Stardew Valley Creator Undaunted by Sophomore Fall

Since 2016, dozens of farm and life simulation games have been chasing the success of Stardew Valley – doomed to forever be compared to Eric Barone’s indie hit. Now that he’s announced his next game, the store simulator Haunted ChocolatierBarone says he’s well aware that his second game could end up chasing his first game as much as everyone else.

Barone sat on a live stream with Studios of Reason, the developers of the music software he used to create the entire Stardew Valley soundtrack. Before jumping into the song itself, the Reason host compares Barone’s success with Stardew Valley and the resulting pressure on Haunted Chocolatier to the “sophomore success” theory of bands struggling to live up to an early success. with a second album.

“I can relate to some degree to the work on Haunted Chocolatier,” says Barone. “Which is a game that is very much in the shadow of Stardew Valley at this point and will be compared to it.

Sure enough, it was immediately obvious from the initial reveal trailer for Haunted Chocolatier just how much it looks and sounds like Stardew. Barone’s pixel art style is definitely still present, as are some of the instruments and vibe of Stardew’s music.

“I can’t help but think about Stardew Valley when I’m making this game. It will manifest in ways like ‘Oh, I can’t do that. It’s a lot like Stardew Valley.’ But a lot of things in Stardew Valley are the way they are because it makes sense. It would be foolish to do otherwise.”

“Lately, I’ve kind of been like, ‘you know what, fuck it,’” says Barone. “If that means a lot of things in Stardew Valley were perfect and don’t need to be changed, then I’m going to do it the same way and not worry about it. If people say it’s cut and paste Stardew Valley, so be it. Did you expect me to make a sports game or a racing game? That’s exactly what I do.”

Even knowing he’s inevitably leaning on his previous work, Barone has already revealed some of the ways in which he’s looking to evolve beyond the standard Stardew. He explained a little about how he’s changing Stardew’s combat for Chocolatier by adding things like shields. “Almost everything in Haunted Chocolatier, including combat, is completely coded (and designed) from scratch,” he explained in the October developer log.

“Probably until I announce Haunted Chocolatier is a way to light a fire beneath me,” says Barone of choosing to reveal his next game while it’s still in development. “Now everyone knows that. I can’t back down now. I have to finish this game. I have to make it fantastic.”

As Barone says of Stardew’s success elsewhere in the live stream, he believes it was the right game at the right time. There may already be more shop simulation games similar to Recettear and Moonlighter on PC now than there were Harvest Moon-style farm sims when Stardew Valley came out. Still, I’m not the only one eager to see Barone’s take on this.

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