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Virtual reality startup Fable is relaunching with a focus on interactive AI characters called virtual beings.
The company, which launched publicly in early 2018 from a team of Oculus Story Studio veterans, debuted a VR adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Wolves in the Walls at Sundance last year. But amid a changing VR landscape, the company is pivoting to focus on characters with which viewers can build a two-way relationship.
Fable’s first virtual beings experience will build off of the world they created for Wolves in the Walls. The main character from that story, a young girl named Lucy, is back to star in Whispers in the Night, which will premiere this summer. Ahead of the premiere, the new version of Lucy will make her public debut at Sundance.
Whispers in the Night will transport participants into a memory that they share with 8-year-old Lucy. It is part of a collection of interwoven chapters, and audiences will discover new things about Lucy as she shares her deepest thoughts and imaginations. As the conversation progresses, Lucy will be able to offer objects and take them from the viewer, remember what has been discussed and interact in a seamless way that is unique to each participant.
“Whispers in the Night builds on the emotional systems of Wolves in the Walls,” said Fable co-founder Pete Billington. “These mnemonic techniques will allow us to create intuitive interactions that will deeply bond audience and character.”
Added creative director Jessica Shamash, “Whispers in the Night is more than just a conversation with a character. It’s about experiencing a shared emotion with a character. It’s about being vulnerable.”
Fable will also continue the Wolves in the Walls story, debuting a new three-minute sequence from the second chapter at Sundance. Joining the voice cast for Wolves in the Walls is Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright, who will play Lucy’s dad. “Jeffrey has this incredible ability to bring both warmth and mystery to his performance, and we can’t wait for audiences to hear,” Shamash said.
Fable is one of a growing number of companies devoted to creating interactive virtual beings. Artie launched last year with a similar mission, while the startup Brud is behind CGI Instagram influencer Miquela, who has 1.5 million followers on the platform. Fable will bring these companies and others together this summer for the Virtual Beings Conference, which is expected to draw around 200 people working in the space.
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