Nightingale’s Aaryn Flynn on giant monsters and providing “more choice” in survival games


It feels like forever since Summer Game Fest lifted the curtain on an elegant selection of upcoming game releases to get all the hype engines pumping again. Of the revelations, Nightingale certainly stood out thanks to its promise to bring the survival genre to a more fantastical setting. But an interesting aesthetic can only get you so far – What exactly will set Nightingale apart from other titans on the scene right now?

To find out, we spoke to Aaryn Flynn, CEO of Inflexion Games and former General Manager of Bioware, to find out what makes Nightingale so special. We’ll go over unique features not found in other survival titles, the range of PvE encounters in the game, and how the studio plans to draw players away from their competitors.

Watch the trailer for the world premiere of Nightignale here.

VG247: You’re taking the survival genre to a more fantastical place than many of your peers. What unique selling point does this offer in addition to a cultivated aesthetic?

Flynn: I think the realm card system is our biggest innovation; this notion that the player has influence over the spaces they go to. Survival crafting games are really cool in that they procedurally generate a big, beautiful space for you and then seed it with adventures, resources, and interactions for you in the game. But what we need to do is we let the players explore a room and then play with the realm map system and control and influence which room they will go to next.

So instead of saying, “I’m going to a different type of forest or cave,” we’re giving you lots of ways to control the biome and the resources and the creatures you’ll encounter and whatnot. I think this will be a very fun way for players to have more impact on the survival crafting genre.

VG247: So you feel like you are in control of the experience?

Flynn: Certainly more control. And then we want to add more realms, more biomes, and more interactions to those realm maps over time.

VG247: So they showed that one aspect that players have to deal with is attacking their bases and houses that they are working on in these realms. Is this central to the overall gameplay loop in Nightingale, or is it an occasional rarity for players to watch out for?

Flynn: It’s not the thesis. So when you build up your base, we don’t want the player to think job number one is “I’ve got to do everything I can to defend this thing,” right? For example, if you log out of your realm and there are no other players you invited, everything is frozen. So the time is not running for you in your login.

You must figure out the best way to take out the various ghouls and monsters that populate Nightingale.

Of course creatures come along and they can attack your base. But it is not our intention to make base defense the primary focus. Now as you advance into harder and harder areas – if you choose to build your base in those harder areas – you are more likely to be attacked, but that’s a choice you make. This is something you might choose to do because you want to be in an area that offers better resources and better rewards, but you can build your base anywhere you want.

VG247: So if you want, you can search in more dangerous climes for a node near more valuable resources?

Flynn: Yes, and you might like this! “Come on, come on!” Or you could say, “No, I don’t want the stress, thanks.”

VG247: So somehow people can progress in the game without having to push to establish a base in these more dangerous areas?

Flynn: Yes absolutely.

Two players in an estate in Nightingale.

Building a home base, as is typical of the genre, is a crucial part of Nightingale.

VG247: So you’ve had the more gigantic monsters like Front and Center since the game was announced. Can you explain to me how the way the gigantic beasts are involved differs from typical PvE combat and what unique rewards and opportunities come from hunting them?

Flynn: Yes, all the larger creatures you see have unique powers, unique abilities. We’re also hoping to provide a non-combat alternative for all of these interactions so you don’t just have to go in and shoot your guns. I think we’ll be really happy if each of these creatures has a different set of options for you to try.

Different approaches can produce different results, which really increases player choice, but at the same time we want to make sure players have choices when it comes to these large creatures. Do I really want to fight this thing? Or maybe I can trade with it, or maybe I can do something it takes instead so I don’t have to kill it.

But of course, as you say, some of these huge creatures will be quest gates, they will be important steps to solve a quest, they will have their own interesting unique rewards if you interact with them. This becomes part of the puzzle to progress further in the game.

When you see creatures we call The Bound, you don’t necessarily have to fight them. Maybe you have a quest that says “You need this thing from this creature”. So you could search for its stash and find something like that instead of just slaughtering it.

VG247: Was that a key thing you wanted to do from the start? Many games are fight and murder.

Flynn: Absolutely. From the start we promised ourselves that as much as possible we would have non-combat choices and non-combat paths through the various progression gates and so on. We just wanted to respect that idea.

VG247: Could you get through the whole game without killing anything?

Flynn: No, you will have to kill stuff. I mean you can obviously dodge some of these creatures, you could run around them or something. But then again, I don’t think we have anything that is declarative combative. I don’t think there is any programmatic gate that says you can’t progress without killing something. I mean, I think about the realm cards, you can make realm cards without killing things – at least the ones that I know of. So maybe it’s possible. It just might be very difficult.

A giant in Nightingale

Maybe it’s friendly?

VG247: So how would you describe the typical progression path that the player would experience? For example, is it just about gradually expanding and improving your home and equipment? Like other survival stuff? Or is there a more linear way?

Flynn: No, I think it’s pretty gradual. You build it up over time with specific goals, specific quests or interactions will grant you new building opportunities and new upgrades. There will be some quest lines that offer step-by-step features, but I think overall it’s pretty step-by-step.

VG247: So talk to me about the base construction aspect. It seems like it’s more important than a place to drop off your loot. How is house building in Nightingale different from other games?

Flynn: Our estate, like many other games, should be very individually tailored to you. It’s an expression of your creativity. This is where you keep many of your materials and resources. So if you want it to look a certain way, we give you the parts to be creative with. Another thing I think we really support and encourage is players coming together to build villages. This ability for players to team up and split up tasks now and then is something we appreciate.

VG247: Obviously there are a lot of big hitters in this space, there are a lot of players who are already making their mark on other games at the time. What do you think you have that will attract fans embedded in other communities? Or are you targeting people who have never played this type of game?

Flynn: I hope world building draws them in to give them a rich new universe, full of characters and stories and creatures and interactions and stories. Hopefully we’ll attract people to it. And then I think from there moment to moment survival crafting gameplay is pretty funny.

You know, we don’t want to be the most realistic survival crafting game out there. So the environment is meant to give you interesting challenges, we did some character management and put in some RPG elements to give you choices and allow you some customization. But I hope it’s basically the world building that draws people in.

Nightingale is slated for release on PC via Steam in Q4 2022. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, you can wishlist it now!


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