Note: This excerpt is from the playable VR experience Wonderfall: Tale of Two Realms, now at the Pacific Science Center. This section opens the game, introduces the main characters and the first threat, and acts as a tutorial on how to use magic in the experience.




 This is the fabled golden time, when the setting sun gives everything a warm, amber hue. The village ahead – Tammerdun – is a quaint, idyllic place calling to mind a small European-style town from a fairytale. Crickets chirp, the wind blows lightly, a gentle evening in the making. A series of gas lamps light the way from the forest edge, where the player, is to the town itself, almost inviting the player to come closer.

As the player approaches, they can see faded posters on the walls, artifacts of this world. “Drink TINK: The choice for thirsty inventors” and “Mages Muffins: That magical taste, now with more sparklefruit” along with propaganda posters denoting a time of recent conflict. “Help our wizards at war! Donate your spare spell components today!’” and “Finish the fight! Join the 157th Tinker Division today”. Among these is a fresh poster in the style of a Wanted poster. The face is of a wizened humanoid with evil eyes and harsh features. The poster reads: “Beware Balor! Wizard War Criminal still at large!”

SFX: Thunder

The sky darkens. The player can hear a crackling in the air, along with the murmur of people and life coming out of second-story windows.

Oh, she’s gone and done it this time. 

Don’t like the look of that at all.

It’s just like the Wizard War all over again. 

Look out! Runaway cart down the alley.

 A rumbling in the distance, different from the noises earlier. It’s rushing toward us from the alley off to the side. The villagers who spoke earlier all shut their window shutters.

Zoom! Mere inches from the player, a self-propelled wagon rushes by from the alley to the right (going left) with a DRIVER on top clad in a cowl, hood, and overalls. The wagon is laden with boxes and looks like a cross between a Wild West stagecoach and a Jeep turned inside out, laced with pipes and a box on the back that glows with a purplish magical energy that’s the engine. The cart zooms by the alleyway hitting a bump and slamming to the ground causing crates and barrels to leap from the back and crash in the opening to the upper village.

SFX: Crash.

When the player turns the corner, they will see a large courtyard. Trees, stone pathways. In the middle of the circular courtyard, a large fountain with a memorial to a man and a woman atop. Nearby is a spire of metal that’s thrumming with the same sort of purplish magical energy in the wagon.

 SFX: Hiss

 Now crashed into the center of the fountain, the wagon hisses, like a car with an overheated radiator. Boxes from the wagon are strewn everywhere.

 SFX: Rhythmic humming, broken by crackling energy sparks.

The metal spire is sparkling with magical energy. It’s not stable, sending arcs of electricity everywhere. Parts are rattling off. The sky above darkens and becomes more turbulent, reacting to the spire’s action.

The driver gets out of the crashed wagon and begins to circle the malfunctioning spire, making adjustments to the machine tower.

C’mon, work. The capacitors are working.
The crystals are aligned. Oh, the arcanic coil. Ha, I see you…

 The driver produces tools from a belt and opens a panel and starts to tinker under a spire panel.

 SFX: Electric sounds and sparks.

There. That should do it.


SFX: A horrific metal-grinding-against-metal sound.

Oh, come on. What’s wrong with you?
Work, blast you. Work!

At the last “work,” the driver bangs a wrench against the spire in frustration. A bolt of energy arcs from the spire to the driver.



In a flurry, the driver shakes off the arc and flips back her hood revealing ALAENA, a 13-year-old girl in dirty mechanic’s gear and welding goggles. Alaena kicks the spire with an intensity that seems a little extreme.

From behind the player, we hear shutters from a nearby house open. A booming voice pierces the air.

Alaena? Alaena? Is that you? What was that?

 Alaena has turned back to the spire. She frantically is rewiring cables and making adjustments.

I can fix this. I can fix all of this!

Is that my cart?

(to herself)
He told me this would work. I followed
the instructions. Why isn’t this working?

I liked that cart.

(looking over her shoulder)
I’ll… uh,  fix that, too.

Alaena continues to work on the spire.  Throughout she’s been muttering to herself.

It should be working just fine, but the magic conduits
are operating beyond capacity. They’re drawing way too
much energy from the Ether. It’s shouldn’t be like this. What?
What did I miss?

Dear heavens, what happened to the sky?

It’s that niece of yours. She’s going to kill us all.

Mind your business, Ms. Penrose. My niece knows
that she’s doing. Isn’t that right, Alaena?


See? She’ll doom us all she will. It’s a shame
her parents weren’t alive to see—

 VOICE and ALAENA (in union)
Mind your business, Ms. Penrose!

Well, I never. I remember when the Desprix family
had respected mages and tinkers in their ranks.

 SFX: A shutter slamming shut.

Alaena? Is that thing safe?

Of course. My spires on Mountaintop
and Golden Shore are—

 SFX: In the distance we hear a pair of succeeding explosions. We see in the sky a pair of purple energy pillars rise. The spire in the square begins to get louder and unstable.

Oh, no. No, no, no. Please. This can’t happen now.
I’m so close.

You and your little friends there.
Come inside. Now!

Alaena breaks from her spell and notices the player for the first time. She regards the player with a touch of surprise, like she’s caught off guard. She firms up.

Uncle, I don’t know these… strangers.
(to player)
You, leave now. You have no right to be here.
You’ll only get in the—


SFX: The spire reaches a fever pitch. A bright purple flash engulfs the square and envelops the player. When the light fades, the player has a distinct purple glow around them, a swirling torrent of magic energy. The player’s hearing should be distorted.

The player’s vision clears. The square is a mess. The wagon is overturned. Windows are broken. Trees are knocked down. However, random boxes from the wagon are floating in a purple energy field. Broken branches drift by, also wrapped in a purple magic hue.

The player’s hearing clears.

Alaena! Dear maker, no! You, help her!

 The player sees Alaena trapped under some spire debris. A leg and an arm are pinned and she’s on her stomach, unable to roll over or manipulate her free arm to get leverage. She’s trapped such a way that the player can’t get to her, but the player needs to notice they their hands are glowing a magical purple color. It is the same color as the objects that are pinning Alaena down.

 The player goes to Alaena, and this begins the first ACTION POINT.

How did you survive? What…? Are you glowing?

SFX: ALAENA makes effort noises, trying to free herself. The spire hums and crackles.


Using their VR controls, the player will manipulate the objects off Alaena. During this time, Alaena will say certain lines to prompt the player.

If trapped and no pieces are removed

You… have that same glow as some of these pieces.
Can’t move.
If I could only turn over.
How are you still alive?

If trapped and player starts to move a piece

Finally. Wait… how are you doing that?
Just a little more.
Almost… free.

 If trapped and one piece is removed.

Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.
Ugh… if you don’t mind hurrying up.
More pieces. Move them. Hurry.

 If trapped and a piece is put on ALEANA


Ouch! Stop that!
You’re not helping.
You’re making things worse!


Once all pieces are removed

Okay, nothing broken. That was close.


SFX: The door to the cottage belonging to the VOICE opens. From the inside…


Get in here, now. All of you. Get in here before
your luck runs out.


Alaena hobbles her way into the house. The player should follow suit. If not the following lines should play as a prompt.

You! Get in here.
It’s safer in here than it is out there.
What are you waiting for? Come inside.
Please, come inside. It’s safer in here.
Come in before the spire goes haywire again.
Look, I promise I won’t bite. Just come in!
Get inside before you get zapped again!
If it matters, we have tea and cake in here.



AuthorJohn Ryan