As a part of our ongoing mission to showcase the virtual reality industry’s hottest startups we headed over to River, Rothenberg Ventures’ new accelerator program for VR, for an inside look at (a ‘VR Snapshot’ if you will) each of the 13 companies (selected from a group of 200) in the program, before their big demo day Monday.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be abducted by aliens? What about experiencing an alien invasion?
Ariel Arias did, so much so that he has been writing novels about the subject since he was 10. Now 30, he is working to translate that universe to a new medium, virtual reality. Ariel started Thotwise, an indie gaming studio focused on bringing exploratory, narrative games to virtual reality, building The Hum universe across multiple virtual reality platforms.
Leading the way is the team’s first VR experience, The Hum: Abductions, which is game that makes use of tense, atmospheric horror and exploratory storytelling and an environment that is highly interactable. The short demo that I was shown was early, but impressive nonetheless. We sat down with Ariel to learn more about his studio, Thotwise.
Who is Thotwise?
Thotwise is an indie game studio from Argentina, we are gamers and sci-fi lovers. Our dream and vision is to tell epic stories in new ways that have never been done before, and that’s why we love VR. It’s a completely new world to explore and we are already travelling into its mysteries!
What is your team’s background?
We are a small studio right now. I founded it after I worked many years in the software and gaming industry for many companies. When I decided to go independent and started working on The Hum universe (my life long project), I was lucky enough to form this team who share my vision. They are two artists and one developer, all with gaming and 3D industry background.
When did you guys start working together?
I started with The Hum doing everything alone at final quarter of 2013 and part time while working as freelancer. When the project started to reach an audience, I was talking with many people in order to make a solid small team. And, hopefully, I found the right guys! We have been a full time team since Jan 2015.
Where are you guys at with your projects?
Currently, we are working in The Hum: Abductions, a horror sci-fi game, powered by Unreal Engine 4 and 100% focused for Virtual Reality. Abductions is just a first approach for us where we are experimenting the mysteries of VR and trying new technologies like Oculus or Morpheus. We plan to release more products this same year based on the same sci-fi universe for mobile VR platforms like Gear VR. There is a whole universe to share, and we want to explore what VR is bringing to the table!
The Hum: Abductions trailer
Why is the work you are doing important?
For me, it is important because I’ve been creating this sci-fi universe since I was 10 (that’s 20 years ago). My vision is to bring a new fresh air to sci-fi storytelling. We are working a new universe plenty of planets, races and stories to tell, where everybody can travel, explore and dream. Sci-fi creators always are pioneers for real science and mind-openers!
The Hum: Alien Invasion Concept Art Gallery:
How much funding have you received and from whom?
When I started, I received help from family and friends. It was something like $30k in total. Then, when I managed to get great people to join the team and consolidate some audience, we were selected by the River Program, which was just the best kickstart that a start-up with huge dreams like us could have. We received $100k from them and all the support that comes with being a part of the program. Now, I’m more confident than ever we are going to achieve great things!
How can people experience what you are doing?
For the moment, we are showing private demos, but we are finishing experiences that I know people will love. We are preparing some stuff for this year too, for dates like E3 or Gamescom. We are planning to upload for free some of those experiences and tests.
As Ariel mentioned, The Hum is a vast universe of experiences centered in the same universe. Right now the team is focused on The Hum: Abductions but they have another project in the universe which is underway but currently “on hold” called The Hum: Alien Invasion which looks to take place during the middle of an alien invasion of Earth. Abductions is the prequel to this game. Check out the trailer for Alien Invasion here:
UploadVR will continue to follow Thotwise’s progress as they continue to build the Hum universe of experiences. Be on the look out for the rest of our profiles as we continue to track each of the River startups before their big graduation day Monday.