Forest Grove Interview: There Were Initial Plans For Multiple Locations

The idea to have a street, multiple locations and vehicles for investigation were ultimately scrapped.

Story Highlights

  • Forest Grove — a noir-inspired game — was released on November 29, 2023.
  • The detective title is set in the future, giving players a sci-fi element in their investigations.
  • We interviewed Larry Johnson, Lead Developer of Forest Grove, to get more insights into the title.

The Remote Forensic Bureau has met its most daunting case yet, as a teenage heiress has gone missing. Although it appears simple at first, there is much more going on behind the scenes, and the players must use the latest crime analysis technology to investigate the crime scene and hopefully bring back the young girl. Since the game is set in the future, Forest Grove, at times, feels like a noir-inspired title with sci-fi elements.

Forest Grove is a blend of complex puzzles, crime, mystery, and a big pinch of technology. Despite being inspired by tons of old-school detective shows and novels, the game has done a good job of being unique in its own right. Seeing this as an opportunity, we spoke with Larry Johnson, Lead Developer of Forest Grove, over an email interview to get more insights into the title and some behind-the-scenes information.

Forest Grove
Forest Grove – via Blowfish Studios.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the game?
Johnson: My name is Larry Johnson, and I’m one-half of the game studio Miga Games. I made the jump from Software Developer to Game Developer about 10 years ago. Forest Grove is the second game I’ve worked on. I was the Lead Developer and handled most of the programming and art-related work in the game.

What are some of the inspirations behind Forest Grove?
Johnson: A lot of the inspirations for the game came from detective based TV shows, books, and movies. But the thing that inspired me the most happened while I was walking around an old neighborhood in the real Forest Grove, Oregon. I happened to see a beautiful Victorian home and immediately thought of a story where that house could play a role.

It is common to see mystery/detective games set more in the past to give them more of a 'Noir' feeling. Why did the team decide to set Forest Grove in the future?
Johnson: Both Mat Mathews (Writer for Forest Grove) and I are huge fans of science fiction, so we thought it would be interesting to set a sci-fi game in a Victorian home. The juxtaposition of the two time periods and styles seemed intriguing to us.

Forest Grove
Forest Grove – via Blowfish Studios.
Speaking of that, the interiors in the game do not feel like they are 50 years or so in the future. Was that something intentional?
Johnson: It was. We wanted the mechanics and tools to feel futuristic while the setting would feel mostly familiar. Not to mention, when looking out a window you’re taken back to the future with the Nanodeck glowing outside.

Forest Grove does a great job telling you the story within 30-60 minutes of the game, with the rest of the gameplay focusing more on gathering clues and proof. What was the team's approach in making that part of the game as engaging as possible?
Johnson: Thanks for mentioning that. It took several iterations to find a balance between revealing the story and characters and learning the mechanics. Since it’s the future, we made it so that most people already have known identities, potential DNA on file, potential fingerprints, etc. We wanted to let all the characters and situations be known upfront. Then let the mechanics become more useful as the player explores and learns more.

Forest Grove
Forest Grove – via Blowfish Studios.
This year, we have seen more focus on the mystery genre, and I love that it is getting the recognition it deserves. Do you think there's a particular reason we are seeing more of it now than before?
Johnson: I think mysteries lend themselves to our curious nature as humans. I’m not sure if there’s a particular reason other than possibly the ebb and flow of genres over time. Multiplayer games have increased over the past few years, and I suspect there’s a growing audience out there looking to enjoy single-player narrative experiences.

Were there any ideas or features you wanted to implement in the game but couldn't?
Johnson: Absolutely. We originally wanted to include part of the street the house is on since there would likely be evidence outside of the house as well as inside. We also wanted to include multiple locations and vehicles to inspect. There was also a deeper story as far as the Nanodeck itself and what it’s capable of by those who control it. We hope to explore some of those ideas in the future.

How many developers actively worked on Forest Grove?
Johnson: Two developers worked on the game (myself and Mat Mathews). Also, we were lucky to work with a great cast of voiceover artists as well as our publisher, Blowfish Studios, who did a fantastic job with QA and porting the game to consoles.

Forest Grove
Forest Grove – via Blowfish Studios.
Miga Games has another game coming up, The Curse of Grimsey Island, and it also adopts mystery elements like Forest Grove. Is it safe to say that the team has found abode in this genre?
Johnson: I definitely think so. There’s so much to explore as far as locations, time periods, stories, characters, and meaning. The Curse of Grimsey Island is a natural evolution of our sci-fi mystery approach with new mechanics, techniques, and a setting that takes place above and below water.

Is there anything else you would like to share? Something we haven't touched upon yet.
Johnson: I’m excited to see where the mystery genre can go and how Miga Games can contribute to the genre in unique and intriguing ways. I feel like we’re just getting started with what we can do.

YouTube video

Forest Grove is a detective-mystery game developed by Miga Games and published by Blowfish Studios. The single-player title was released on PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on November 29, 2023. We thank the game’s Lead Developer for sparing the time to have a chat with us in this interview. 

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist

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