Fordesoft - An indie game developer

Emerald Shores is out today on PS4

It's finally out! You can check it out here:

The PS Vita version will follow in a couple of weeks, and the European version shortly after that. The Steam version launches on November 21 for both Windows and Linux.

Emerald Shores is complete; release dates announced

Emerald Shores is finally complete (phew!), and in it's in the publishing pipeline to be released on PlayStation Network on November 13, 2018, and then Steam on November 21, 2018.

You can check out the Steam store page here:

Keeping the gameplay interesting by switching up the mechanics

My current project, Emerald Shores, was heavily inspired by platformers from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis era.

And something that I’ve always enjoyed about those platformers is the incredible breadth of variety many of them implemented, frequently changing up the gameplay mechanics throughout the course of a game.

While running-and-jumping has always been the cornerstone of a classic platformer, most of the memorable ones from that era had a tendency to take an occasional detour from the regular mechanics and present the player with a level that could very well have been its own simple game.

Disney’s platformers are some of the best examples of this. Take Aladdin - as soon as you start getting bored of jumping around and throwing apples, the game presents you with a magic carpet-flying level.

Aladdin gameplay GIF
Aladdin, SNES

The Lion King is great as well. Not only does your character transform halfway through, changing the core gameplay mechanics for the rest of the game’s duration, but it also has various minigames, like Timon and Pumba collecting bugs, and another one of these “detour” levels where the core mechanics are abandoned for a few minutes.

The Lion King gameplay GIF
The Lion King, SNES

Toy Story did the same, replacing one of its traditional platforming levels with a racecar-driving level.

Toy Story gameplay GIF
Toy Story, SNES

Keeping the gameplay interesting by switching up the mechanics here and there provides a breath of fresh air that’s needed sometimes.

Most AAA games today seem to apply this strategy as well - not just platformers. Open-world games like Grand Theft Auto have always capitalized on having a wide variety of side content to explore when the “main” content starts to get repetitive, but even action games like Spider-Man now offer players a wide variety of side missions and minigames to take on whenever the main story starts to feel repetitive.

Spider-Man gameplay GIF
Spider-Man, PlayStation 4

That’s something I’ve tried to achieve with Emerald Shores: keeping things interesting by mixing things up after every few “regular” levels, and providing a variety of side content for players to tackle whenever they need a break.

The game has a couple of minigames thrown in as mandatory levels, it has a couple of optional, hidden minigames that offer valuable rewards, it has a huge, optional, ultra-powerful boss, and there’s even a key-collecting sidequest that unlocks a large castle with its own valuable reward hidden inside.

Emerald Shores - Bootworm Racing minigame gameplay GIF
Emerald Shores, Bootworm Racing minigame (PlayStation 4)

Emerald Shores announcement trailer

Emerald Shores has gone through some huge changes over the past of 17 months since I first announced it.

I hired a talented artist named Raou to revamp the art, added a bunch of features and minigames, polished things up, added trophies, and finished just about all of the remaining content.

With all of those changes, it seemed like a new announcement trailer was in order. :)

There are still a few things to do, but the game's almost ready to go. The plan right now is to launch it in either October or November. The initial launch will be on PS Vita and PlayStation 4, with other platforms coming next year.

Here are a few stats:
  • Release: October or November 2018
  • Planned price: $9.99 (cross-buy PS4 + Vita)
  • Trophies: 30 total (29 regular + 1 platinum)

Website updated

I just launched a new version of the website.

The design is pretty much the same, but the underlying technology is extremely different.

This should result in much faster page loads, while also paving the way for some future updates: I'm planning to write official strategy guides for some of my games, which will be hosted here.

Bootworm Racing minigame development

Wow, I've been neglecting this blog more than I thought. Things are still progressing; I've just taken to posting most updates on Twitter lately. But anyway:

I'm currently working on a sidequest/minigame for Emerald Shores called "Bootworm Racing." Here's how it works.

If you find the secret exit in level 2-3: Ice Castle, you open up a path to this island that looks like a Bootworm. This island, Bootworm Island, is home to a farm and a series of race tracks.

When you get here, you'll have a sassy pet Bootworm. You can bring him items that you find in the regular levels, which grant him new powers and teach him new spells.

And then you can take him to race in the Bootworm Races!

If you place first in all five races, you'll unlock something useful for your house.

This is just an in-development preview, and there are a few things I need to add to the UI in the racing minigame, but that's the gist of how it all works.

Art update, new RPG in pre-production

Quick update on Emerald Shores:

I posted last month that I was contracting an artist to replace the art. It was a quick search, and I found a really talented applicant to fulfill that role. The game is going to have a very "Super Nintendo" feel to it.

No screenshots to show yet, but I'll post as soon as the art replacement process is far enough along.

New game in pre-production:

I have some downtime from Emerald Shores while that's going, so I've started pre-production on my next game.

This one's going to be a 2D monster-catching RPG. I'm taking some inspiration from the Shin Megami Tensei series, so if you're a fan of games like SMT III: Nocturne, I think you'll like it. Planned platforms so far are PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.

It's still early in the planning stages, so right now I'm getting the story, characters, etc. out on paper, mapping out the world, deciding which technology to use, figuring out the art direction, and planning the battle system.

I'm pretty excited for this game, as I've been wanting to do a game like this for years but never had the time due to college and life. A couple of years ago, I finally decided I was going to build a small game (Super Blackout), then a medium-sized game (Emerald Shores), and then this one, which will be the largest game I've ever developed in the nearly 17 years I've been developing games in my free time. Even bigger in scope than Seeds of Time Online. :)

Emerald Shores is getting a new look

After the announcement post, there was a lot of feedback regarding the art style. Based on that, I decided to hire an artist for the game, rather than continuing to draw it all myself.

As a result, Emerald Shores will soon look totally different and much, much better.

Expect a bigger announcement in the next month or two, ripe with screenshots and eventually an updated trailer.

Announcing Emerald Shores for PS4, PS Vita, and PSTV

I'm happy to finally announce Emerald Shores, a challenging 2D platformer with light RPG elements.

It's entirely a one-man effort (programming, design, music, "art"), so it's been a long journey, but it's close enough to being finished that I can say it'll be out by the end of summer 2017.

A few details:
  • The concept is something like "take Super Mario World and add a level-up system that determines your HP and how much damage your jumps deal to enemies"
  • The main storyline will have at least 20 main levels, 5 boss battles, really short cutscenes, a few secret unlockable levels (find those hidden exits), and then something for those who manage to complete all of the secret levels
  • There's a Remix Mode which plays just like the original story mode, but all levels are rearranged to be more difficult
  • There are two world maps: the one you see in the trailer, and then a floating island called Emerald Shores
  • Levels have powerups hidden in them, which grant abilities like double-jumping and throwing fireballs
  • Not confirmed yet, but the plan is $9.99 and cross-buy between the platforms

I'll be posting news and in-development screenshots regularly on Twitter now, so if you want to hear more about the game, please give a Follow:

Game announcement next month (finally)

This platformer is finally almost ready to be unveiled.

I'm planning on writing up a full announcement post, complete with screenshots, sometime in the coming weeks. There are just a few more things I want to finish up first.

I'll also be showing the game at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee this April. If you're in town, come check it out!

Delays and progress

Some major delays have occurred, but things are back on track with my current [not-yet-announced[ project.

Over the summer, I ended up porting the game to a different engine, which solved the technical difficulties that had been plaguing development for a while.

I also purchased a PlayStation 4 development kit over the summer, so I'm happy to announce that the PS4 build of this game is fully functional. I'm now testing regularly on both PS4 and PS Vita as the project goes along.

Not much more to say yet about the game. I'm still planning to keep details under wraps until the game is virtually finished, which will be a couple of months before it's released. At this point, I'm hoping to have it released sometime next spring.

Still progressing...

Just posting a quick update so that this blog doesn't look abandoned.

The game is still underway and not ready for announcement yet. I want to have the game mostly finished before announcing it, so that the trailer can resemble a final product, and it's taking longer to get to that point than I expected. Still planning for a PS Vita release sometime this summer, though, and a PS4 release soon after.

In the past few months, I've mostly been composing music for the game, and the soundtrack is now mostly finished. I also built a little scripting engine to use for cutscenes, so I'm looking forward to putting that to use soon; it was fun to write a compiler for the first time since college.

For now, it's time to try and digitally paint some more of the game's non-pixel art: character portraits, backgrounds, etc.

Vita/PS4 platformer is still progressing; announcement fairly soon

Just a quick update, since it's been three months since my last post:

The platformer is still progressing really well, but it's not quite ready for an announcement yet. I'm still working to have a really significant portion of the game complete before the announcement even takes place.

I recently decided to go all-in this time and do everything in the game myself, including music (something I hadn't created for a game since 2008 or 2009). Between the programming, art, music, design, and sound effects, there's quite a bit to do in a single project, but it's a fun challenge.

Super Blackout is now out on PS Vita!

Super Blackout was just released today on PSN for only $4.99. You can find it here:!/en-us/games/super-blackout/cid=UP0770-PCSE00784_00-SUPERBLACKOUT001

If you purchased Super Blackout on PS Mobile, I want to give you a free upgrade to the new PS Vita version when it launches on Tuesday

Did you buy Super Blackout on PS Mobile? You have my sincere gratitude, and I want to give you a free upgrade as a token of my appreciation (and because I believe you shouldn't have to buy a game twice on the same console).

The outpouring of support I received when Super Blackout launched on PSM is a huge part of what led me to launch Fordesoft two months later, jumping feet first into PlayStation game development, with a special focus on the PS Vita. This was always a goal of mine, but the feedback I received from Super Blackout gave me an extra push to do so now rather than later.

By the way, if you haven't heard about the new version, here's what the new game looks like. It launches on Tuesday for $4.99. While it's the same game at its core, this new version adds new graphics, new music, trophies, controller support (in addition to the touchscreen), and PlayStation TV support.

Note that the game is currently only being released in North America, unlike the PS Mobile version, which was available in both NA and EU regions. If you purchased an EU version of the PS Mobile game, you're still eligible for the free upgrade, but note that I can only send you a code for the NA region, because that's all that exists right now. A EU release is possible but uncertain at this point.

How to claim your free upgrade

To verify your PSM purchase, I need you to look up your e-mail receipt from when you purchased the game, and send me some details from it, following the instructions below.

And I really have to stress that I need to be able to verify your purchase. If the information you send doesn't match the sales records I have, I won't be able to send you a free code. Please make sure to double-check the information before you send it.

1. Track down your e-mail receipt from PlayStation Network, which should have the subject "Thank You For Your Purchase". If you're using Gmail, try searching All Mail for "super blackout thank you for your purchase" (without quotes).

2. Send me an e-mail via the Contact page before November 30, 2015 with the subject "Super Blackout free upgrade", with the values of these two fields copied directly from the receipt:
  • Date Purchased
  • Order Number
If you purchased the European version of the game, please let me know that in the e-mail, too.

When will the free code arrive?

As long as the verification is successful, I'll reply with your free code to you soon afterward - almost definitely within a week, but probably within 1-2 days. The earliest is Tuesday, since the game won't be out until then. And be sure to regularly check your Spam folder in case it somehow winds up there.

Price announcement: Super Blackout will be only $4.99!

Super Blackout launches exactly two weeks from today on PS Vita, and I'm happy to be able to announce the low price of $4.99.

Super Blackout goes gold! Game releases on October 13, 2015

Great news today: Super Blackout is now packaged up, approved, and ready to hit the PlayStation Network store!

Mark your calendars: it'll be releasing on Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

Super Blackout progress, and conference fun

Looks like a release for Super Blackout in October is more likely at this point. Right now, there are just a few technical issues to fix up regarding the save data, but they're proving much more of a burden than anticipated.

On a brighter note, I had the privilege this week of speaking about multiplayer HTML5 game programming (with Node.js and at That Conference 2015. It was a really great experience, and I'd urge anyone in the midwest who's interested in web development to check the conference out next year.

Enhanced version of Super Blackout preparing for PS Vita release

Last November, I released Super Blackout on PlayStation Mobile.

Due in part to the closure of PlayStation Mobile (which just happened last week), I decided a few months ago to start working on an upgraded, enhanced port of Super Blackout for the main PS Vita platform.

It's virtually finished now, and I'm in the process of getting it ready for release, which currently looks to be sometime around August or September.

Some of the new features in this version include:

  • New graphics
  • PlayStation TV support
  • Gamepad controls (in addition to the existing touchscreen controls)
  • Trophies
So this is really the "definitive" version of the game.
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