FRACT is a curious combination of music studio and puzzle game, merging elements of games like Myst with the sorts of synths and pattern editors you’d expect somewhere like Ableton Live. You have to make sounds and melodies to solve puzzles; by the end of the game, say the creators, you’re even producing original music. The work of a small student team out of Montreal, FRACT looks like it has all the makings of an underground indie hit – at least for music nerds.
As the creators describe it:
FRACT is a first person adventure game for Windows & Mac much in the vein of the Myst titles, but with an electro twist. Gameplay boils down to three core activities: Explore, Rebuild, Create. The player is let loose into an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music. It’s left to the player to explore the environment to find clues to resurrect and revive the long-forgotten machinery of this musical world, in order to unlock its inner workings. Drawing inspiration from Myst, Rez and Tron, the game is also influenced by graphic design, data visualization, electronic music and analog culture.
The hub of the game is a virtual studio, collecting patterns and timbres. It’s right now in prototype phase, but it already looks visually stunning, an alien, digital world in which more-conventional step-sequencer views seem to emerge from futuristic landscapes. And you can spot Pd in the background (the free and open source patching tool, Pure Data). Update: the developers confirm that they’re working with the embeddable Pd library, libpd. That enables synths with sounds like phase modulation and classic virtual analog sounds, all modulating and generating sounds in-game.
The developers have also published plenty of sound samples so you can experience the musical side of this. Via SoundCloud:
While never released, one place some similar ideas has shown up is a prototype game inspired by Deadmau5. As in this title, two-dimensional editing screens and synth parameters are mapped to a first-person, three-dimensional environment. However, FRACT appears to take this concept much further, expanding upon the world, building more instruments, and actually turning those interactions into gameplay elements. The video of the Deadmau5 project – apparently done in-house for fun and not endorsed by the mouse-headed artist:
That title was the work of a game house called Floaty Hybrid; music blog Synthtopia got the scoop on this in August:
Mau5Bot Sequencer Lets You Make Music In A 3D World [Synthtopia]
We’ll be watching this one develop, certainly; good luck to the team!