It’s been one year since Stardew Valley was released, and to mark the occasion, developer Eric Barone reflected on the past 12 months with some thoughts on the phenomenally successful game, some explanations on its long development time and some early concept art.
Barone said the game, which was originally called Sprout Valley, went through quite a bit of “polishing.” In essence, Barone decided to rework almost every aspect of the game, including the sound design, the crafting system and the mines. He also added numerous items and places that weren’t in Sprout Valley.
“I ended up re-doing nearly all the art several times,” Barone wrote. “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.”
Barone added the aspect of the game that changed the most was the look and feel of the NPC characters. The developer said he hand-drew each of the NPC characters with four different expressions, and even after drawing six or seven iterations, decided to scrap them all because he was unhappy with the way they turned out. An example of an early drawing of an NPC character can be seen below.
“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.”
Despite the long, “solitary” process that came with developing the game, Barone said the entire learning process was invaluable to him as a growing developer. He said that Stardew Valley isn’t a perfect game — and probably won’t be regarded as his best work — but he’s proud of what he was able to accomplish over the course of those four or five years.
“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,” Barone wrote. “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 ... 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.”
A collection of early concept art can be seen in the gallery below. Stardew Valley is currently available to play on Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. It is coming to Nintendo Switch this year.