Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The heart and soul of Stardew Valley

As this year's DAW initiator, it's about time to post a developer appreciating post of my own. Seriously, mere hours after I posted the DAW announcement, people had already written and published their contributions. Some people are even writing one DAW post a day. Teach me, senpai!

Meanwhile, I am having start up problems with this post. Which all by itself already proves I don't do this enough. (Serenading developers, I mean.) Gotta up that blogging APM! I may have to settle for less perfectly balanced pieces of art and just hit that publish button. And I should definitely spend less time contemplating whether this or that dev needs my appreciation more. I'm just gonna hug them all.

My first victim is Eric Barone (also known as ConcernedApe), the developer of Stardew Valley.

Wait... what? Don't you exclusively play MMOs, Rav? Full disclosure: I also play single player games; I just rarely blog about them because those writings tend to be super dry and boring (you've been warned). But Stardew Valley has been my go to game for the past half year when I was in need of positivity. Which happens a lot. Okay, I confess: I'm totally addicted.

Look at all that positivity - you have to try very hard to keep up a grumpy face

The astonishing thing about Stardew Valley is that Eric Barone developed the entire game all by himself. His story is an 'American game developer dream': with no budget and although he was unknown in the gaming world, Barone tirelessly worked on his dream game. Through years of working hard and believing in himself, he managed to deliver a beautiful and incredibly detailed game with tons of content. And once people found out how good it was, they told their friends, and they in their turn told their friends. And so it came to be that Stardew Valley, an indie title, sold over a million copies!

Looking back one year after release, Barone says the following:
"Considering that I had spent the previous 4-5 years in my own little bubble, working alone, doing essentially the same thing every day… and now suddenly to be thrust into the limelight… it was quite the change! I’m happy about it, of course. I mean… it is a weird feeling, at first, to have something that once seemed so distant, so impossible… some pipe-dream that you fantasized about in the dead of night… actually come true. It takes some getting used to, and that’s part of what this last year has been for me."
If you follow the link above, you get a look into the development process, including pictures from back when Stardew Valley still looked crappy. Trust me, it's fun!

But just how many copies a title sells isn't the most important thing. Barone has been amazing at communicating to his fans throughout the whole development period, and this may have just been the key to his success. When the game was still in early development, Barone consulted gaming communities on Reddit and Twitter, taking feedback to heart. And even after the game was officially published, he didn't sit back and relax (which he certainly would've deserved!). Instead, he kept perfecting Stardew Valley with patches and updates based on player feedback. Even now, one year later, Barone is still looking to improve Stardew Valley: he is developing a multiplayer version that I'm looking forward to already. I sincerely admire this level of dedication.

Barone isn't just the extremely talented creator of a game I hold dear; he is also a great example and source of inspiration for aspiring indie game developers out there. And for that he definitely deserves a place in the DAW spotlights.

This post is part of the eight annual Developer Appreciation Week (DAW), running from April 3rd to 10th 2017. Everyone is welcome to join the prompt and spread some game dev positivity (#DAW8).


  1. Stardew Valley might be one of my favorite games too.

    Funny thing is I found the game completely by accident. I was watching a livestrem by the fine folks at twitch channel of and saw this game being played there. It looked fun and I found out there was plans to port the game to Linux (that already makes a 50% chance of me buying the game). So I decided to wait for the Linux port to buy it. Except I told about it to a friend of mine, who I knew loved this kind of games, and she bought it immediately. Then she kept telling me all about the stuff she was doing in the game and I couldn't resist anymore and bought a Windows copy for myself. Since then I spent hours playing this game and every minute of it was worth it.

    Just to show how addicted I am to this game I am planning to make a character for each different farm map (I think there are 6?). I already have two characters although I still need to finish a few things with the second one. Well, I do need to finish a few things with the first one too but that is mostly because the last updated added a ton of stuff.

    All this is to say that I completely agree with everything said in this post and ConcernedApe deserves all the success and praise he gets and more.

    1. Good to hear you stand by this post, Rakuno! I consider you an expert of sorts, having sunk way more hours in the game than I have (I'm currently in my 4th year on my first and only character). Usually I keep to one toon with non MMOs, but when I've seen everything there is to see, I may have to make an exception for Stardew Valley. I do want to find out what happens with the other romance options.

      But for now, I first want to finish the community building (I need one more fish; the worst part is that I did catch that fish in the past, but I accidentally turned it into fertilizer - GAAH), see my kids grow up (please do grow up, kids) and find out if I ever end up in the hospital as that fortune teller keeps saying. Oh, and I want to hunt down as many Steam achievements as I can. Guess I'll be busy for a while. ;)

      PS I know you usually don't, but please don't put any spoilers in a reply. I'm going for the hardcore I-don't-look-things-up approach. Discovering things by myself is part of the charm of Stardew Valley for me. :)

    2. Thanks but I am not really an expert. There are still stuff way back from the game's release I haven't yet completed. I haven't seen some of the stuff that has been released with the last update either. Plus I am sure there are things that I could do more efficiently.

      On RPGs I tend to play multiple characters. Usually just to see how the story unfolds if I make different choices in the story. With Stardew Valley I decided to make more than one to see how married life would be with different NPCs. It also helped that ConcernedApe released an update where we could choose different types of farms to start with. :)

      P.S.: Did I spoil something in my previous comment or are you just saying that as preventive measure? If I did, I am sorry. If it is just a preventive measure then I will try to be sure to not post any spoilers here, even with a huge spoiler warning. I know you have to read all comments so a spoiler warning wouldn't be very useful in this context.

    3. Nonono, you didn't spoil anything for me. Sorry if I accidentally made it sound like that. Not intended. I'm just super careful, because Stardew Valley is the kind of game that people would want to give useful tips for, but as trying to find out how things work by myself is one of the fun things for me in this game I might consider some of those well intended tips spoilers.

      And you're allowed to write anything you want! If there's a huge spoiler warning I won't feel obliged to read it if I wouldn't want to.

      I should keep better track of what's added with the patches. I have no clue if anything cool has been added since I started playing that I might be missing out on. I started on the forest map, as I love trees and I'm more the "a bit of anything" type of girl than a "min maxing monoculture plants everywhere" one. I may go for the lake map and try a fishing career, if I feel adventurous. OK, fine, I'll go for all maps eventually as well. :P But first those achievements...

  2. I bought Stardew Valley near the end of the Steam Winter Sale this year. I have to say it is worth every penny. ConcernedApe did an awesome job making a relaxing game. I am pleased that he's continued support.

    I may just have to load the game up again now...

    1. Haha, mere hours after I published this post, I found a friend (who I know reads my blog) playing Stardew Valley on Discord (you can see what your friends that are online are playing). This article has contagious properties!

  3. Man, now I have to go hunt down Stardew Valley...

    1. While it is technically possible not to like Stardew Valley, I have yet to encounter someone I know that does. The game is really cute, has so much choice in what you want to do and has a lot of content. It is also extremely mini Red proof. I don't think you would regret it. :)

  4. I keep thinking this game looks like it would work great on mobile. :)

    1. I think that could work, but personally, if I'd want to play it on something small it would be the Gameboy (or whatever those are called nowadays).

      There is a lot of walking involved and I'd be frustrated by that on a phone.

    2. Ah, for me mobile always means my tablet, so the screen would still be a decent size. ^^

  5. Replies
    1. It's cute, but most definitely not like My Little Pony.


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