April 25, 2019

Wolves in the Walls: It's All Over comes to life at the Tribeca Film Festival

By Pete Billington, Co-Founder and Director of Fable Studio

Wolves in the Walls is a connective character-driven VR adventure that follows the story of Lucy, a young girl who is utterly convinced there are wolves alive and residing within the walls of her home. The audience steps into the world as the imaginary friend of the eight-year-old, who is devoted to proving her unlikely theory to be true. Though a narrative tale at heart, the story of Wolves in the Walls is reactive to the engagement of the viewer, but never waits for a particular choice. The entire experience unfolds like the vague memory of childhood afternoons, playing at a friends house, constantly adapting to the spontaneity of each moment.
 

Building Lucy was a monumental task. Her very existence can be described as the true hybridization of game, film, and theater technique. Motion capture, animation, and procedural systems are all seamlessly woven within Unreal Engine Blueprints to make Lucy feel true to life. When you interrupt her mid-sentence she will respond naturally, hesitate briefly, then pick up right where she left off. 

Lucy’s attention and interest systems are also keenly aware of the audience’s spatial location. For example, not only can you connect with Lucy through eye contact as you hand her objects, she can also take things from you, but not in ways that offend social conventions. Her intention detection system predicts user behavior, creating fluid interactivity that prompts the audience to act and react like they would in the presence of a good friend. 

WolvesInTheWalls_Attic.jpg

As the story of Wolves in the Walls develops, Lucy’s world becomes increasingly fantastical. It was not only important, but essential to all of us at Fable Studio to capture the feel of the original, award-winning children’s book written by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. To accomplish this, we modified Unreal Engine’s source code to author a complex volumetric watercolor rendering system. Unreal Engine’s flexibility was one of the primary decisions in selecting it for the project. Access to source allowed the team to accomplish a completely unique real-time look. As objects recede, they blend together, melding into a world that feels like a living painting. 

During the climax of the experience, the audience finds themselves within Lucy’s imagination, experiencing her interpretation of the titular wolves while they manifest as intense fever dreams of childlike drawings. Because of the abstract nature of this moment, traditional workflows had to be put aside. Our team needed a way to iterate quickly and efficiently in-engine, as it was critical to make decisions within the context of VR. Enter Unreal Engine’s Sequencer cinematic editor

Sequencer’s editorial tools enabled the rapid prototyping of this scene. Controlling a complex layering of sound, geometry, haptic feedback, and interactive events would not have been possible without them. 

WolvesInTheWalls_Campfire.jpg

Wolves in the Walls is like nothing else. It represents the first step toward a fully-aware, character-driven narrative - a story that truly reacts to audience choice, as well as one that both recognizes and remembers you. Wolves in the Walls imagines a future where you will develop deep bonds and memories with a character over many years, in a relationship that will persist across all forms of media. We cannot share that future with you all soon enough.

Fable is pleased to premiere Wolves in the Walls’ second chapter for attendees of Immersive at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend, along with its well-received debut chapter, which was unveiled at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. All three chapters of The Wolves in the Walls are planned for release on the Oculus store at a future date.
WolvesInTheWalls_Lucy.jpg