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Breaking the Horizon

Started by droqen, October 06, 2021, 03:48:26 PM

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October 06, 2021, 03:48:26 PM Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 04:00:30 PM by droqen

'Breaking The Horizon' is closely related to the concept of problems described in David Deutsch's 'The Beginning of Infinity':

Quote from: p.16-17 of The Beginning of Infinity[..]if we are simply curious about something, it means that we believe that our existing ideas do not adequately capture or explain it. So, we have some criterion that our best existing explanation fails to meet. The criterion and the existing explanation are conflicting ideas. I shall call a situation in which we experience conflicting ideas a problem.

[..]a conjuring trick is a trick only if it makes us think that something happened that cannot happen.

[Members of the audience] can detect that it is a trick only because of the explanatory theories that they brought with them into the auditorium. Solving a problem means creating an explanation that does not have the conflict.


October 06, 2021, 03:59:40 PM #1 Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 04:05:05 PM by droqen
The thing that is enjoyable about a 'Horizon Break' is identical to the pleasure of resolving a problem in the above sense.

Quote from: Breaking the HorizonBreaking the Horizon is when a player's comprehension of a game is expanded so much that his or her previous understanding has been SHATTERED.

A horizon break is this process:

1. A person holds an existing idea of how the world works.

2. Something (we can call it a 'trick') is presented that conflicts with that existing idea.

A game might do this in order to propel this very important desirable outcome:

3. The person seeks (and finds?) a new explanation that does not have the conflict.

This is what Horizon Break is. I think it is possible to simplify and say that a horizon break is 'subversion!' or a 'surprise!' but I think, even inexpertly imagined and conveyed as it was nine years ago, that the heart of breaking the horizon comes from a strong belief in understanding reality. There is a domain which represents your total understanding of the game, your best fallible explanation -- with the information you are given, you nonetheless develop a model and forge ahead. Then, something comes which 'breaks' the horizon, i.e. which conflicts with your explanation. Defining the horizon ahead of time was a mistake. The horizon does not really have any meaning until it is broken. After this breakage occurs, this problem, you must still believe in understanding reality enough to try and develop a new theory despite the conflict.

There are many games which do not attempt to simulate or present a coherent sort of reality that is worth believing in in the first place, let alone through the beautiful horizon break process.


October 06, 2021, 04:18:42 PM #2 Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 04:21:47 PM by droqen
I like games where you live with an explanation of the game-world as if it is the truth, and then one or more times discover-- perhaps even prove to yourself-- that your explanation, your idea of what is true, was wrong, and then live with a new one.

I described these moments as 'horizon breaks'. They are the peakiest moments emotionally and at a glance it's easy to mistake these moments as the goal in-and-of-themselves.

Quote from: Breaking the Horizonthese are absolutely moments that players REMEMBER. There may be other moments, of course, but anyone who's paying attention to what a game is as they're playing it will remember these moments when suddenly you punch out the floor from beneath them.

Here in the blog post I make the claim that they are the most memorable moments. Maybe so. But they are just turning points, from one coherent world-view to another. Supporting each world-view along the way is hugely important; the emotions of experiencing a Horizon Break are simply a release, a reflection upon the connections one built up in developing the old model that is put in conflict by the horizon break (the "problem").