jdodson: The first time I saw the Stardew Valley video my mind exploded in excitement. The game seems to focus on a community & co-op and I noticed an in game conversation about crop sustainability. As you were coming up with the concept for Stardew Valley what were some of your goals with it?
Eric Barone: I've always been a huge fan of the Harvest Moon games... but missed the feel of the first couple of titles in that series. I always craved another game in that style, but with "even more stuff". That's what got me started on Stardew Valley. In writing dialogues and stories for the game, some of my own personal interests and concerns inevitably get injected into the game. That's why you'll see some things about sustainability, the environment, existential angst, fear of failure... these are things I actually care about myself. So I guess my goal is not only to make the game I always hoped for, but also to connect with people out there through a shared understanding and experience.
WhiteboySlim: I am curious what game inspired you while making Stardew Valley?
Eric Barone: Well, there's an obvious harvest moon influence, as well as all the other old SNES RPGs I played when I was younger... but I also played a lot of minecraft, terraria and sim city during development so far, and definitely drew some ideas from those games.
jdodson: Since you have been showcasing Stardew Valley on Steam Greenlight and the web I wonder what you reaction to the response has been? Has anyone demanded you add guns, loot and hats?
Eric Barone: People haven't made too many demands, but there's definitely been a lot of requests for different things, including guns, loots and hats hehe. I like to hear everyone's ideas... if something seems really popular and not too insane to add in then I'll probably do it.
jdodson: There haven’t been a lot of games focusing on a thriving farm. I think the last one I played was Farmville and it was WAY too simple to be awesome. I wonder how you have approached adding a deeper element to Stardew Valley than just plant, harvest, plant.
Eric Barone: I want players to always have multiple ways to accomplish the different goals they strive for. So, if you didn't want to farm, you could just spend all day in the mines instead. Or you could become an all-star fisherman and cook the finest seafood platters. I am still working on the game, but I really want to add in more open-ended farming features, like crop or animal breeding, as well as plenty of end-game content to keep the game interesting for a long time. The possible area you can farm is actually pretty massive, so you'll need a lot of special equipment to be able to reach your full potential as a farmer.
WhiteboySlim: The video showed off quite a bit of combat. (Is that an orc at 1:24?) But I noticed the list of skills they mentioned don't seem to relate at all to combat. Will combat be a major part of the game, and if so, how will your character improve their fighting ability?
Eric Barone: Combat can be a substantial part of the game if you want it to. There's always other ways of getting the items you need than exploring deep into dangerous areas, though. Your character will improve fighting ability mainly through finding better weapons and accessories. You can also eat cooked meals and drink beverages to give yourself temporary boosts to combat skills and to heal yourself in dangerous situations.
jdodson: Lets say I have an awesome run in Stardew Valley but I want to start over from scratch. Is the game setup for multiple runs or is it fairly linear?
Eric Barone: There is a story in Stardew Valley, which includes little scripted cutscenes. So if you start another game you might have to watch some of those again, unless I include an option to turn it off. However, there are plenty of things that are less linear and will be worthwhile to try in different ways... for example, you can try to marry another person or make choices that affect the community in one way or another.
jdodson: What is your favorite riddle?
Eric Barone: What has it got in its pocketses?
WhiteboySlim: As far as the co-op goes, can you provide some more details about how that will be handled? Will co-op work over a LAN or will it be internet only? Will the other players just be dropped into your town as visitors or will you all exist within the same town?
Eric Barone: Co-op will work on both internet and LAN. What I'm planning is that any farm you create could work as a potential "server"... so there will be some way of setting your farm as "open", and then your friends can stop in and play with you. Friends could even set up a permanent home in your valley. So it's kind of up to the you and the people you play with as to how closely you want to play together--as a full co-op, or as separate valleys with visits to each other.
jdodson: Will the game allow you to change your appearance, house, clothing or allow any other kind of customization?
Eric Barone: Yes, there will be many ways to customize your game, including but not limited to furniture, flooring, wallpapers, accessories, haircuts, and houseplants.
jdodson: In the trailer it says you can “uncover the secrets of the caves.” I wonder if you can give us a bit a spoiler? What's so secret about the caves?
Eric Barone: The caves are deep and very old... There are rumors of strange, intelligent creatures living down there, in the darkness. Some say they snatch things from people's houses at night.
Scypt: I'm wondering if there are any story elements, or adventure objectives.
Eric Barone: There are story elements that will give you goals to strive for... and there will probably be smaller quest-like objectives as well, with satisfying rewards to make them worthwhile. All of these will be optional.
jdodson: In SimCity you could select things that would destroy your city. Like an earthquake, fire or in the Super NES version Bowser would rampage through your City like Godzilla. Will there be any events that could wipe out your crop, livestock or house? Sorry, I love things that have post apocalyptic elements. Speaking of, I have an idea for Stardew Valley 2. Or rather, Stardew Valley 2232. A few survivors are still on the earth and have formed a small society. Plants are growing again, some animals survived. Same game as Stardew Valley BUT its for the survival of the human race and the advancement of plants and animals on the earth. Throw in some mutants and an evolved Squirrel race that want to wipe out humans and I think we are talking a million units shipped. Throw in a Steam sale and its early retirement!
Eric Barone: haha interesting idea! I don't want to punish players randomly with terrible storms or hurricanes... but then again, in real life farming can be a challenge! I think that most disastrous things in Stardew Valley will be avoidable somehow, so you never feel like the game is trying to make you irritated and depressed and without hope...
jdodson: I am wondering what the coolest feature in the game is for you and the people that have played it so far?
Eric Barone: So far, I've really enjoyed giving myself tons of resources and just designing a really cool looking farm. But that's just me. Another one who's played Stardew Valley says she likes exploring and discovering new areas and monsters in the mines!
jdodson: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions before we go are there anything you want to say about Stardew Valley or its post apocalyptic survival sequel?
Eric Barone: I'd like to invite everyone reading this to come visit http://www.stardewvalley.net and help shape the future of this game with your comments, ideas, and encouragement! :)
(Maybe your apocalypse sequel idea will really take off ;)
Thanks for having me on the site!