The indie game genre is full of innovative design and gameplay. Indie developers have to be quirky and creative to compete in an industry where studios regularly release titles with multi-million dollar budgets. So what does a passionate math nerd do when he decides to develop an indie game? Code the landscapes of a platformer in 4 spatial dimensions, of course, and that's exactly what Marc Ten Bosch has done with his game, Miegakure.
Imagine a square. It's 2-dimensional, but it also can represent one face of a cube. Now imagine a cube. It's 3-dimensional, but imagine it can also represent one face of a 4-dimensional cube. Can't imagine it? Don't worry, nobody really can because we live in a 3-D world. However, these 4-dimensional "hypercubes" can be represented in math. That means they can be understood by a computer, meaning a game such as Miegakure can exist.
Bosch explains a bit of the idea behind Miegakure on his site:
For example, if there is a wall in the shape of a circle 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. This game allows you to perform these "miracles."
Obviously, we can't play the game in 4 dimensions, it would be too confusing for us. So, Bosch has simply allowed players to click a button and swap the 4th dimension in for any of the 3 we can experience. This allows for a mind-bending experience that promises to be a platforming puzzle game harder than any of those 2-D or 3-D ones. The entire concept is hard to imagine, much less put into words, so have a look at this footage from last weekend's Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East:
Still don't quite get it? I don't either. I'll have to wait and play it with everyone else when it is released. That could be a while, since Bosch has not set a release date and claims he will release it only when he thinks it is ready. But, Bosch has been working on the game for two years now, and a playable demo at a major convention is a good sign that there isn't long to wait for what looks to be the best puzzle game since Portal. Oh, no. I just imagined Miegakure with portals and now my head hurts.
Here is Bosch and another indie developer explaining, in depth, their ideas and designs at the IndieCade Conference 2011: