[Interview] Survival crafting across dimensions, Nightingale


Interest in survival crafting games is on the rise. "Nightingale," created by a core developer from BioWare, seeks to explore a unique and dimension-crossing world based on the concept of survival crafting. It garnered significant attention when a trailer was unveiled at last year's Gamescom held in Germany. One distinguishing feature is that survival crafting doesn't take place solely in fixed fields; instead, players must navigate through various dimensions to survive.


We reached out to Arin Flynn, the CEO developing the new survival crafting game, for a written interview to introduce the game.



▲ Aaryn Flynn, Inflexion Games CEO


Please introduce yourself to our readers.


I'm Aaryn Flynn, CEO of Inflexion Games. I was previously a Game Developer and General Manager at BioWare, and worked on a number of projects at the studio, including Baldur's Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, the Mass Effect series, and the Dragon Age series.


Right now, the team and I here at Inflexion are working on Nightingale - a shared-world survival crafting game set in a unique Gaslamp fantasy setting. 


Can you tell us more about Nightingale?


We describe Nightingale as a shared-world survival crafting game, where players must survive and navigate a network of magical and dangerous worlds. The game is set in a unique Gaslamp fantasy universe, full of nightmarish creatures and magical artifacts. Portals offer a gateway into new fantastical Realms, which can be opened by discovering and crafting Realm Cards. The deeper into the Realms players travel, the greater the challenges you face, and the rarer and more powerful resources you’ll find. 


It’s an exciting time for the studio as we get closer to the Early Access launch date. This is really the start of the journey for us, as we plan to enhance and expand the experience through ongoing live service updates. 

How was the experience collaborating with Tencent? What kind of help and support did Tencent provide for the game Nightingale?


Tencent has been a fantastic partner, and incredibly supportive of our vision for Nightingale, while giving us access to the talent and expertise across their many studios. Tencent is known for taking a hand-off approach to the investees, which allows us to be fully autonomous and creative. They have a great track record of creating compelling live services and engaging player communities, and that’s been really helpful for us as a team as we prepare Nightingale for Early Access. 


The name of the game reminds me of the nurse Florence Nightingale. Why did you name the game Nightingale, and what is the meaning behind it?


Neil Thompson, our Art Director, recommended a book to me called "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" almost 15 years ago. It was about magic re-emerging in the world at the turn of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic wars. We both really loved the worldbuilding, the characters, and the blending of real-world history with fantasy. We thought, "We could do something like this!" and that sets up the universe of Nightingale. The title itself just came to us one day, and we thought it would make a great name for the central city in the game, and from there it just stuck with us.


How is the setup of the Nightingale world? 


The basic setup is that Nightingale takes place in an alternate history Victorian period, where humans have interacted with a species known as the Fae - magickal beings whose power has been leveraged by humans and merged with science and industry. The world has a number of Human adventurers, known as Realmwalkers, who use the Fae’s magickal portals to access and travel to and survive in distant, mythical realms.


As our story starts, a deadly miasma called The Pale has collapsed the portal network, leaving humanity lost across realms and desperate to survive. That’s where players come in, tasked with surviving in the realms and rebuilding the portal network, eventually seeking out the city of Nightingale itself.


The game is an open-world survival crafting genre. Many Korean game companies are also interested in survival crafting. What are the key factors of fun and value to gamers? What kind of survival crafting is considered fun?


When we initially started developing the game, it was envisioned more as an MMORPG. But as we continued to explore the gameplay and test the experience internally, it became clear that it had a lot more potential as a survival-crafting experience, and so we focused in that direction. My background, as well as other members of the senior development team here at Inflexion, comes from our time at BioWare, so our intention was always to make the world rich in story and lore. That desire was there from Day 1 and never changed. Nightingale doesn’t have the same storytelling systems as a cinematic RPG, but ensuring that the world feels grounded and has a history to it was very important to us.


Realm Cards are an exciting feature that we believe brings something unique to the survival-crafting genre. Instead of having one map that players explore, Realm Cards allow players to travel to new Realms and have a lot of autonomy over the way they explore the game. Players can utilize Biome and Major cards to determine their destination, with the former altering the environment and the latter establishing fundamental aspects of the Realm, such as creatures, atmosphere, and vegetation.


Following this, the 'Realmic Transmuter' enables the use of Minor cards to modify specific details like resources, creature density, weather, and other creative concepts. All the worlds are procedurally generated, and with dozens of cards to experiment with, there are a tremendous amount of possibilities available to the player…and to us as developers. We’ll continue to add more Realm Cards throughout Early Access and when the game launches fully.


What's Nightingale's main content?


You can look at Nightingale through three main aspects - exploration, combat, and building & crafting.


As our worlds are procedurally generated, that offers a lot of visual and gameplay variety to the player, as well as replayability.  Each Realm has a number of challenges, with hostile creatures, puzzles, underground bunkers, caves and secret portals to discover. We wanted to create a universe where each journey through a portal has the ability to surprise a player and offer something they haven’t seen before, even if they’ve been playing 100 hours. On top of that, we wanted to ensure that there’s depth to our other systems, such as building, where players are able to build a village and live a cozy life among the Faewilds. We want to support all different types of players, and make the world of Nightingale both immersive and versatile to support that. 



The design of the monsters is interesting. What inspired you?


We've drawn on creatures from global folklore to guide our creature design. The North American Wendigo inspires the Carnute for example, whereas our Harpies stem from Roman and Greek mythology, but with an interesting visual twist that moves them away from the traditional half-human, half-bird.


We’re curious about the freedom of crafting. In the Gamescom trailer, there was a scene of building a building. Can players freely build whatever design they want? Or is it installed according to the design set by the game company?


Players are able to add individual build pieces across a range of tilesets, which are unlocked as blueprints. That allows players a lot of creative freedom when it comes to the build system whilst remaining accessible for a range of player types. Players are then able to craft and decorate it with a range of furniture and other items that they’ll unlock and discover throughout their time exploring the Realms.


How are the crafting elements circulated in Nightingale?


In Nightingale, the building system starts with players placing a “blueprint” of what their final construction might look like, allowing them to see a structure that they can then fill in with resources. Nightingale also has a trait system where building different combinations of crafting benches and augmentations (upgrades) leads to various bonuses for other structures around it, improving things like crafting time and output.


The Battle scene was interesting as well. Can you explain more about characters and their roles, solo and co-op mode, if raids are available, and how crafting and battles come together?


1)Characters and roles 

Players can create their own character at the start of the game. While we don’t have classes in the game, players are able to craft equipment and learn spells that will allow them to specialize in certain areas. We want to give players the optionality when it comes to their playstyle - whether they want to craft heavy-duty two-handed weapons and be a brute force tank-type player, or use spells that support other players in co-op. 


2) Solo and co-op

Nightingale caters to both solo and cooperative playstyles, offering players the flexibility to decide how they want to engage with others based on their preferences. Players can opt for solo gameplay, form parties with friends to play collaboratively, or designate a realm as ‘Public’ when initiating a Portal. Public Realms open up your Realm to anyone, allowing opportunities for group collaboration to tackle challenges within those Realms. It’s in these ‘Public’ Realms that players will be able to encounter other player-built structures in the world. 


If you’re playing solo or cooperatively with friends in your Realm (aka not a ‘Public’ Realm), you’ll only be able to see the structures that you and your party build within a map. Players can set their ‘Respite Realm’ (aka home Realm) by placing down an ‘Estate Cairn’. Each player can set one ‘Respite Realm’ at a time, so if everyone wants to live in the same Realm, then each player will need to place cairns in that specific Realm (up to a maximum of six).


Similarly, anyone who sets a location as their ‘Respite Realm’ can return to that Realm and play, regardless of whether or not their other party members are online. This way groups can play asynchronously without needing a third-party hosting platform.


3) Raids / Vaults

Players will be able to find ‘Vaults’ which are accessed through hidden portals scattered around the Realms. These ‘Vaults’ offer a combat labyrinth with challenges for players to overcome. In some cases there are Apex vaults, which include colossal creatures to battle at the end of the stage.


4) Crafting and battle

Crafting the right weapons and gear for battle is central to success when venturing forth through Nightingale’s dangerous Realms. Nightingale features a parametric crafting system, which means resources you use in crafting will have unique properties that imbue tools, weapons and equipment with specific traits. Additionally, players are able to enchant their weapons, tools and equipment with magical spells that offer a range of additional combat skills and other abilities. Combined together, players are able to make themselves a formidable force before entering into battle with any of the monstrous creatures lurking in the depths of the Faewilds. 


Early Access is scheduled for February. What do you plan to focus on during the early access period?


To begin with we’ll be focusing on making the launch a smooth experience for players. We’ll then be listening to feedback and addressing any feedback from the community. From there, we’re really excited about how the community informs the direction of the experience going forward. Early Access is very much the start of a new phase of Nightingale’s journey, working with the community to enhance and expand the experience. We’ve got lots of exciting content planned beyond our launch, and we look forward to sharing more information on that in the future. 


Any comments to fans who are looking forward to playing Nightingale?


Thank you for taking the time to find out more about Nightingale. We hope you’ll join us when the Realms open into Early Access this February.



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