Marc ten Bosch is creating Miegakure, a puzzle platformer in the fourth dimension. He took the time to talk with Cat about how that works, what it’s like designing a game in 4D, and the implications of exploring the fourth dimension.
You can read Part One of the interview here: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
CAT: The game concept is very cerebral and sounds intimidating in print, but the style is very beautiful and peaceful. What art and design has influenced the Miegakure aesthetic? What is the role of art in game design?
MARC: We tried to find a good middle ground between realistic and illustrative. On the illustrative side, Japanese Anime like Studio Ghibli movies and Naruto are inspirations. We also looked at Japanese prints by Hiroshige, etc...
We also have this "low-poly" look for the rocks for example. Right now it's sort of in fashion to do low-poly graphics with big flat triangles, but for us it made particular sense because it reflects the fact that 4D meshes are slower to render than 3D meshes. So we have to make them lower "poly" to compensate. The fact that it is a nice nostalgic nod to a time when 3D graphics was brand new is just an added bonus!
We also have this far away isometric camera. So we looked at Bonsai trees and "Penjing," which is the Chinese equivalent, but for depicting entire landscapes in miniature, not just trees. This viewpoint is also often the viewpoint adopted by JRPGs back in the PS1 era, games like Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Breath or Fire. These games are also a big inspiration in that they have these beautiful colorful worlds you can explore and great music.
A great and interesting thing is that by improving the graphics, gameplay is improved in the process. Since the graphics are largely what players use to understand how 4D space works, the more accurate they are the more accurately they can be used as gameplay cues. Some of these cues may only be picked up at a subconscious level, which makes accurately simulating the 4D so important.
CAT: Do you think making a concept into a game instantly grants it accessibility to a broad group of people? What are your concerns about appeal and accessibility?
MARC: I think you have to present the concept properly, and that depends on the design, but also a lot on the concept itself. Some concepts (including this one I think) lend themselves more easily to becoming games. But in general games certainly allow us to understand concepts at a more intuitive level, which is something you could not do before.
I think it's clear from previous indie game successes that a lot of people are fascinated by games that twist and expand their concept of space. As far as accessibility is concerned I do a ton of playtesting at shows like PAX, so that if something is too difficult I am forced to see it first-hand and fix it. I worked really hard on level progression, and year-to-year we saw big jumps in accessibility! It was amazing to see.
CAT: Could the 4th dimension meet up with virtual reality? Will you develop for Oculus Rift?
MARC: I think I will do something for VR, but it won't be Miegakure exactly. I think the sense of presence is interesting but for me the ideal thing would be haptic gloves or something to be able to feel 4D objects.
CAT: Is the principle of Miegakure, exploring the 4th dimension, something you expect to see applied to other games?
MARC: I don't know! It would be cool. I would rather not speculate. I do really hope that more people will turn other mathematical concepts into games.
CAT: Is user created content possible?
MARC: Yes, and I am hoping to release a level editor at some point after the game is out.
CAT: What is the release timeline, and what platforms?
MARC: We will release the game when it's done (we expect that to be next year, but don't hold us to that). The game will be released on PC/Mac/Linux (we will likely be on Steam). We want to release on a console too but we haven't announced anything regarding that yet.
CAT: Who is making Miegakure anyway?
MARC: Marc ten Bosch (me): design and programming
Jeff Weber and Hannah Sayre: 3D modeling/animation
Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace) and Mateo Lugo: music
Eduardo Ortiz Frau: sound design
G.P. Lackey: additional art
CAT: What is your background in game design, and can you talk about your previous projects?
MARC: I wanted to be a game designer ever since I was a kid. I went to college for it (did a couple of year-long team projects), and went to grad school focusing on computer graphics. I was briefly in industry doing computer graphics, and this was around when the indie scene started exploding. This is when I started working on Miegakure.
CAT: What does being an independent developer mean to you? What are your thoughts about the current indie scene?
MARC: It's great being able to design whatever I feel like, and not have to answer to large corporations. I am glad we live in a time when it is possible to do this.
CAT: Thank you, Marc!
Day 14 | Marc ten Bosch