[dancing at the Flower Dance]
I played Stardew Valley this quarter and it has taken over my life. It’s been two days and I am halfway through the summer season.
For those who aren’t familiar with Stardew Valley, it is a farming game where players take on the role of a character who inherits their deceased grandfather’s farm. The goal is to restore the farm to its former glory by planting crops, fishing, mining, and everything else in between.
I started a game of Stardew twice. Once with my girlfriend and I, which was a two hour session. And a second time with a group of friends. Since Stardew limits the multiplayer to at most four players and there was five of us, I downloaded a multiplayer mod to allow more players.
While the set up seemed self-explanatory, I messed up on the location of the Mods folder, so it took a while to get started, but once the mod is installed you are able to purchase additional cabins from Robin to house new players. Once that was taken care of, we launched the game!
I started off understanding the mechanics of the game like the intuition on how to farm, fish, forge, and mine. However, without any other game knowledge I made a lot of mistakes my first season. One of them was not planting enough seeds (I was so distracted with other goals I didn’t start farming until midway through spring). Since I wasn’t optimizing for money, it was really hard to save up for purchases like the backpack, the coop, and a new fishing rod. My much more experienced friends were quick to get these purchases and other goals done. This made me realize that Stardew Valley is very much trial and error. Once I learned new aspects of the game, I felt more prepared for the upcoming season and to not make the same mistakes. It also made me excited for upcoming seasons because it felt like a reset from current season.
Overall, what I enjoyed about Stardew is the agency you have with your day. While there are goals to encourage you to interact with elements of the game, it is completely up to you how to live the day. Even when I played with five other people, we would all just split off and do our own thing and then collectively sleep at the end of the night. The game mechanics are also a good amount of engaging. For example, rather than clicking to reel in fish, you had to play a small minigame.
The game is also very aesthetically pleasing, and the music has good vibes. I recently learned that Stardew Valley was made by a single developer. With the massive number of elements in the game, I find that to be an amazing accomplishment.
In conversation with the reading, while there are definitely capitalist ideals in Stardew Valley as seen with coins being the driving factor for progress, Stardew Valley also incorporates community themes to the game and resists it through its negative portrayal of Joja. As the author says Stardew has a heavy emphasis on self-interest and individualism.