Posts tagged Flatland
3D video games are a fairly new concept, only really appearing in good 3D for the past 5 years or so. For most of video game history, games have been 2D, most likely a side-scrolling platformer or a top-down RPG such as the old Zelda game. But with recent indie game developers stretching the bounds of what we think of as a video game, such as thatgamecompany and No Man’s Sky, the now popular 3D aspect of video games have been broken. Miegakure, an in-development game for PS4, tries to twist and break your mind by bringing a fourth dimensional aspect into a three dimensional game, just as you would bring a three dimensional aspect into a two-dimensional game. Confused? Let me explain.
When you think about it, you can’t really bring four dimensions into our current three. It’s simple enough, just try it. First, stretch your left arm out at a 90-degree angle from your body and under your arm. Two right angles. Then do the exact same with your left arm, and also have it be 90 degrees from your arm already out. In effect, you’ll now have something like this:
Keeping in mind that X, Y and Z continue on forever, try to add one more line (or just do it with your leg) to is 90 degrees from all other lines. You can’t? No surprise here, since it’s not possible in our three spatial dimensions. And Miegakure doesn’t break that seemingly obvious rule. But what it does is get as close to 4D as you can in a 3D world. In the novel Flatland, written by Edwin Abbot Abbot in 1884, a 2D square is living his normal life, only seeing a thin sliver of a line to tell where everything around him is. A side-view of his paper-thin world. But when he gets pulled out of Flatland by a sphere, he sees all that he was missing in his 2D world. Miegakure uses that logic, but instead of a 2D slice of a 3D world, it’s a 3D slide of a 4D world!
Mind boggling. I know. Just watch the video below to understand it even in a slightly comprehensible way.
What’s amazing about this game is that even though it reaches into a real that humans can’t even begin to understand, it runs just as smoothly and easily as any old 2D platformer. The inspiration for the creation of Miegakure came from the developers wanting to create a game that not only logs an object in two points, for two 2D, or even three points, for 3D; they wanted to create a game that logged an objects points with 4 different variables. Just the idea is insane, but the fact that they are pulling it off it even more astounding.
We have already reached a point where computer’s understanding, at least from a purely mathematical and logical standpoint, is ahead of ours, which is both scary and exciting to see what will come next.
Brady Haran did an interesting interview with the creator of Miegakure for his channel Computerphile, which you can watch below:
The human mind is amazingly complex, able to imagine anything we want in our “minds eye”. You can sort of see it, but the picture is not really complete, blurry and needs a lot of focus to complete. But you know this, you’re human. (hopefully) We can even imagine pictures that don’t exist. Especially that don’t exist. So, it would seem that we would have a fairly easy time imagining a fourth dimension. Like, what is it? I can’t even formulate any examples of guesses of the fourth dimension would look like. Our brains just can’t process this.
To explain this problem, many people use the popular “Flatland” example. Imagine a place that only lives in 1 dimension. These people can only move up and down on a flat line. That’s it. They’re just points on a line. If you were one of these people, the possibility of going sideways would be impossible. They wouldn’t even know what “sideways would be. Now imagine a 2D world. Flatland. These people are shapes, who only know moving up, down, left and right. If we speculate what it would be like, such as in the 2007 animated movie “flatland”, people could only see lines. But they could move.
They of course would think of a “3rd dimension” as a dumb theory that nobody would take seriously. It just wouldn’t be possible to them. This is the basis of the story, Flatland – A Romance Of Many Dimensions, by Erwin Abbott, set in Shapeland, or the 2D world. The narrator, named simply “the Square”, guides the reader through this victorian era like place, full of castles and kings. The Square eventually visits “Lineland” and “Spaceland”, the latter of which he couldn’t even imagine beforehand. This great novel was written in 1884, and still holds up logically true today.
But back to the fourth dimension. There are some ways to imagine the fourth dimension, such as the shape of a tesseract. A tesseract is 4D shape, when translated into a 3D shape looks like a cube inside a cube, with lines connecting the corners. But what does it look like in the fourth dimension? Well, that’s where the app The Fourth Dimension app comes in. This app shows you the answer to this and more is an interactive and animated page by page story. The app thoroughly explains everything about the fourth dimension, and the whole thing takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, though totally worth it. With sprinkles of humor throughout, going through The Fourth Dimension app is a great learning and entertaining experience.