Fract Got Pretty: Light + Sound = Win

By John Walker on May 15th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

I'm waiting for a puzzle game driven by grammar.

Since we last caught up with it, the extraordinary-looking (and sounding) Fract OSC has released a bundle of new screenshots, and they’re a bit pretty. Described as Myst meets Rez meets Tron, a first-person puzzle adventure in an abstract world, designed around electronic music. The game, they say, is inspired by synthesisers, in a world that “literally runs on sound”. Previous footage has been remarkably interesting, but arguably not that pretty. However, that’s beginning to change, thanks to some new atmospheric art, and some extremely effective lighting. Take a look.

As someone born of one parent with amusia, and another who sings tenor, my halfway point is to be someone who thrives on listening to music, but has no ability to create it, instrumentally or vocally. So frankly this game terrifies me. It also makes me envy those who dabble with being a musician, because this looks extraordinary. Take a look at how pretty it is, but also watch the footage I’ve reposted at the bottom, as it obviously makes little sense without sound as well. Click on them to see them biggerer.

Make sure to read Jim’s interview with the developers from last year as well.

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33 Comments »

  1. MythArcana says:

    Very cool! This is the most interesting thing I’ve seen in the past 24 hours…

  2. Tinus says:

    Ooh! They’ve done a marvelous job.

  3. subshell001 says:

    Looks very cool… With OSC in the title, I wonder if they are using OSC to send messages to their internal synthesizer. If so, that means you could patch in whatever synth you want… That’d be a cool feature!

  4. Xardas Kane says:

    A Darwinia-esque Myst-like adventure with some Rez thrown in? Can this get any better?! Colour me interested.

    • RagingLion says:

      My mind conjured up the Darwinia connection too upon seeing these screenshots – not a connection I’d made before.

  5. povu says:

    At the start of the video I was like ‘meh, abstract puzzle game with music elements’, but then I got to the point where he made his own little tune to solve a puzzle, and then the making your own music stuff. Looks great!

    • Shadowcat says:

      Yes indeed. At the 1:30 mark, when all we’d seen was the player running around pushing some up/down/left/right arrows and then the voice-over said “as you can see the puzzles are very musical”, I almost turned it off. Hearing musical notes in response to pressing directional buttons to make a bridge appear was not “very musical”, and nor was it obviously a “puzzle”.

      If you decided to recut that video for any reason, I would offer up right at the start a little tid-bit of the genuinely-musical gameplay in order to hook your audience for the duration, because although the game is very pretty and sounds lovely, I’m afraid that moving blocks by pressing arrows does not make for exciting viewing.

      Once you got past that, the video started to get seriously interesting. I’m excited.

    • vivlo says:

      hm… i’m kinda sorry to say this, but the “synthesize your own sound, sequence it yourself” part of the game is what attracts me the less in this game – which is not to say it doesn’t attract me, because it does. But as i use sometime music sequencers, i would say those are kind of basics and not so astounding, regarding especially the sequencing part, sound generated is lovely enough. But what astounds me is the way light plays with all this… i was like omygod with the first graphic style, but now it is ohsowonderfulohmyohmy !

    • P7uen says:

      I’m not clear how the puzzle was solved, that bit where he made his own tune to get the motor thingy running, was that just random tune off the top of his head?

      Or was it because he used the actual melodies that sounded when he moved the blocks to the right place? If so that’s quite fun, but if its just inserting a bunch of notes until the thing lights up that’s a bit throwaway.

      I would still buy it anyway for the “studio” bit that lets me make game boy music without making me utterly befuddled, looks pretty snazzy.

  6. richardeflanagan says:

    Thanks everyone, desktop-ish resolution shots can be had here: http://www.twitter.com/FRACTgame/status/198526105026707457

  7. McDan says:

    Grammar based puzzle game you say? Try Wordz!
    It’s spelt like that, so one one who enjoys correct grammar and spelling would play it, it’s a trick. I am a fan of these kind of games though music and prettiness. Mathematical!

  8. LeiterJakab says:

    This is my first time throwing money at the screen.

  9. JamesPatton says:

    Oh wow. Spectacular! Can’t wait to play this!

  10. Easy says:

    Pruuutty, clever, and cool like fresh spearmint. Bravo I say!

  11. wodin says:

    Lots of puzzle games these days, I know puzzles are big business and lots of people love them, just not for me, I even did very well in English in exams etc but useless at crosswords. I’m rubbish at puzzles.

  12. goettel says:

    @richardeflanagan – Are you only using substractive synthesis on the puzzles ? I can imagine some fun puzzles based on additive and FM synthesis – thinking along the lines of additive lock/key puzzles and periodical effects translated to intuitive frequency modulation.

    Also, are you adding a simple way to replace any samples used in the game ?

    Great idea, shaping up well.

    • richardeflanagan says:

      It’s actually primarily FM at this point (well, Phase Modulation) with some subtractive like filters later in the chain. We’ve still got a lot of fine tuning on the respective synths in the game (there will be a few main synths in the world). We want the tools to playful and friendly without requiring deep synth knowledge to figure out (actually, additive and FM still confound me from time to time, I’m an crusty analog guy).

      I’m not sure I follow your suggestion entirely re: “periodical effects translated to intuitive frequency modulation” – hit me up, we should discuss!

      • goettel says:

        E.g. drones frequency modulated by one or more modulating sines related to some visible circular motion, such as fly-wheels, cogs and other mechanical parts. Incorporating simplified versions of things like modulation matrices (like the old EMS VCS3 patchbay) and sample & hold seem likely candidates for audio/visual puzzles too. I’m sure peeps like the Toplap – http://toplap.org/index.php?title=Main_Page and Fluxus http://www.pawfal.org/fluxus/ guys will have plenty of out-there ideas too. Hope you can get the possible MIDI options going at some point too.

        Thanks for the reply in any case, love to see how this turns out.

  13. Zeewolf says:

    Looks absolutely lovely. Being a gamer isn’t too bad these days.

  14. noom says:

    Found this really interesting when I played it in what I think was alpha or some similar state a while back. Was already pretty then but these screenshots are gorgeous. Look forward to seeing the finished product :)

  15. Lambchops says:

    Looks pretty and seems it could be intrigiung to play with. That said I didn’t have a clue what was going on in those puzzles at all!

  16. kikito says:

    I hope they don’t make the mistake of not including some sort of “freestyle mode”.

    I see people making music and posting it online and stuff.

  17. equatorian says:

    I played the beta, and while I don’t like electronic music at all, I quite liked the game and what it’s trying to do.

    So there’s that, on the ‘musical puzzles’ front. (It should be noted, I have sound-related synesthesia.)

  18. MD says:

    Some of those shots are reminiscent of Love, minus the grainy/fuzzy filter.

  19. Sleepymatt says:

    I really liked the look of this last time RPS covered it last year, and it only looks better with every update! can’t wait to have a fiddle around in the game :)

  20. Josh W says:

    Very nice, I think they need to work on their ui for that expression system though; recreating a 2d interface system in a 3d world when people are used to navigating it seems a bit of a waste; imagine instead sitting in a sphere where you pull the parameters up and down, just as a start, or imagine picking up blocks and placing them in 3d space, loads of possibilities for experiment.

    Anyway, it feels like there’s an extra job of orienting yourself in 3d space to get at the controls, whereas you could be making that 3d space matter.

    I’d also like to see the background music adjust to match what they are doing when people do the musical puzzles, stuff like chord progressions to resolve dischords made with the notes from the puzzles, or even perturbing the rhythm with the timing of your movements.. That could be very cool.

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