An Invigorating Foray into the Uncharted Domains of 4th Dimensional Storytelling

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where to start?

Most of this is a mess. Be warned, intrepid explorer.

For those who kinda sorta remember me from past threads.

Passions, they are as fleeting as the seasons. I’m almost done with University and I might finally take my gap year. We’ll see about re-opening that crazy ‘Academy of Arcana’ thread someday. I solemnly swear it’s still a dear child to me, but right now this consumes my thoughts and I simply must indulge.

For Everybody: The Basics

My fascinations lie with performance art, mathematics, languages and storytelling. I’ve veered a lot of my studies towards Game Design and Storytelling, trying to marry mathematics and performance into an unholy union - something my Acting Degree simply didn’t like, but I made do.

Recently I’ve put a lot of effort into understanding how narratives and audiences interact, and how exactly we, as creatives, can get safely experimental. A consistent ideal I’ve applied is to simply suck all the passion out of it and get analytical (that’s bad a joke, don’t mind it), and I’ve tried looking at storytelling in spatial context.

and then those consequences amend:

Its purely conjecture at this point, but if we suppose that stories can be spatially constructed, we can insinuate what they might look like.

Primary dimensional storytelling follows a linear progression from event x to event z, with events y(n) happening in between as consequence of preceding events. Take The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven as an example:

• Event x: The Raven has a piece of undetermined cheese. The Fox observes this.
• Event y(1): The Fox compliments the Raven as a means to an end.
• Event y(2): The Fox coaxes the Raven to sing and the cheese drops.
• Event z: The Fox gets the piece of cheese and the Raven says a dirty word.

This is a basic story plotted along a single axis, which describes what is observable in the story.

The 2nd dimension follows the progression of observable events and implies observable inferences on second axis.

• The story parameters are established.
• Insight is given to the reader about the nature of the participants.
• The reader can infer a universal moral outside of the observable story.

When we introduce a 3rd dimension, it becomes recognisable in spaces we are familiar with. Given that traditional mathematics observes 3-dimensional space with vectors and directions, it becomes appropriate to describe it in terms of what we are so akin to here on COG. We nudge stories. At certain points we nudge them along, changing direction, altering the topology of the story itself. Our interaction is how the story progresses.

If we were granted the option to play the part of the fox, with choices we make changing the outcome of the story, and consequently what we learn from that, then that is a psuedo-3-dimensional story, yes?

The crux of the matter is: Where do we even begin with trying to define what the fourth dimension in storytelling could be? What else could possibly be observable and how would we interact with it? Why would we want to do it?

To that last question - We are pioneers, hooligans of the arts and crafts, and we like to see what happens when we do crazy things. Or maybe that’s just me?

and then these darkest dreams conceive:

Laid out, what are our options?

IF uses a second party to alter the storytelling process. In terms of exploring from a solid foundation, we’ll stick to Interactive Fiction. Here are just a few things I could come up with. Any more suggestions are welcome, even if it’s just a mash up of foreign words in Russian.

• Cross platform narratives (Eh, it’s been a thing for a long time, it’s been done, it was interactive, it was fun. Moving on.)
• Player interacting with some primitive AI (But that’s already an established thing, so it’s not really exploring untreaded vistas, is it?)
• Paradigm shifts - and fold – and rotations (What does this even mean? I’m kinda interested, but I think it comes down to merely a storytelling technique more than an actual extra dimension of storytelling. I’ll keep an open mind.)
• Tesseracts and cells, maybe even prime numbers? (all fancy math words that are utterly meaningless to me.)
A Mirrored Hallway of Inconceivable Proportions

I really like this idea - Imagine a player standing in an infinite hallway lined with mirrors that they can reach through. They can see themselves, and even reach out and touch themselves, but all their reflections do the exact same thing.

If a player were to grab a hold of their own arm through the mirror and tug, they’d be tugged backwards as well. If a player were to hold hands with themselves in an infinite string, and try to turn, they’d have to change the layout of the mirrors to make that possible.

The concept plays on the idea that the player creates a self affecting story - something I’m very keen to try out in CS very soon.

• 4D topology ( a very weird interconnected mess in which all things happen at once and simultaneously nothing happens at all - Thank you, Douglas Adams.)

I’m exceptionally receptive to ideas, critiques or even death threats. Feel free to post your thoughts, whether you think I should just get off the internet or a while or whether I should invest all my time and effort into this. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Have a nice day.

3 Likes

Hmm. So… if I got your point correctly:
1st dimension: basic plot
2nd dimension: moral of story
3rd dimension: roleplay capability
4th dimension: sandbox (player creates their own story)?

Mostly, yes:
1st dimension: Observable story. What the likes of Barthes and Derrida might consider signifiers.
2nd dimension: Moral of story and the signified.
3rd dimension: Roleplay capability. All that interactive jazz.
4th dimension: A big jumbled up undefined mess open to interpretation.

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Anyway, here’s how I’m understanding the first three dimensions as you describe them.

The first dimension is just a story crafted from a concept without theme.
The second is theme applied to a story.
Third is when the reader affects the story (i.e. the writer intended the knight to save the princess, but the reader decides the knight should go to McDonald’s instead. This knight to have an irresistible craving for Big Macs for reasons unknown to him).
If I’m sort of understanding how you’re defining it, the fourth dimension in storytelling could be the subconscious mind affecting the story in ways the both writer and meddling reader didn’t intend.

Just my two cents, if it’s comprehensible. Thanks for the interesting topic!

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Where do transformative works and their relationship to the source text come in?

Might real-world instances of your 4D component be fanfiction, online communities creating memes, author polls, and things of that nature? All things that happen outside the literal narrative but can and do trickle back down into sequels as well as further provoke other community members to add to the brainstorming?

Not exactly the fourth dimension you are trying to convey here, but a bit related:

Have you heard about asynchronous multiplayability? There’s a really cool short game called Moirai which deals with it.

Also, unique branching in which each player will always get a different outcome, even if they pick the same options, would be kinda fun to have as a way to add more dimensional complexity.