Fordesoft on Designing an Indie 2D Platformer

Fordesoft on Designing an Indie 2D Platformer

An interview with Josh Forde

Tyler Hall

Written by for Interviews on

With the recent release of Emerald Shores on PS4 (coming soon to PlayStation Vita), we took a few minutes to chat with the game's developer, Josh Forde. This is Josh's second PlayStation game (the first being 2015's Vita puzzler Super Blackout) although he has also released titles for the now discontinued PlayStation Mobile service.

Emerald Shores screenshot 1
I've clearly encroached on the flying sponge monster's sacred land

[Tyler] Hi, Josh. Please tell us about yourself and Fordesoft.

[Josh] Hi, everyone, and thank you guys for the opportunity for this interview. I'm Josh Forde, the guy behind Fordesoft, which right now is just a solo game dev company. I work full-time as a programmer, and work on games at night.

[Tyler] I noticed very few names in the game's credits. Who all worked on Emerald Shores and what did they do?

[Josh] I did everything except the art (including the music and sound), and contracted out the artwork to a few artists who can do that job way better than I can.

[Tyler] I see that Emerald Shores underwent an art style overhaul before its release. What brought that about and are you pleased by the final results?

[Josh] Yeah, I tried drawing all of the art originally for the game, and that was a mistake, ha-ha. The reception was poor when I announced the game with the original art in place, so that prompted me to put up some classified ads right away looking for an artist to contract. I'm pretty happy with the results - the artists did a great job.

[Tyler] Emerald Shores is a pretty pure platformer, straight down to attacking enemies by jumping on them but it also has RPG elements incorporated into it. What gave you the idea to blend the two genres?

[Josh] The idea started with a freeware game I released in 2009 called Super Orbulite World. It had the same concept, but was far less polished, shorter, and even more difficult. The ratings on that were pretty positive despite its very blatant shortcomings, so I decided to try and see if I could do the same game but better.

Emerald Shores screenshot 2
An example of Emerald Shores' original art design

[Tyler] I noticed quite a few gaming references in Emerald Shores. What were your biggest inspirations for the game?

[Josh] Super Paper Mario was the big one. When I wrote Super Orbulite World, the predecessor to this game, my inspiration came from magazine previews of Super Paper Mario. I was hyped about a platformer with light RPG elements and jump damage, but was disappointed when it was released and turned out to instead be an RPG with light platforming elements - no emphasis at all on the run-and-jump challenge that made the original Mario games great. So I wanted to try and make something like what I thought Super Paper Mario was going to be.

[Tyler] Marketing is a huge part of indie gaming releases. How is that going? Have you handled the marketing yourself or outsourced it to a PR company?

[Josh] To be honest, I haven't done as much marketing as I'd like, due to budget and time constraints. I've been getting a lot of Twitch and YouTube streamers to play it and get it out to the world that way, as well as sending preview and review keys out to the press.

[Tyler] Although you've been busy putting the finishing touches on Emerald Shores, have you had the chance to play any fun games recently?

[Josh] I've been playing a lot of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux lately - I'm a huge JRPG fan, and my next game takes a lot of inspiration from that series.

[Tyler] Finally, what's next for Fordesoft? Are you planning on porting Emerald Shores to other consoles besides PS4 and Vita? Have you started work on any new games?

[Josh] Right now, I'm working on getting the game into Europe, which looks like it'll happen before the end of the year. There's also a Windows and Linux port coming to Steam on November 21, and I'm hoping to get it on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but those are uncertain right now. I've started working on my next game as well, which is a 2D monster-catching, monster-fusing game along the lines of the Shin Megami Tensei series.

Emerald Shores screenshot 3
Brave players can attack the mummy head-on but it's nice to know there's a cowardly option as well

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Josh! Be sure to check out my Emerald Shores review for more on his latest project.

Official trailer for Emerald Shores 1:14
Konami shoot 'em ups Trivia

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