It is the year 2166. World is environmentally ravaged and the Authority is experimenting on teenagers’ brains.
Lori, a young elite tracker working for the Authority is sent on a mission to to extract Rem — charismatic but trouble-making sixteen-year-old target. Lori uses the intimacy of mind fusion to manipulate Rem’s actions, only to uncover truths she should not know about the Authority.
This is “Fallow Trilogy” written by Amy Lankester-Owen and licensed by the interactive entertainment company “To Play For” specifically for a Virtual Reality production.
In an exclusive interview with Haptical, Guy Gadney the CEO and founder ofTo Play For, says this deal is a first in the world.
Above picture: Guy Gadney — CEO and founder of To Play For.
Is this the world’s first book deal for virtual reality rights?
We believe so. To Play For is a company that puts storytelling at the core of the interactive experience, so for us this was a natural. There is a real challenge with the creation of long-form content in VR at the moment, but given our previous work across other interactive platforms, and the approach we have been taking with some of our internal prototypes, we think longer experiences are the way forward.
Are you planning an interactive VR movie, a game or a series of 360 degree videos based on the book sequels?
Projects we have worked on in the past have combined video and games together in ways that make sense for the players, giving them a sense of deep involvement in the story and with the characters. To me, building up from interactivity is key, using game design techniques and overlaying video-style elements. It will not be a static 360 video piece at all.
Do you have a production calendar?
Finding an author like Amy with the worlds and characters she has created in The Fallow Trilogy was a major step, and charts the direction for the production. Our next step is to talk to production and distribution partners who are looking for rich, immersive content.
We are adamant that VR productions should engage audiences deeply, and be sustainable over a long period of time. I do not believe that experiments that last a couple of minutes will be able to attract the level of audiences we need to power a VR industry. Taking on a trilogy is strong statement that says we are keen on building a franchise that grows over time.
The production timeline will be dictated by milestones and having all the right pieces in the right place at the right time. Interactive storytelling is complex, but we are positioned well to build a quality series.
Are you planning a VR experience for a specific platform, like Oculus or HTC Vive?
It is important to us to reach the widest audience possible, but have worked on projects before where did exclusive platform deals for a time, and these can create a win-win for us and the platform owner. The key is that there is a commercial rationale that makes sense for everyone involved.
hy do you think Amy’s trilogy fit for VR?
Reading Neuromod (the first book in the trilogy) there were quite a few elements that stood out. The strength of the characters, the relationships between the characters, the story world, the believability of the neuroscience — which is Amy’s background. What sealed it for me was her concept of mind-fusion in the books, where the heroine in the story can see directly inside other characters’ minds.
This to me is an element of the books that creates the ‘rabbit hole’ for our audience: they can experience the same mind fusion as the characters by putting on VR headset. In essence, one of the blockers of VR, the headset, is written in from day one as a part of the storyline.
In your own experience, what makes VR different than other platforms?
We are looking at bringing a number of existing platforms into VR, with the immersive experience being used to match the way we want to tell the story. Its differences are substantial and, as with other entertainment platforms — cinema, TV, consoles, mobiles, online — it will take a while for the industry to refine its storytelling techniques. VR’s ability to immerse people, making our eyes override our brains, is undoubtably its greatest power. As the old quote goes though: “Power is nothing without control”. The art form emerges once the medium has been tamed.