Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What Happened to July?

Well, college visits happened.

Lots and lots of college visits.

But they're all finished now. 

I didn't think I'd be happy to get back to a regular work schedule, but after driving across multiple states, visiting multiple universities, and hearing a similar spiel from multiple admissions counselors/deans, yeah, I'm ready to get back to the grind.

However, gaming didn't simply stop while I was away from the blog. In fact, I started playing a non-MMO that if you'd have told me about a year ago I'd be playing, I'd think you were absolutely crazy: Stardew Valley.

I decided to buy the game on the gigantic mid-Summer Steam sale mainly based on the story behind the development of the game in Blood, Sweat, and Pixels*. If I bought a game I was going to play it (eventually), so I fired it up sometime in mid-July and tried it out for what I thought would be a couple of hours.

I'm presently now into Year Four of my first character, am married, and now have a kid.

"A couple of hours" my ass.

It is a strangely addictive game, where the storyline isn't exactly deep by any stretch, but due to the nature of the saves (it appears to only be able to save when you go to sleep each night) it can lure you into working "just another day" without realizing you're committing to an extra 10-30 minutes playing.

The nostalgia element is very strong as well, because even though I never played an NES or SNES or Nintendo 64, I recognize the design that Eric Barone was striving for. The gameplay was the most important part of the design, because any part of the game where there would have been a choice of gameplay vs. realism the design went for gameplay instead. Farming Simulator 2018 this isn't, and the game is actually better for it. It's kind of weird seeing a chick grow to an adult chicken over the course of a week of "game time", and especially weird going from "I'm pregnant" to "the kid is born" in almost as short a time.** Still, it works within the game because the entire design compresses the time into a manageable size of 28 day seasons; any longer and the attraction the game holds will fade, and any shorter and the game loses a sense of space.

Stardew Valley's not without its bugs. I occasionally click on a character that I can talk to and nothing pops up, and a couple of conversations --especially for those NPCs whom I've maxed out the "affection" meter-- seem to be missing some parts. That being said, as a game designed and implemented by one person, it's a tremendous achievement.

Stardew Valley is one of those games that I wish I'd have created. I don't get that feeling often, because I know how hard it is to code something as deceptively simple as a text only RPG game, but the siren call of Stardew Valley is that strong.

Eric Barone has created a helluva game, and he should rightly be praised for this achievement. But that leaves me with one question for Eric: When are Clint and Emily going to get together?

*Geez, I seem to be plugging that book a lot lately.

**I kind of have some experience in this area, given the three mini-Reds.


  1. I'll pick it up some day, but I have so many games to start playing as it is, plus BfA is right around the corner, and I bought the xpac for FFVIV when it was on sale. Ugh, sooo much to do. Plus it's time to find a new job...

    1. Yeah, I've been there. The Steam Summer Sale came right after my birthday, and I used some of the birthday cash (or Steam cards) to buy a bunch of old style isometric RPGs, such as Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin. And then there was the stretch of Elder Scrolls Online....

  2. This is one game I could see myself playing if it was actually ported to mobile. From everything I read about it it sounds like the kind of thing that could be quite engaging to play on a tablet, but I wouldn't want to "waste" PC time on it.

    1. I understand where you're coming from, and it wouldn't shock me if it makes it to mobile. I know it's on consoles (and even the PS Vita), so maybe an Android version is coming.