I arrived at the Moscone Center early Tuesday morning, expo pass in hand, eyes glinting with the excitement of my first GDC. As I stepped onto the show floor, I was instantly overwhelmed by a deluge of light, sound, and hard-to-read GDC passes. Bombarded from all sides, I staggered* towards the IGF showcase under the vague notion that those quirky indie games would serve as some sort of oasis from the madness. To be fair, Faraway was as serene an experience as A House in California was melancholic…..and then I stumbled into the pan-dimensional non-euclidean insanity of Hazard: The Journey of Life, and Miegakure.
Disclaimer: I am hugely biased towards games that play with space and time. There is something intrinsically fascinating about messing with the basic building blocks from which we build our perceptions of the world. Favorites that come to mind include Super Paper Mario, Portal, Majora’s Mask, Braid, and that really obvious example I’m probably forgetting.
While I never tried Miegakure first-hand (thanks guy who played for forty minutes!), I eventually gathered that the player navigates the world by swapping out dimensions in order to display different 3D “slices” of a 4D world. To avoid butchering this synopsis any further, I highly recommend that everyone check out the website and take a look at the game in motion: http://marctenbosch.com/miegakure/
Miegakure’s creator, Marc ten Bosch, was highly influenced by Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/eaa/FL.HTM, which is a fantastic primer on how to think about additional spacial dimensions. At its heart, Miegakure is a puzzle game designed to help players understand what it means to exist in fourth dimensions – a goal that simply could not be achieved through any other type of media.
Which I guess is really the point I’m trying to make here. Games, like film and print media, are frequently used to introduce its audience to new worlds. Where games (or any other form of interactive media) really shine is in their ability to help players truly understand what makes those worlds tick. And that, more than anything, is why I have zero regrets about having chosen to pursue game design over filmmaking. I don’t just want to create amazing-looking environments, I want to create amazing-looking environments that have to work.