For me personally these games stand out in a huge way in the sea of generic AAA micro-transaction "games". If anyone wants to drop some more SV-like game recommendations I'd love to hear them.
I am in continued awe ConcernedApe was able to accomplish all this largely on his own.
And beyond this that he continues that approach with his new game even though he could surely afford to just bring on as many developers/designers as he needed. He could even churn out a new game on a yearly basis and "milk" it all to maximize profit. The fact he is doing none of this speaks volumes (at least to me).
Eric if you somehow happen to stumble upon this comment know you've brought one couple many many happy hours together. We wish you all the best, and much love!
Animal Crossing is the granddaddy of cozy games, but the core loop didn't keep me engaged. More "arranging your house and island" than farming.
Cozy Grove is Animal Crossing with a far better narrative.
Graveyard Keeper, Littlewood, and My Time In Portia are closer to being "Stardew, but X". Your mileage may vary with each, but I enjoyed parts all of them.
Spiritfarer is my favorite of the lot. It plays differently enough with your hodgepodge boat-city of ghosts, but it feels the closest in spirit (rimshot) to Stardew. Bring a box of tissues.
My own game, Moondrop Mountain, is trying for a roguelike farming experience. It should be coming into Early Access early next year .
I linked the PAX page below. I watched the stream after the fact in the PAX archive on twitch but I needed to scrub through the recording for the whole day and sub-channel to find it so I unfortunately don’t have a link directly to it.
Game recommendations on the final slides:
Mineko's Night Market,
To the Rescue
A Short Hike,
Mineko's Night Market,
Welcome to Elk,
Get In The Car, Loser!
While there's no "death" in my game (stayin' cozy), the idea that the player needs to go through multiple runs has been really fun to play around with :)
I might be showing my age here, but isn't permadeath the core of roguelikes? Like, isn't the point that you have to start fresh each play, and that's why games like nethack offered a bajillion character classes? Even the og rogue had permadeath.
save.bat and load.bat
All the games mentioned in these comments are great, anyway. And I found some new ones to try now. :)
Thanks for the recommendations. I and a few friends are big fans of SV so having more games with that feel will be great. Tried out AC recently and didn’t love the core loop either.
Also, in comparison to AAA games from the biggest companies like EA (BF2042 Beta, hello) and Ubisoft, I KNOW that Eric will release a "ready to play" game, without massive bugs and missing content looming.
1. It will be wonderful to explore alongside a big culture of people without everyone being beta testers.
2. I like to support small, high quality games. As the new mantra goes "i want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and i'm not kidding" (https://twitter.com/jordan_mallory/status/127748375624544256...)
The mechanics are amazing and make it a better detective game than most detective games. Plus, I really liked the story and setting.
Just in case OP hasn't played it, I genuinely cannot recommend it enough.
The recently released Echo Beach..
"As a clerk at the Ministry, your job is to hunt down the remaining musicians in their place of last refuge - The Musicnet."
"In Hypnospace Outlaw you play as a volunteer 'enforcer' who is tasked with bla bla bla... to make money bla bla. The cool thing is that there's a super robust fake OS and a really big fake internet with all kinds of neat things to find. OK?!? Ok!"
Lucas Pope and Concerned Ape are supremely talented (they even compose the music for their games!). I'll buy anything they release at this point, sight unseen.
For anyone who likes this style of game, I can't recommend Myst and Riven enough.
Haven't gotten around to the later games in that series yet.
I should note I haven't played Obra Dinn, or Outer Wilds yet, so I may have misunderstood.
Outer Wilds is my favorite game of all time :) It is generally quite chill (though there are a few tense moments). I hear the DLC is a little scary/thrilling but I haven’t played it yet.
Definitely worth a try, but I had to mod it a little bit to make the energy mechanics a bit more forgiving and to speed up the gameplay a bit - YMMV.
I didn't bother with the extensions in the end after completing the main game (at this point you can often pick up the game with all of its extensions on sale).
Refreshingly original game nonetheless in terms of setting and 'job'.
I've heard good things about Animal Crossing too although I've never played it.
Not SV-like in terms of gameplay but if you're looking for gorgeous feel-good pixelart games you'll find all that in Eastward.
Great game. AI went wonky when you reached ±100 serfs.
Some really wonderful games come out of single vision, single execution
"Eric Barone had just graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma with a degree in computer science when he thought, Now’s my chance. He had decided that he wanted to make his own video games and that now, before he got comfortable in a salaried programming job, was his opportunity to do something about it. He already had his inspiration. He wanted his game to pay homage to Harvest Moon, a charming Japanese series of games in which the player must build a successful farm: grow crops, raise animals, explore the countryside, and form relationships with other villagers. “I loved that game,” he said about his childhood experience with the title. “But it could have been so much better.” He knew that if he didn’t follow through with his own vision, that improved version would never be a reality.
Developing a commercially successful video game isn’t easy. AAA game companies budget hundreds of millions of dollars and employ thousands of people on their top titles. The talent required is similarly broad. Game development requires programming, visual art, musical composition, story writing, game design, and dozens more skills, depending on the genre and style of game developed. The breadth of skills required makes game development much harder for smaller teams than other art forms such as music, writing, or visual arts. Even highly talented independent game developers generally have to collaborate with a few people to span all the skills required. Eric Barone, however, decided to work on his game entirely alone.
Deciding to work alone came from a personal commitment to his vision and an indefatigable self-confidence that he could finish the game. “I like to have complete control over my own vision,” he explained, saying that it might have been “impossible to find people who were on the same page” regarding the design. However, that choice meant that he would need to become proficient in game programming, music composition, pixel art, sound design, and story writing. More than just a game design project, Barone’s odyssey would entail mastering each aspect of game design itself.
Pixel art was Barone’s biggest weakness. This style of art harkens back to the earlier era of video games when rendering graphics was difficult to do on slow computers. Pixel art is not done with fluid lines or photorealistic textures. Instead, a compelling image must be created by placing pixels, the colored dots that make up computer graphics, one at a time—painstaking and difficult work. A pixel artist must convey movement, emotion, and life from a grid of colored squares. Barone liked to doodle and draw, but that didn’t prepare him for the difficulty. He had to learn this skill “completely from scratch.” Getting his art skills to a commercial level wasn’t easy. “I must have done most of the artwork three to five times over,” he said. “For the character portraits, I did those at least ten times.
Barone’s strategy was simple but effective. He practiced by working directly on the graphics he wanted to use in his game. He critiqued his own work and compared it to art he admired. “I tried to break it down scientifically,” he explained. “I would ask myself, ‘Why do I like this? Why don’t I like that?’” when looking at other artists’ work. He supplemented his own practice by reading about pixel art theory and finding tutorials that could fill gaps in his knowledge. When he encountered a difficulty in his art, he broke it down: “I asked, ‘What goal do I want to reach?’ and then ‘How might I get there?’” At some point in his work on the game, he felt his colors were too dull and boring. “I wanted the colors to pop,” he said. So he researched color theory and intensively studied other artists to see how they used colors to make things visually interesting.
Pixel art was just a single aspect Barone had to learn. He also composed all of the music for his game, redoing it from scratch more than once to make sure it met his high expectations. Whole sections of the game mechanics were developed and scrapped when they failed to meet his rigorous standards. This process of practicing directly and redoing things allowed him to get steadily better at all of the aspects of game design. Although it lengthened the time it took to complete the game, it also enabled his finished product to compete with games created by an army of specialized artists, programmers, and composers.
Throughout the five-year development process, Barone avoided seeking employment as a computer programmer. “I didn’t want to get involved in something substantial,” he said. “I wouldn’t have had the time, and I wanted to give game development my best shot.” Instead, he worked as a theater usher, earning minimum wage so that he wouldn’t get distracted. His meager earnings from his job, combined with support from his girlfriend, allowed Barone to get by as he focused on his passion.
That passion and dedication to mastery paid off. Barone released Stardew Valley in February 2016. The game quickly became a surprise hit, outselling many of the big-studio titles offered on the computer game platform Steam. Across multiple platforms, Barone estimates that within the first year of its release, Stardew Valley had sold well over 3 million copies. In months, he went from an unknown designer earning minimum wage to a millionaire named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” stars within game development. His dedication to mastering the skills involved played no small part in that success. Destructoid, in its review of Stardew Valley, described the artwork as “incredibly endearing and beautiful.”6 Barone’s commitment to his vision and aggressive self-education had paid off handsomely."
Few of us are as talented as Eric is, but I wish more of us tried a little harder to create what we wish existed, and not fall into the trap of what's popular. To bastardize legend, "If I were not [me], I wish I were [ConcernedApe]."
Hopefully he will stay that way when someone hands him a few billions.
> Stardew Valley sold over 400,000 copies across Steam and GOG.com in two weeks, and more than a million within two months. 
> By January 2020, Stardew Valley had sold over 10 million copies across all platforms, with that figure rising to 15 million by September 2021.
This makes it way easier to make the choice the second time round to solo-develop an indie game, and be able to take the time to make it just as you want to make it.
The fact that it isn't obvious, makes the choice of making more quality indie games even more laudable to me.
Anyway, you're probably right about the timeline -- I suspect the "mere" millions ConcernedApe made to be about the ceiling for individual game devs, selling the store or no.
Anyone with some business acumen can look at the game, and realize that there's a ton of untapped potential there. Merchandising, licensed show potential, faster release cadence for new games/content, more complicated versions of the games for adults (MMO), less complicated versions for small children.
The merchandising thing seems like a no-brainer. Children really love toys associated with video games, movies, and the like. I wouldn't even think of it as selling out or milking the brand, it is letting people enjoy the game in a way that doesn't involve sitting in front of a screen.
All by a single person.
I hope Eric lands on something that works. He spent 4 years alone on the previous game  - imagine how lonely & isolated that can get. Hopefully he gets good feedback and motivation from this announcement.
I'm not sure if he has moved on to Monogame (I assume he must have by now).
> Is it the same engine as Stardew Valley?
> No, it’s a new engine written in C#/Monogame… however there are some areas where I can reuse code from Stardew Valley, so that is nice
>Is it the same engine as Stardew Valley?
>No, it’s a new engine written in C#/Monogame… however there are some areas where I can reuse code from Stardew Valley, so that is nice.
That may explain why I didn't really like Stardew Valley. It's hard to put into words better than how he explained it though.
2. I don't care what he would prefer, anyway
3. Regardless, it's not an either or situation
I suspect this game will be no different.
Maybe you're focusing on the style too much, and not enough on other artistic elements. Which is understandable in the preview.
I personally enjoy Stardew Valley, and I am sure I will enjoy the Chocolatier. I think these are video games as an art form; not the ground breaking type which makes the critics drool over it, but something like a Bob Ross kitsch that you want to put into your home to make it cozier.
> Maybe you're focusing on the style too much, and not enough on other artistic elements.
Well if we look at another "artistic element" of the game, we see that it relies on the absolutely shit combat from SDV, which doesn't exactly inspire hope from the gameplay.
The point is that it's really fucking boring to get the same art style again. Why am I going to play a game that bores me just by looking at it? I want to have fun. That's what games are for.
Apparently, as we've learned today, if you're looking for variety and novelty in artistic style, you probably won't find it in the works of ConcernedApe. That's probably a very polarizing "love it or hate it" moment for quite a lot of people. From a press standpoint, best to put that out there early on, and let people form an opinion. Far better than letting them build up anticipation for a year!
Plus, we don't know that the sounds/tileset aren't just placeholders to allow him to release the trailer's vertical slice! I appreciate that this is unlikely, but still! What we recognize as normal development practices don't necessarily apply to a studio of one.