Aaryn Flynn told us more about the upcoming Nightingale, sharing details about the team behind the game, the concept, game mechanics, and why Unreal Engine 5 was chosen for it.
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. It'll be coming out in PC Early Access on February 22nd, 2024.
Inflexion Games is based out of Edmonton, Canada. We have about 150 team members at this time, and, while a lot of people know about the BioWare heritage here, we pride ourselves on the diversity of backgrounds and industry experiences we have across the studio. Everyone brings a unique perspective to this world we're making, and we're all galvanized by the potential and creative freedom we have as a team. We want to create something original that's both meaningful to us, as well as our players.
Originally, Inflexion Games was part of Improbable, a London-based technology company that specialized in cloud-distributed technology designed to support high-density game worlds. As we looked to leverage that technology, we initially envisioned Nightingale as an MMO – we even had Nightingale City itself as a hub for players to gather quests and interact with each other. But as we started exploring the gameplay, we found ourselves interested in concepts more applicable to the survival-crafting genre. So, we shifted our focus and later dropped Improbable's technology as it was no longer suited.
One thing that remained consistent across the entire timeline of the project was the concept of the gaslamp fantasy world, inspired by magical-historical fiction, such as the book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Grounding Nightingale in our own rich, uniquely themed environment offered these really compelling avenues for both gameplay and storytelling that have been exciting for us to explore as a team.
We chose Unreal Engine on Day 1 of our development. Members of our team have a history with the engine, so it made sense to root our technology in something where there was a degree of comfort and experience. On top of that, we're big believers in Epic's vision for Unreal Engine, so it was a perfect fit. Choosing Unreal allowed us to focus on innovating our gameplay and design, rather than having to grapple with learning a new engine or building our own.
Crafting is one of the fundamental gameplay pillars of Nightingale. Players will need to craft a range of tools and equipment to survive the FaeWilds during their time in the game. Nightingale has a parametric crafting system, so resources have a range of attributes that can be applied during crafting to add various stats to tools and equipment. It takes a lot of time and iteration to get that right, to ensure the progression is satisfying, and that players are drawn in by the potential of discoveries and how that can feed back into their character growth. A lot of kudos has to go to our community who have been intermittently testing the game for a year and offering invaluable feedback that has helped us shape the experience into what it is today.
Using Unreal Engine 5
As Nightingale will be a live service game when it releases into Early Access, it was practical to make the shift to Unreal Engine 5 during production (causing a minor delay) rather than waiting until the game was launched. But also, there were a lot of very compelling features that we were excited to take advantage of sooner rather than later, with visual enhancements made possible with the combination of Lumen and Nanite. Additionally, we could see making the transition earlier would bring about workflow improvements that benefitted open-world systems, as well as asset management, and also make some productivity gains with the team.
When we settled on this concept of players entering portals that transport them to new worlds, using procedural generation was a way to fulfill the potential of that premise. When players open a portal in Nightingale, they use craftable Realm Cards that determine attributes, such as the biome, weather, enemy types, resources, and other factors. We couldn't do that by hand-crafting each Realm given the sheer scale of customization available to the player, so procedural generation became the answer as we sought to empower players with a level of autonomy over their journey that we hadn't seen in this genre before.
We will be releasing Nithtingale into PC Early Access on February 22, 2024. We'll be continuing to work with the community and use their feedback to shape and evolve the game going forward, while also dropping major seasonal updates that will include new biomes, Realm Cards, creatures, and other things.