Back in 2019 before its formal announcement, Nightingale billed itself as an online RPG, the first game from a new studio that former BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn founded beneath Improbable, creators of the cloud-based multiplayer platform SpatialOS. That company then touted a focus on player agency, citing Neverwinter Nights’ player-created content as an inspiration. Under the studio’s new name, Inflexion Games, Flynn is now talking about what has since become a shared-world crafting-survival game set in a magical Victorian era. Despite the genre adjustment, it sounds like Nightingale still has some roots planted in old BioWare RPGs.
After announcing Nightingale with a reveal trailer last week, Flynn talked with Eurogamer, about the studio’s plans for its setting and the choice-based ways players can solve problems in the world.
“When we began the studio, we had been thinking for a long time about an alternate history game and just loved the Victorian era,” Flynn says. “This alternate history idea is something we didn’t explore at BioWare. You know, Mass Effect is ostensibly a future with an alternate history, but we didn’t really touch on that.”
Nightingale’s particular alt-history is a magical Victorian era where magical portals enable travel to other realms. When that network of portals collapses, player characters called Realmwalkers are trapped in these alternate worlds and left to survive and find a way home to the magical city Nightingale. That’s the background on why you may find yourself as a lady in a lovely pink petticoat ensemble chopping trees in the woods to build a house.
“We had imagined the kinds of things we would build in this game, and the kinds of things players would get to do in this game,” Flynn said, mentioning Inflexion’s passion for world-building and saying that it wants to “create a world that is highly interactive and really empower players to do what they want.”
From its trailer and Inflexion’s initial descriptions, it sounded like this magical Victorian era would largely be your usual crafting survival romp but with fancier hats. The trailer shows first-person combat, chopping trees, building structures, and other usual crafting game activities. It also has giant creatures living in the alternate realms to fight, of course, for some extra flair.
Flynn’s latest comments about the sandbox-y qualities of Nightingale sound more like an emphasis on the kinds of choice-based RPGs I associate with BioWare.
He describes two separate parts of the reveal trailer, saying that “there’s a really nice moment in there that’s meant to show the dichotomy the world will present—where a giant is bending down to receive an offering from players. That’s one way you can solve that encounter.” The other way, which the trailer shows later, is several players in combat with a giant who’s stomping through their community. “Each challenge has different outcomes, and each decision has different consequences.”
Flynn also mentions that Nightingale will have NPCs as quest givers, which is a bit more character interaction than I often find in crafting survival games set in uninhabited wildernesses.
As other studios have in the past year, these few new details make it sound like Inflexion is also tweaking the crafting-survival recipe to add some old favorite materials.
Nightingale does not yet have a release date, though Inflexion says that playtesting will begin in 2022.