintuitive to play.

  13. Tyranic-Moron says:

    I actually played Miegakure for almost 2 hours at PAX a few years ago.
    It was the last day, and I had some time to kill, and it was in a quiet area of the expo floor.

    At first it was very difficult to understand, and I was essentially moving and shifting at random. As I played I began to get an intuitive understanding of the space and the moves I needed to make to traverse it. Every few levels, it would introduce some new logical leap, and trust me to make it. Those moments of understanding were wonderful.

    It was probably some of the best time I spent at that PAX, and I’d rank the game among Hexcells, Antichamber, Spacechem, and Infinifactory (ie, the best puzzle games I’ve played).

    I’m very much looking forward to the full game.