Earlier this week we brought you a story about a man who is making a video game that is laid out across four spatial dimensions. It's a platformer. But what, we had asked him, about a 4D racing game?
In Marc ten Bosch's in-development 4D game Miegakure, a character can climb across what merely looks like a three-dimensional landscape of blocks. That 3D terrain is a "slice" of a 4D structure that we can't see in its entirety, a 4D structure whose dimensions ten Bosch has determined mathematically. The player can't observe the full 4D structure at once but can sort of rotate their view from one 3D slice of the structure to another, causing some of the 3D terrain to disappear while a contiguous other 3D slice of the 4D whole comes into view. Thanks to that perspective-switching mechanic, the player's character can walk through the 4D world without losing his footing. The magic is in how unseen parts of the 4D world can be brought into view by unfolding one 3D slice while collapsing the other.
So... a 4D racing game. How about that?
"It would be like you're on a highway and then there's another highway sort of above it and you're pressing a button and jumping above to it," ten Bosch said, toying with the idea during an interview with Kotaku in Boston. You'd be racing along and then suddenly your competitors would lose sight of you because you'd have made a left turn into the fourth spacial dimension using Miegakure's style of 3D-slice-switching.
Don't get too excited. There's a problem. Imagine you have disappeared into another 3D slice of the 4D race course and decide to merge back to the 3D slice where your friends are at a bad time. "There might be a car above you and you might jump into it and crash into it," ten Bosch said. "That would not be pleasant."
Riffing, ten Bosch tried to solve that problem. "Maybe you're pressing a button and you can see up and see a car and then you can move." You would see a preview of that next slice. Could that work? "It would slow down the gameplay."
That's as far as we got, and maybe as far as we should go. 4D racing game? Who wants to play it?
(PIC from Trackmania United Forever, a mere 3D racing game)