289: The Minus Touch

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The Minus Touch

Beyond the edges of a game's map lies an unknown and bizarre land, the Minus World, where anything is possible and the normal rules simply don't apply.

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Interesting read. I must admit, I've always enjoyed accidentally clipping clipping through the world's geometry and falling into the negative space beyond the game world. Hell, if I'm playing a PC game, I occasionally turn off clipping just to explore everything for a point of view otherwise unintended. Although it's all well and good to see everything that the developers wanted you to see, there is definitely a sense of wonder when you step through a wall, turn around and see the entire world sprawl out in front of you. I especially like doing this in underground levels or games that are set in a sequence of room and hallways. Being able to see how the entire dungeon is constructed by observing it from the outside is very cool.

Well, at least you're not talking about the minus worlds of the MMO. The great and dreaded underground, available only by falling through the world. Never a good place to do anything except hide the bodies. Of course, if you do fall through, it makes for a very short and painful corpse run.

Though most "minus worlds" come at me by surprise and end up ruining my day, I still have to try and push-stab-destroy every hindering tile in every old-school RPG cause you never know. Accidentally found an entire town in Super Hydlide so you never know what's under those obstacles.

Sweet article. Vanilla-WoW had a few awesome minus worlds. Sneaking into Hyjal and filling my screenshot folder with "Under Construction" signs and Archimonde's corpse hanging from the world tree was pretty frikkin' awesome.

Very interesting read! I love going onto the wikis for various games and looking at their odd little quirks, especially TES4: Oblivion. I still occasionally go looking around in that game just for glitches, like a pair of dismantled character bodies I found floating underneath the Imperial Sewer exit, only visible by disabling clipping. Games have a natural element of exploration, but I think there's something about finding a place that the developers didn't even intend for you to that makes minus worlds even more exciting than the rest of a game.

I remember the first minus world I found was in battletoads in the "lasagna" speeder level. When you get to the last checkpoint, if you die, then as your toad just run into the death ball soup under the lasagna, you will be transported to an unbeatable version of the same level. Unbeatable as it has no ramps, but you still have to make all the jumps. That and it seems to be much faster and intended to kill you to sync you with reality.

The Tomb Raider games made with the original Core engine had this wonderful "corner bug" which is just a delightful glitch that allowed you to clip through a corner and end up high up on a ledge adge you couldn't otherwise access. It is exploited for speed runs and such but I was just fascinated by the way you could end with magnificent vistas of the levels as if you were watching from a helicopter. It sometimes did give the games scope. And sometimes, it revealed that hidden niche with the juicy secret that you weren't supposed to see until you were at the right spot. It's not properly a minus world but it did place you in places where the seams of the world decomposed. Kind of like the end of the world in The Thirteenth Floor.

There is Big Rig Racing of whatever that game was called where physics didn't exist and you could just drive into infinity, up 90 walls and out of the world, and accelerate up to the speed of light. Fascinating.

I fell through the bottom of a city in Dragon Age: Origins. The one at the north east corner of the world, the really big one.

About 3 feet below the surface is water. Lots of water. So I was swimming under the streets and buildings, but I could still see above me. It was pretty wierd.

This actually reminds me of a game I played this past weekend at Otronicon. The game, which I think was an in-beta social simulation called OLive, wasn't particularly great, but the best part I had with the game was traveling to the very edge of the world map and falling off the bottom, only to hit the bottom of the room. I could do everything I could do normally down there--seeing as I never changed maps--, but the only thing I could see was a vast plain of sky blue ground; there wasn't even any indication that there was terrain above me when I looked up from a first person view.

Okay, so it's not exactly a minus world. But hell, I had fun seeing the game from a top-down perspective and watching my character disappear beneath the ground. Ahh, fun times. Oh, yeah, and the rest of the game sucked, too.

Is the Links awakening glitch world decribed in the article the same as the one available from the boss fight in the first temple?

That reminds me of this one in Beyond Good & Evil:


Beautiful sun rise over an infinite ocean :-)

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shiajun:
Kind of like the end of the world in The Thirteenth Floor.

Ahh I love that movie :)

approach a door, only to realize it's just a door-painted wall. How wonderful are those moments we can reverse these rules - when we turn walls into doors

I found that oddly poetic. But yes, I love breaking a game and finding out how to get outside the map.

It's both wonderful and terrifying breaking something so well crafted. In fact falling of the map in a game can actually be a bit scary :P

And of course, one always goes back to the exact same spot and tries to re-create it. Most glitches and map-breaks are really hard to achieve consistently though.

Indignation837:
Very interesting read! I love going onto the wikis for various games and looking at their odd little quirks, especially TES4: Oblivion. I still occasionally go looking around in that game just for glitches, like a pair of dismantled character bodies I found floating underneath the Imperial Sewer exit, only visible by disabling clipping. Games have a natural element of exploration, but I think there's something about finding a place that the developers didn't even intend for you to that makes minus worlds even more exciting than the rest of a game.

As much as I can't stand the Gamebryo engine of Oblivion and Fallout 3, I will admit that it was the most fun engine to mess with on the PC. I remember finding a way to disable any character skeleton, making them fall into a pile, and then you steal something from their house and they are still able to yell at you for stealing (the first time I did this I laughed myself to tears). The same effect can be used with a custom spell that keeps an NPC's stamina a zero. To watch them fall over while still staying alive never got old for me.

I found a neat little corner in GTA4 that let me fall through the map, only to land in a nearby intersection. It's a very small hole, barely big enough to fit the scooter into.

WoW certainly has it's share of minus worlds. Try the quests in Stranglethorn. One takes you into a phazed Zul'Gurub. At the end, and enemy holds you in place and NPCs try to rescue you by telling you to grab the rope ladder. Fail, you die, and your corpse falls through the floor. Welcome to the minus world.

Have fun. ^_^

Most people call this "Blue Hell".

Castlevania Symphony of the night had a huge "minus world" iirc

I've never been much of an explorer - part of why I wouldn't be very good at that kind of QA.

I can see the appeal, though. To discover a place not meant for you to see, with quirks not in the original game. It's like the myth of the river Styx, where your memories and dreams come to haunt you, only in video game form. The junkyard where the forgotten and disabled parts go.

... Too bad I lack the patience for the repetitive acts needed to find these, that made them sound really cool.

Always a thrill to discover these! In my youth, I found one in the Arnhem Knights level of MoH Frontline. It was like I was standing on a glass floor and could see sky beneath my feet and the whole level as it curved around me (it was vaguely donut-shaped). Even triggered the enemy tanks early.

I was so proud :']

I think the reason we want old games on new platforms to still have the bugs of old is identical to the reason we don't want Mark Twain edited to the Chronicles of Narnia shuffled to chronological order: We want things to be as they were. Once the work is sent to print, it's finished, and amendment can only come with a exceptional reason and justification (Tolkien's amending of The Hobbit).

When I first played Legend of Zelda on the Wii, I got to one of those screens where there was too much going and the character would flash and move a little slowly. Surely the Wii has the ability to fix that old bug, but I found myself thrilled that they retained it. In that moment, I might as well have been sitting Indian-style on the floor, playing a NES and vacuum tube TV , with my brother begging for a turn, and the smell of Mom making dinner downstairs. The retention of that idiosyncrasy made the Wii replay more than a revisit; it became a reunion.

Anacortian:

When I first played Legend of Zelda on the Wii, I got to one of those screens where there was too much going and the character would flash and move a little slowly. Surely the Wii has the ability to fix that old bug, but I found myself thrilled that they retained it.

A wonderful point. There is something powerful about that nostalgic factor, where any minor change is an atrocity. Think of The Uncanny Valley, something is just off, and nothing seems right about it. It can be something small, bugs removed in an emulator, those eyes... horrible horrible eyes in an Uncanny Valley creation. Whatever the case you are distracted from all the good work.

This is part of the reason I loved the Mega Man 9 game. It intentionally recreated many of the old graphical glitches and bugs of the original games. Seeing the sprites flickering gave me throwbacks to the days of my youth playing Mega Man 2 & 3.

In 2009 two friends and me made a game for a videogame contest. A straight Mario copy with Worms controls and a Freddy Kruger plot (it's a dream and if you die there you die for real). It was made with Action script 1 and Flash MX so we couldn't make save files. We ended up using the ye'ol password to access level method. Almost at the end i convinced my friends to include a secret level, we had a horrible level we used to test things so we added a picture of us as the background and voila!.

Back during the early Lich King era, I ran into a bizarre portal glitch in WoW where I disconnected while taking a portal to or from Undercity and Northrend, not sure which order, where my client displayed the Eastern Kingdoms landscape but the server knew I was still in Northrend.

SO, it let me use my flying mount and I got a nice long birds eye tour of the old world and the placeholder art used in Gilneas. There was a singular dwarf NPC standing on a pier at the very western coast of Tirisfal, just sitting there, staring out at the ocean longing, almost as if he was dreaming of going out there, to challenge social stigmas and become the first dwarf to sail the great seas.

I'm surprised that there's been no mention of Halo 2. It's possible it was just in local circles, but Halo 2's multiplayer was absolutely ruined for me once everyone got obsessed with breaking outside of the map limits EVERY SINGLE TIME to just... look around before getting bored and killing each other, which usually led to fights because it was hard to get back. Idiots. The amount of time people spent figuring out exactly the right place to jump, the right place to use a grenade, was just ridiculous.

Guild Wars didn't have a "minus world" per se but before AN caught wind of it assassins could shadow step to get behind the enter/exit portals in the world map and stare out into the vast nothingness you weren't supposed to see, some parts even had land masses that let you go all the way to another portal and circumvent the entire area.

I have to admit I find minus worlds kind of creepy for me the scariest would have to be the Beta Quest worlds in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

They seem to be assembled of outdated code, information from cutscenes and are arrived by skewing the your access point to the game - effectively playing the game at the title scene demo.

I have never accessed it myself, but I have heard of things such as a small Jabu-Jabu, inside a larger one in the pond, in an area where the game crashes if anything leaves the screen.

Personally I can barely explore beyond Hyrule field, despite the fact that nothing in the game proper scares me at all.

There is also kind of a minus world in Oblivion, which shares a similar worldspace to the testing hall (which doesn't really count as minor). It is a small square patch of land with some empty buildings, surrounded by water which doesn't necessarily fill every block where water should flow.

It's actually quite peaceful, and it's nice to know not everything in a game is rigorously programmed.

My Dad and I were playing N64's F-Zero, when at the start of the race he hit Boost and lost control, then hit both sides of the road and bounced right off the track to the track below whitch was the Finish Line and bounced across it with a record time of 12 Seconds, we must have laughed for 10 Minutes straight! Then I/We tried for days to replicate it but it was a fluke.

I used to play Pilot Wings and just fly in a straight line for miles till the game island would dissappear behind me and then a few minutes later reappear on the horizon in front of me.

I think the next Tron movie should showcase the minus world effect, that would be very interesting indeed!
.

Reminds me of when I was playing Modern Warfare 2 with my friend on my brother's Xbox and he showed me how you could get to an empty version of part of one of the Pripyat levels of CoD 4 by going outside the map. Fun times.

the last minus world I found was in ass creed brotherhood, I was parachuting off the house you get and into the water, I almost made it to the other side and ended up parachuting tho the water and going down under the city till I landed in.... well the game said it was water, you could splash around but it was just a lot of blue

The only one I ever saw was in San Andreas. If you put in the Jetpack cheat while in the Gym on the first Island (the one with the boxing ring) you could fly up through the ceiling into a bizarre world of grey that was full of invisible walls and random NPCs. Freaky.

This "Minus world" sounds like a great idea for a video game.

Interesting article. I remember spending hours trying to ge into the empty city in Two Worlds.

Well, as Dumant said "All that is visible must grow beyond itself, into the realm of the invisible".

shiajun:

There is Big Rig Racing of whatever that game was called where physics didn't exist and you could just drive into infinity, up 90 walls and out of the world, and accelerate up to the speed of light. Fascinating.

Big Mother Truckers I think.
Good point. If the game isn't a complete mess, things like this are cool. After exploring every corner of San Andreas, falling into Blue Hell is pretty cool.
However if it happens in Fallout Vegas after your game has crashed a dozen times that day, it feels less "ooo look what I found" and more "how lazy were these guys"
Intentional secret areas on the other hand are a whole 'nother story.
What RPG was it (Luna?) that had the mountain you could cut through instead of skirting the entire map. Of course the mountain didn't look like it had a cave, you just had to know to rub up against that part of the environment.

The only worlds I have ever wanted to leave are the Nazi zombie maps. For one, I ask myself, "Why I am staying in this zombie infested place when I could just dive out a window or climb and fence and run?" Also, there are details outside of the play area that I want to look at. I was utterly thrilled when I found out you could get outside of the map in Shi No Numa and run into the swamp. To top it off, there was a hidden message outside of the map, meaning the developers wanted people to escape.

GonzoGamer:

shiajun:

There is Big Rig Racing of whatever that game was called where physics didn't exist and you could just drive into infinity, up 90 walls and out of the world, and accelerate up to the speed of light. Fascinating.

Big Mother Truckers I think.

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.

Worgen:
the last minus world I found was in ass creed brotherhood, I was parachuting off the house you get and into the water, I almost made it to the other side and ended up parachuting tho the water and going down under the city till I landed in.... well the game said it was water, you could splash around but it was just a lot of blue

I had it happen in AC2, in one of the tombs. Jumped for a ledge, only to have the ledge knock me over and slide through it, outside the walls. The guards could see me, and were just running into a wall, and all I could do was swim around beyond the game barriers.

Also had it happen in the final boss of AC:B, which was a bitch. When you have to stab the guy in the neck to take his armour off, it glitched, catapulted me away, but then reverted to an off-centre image of me trying to stab him in the neck, for eternity. After pausing, everything but the background had disappeared.

fanklok:
Guild Wars didn't have a "minus world" per se but before AN caught wind of it assassins could shadow step to get behind the enter/exit portals in the world map and stare out into the vast nothingness you weren't supposed to see, some parts even had land masses that let you go all the way to another portal and circumvent the entire area.

Yeah, 2 areas allows any class to do it for a short time as well. One in Cantha, the other just north of Sanctum Cay.

I had a Droks run from an Assassin, who just Shadow Stepped behind the portal and ran around. Made the journey through Lornar's Pass and Snake's Dance much easier.

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