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!

  • :O

    that looks amazing!

  • Wowza. When  someone ties suspension harnesses to horizontally hang yourself by, giant monitors that encompass ones entire field of vision and a couple VR gloves this  becomes my new full time world. =D  

  • Troll

    Really cool concept. What really put a fire in me with this is the possibility of a custom step sequencer and knob controller that you could use your hands to do the controls on a physical device. Seems that the layout of controls are consistent in the game.  Also would be great if it could be a multiplayer co-op game as well. Imagine jamming with other people to make things happen in the game!

  • I just saw lawnmower man for the first time in YEARS.  I’m steering clear of this.   😛

  • moon motel

    Have these guys considered being able to connect a launchpad for example, to play those sequencers instead of just the mouse? 

  • scottr

    not to seem incredulous peter, but where exactly did you see PD in the background? it certainly didn’t seem obvious to me, though libpd is a good guess for generating in game synthesis

    i also agree about the need for alternative controllers in the program other than mouse/kybd – especially as music creation becomes more the point of the game….

  • Hey guys,

    Hear your request for external controllers loud and clear! It’s something we’ve discussed (either OSC or midi) but we don’t have plans for it at the moment. Keep the pressure up and who knows though 🙂

    And, yes PD and libpd are in effect behind the scenes.

  • peterkirn

    Here: looks like Pd in the way that Pd looks like Pd, being Pd. 😉

  • peterkirn

    Will definitely be curious to know about your experience with libpd – let us know if we can be of any help!

  • brimoore

    You had me at “Tron” 🙂 Cannot WAIT to play this!!!!!!

  • deNaut

    Really like the approach of the makers, my only criticism so far is that the repeated sequences and sustained sounds get annoying very fast. A normal sounddesigner gets used to this as part of his workprocess, but newbies may be repelled by this.

    A possible solution could be to provide the sounds with more modulation in the first place, thus making the listening expirience richer.