NVYVE Studios’ six person Mississauga-based development team is hard at work on its first video game, a first-person, sci-fi horror game called P.A.M.E.L.A. Playing off the recent popularity of games that place an emphasis on not restricting the player, NVYVE Studio’s P.A.M.E.L.A. takes place in an open world and includes no set path for players to follow.
P.A.M.E.L.A also features an RPG-like progression system and an artificial intelligence companion many players will likely find reminiscent of the Halo franchise’s helpful AI, Cortana.
The game’s inspiration stems from its developers’ favourite video games; sci-fi epics like the sprawling Mass Effect universe and Mirror’s Edge’s innovative platforming.
On the other side of the development spectrum, P.A.M.E.L.A is also heavily influenced by genre bending, innovative first-person shooters like Bioshock.
P.A.M.E.L.A takes place on an isolated futuristic colony called Eden where all of the civilization’s residents have been infected with a disease that causes rapid bone growth. Fans of the Bioshock series will likely find this plot familiar.
In P.A.M.E.L.A the player’s only goal is to stay alive for as long as possible in NVYVE’s dystopian world.
We sat down with NVYVE’s Studio’s director, Adam Simonar, to ask him a few questions about his Mississauga-based studio’s’ first title.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about NVYVE Studios?
Simonar: NVYVE Studios is a six person development team that branched out from NVYVE, a successful architectural/product visualization company based in Mississauga (that’s right next to Toronto for non-Greater Toronto Area readers). P.A.M.E.L.A. is our first title and development started around late 2014.
Question: Are there any particular video games that inspired Pamela’s development? I’ve read that the art styles of both Mirror’s Edge and Mass Effect were big inspirations for your team. Just from watching the trailer, I’m reminded of Bioshock and even the Deus Ex series.
Simonar: Those are all definitely big inspirations. From an artistic standpoint, Mirror’s Edge and Mass Effect jump out as we’re going for a very vibrant, clean style for our architecture. And in terms of theme, Bioshock and Deus Ex both feature strong messages about the morality and question-ability of artificial human evolution.
This is also a central theme to P.A.M.E.L.A. Without giving away too much of the story, the events that unfolded prior to the player waking up in Eden were caused by humanity “reaching too far,” so to speak. These are all games that we played and loved and that certainly had a big impact on us in terms of shaping the kind of experience we’re hoping to create.
Question: What is P.A.M.E.L.A’s story about? Also, just out of curiosity, how did you land on the name “Pamela?”
Simonar: P.A.M.E.L.A. at its core is a survival horror game; you’ll be exploring, scavenging and keeping yourself alive in a fallen utopian city. Your main tool to defend yourself with is your AARM, which is a modular piece of equipment that you’re able to attach different weapons and utility devices to.
You’ll also be able to enhance your body at certain locations throughout the city, so these elements come together to form our character progression. As you play, you’ll be more resilient as well as have access to a greater variety of equipment. The game also features a personality-driven AI system, in which every NPC will have their own tendencies and emotions. They can form their own groups, and will react to the player in different ways depending on how aggressively or peacefully you play the game.
The name “PAMELA” comes from the AI overseer of Eden. She wakes you up into the city after it has fallen, reaching out to you like a last lifeline to humanity. She’s a companion that will assist you with a variety of abilities as you explore the city.
Question: From the reveal trailer, the game seems to have an eerie, almost survival horror feel to it. Are you taking that direction with the game?
Simonar: That is totally correct! Even though Eden is a beautiful, idealistic utopia, the scenario we’re creating in the world is very much about tension and unease. We’re similar to games like The Forest or Day Z in the sense that it’s not a linear, jump-scare horror experience.
We’re building a world where terrible things have happened and it’s a very dangerous place, so there’s this sense of wrong-ness and tension that creates most of the horror. The survival aspect is also a huge element in that you’re scavenging for food and water as well as building new weapons, building items, and more.
Question: How will Pamela’s power managing mechanic work? I’ve seen you discuss it in other interviews I think, but I’m not sure I completely understand it.
Simonar: As you use power in Eden, that area’s power reserves will slowly deplete. For example keeping the lights on will provide you with enhanced visibility, but will drain power if you never turn the lights off in an area. Energy will slowly regenerate in correspondence with the weather outside, similar to how solar cells would pick up energy from the sun. The goal is to have a nice balance between giving players options, but also making it possible to mess up and be stuck without power, resulting in some tense situations.
Question: What do you think separates Pamela from other first-person games?
Simonar: I think the world itself is a fairly unique aspect of the game; we’re essentially building an entire utopian sci-fi city that you’re able to explore, with a huge variety of areas which you would expect to find there.
Just to list a few, there’s residential areas, security outposts, shopping areas, research labs, and more, and these areas are all interconnected. We definitely are taking the Elder Scrolls mentality in that you can pick a direction to go, and just keep going to see what you might find past the next area.
Question: Do you have a target release date? Also, what platforms are you aiming for other than PC?
Simonar: We’re targeting mid-2016 for a PC release on Steam, as well as potentially GOG. We’re hoping to bring the game to consoles as well, although this will most likely be an after-the-fact port once the PC version is polished and stable.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like to mention/discuss about Pamela?
Simonar: One thing we were very excited about with our recent “Rebirth” trailer, was that we had the opportunity to work with Jeff van Dyck, who was the composer for the Total War series and Audio Director for Alien: Isolation.
He composed an original theme for the trailer which was amazing and we’ll be working with him again on some more music to flesh out the world. It was awesome working with Jeff, and it made a huge difference in conveying the mood and story that the trailer focuses on.
P.A.M.E.L.A was recently greenlit on Steam.