Based in the heart of Edmonton, Canada, Inflexion Games is gearing up for the release of their debut title Nightingale. A shared-world survival crafting game set to hit PC Early Access early next year. ”For us, it’s almost the beginning of the journey. We’ll continue to grow and expand the game in the months and years to come.”
The genesis of Nightingale stems from a desire to explore untapped settings. Aaryn Flynn, CEO of Inflexion Games shares, “A lot of us on the team who worked at BioWare were looking for a game setting that hadn’t really been seen before.” The team sought to break away from traditional sci-fi and fantasy genres, finding inspiration in gaslamp fantasy—a style that blends nineteenth-century history with magical elements. Influenced by works like ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke, the team aimed to ground the game in familiarity while infusing it with fantastical creatures and technology.
The distinctive visual style of “Nightingale” is a deliberate choice, explains Flynn, “Gaslamp is a term that not a lot of people are familiar with, and it’s often confused with Steampunk, but the phrase is very evocative.” The Victorian style undergoes a transformative journey, embracing otherworldly magic, allowing the art team creative freedom to explore the fusion of sci-fi technology, crude materials, and nightmarish creatures within the game’s realms.
Sense of history
Flynn sheds light on the studio’s design philosophy. “What interested us as game makers is the idea of building worlds that have depth and substance to them. Where players can navigate the terrain and feel a sense of history beneath their feet.” The challenge lies in conveying this without an abundance of text, pushing the team to rely on visual language and select character interactions to unfold the narrative subtly. “That’s not an easy thing to do, so we had to invest time into what we wanted this world to be, define a backstory for it, and find a way to communicate that story to the player by indirect means. This isn’t an RPG, there isn’t wall-to-wall text.”
Inflexion Games emerged in 2018 as a collaborative effort among industry veterans, including ex-BioWare developers, and newer talents. Initially part of Improbable, a UK-based tech company specializing in scale-based cloud technology for games, Inflexion Games branched out in 2022 with funding from Tencent, growing to a team of 150 members. “While myself and a number of others are ex-BioWare, we actually pride ourselves on the diversity of backgrounds and experiences we have at the studio”, says Flynn. “We have a fairly typical set-up: everyone has defined roles at the studio, and we work in defined teams, but company-wide we try to foster a highly collaborative environment.”
Nightingale is a first-person, PVE, open-world survival crafting game played solo or cooperatively online. Players can travel through transdimensional portals into a variety of procedurally generated, fantastical realms. By building, crafting, exploring and fighting your goal is to become a skilled Realmwalker that finds their way through the portals to the magical city of Nightingale, the last known bastion of humanity.
One standout feature of Nightingale according to Flynn is the Realm Card system, developed to give players more agency in their survival-crafting experience. “We procedurally generate Nightingale’s Realms and the Realm Cards allow players to manipulate, control, and change the attributes of each Realm a player explores.” By combining multiple Realm Cards players can then determine what biome they’ll enter, the time of day, what weather challenges there are, and a number of other elements that alter the fabric of a Realm’s design. “It’s actually really exciting”, says Flynn.
The development of the ambitious title also comes with its fair share of challenges, Flynn admits. “An area that springs to mind is just the balance of survival systems. The genre has a very specific economy, so we have to make sure that balance is right so there’s enough challenge without frustration. That, for example, players can express themselves through our build tools without feeling hampered by the amount of lumber they need to build a wall. So making sure all those systems harmonize has been a long process.”
Community testing has proven invaluable, providing crucial player feedback to fine-tune these systems and strike the right balance. “Listen to your community”, says Flynn. “We went into closed testing about a year ago, and we learned that working directly with players during development will always make your game better. We’ve really benefited from all the feedback and insight we’ve received from the community; it’s given us the ability to validate design decisions and explore new gameplay avenues.”
Grow and expand
Looking ahead to the Early Access launch in the coming year, Flynn seems somewhat cautious. “We have no expectations in terms of success. For us, releasing in Early Access is almost the beginning of the journey. We’ll continue to grow and expand the game in the months and years to come, adding new biomes, features and other exciting things in that time. We just hope that players will want to help evolve that experience and join us on this journey.”