Jun 22, 2022 - Technology

Nightingale game ditches 1,000-player concept for a new mission

Art of a woman in a Victorian dress holding a hammer while a man in a bowler hat stands behind her in a glowing doorway

Image: Inflexion Games

The upcoming video game Nightingale has some twists, but those won’t include supporting 1,000 players.

Why it matters: The game, classified as a “survival crafting” adventure, is a survivor itself of a major change in business plans.

Details: Nightingale debuted in December at The Game Awards, wowing the audience with its unusual setting: a magical version of Victorian-era England, replete with gaslamps, guns, dragons and lots of portals.

  • In February, the game was back in the news as its Canadian studio, Inflexion Games, was sold by unproven British tech start-up Improbable to Chinese gaming giant Tencent, which has been looking to back more Western-made games.
  • Nightingale invites players to battle computer-controlled enemies through a fantasy version of the Industrial Revolution, offering them the chance to build bases and communities in the virtual world.

Nightingale had been in development under Improbable since late 2018 and was meant to be a tech showcase for the start-up, Inflexion CEO Aaryn Flynn told Axios.

  • “The original genesis of the studio was to build a game that would show off their technology: SpatialOS, their big, massive scale networking,” Flynn said.
  • The game was similar in many ways to the Nightingale the public has seen but would use SpatialOS to render a virtual world with 1,000 players in it.
  • The tech proved difficult to work with and Improbable and Inflexion agreed on a split late last year. That wiped out the 1,000-player idea. “We had a prototype, and that seemed pretty cool. But as you can imagine, it creates its own creative challenges,” Flynn said.

The current plan is for Nightingale to support solo players and small groups of players, otherwise leaving intact the settings and design ideas forged during the Improbable era, Flynn said.

  • Inflexion is targeting a late 2022 release, first in Early Access for PC on Steam, with more features added in the future.
  • Survival games are among the most popular genres on Steam, with hits like Valheim and V Rising blowing up in the past year.

The bottom line: Flynn believes there’s room for more and hopes Nightingale’s distinct setting will help set it apart.

  • “We're always nervous to reveal something you've spent years working on,” Flynn said. “You think to yourself: ‘My God, what if it doesn't resonate? What if people are just like, ‘What? I don't want to play that.’ But it's been great. Everyone's been super positive.”

Sign up for the new Axios Gaming newsletter here.

Go deeper