In an age where Ray Tracing, sandbox-style dynamic environments and publishers race to get as many NPCs on to a screen as possible, it’s not hard to see how point and click games fell by the wayside.
Back in the 1990s, Myst and its sequel Riven compensated for technical shortcomings in hardware by using a mixture of high-resolution pre-rendered backgrounds and live-action footage. The result? A truly immersive and unforgettable adventure – that sadly more than 20 years later still remains unchallenged. Until now…
Army Of One
Neyyah is frequently stunning
Enter Aaron Gwynaire and his team of, well, him. Gwynaire has spent the last few years developing Neyyah, a first-person point and click adventure set in a stunning series of islands linked together by portals. His mission? To bring a forgotten genre back from the dead.
“Neyyah is derived from a strong sense of nostalgia, and a drive to make those old point n click games again, which lost their charm I feel to the movement of the real-time engine, completely changing the flavour of the gameplay, in my opinion,” Gwynaire revealed.
“These games did something right. The interface of Neyyah enables the player to sit back and take their time, observe their surroundings - with each click forward, a new window into a mysterious world," Gwynaire explains.
"In my opinion, why fix something which wasn't broken in the first place? The genre may be forgotten, but I'll be striving to give it a brand new modern-day flame of life, and I believe Neyyah has the right amount of flame to do this.”
Neyyah A Truer Word Spoken
Neyyah's fantasy setting is definitely inspired by Myst
Neyyah takes the player into a world full of ancient mystery and intrigue. The story unfolds more as the player explores more of their surroundings, and in order to do this, puzzles - which are intricately tied to the environment - need to be solved.
“Everything is linked together in Neyyah,” Gwynaire explains. “The story with the environment, the environment with the characters...even the player, who plays themselves - a lovely immersive addition to the game - will feel linked to the overall story of the game.“
The player is rushed into the world of Neyyah with no explanation as to why they are there, only to be faced with a man named Vamir.
Players are an unwelcome guest in this strange land, and Vamir assists the player in finding a secret location, far from prying eyes. Only, things don't go as planned.
“Unforeseen events transpire upon your first visit to Neyyah and you are stranded there, alone...or so it may seem," Gwynaire reveals.
"Your mission in the game is to get back to Vamir on Olujay, while also uncovering the history of Neyyah, and the story of this mysterious Vamir and his people. The world of Neyyah is scarred by the cultures which helped create it, and as the player delves further into its rustic mechanical heart, so the land, the machines, the story ... all begin to make sense.”
Labour of Love
One Man Army: Aaron Gwynaire is working to resurrect an entire genre
As recent events with a certain Cyberpunk 2077 illustrate, making a game is incredibly hard work – despite huge budgets and large teams working tirelessly to get a finished product over the line. For Gwynaire, Neyyah has been a labour of love – one that started as a project nearly three years ago that has now blossomed into a full-time endeavour.
"Neyyah's development has spread out over the course of the last two and a half years. It's been going strong for a good while, and will continue to develop over the next two to three years,” Gwynaire said.
"I am fortunate enough now to work full-time on the game, which means my workflow has changed and the next two years at least will involve getting a lot of work done in areas such as sound, music and generally completing all the environments for the game."
“I put a lot of hard work into the richness of the environments the player will stumble upon," he explains.
"I focus on the screws and bolts, keeping metal to wood or concrete, the stained concrete, the fallen concrete walls, or considering to myself why something would be built in such a given way in the first place...this all accumulates into the detailed rich environments you may have seen showcased so far within Neyyah's eclectic array of renders."
The most challenging part? With every tweak, characters, locations, puzzles and environments need to shift, too.
“Neyyah's development is not only big in my head, but also in the real world. I have to update not just the back-up hard drives to store all the crunching data Neyyah has spewed out over the last two and a half years, but also the organisation of Neyyah's backstory, puzzles, locations, characters,“ Gwynaire explains.
"One of the islands in Neyyah consists of a 14,377-word document, and this goes into all the details regarding every location in that island, how it relates to this and that...and then also making sure the other island documents reflect these aspects too (as everything interlinks within the Neyyah world).”
New Engine, New Parts
All of this has been worked on by a single developer
Interestingly, Neyyah isn’t immune to technological advances – and whilst Gwynaire openly wants to retain what made games such as Myst special, modern-day advancements in graphical and mechanical fidelity offer an opportunity to add more polish.
“I had to change from a game engine called Adventure Maker to another one called Visionaire Studio 5 (I believe this occurred towards the end of 2018). I had everything planned out with Adventure Maker from Neyyah's get-go, as I had been very familiar with it, ever since discovering it back in the mid-2000s. A fantastic engine for making point and click Myst style games," he explains.
“However, lack of support and bugs required me to 'pack bags' and find a game engine home someplace else. I was recommended Visionaire by another game developer by the name of Simon Mesnard, and haven't looked back since. So there are always silver linings."
"At the time, something may seem really bad, but if you just persevere and keep going, you never know where the road ahead may lead you, and Neyyah has definitely lead down a variety of different roads! But anyway, there's always a road ahead, wherever you are in the creative journey or life in general."
So, why does the ocean play such a huge part in this world, I ask.
“I've always lived by the ocean,” Gwynaire explains. “I grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK (where I'm based now) and lived in Western Australia for seven years during my most of my twenties, where I also lived by the ocean."
“I'm not much of a swimmer at all. In fact, I had a phobia of it as a kid but got better at it in my later years. It's more of the artistic appeal it delivers, the sense of vast openness and possibilities. What's on the horizon? What is that building far off in the distance, smeared by the day haze? I really enjoy creating a scene which has this vast open space to it.”
“Water has always been around me, and I believe it's become a part of the game just as it's become a big part of my own life, too. Going back full circle, in regards to a big heart-filled project. It contains all parts of you, and even opens up certain parts of yourself that you might never have though existed.“
The possibilities are endless, just like an ocean, like just Neyyah.”
You can support the Neyyah project through the following links: