Final Project - Music 256A - Barbara Nerness

Final Project - Music 256A - Barbara Nerness

Final Project - Music 256A - Barbara Nerness


Sometimes starting over can give you the freedom to be yourself

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"Your home on ice-planet Zutron is melting, as global temperatures rise. You have decided to leave on a raft, which can fly, provided you gather enough fuel. You can also pick up radioactive chunks of ice as they fall off the canyon walls to build an igloo in which to live. Your friends have already left for known planets nearby and are waiting for you! Good luck, and godspeed!"



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Liferaft is partly a game and partly an instrument. It was inspired by Minecraft, which allows enough freedom for players to be creative. The introduction to Liferaft provides motivation for collecting glowing objects, which each have different sonic properties. Some play the entire time, and some only when you pick them up. Each of the sounds is meant to contribute to an ambient soundscape, filling the raft both sonically and structurally. An igloo is one place to start, but there are many objects one can build out of cubes.

Although Minecraft is a wonderful playground for creation, it does not allow the player to create a sonic world. Liferaft is one example of how sonic properties, assigned to unique building blocks, allow another domain of expression. Due in part to my love of ambient soundscapes and the slow buildup of ambient texture, not all of the blocks will always be heard. There is an element of randomness built in to some of them, such that there is variation each time someone plays the game, yet the sounds will always work together. The sounds begin with a tonal center, but as more blocks are collected, the tonal center will slowly be lost.

Players use the mouse and keyboard to interact with elements in the game world. Clicking on a cube picks it up and snaps it to a grid on the raft. Letting go of the mouse releases the cube into place. Two of the cubes function as drones, while the other two provide fleeting tones when picked up.

The experience is one of motivated calm, where there is purpose to the collection and assembling of cubes, yet awareness of changing sonic texture. Ideally, players will wait to collect the 10th fuel cube, which initiates liftoff, until they are satisfied with the sound. Then the player can sit back and watch the raft fly while they listen to what they have made.

Under the hood, the raft controls the show, with all Chunity scripts for playing sound. Cubes are instantiated throughout the game, and attached to the raft once they are placed on it. The velocity that a cube hits other cubes also triggers a radioactive sound scaled to the impact. The raft keeps track of how many fuel cubes it has, and once it has ten, it begins to fly!

The video below shows a playthrough of the game. In this example, the player gathers enough fuel cubes to lift off.