What is 4D (and is it Coming to the PS4)?

We’ve finally mastered 3D gaming it seems. Playing a game in a three-dimensional space seems as familiar as walking out of your bedroom and going to the bathroom, but it wasn’t always this way. Personally, I remember growing up thinking about the day I would have the opportunity to finally play a 3D game instead of ordinary 2D games. When the day finally came, I was blown away, but now that it’s the norm? It’s as normal as playing a 2D game 20 years ago.

But wait: 4D gaming is possibly on the horizon, and it looks as if it may blow us away just as 3D gaming did. But what, what is 4D? How will it be implemented into our video games, and is it going to be on the PS4 anytime soon? Allow me to explain.

We live in a three-dimensional space (pertaining to the points x, y, and z) but can only see things in two dimensions (our brains help us to picture three-dimensional objects, which is why we can play three dimensional games). When we play a 3D game, we know exactly what to do. Look up, down, left, right, diagonally – basically, any points we can look at in real life, you can do in a video game. However, there are other dimensions that exist (4D, 5D – some mathematicians believe that up to 12 dimensions or more exist), and these are dimensions that we cannot see. Mathematically, they exist, but as merely three-dimensional beings, we can’t see them.

If you want to get an understanding for what a 4D game actually looks like, take a look at the puzzler Miegakure (which I hope is coming to PS4 sooner than later), and get a glimpse at the potential of 4D gaming.

4D Games

A game set in a fourth dimension is possible. According to an article on, Kotaku, by merely adding a fourth coordinate to our current dimension (3D) and allowing a computer to plot it, it can be turned into a video game (which is exactly what Miegakure developer Marc Ten Bosch actually did). As you can see in the video above, the world in which the character lives in is actually three-dimensional, but the player is able to see four dimensions of the world.

Let’s use Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag as an example. When you are sailing across the ocean and come across a ship you want to loot, you see the ship in a three-dimensional space. You can view Kenway’s back, the ocean, the sky, maybe a patch of land, and the entire ship in one view (as opposed to Kenway whom, if he was a real person, could only see two-dimensionally: the ship in front of you and anything else in his peripheral vision). If the game was in four dimensions, the player could simultaneously see the bottom of the ocean, patches of land as far as the eye could see, other ships hundreds of miles away, and every person on each of those ships.

That’s exactly why the game in the video mentioned above had a zoomed out camera. Essentially, the player could see everything happening in the world simultaneously.

This brings up an interesting question: to play a living breathing world in the same vein as the games we play now, the hardware is going to have to be up to par. Well, luckily it seems as if the PS4 can achieve this level of gameplay. Think about it: how awesome would it be to play a strategy game where you could easily see everything that was happening in the world around you without moving the screen around once? Can you imagine playing a game like Civilization, but being able to see every battle, every movement, and every Wonder built simultaneously? It’s a bit of a mind trip, isn’t it?

4D Gaming

Let’s go a bit further: what about an online first-person shooter? Would it be possible? Technically yes, but it wouldn’t feel natural. For instance, when you looked at a building, you would be able to view every angle of the building simultaneously. Those snipers hiding up on the top of the building? They’re going to have to hide a little better.

Puzzlers seem to be the best genre to take advantage of 4D gaming at the moment, but as developers have a chance to play with the concept some more, we are bound to see some interesting ideas implemented into future games. The real challenge is to utilize the concept of 4D into a gameplay mechanic while making it feel more than just a gimmick. It’s a challenge developers had decades ago when they were toying around with 3D gaming for the first time, so expect the same to happen with 4D gaming.

Will we see 4D games on the PS4? Probably, but they won’t be fully mature 4D games. For 4D games that feel as natural as 3D games, you’re probably going to have to wait quite a few more years.

Do you have any questions or comments about 4D gaming? Let us know in the comments below!

Article by - Dusty W.
Insert Date: 5/4/2014

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