4D Pong

The classic computer game Pong has two distinctive dimensions: The dimension across the rectangular board, in which you move your paddle from side to side, and the dimension along the board, where the puck travels back and forth between you and your opponent.

It’s easy to generalize Pong to make it a 3D game. The rectangular board becomes a 3D box, and you let each player move their paddle not only side to side, but also up and down.

So far so good.

I thought it might be interesting to create 4D Pong. In this version each player can move their paddle within a three dimensional space, while the puck bounces back and forth into a fourth hyper-dimension.

This afternoon I implemented 4D Pong, which turned out to be not so difficult. What did turn out to be difficult was understanding what I was seeing after I was done. Even though I knew exactly what I had created, I still had trouble following the puck as it bounced off the walls of the hyper-cubic playing field.

Now I am wondering whether this was some sort of failure of visual design on my part, or whether it is just too visually difficult to follow the movement of a careening 4D puck as it bounces around inside a hypercube, careening off the board’s eight hyper-faces. If I manage to create a version where the puck’s movement makes a modicum of visual sense, I’ll post it tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “4D Pong”

  1. You might want to try two of the following distance cues for the fourth dimension, and the other two for the third dimension:

    true stereo (with red/blue glasses)
    distance fog
    depth from motion

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