Francisco.Lahoz    ORIGINAL GONGSTER

Stardew Valley: My Day to Day Life As a Simple Farm Boy

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I live in New York City, (“the big city” as its known). If I walk outside it would be impossible to not run into someone else. I'm away from home between 7am to 7pm, I'm hardly ever at home and any day that I am feels like a waste of a day. Some days I wish for a simpler life, a life where I live in a log cabin on my own plot of land, I actually know the names of my neighbors, and live in peaceful quiet. 

That's the experience Stardew Valley claims to provide.

First released on Steam on February 26th of 2016, Stardew Valley puts you in the shoes of a nameless office worker of Joja Mart (essentially this world's equivalent of Walmart). You finally grow tired of your job and open a letter given to you by your late grandfather with instructions to only open it when you were ready, it reads,

“If you're reading this, you must be in dire need of a change. The same thing happened to me, long ago. I'd lost sight of what mattered most in life... real connections with other people and nature. So I dropped everything and moved to the place I truly belong.”

Attached is the deed to your grandfather's farm, a wonderful plot of land you have fond memories of. You pack up your belongings, quit your job and take up his offer to take over the farm.

This is the main goal of the game, build up the farm to its former glory anyway you see fit. You wanna be a crazy loner planting crops 24/7? Do that. You want to fish from dusk til dawn? Go ahead. You want to be a social butterfly and make friends? Go nuts. The choice is yours.

The game has an almost endless amount of possibilities to get lost in. Which is especially impressive when you realize it's all the work of one man, Eric Barone, over the span of four years. Under the handle “Concerned ape” Eric Barone worked on the programming, writing, art assets, and music all on his own while taking feedback from alpha and beta testers on his blog. I've lost hours of my life I can never get back planting strawberries and planning out efficient sprinkler systems and I have this man to thank for all of it.

I am currently replaying the entire game. Farm boy Frankie has received a new piece of land in a densely forested area and is now planning to leave his mark in the valley. Please join me as we take a look at week one of the summer season. 

Say hello to our buddy Frankie and his wonderfully crap farm. At the end of every season any crops you had growing will wither away when the new Season begins. Here Frankie had a couple green bean stalks he had to say goodbye to.

Crops are the main source of income on the farm, visiting Pierre’s shop will present you with many crops to choose from each with varying amounts of harvest time. Some crops yield higher amounts of produce, some sell for higher values, and some will continue to produce crops even after harvesting. You can even built little enclosures out of wood to section off different sections of farm land.

The next stop after Pierre’s general store was the old Community center, left decrepit after years of neglect the mayor leaves it open for you to explore. It’s here that the achievement system of the game lies in the form of the bundles. By offering up some items to the community center you can bring the community center to its former glory. Frankie double checks what he needs to plant in the summer to make sure he’s ready.

Completing Stardew Valley’s bundles nets you more than just bragging rights with the townsfolk. Every time you complete a bundle you’re rewarded with a new item, and completing an entire set unlocks a different area of town or a new feature of your farm (alternatively you could sell your soul to “not wal-mart” by buying a Joja Mart membership, you can then buy the same upgrades and renovations for the town but you’ll lose the community center and your self-respect, support local businesses, shop Pierre’s general).

It took all day but Frankie is finally set for the week with a new set of crops for the season. With the soil fertilized and the brave scarecrow Bethany (as I call her) watching out for pests all he has to do is sit back and wait for the money to roll on in. You can take a number of different paths to pass the time. Aside from watering them every morning the crops need little to no attention at this time. You can take up fishing. Go mine some ore. Or even talk to that pretty little lady you've seen walking around.

Day 2 of the summer was highly uneventful so Frankie decided to go fishing in a different area of the valley.

Fishing is just another way of passing the time in game, just kick back and relax until you hear that notification indicative of a bite on your lure. The fishing mechanic is something divisive in the community of Stardew Valley but I personally am really fond of it and do it whenever I can find the time to spare.

Frankie awoke in a fright the following day to find that an earthquake had shaken up the town. After checking the safety of his farm and making sure no one was injured he surveyed the surrounding area to check for damage and noticed the quakes had dislodged some nearby boulders clearing a staircase.

The stairs lead to the Bathhouses! Aside from eating, this bathhouse is one of the only ways to regain your energy in the game. Any action you take in the game removes from your energy bar on the bottom right of the screen. Managing this bar is imperative to your farm’s success as it dictates just how much work you can do, so if it’s running low make sure to stop by and take a dip in the warm water.

……. No matter how awkward it may look…….

The fourth day was pretty uneventful. Frankie did purchase himself a fancy new fishing rod however and even found some time to do some much needed cleaning.

Fifth day, with sword in hand our Hero ventures into the Stardew Valley mines in search of vast riches!

The mines offer just a bit more of an edge to those seeking a little more action in their humdrum farming lifestyle. You traverse floor after floor fighting bugs, slimes, and the occasional rock crab as you mine ores and (as before mentioned) any treasures left behind by heroes past.

Or you can run home after realizing it’s 1 am and you run the risk of passing out and losing your hard earned items.

After running back to bed and waking up scarred and bruised you can run over to the town museum and donate any notable items to the curator to proudly present. Every five or so items gets you a new item from said curator so it’s not exactly a waste of time to give up these items as a lot of these items are rare.

Stardew Valley was a surprise hit for me, I didn’t expect to be so captivated by what I experienced playing the game, and with consistent updates adding new features into the game such as new areas, characters, and even planned co-op, I’m sure it’ll only continue to keep my attention. Stardew Valley is now available to play on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, OS X, Linux and in some time in 2017, Nintendo Switch.

Francisco has been a massive media nerd since he could remember. He's an anthropology major at Queens college and part time as a teacher's assistant in Brooklyn. He enjoys writing science fiction/fantasy stories when he's not watching the newest Netflix show or listening to a podcast.
Francisco.Lahoz    ORIGINAL GONGSTER
michael.geary    ORIGINAL GONGSTER
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