Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the release of Stardew Valley.
In some ways, it’s hard to believe that an entire year has already gone by since launch. Yet, at the same time, it’s been the longest year of my life. It’s felt long because I’ve done so much in the last 12 months:
-Game came out
-Released many patches to fix bugs and tweak gameplay
-Dozens of interviews
-Answered thousands of messages/emails
-Provided personal troubleshooting and technical support
-Made many Business/Merchandise deals
-Developed and released the 1.1 update
-Exhibited at PAX and met many fans
-Met Mr. Yasuhiro Wada, the creator of Harvest Moon
-Flew to the UK to visit Chucklefish and collect an industry award
-Built a decent computer and got a nice big desk (No more HP Pavilion propped on a Wii U box)
-Worked with Chucklefish to make the Console ports and localizations happen
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.
But I’m very, very grateful to have this opportunity. I’m excited about the future. I have many ideas, and I want to keep making games for a long time to come. I’ve learned so much from Stardew Valley… the importance of beta testing, how to make decent pixel art, how to use Steam, how to maintain a game after launch. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes, too. But I try to view any blunders in a positive light… fertile ground from which to improve and grow stronger.
I’m proud of Stardew Valley. I think it’s a good game. Is it perfect? No. Is it the best I can do? No… really I see this as just the beginning… I’m just dipping my toe into the water. And I’m looking forward to making the next step.
I figure this might be a good opportunity to share some development history with you guys.
I have some really old screenshots on my computer…
These ones are from 2012:
Bringing a dandelion to Leah’s Cottage
The Saloon… Pam in her usual spot
Inventory menu. There were several background themes you could choose from.
Also, the game was called “Sprout Valley” at this point:
As you can see, the “bones” of Stardew Valley were pretty much there way back in 2012. So why did it take 4 more years to complete?
Well, you could say I was “polishing” the game during those 4 years.
I ended up re-doing nearly all the art several times. I redid the vast majority of the soundtrack. I expanded the NPC’s way beyond anything you’d see in the 2012 version. I made the map way bigger and more detailed. I added JojaMart and the Community Center. I added tons of items. I totally changed the crafting system and the mines.
In fact, at one point, the mines were going to be procedurally generated and fully destructible, with lakes you could cross by raft:
It sounded cool, but it was too difficult to make it work well. I spent a lot of time on it, and had a system working. But for some reason it just wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel right… so I scrapped it entirely.
The NPC portraits have probably changed more than anything else in the game. The very first portraits were all hand-drawn:
I drew every single NPC with 4 different expressions, scanned them in, colored them… and then scrapped all of it. Then I went through probably 6 or 7 iterations of pixel art portraits before landing on the final ones.
Stardew Valley was kind of like a big practice project, and I just stuck with it until all my skills improved to a point I was happy with.
Here’s what the town map looked like in 2013:
That was it… no Joja Mart or Community Center, and the blacksmith shop and museum weren’t off in the corner like they are now. The buildings were also a lot uglier.
Some day I might do a live stream of an old build of Stardew Valley… that might be fun.
Anyway, even back in 2012… when the game looked awful… there were people following it and encouraging me to continue. I appreciate that. To all of you who are reading this, who have played Stardew Valley and built an amazing community around it… thank you so much. The mods, the wiki, the encouraging messages, the fan art… I love it, and I’m so grateful and thankful for your support! I will continue to work hard and do my best to create memorable gaming experiences for you all, through Stardew Valley and whatever comes next!
Thanks for reading!