It is no secret that I play video games. Over the years, I, no doubt, have learned a lot from video games.
But one particular video game and its developer stand out the most.
A friend of mine at school introduced me to Harvest Moon. I had tried it before, but he introduced me to the mechanics and quirks of Harvest Moon, which got me hooked on the genre.
A few years later, I came across Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. It was a well-done successor to Harvest Moon. Sadly, that is where it ended.
The franchise went downhill with future instalments. All I had were memories of experiencing these video games for the first time and wishing to see just one more game, built with modern tools, for modern hardware, to take the genre further. And not milk the nostalgia.
Stardew Valley was created by game designer Eric Barone, under the alias of ConcernedApe. During the four years he spent solo developing it, he taught himself the necessary skills to produce the game’s music, art, programming, and design. […]
Eric Barone spent four years solo developing Stardew Valley, a video game, technically in the same genre as Harvest Moon, but today is a criterion of what video games in the genre could be.
When Stardew Valley came out, I bought it immediately on Steam. And this is probably the only video game I have on multiple platforms.
But this blog post is not about how much I enjoyed playing Stardew Valley.
It is about what I find inspiring about Eric Barone and his work on Stardew Valley.
Eric Barone spent a long time working on a project, not knowing what awaits at the end.
He was not spending these four years banking on the idea that he would make a fortune selling this video game.
In an interview with TechRaptor, he said: “Before it came out, I was feeling uncertain. I didn’t know whether it would be successful or not. I didn’t think it would be popular beyond a niche market of farming RPG fans.”
Being a software engineer and part of this industry, I see so many chase dreams painted by others. And then some dare to set their own goals but then give up.
I find it inspiring to see someone set a goal, see it through and be rewarded, especially when that goal is not money.
Eric Barone spent the time he needed to learn skills that helped him make the video game loved by millions.
If there is one thing that sets him apart, in my eyes, as a software engineer, it is that he did not shy away from learning new things that were not necessarily within the comfort zone of computer programming.
I do not consider design (i.e. web design) as one of my strong suits. You probably know it already seeing this website you are currently on. Yet I enjoy the subject, every time I try to dip my toes into it.
Exploring these subjects that are not computer programming makes me enjoy programming so much more.
Eric Barone shared in an interview that he loved the Harvest Moon series but felt that the quality had degraded in later instalments.
He shared this as a reason for working on Stardew Valley.
While we complained about something, he worked on building a better alternative. He ended up creating one of the best examples of the genre.
Stardew Valley was an immediate success. And even that is an understatement.
Quoting Hypernia: “In 2016, it generated a remarkable $24 million in revenue on Steam, securing its position as the 16th best-selling Steam game of that year.”
And, “As of 2023, the game has earned over $1 million in revenue on iOS alone, making it a significant financial achievement for a mobile game.”
And yet, Stardew Valley is getting updates to this day.
Version 1.5 was released with enough new content that video game giants would make it a DLC. Stardew Valley players got it as a free upgrade.
Version 1.6 is due to come out soon, again, with new content.
Eric Barone cherishes what he built. And you can tell both by playing Stardew Valley and seeing how it has evolved over the last several years.
This blog post is different from what I usually write about.
But I have been meaning to write it for a while and take the opportunity to share what I think I find inspiring about Eric Barone and his work on Stardew Valley.
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