Stardew Valley creator Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone announced earlier this month that he was parting ways with publisher Chucklefish and going it alone as a self-published indie. But it turns out that he's not really "going it alone" in the strictest sense at all. In fact, he's putting a team together to help him continue to work on Stardew Valley.
That's actually bit of a double-twist, as Barone has also said previously that he wants to devote all his time to the new game he teased last year. But he just can't quit Stardew Valley.
"While there have been times in the past where I felt burnt out, and maybe even said that I wanted to move on, I always find myself coming back to Stardew Valley," Barone wrote in a new developer blog post. "For one, I keep getting new ideas for ways to improve and expand upon the game. This world is so full of potential, I could probably work on it for the rest of my life."
"There’s also such a wonderful community surrounding the game… and I like making you guys happy. I’m extremely grateful to all of you for supporting my work and creating this wonderful Stardew Valley community. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. And knowing that there’s still tons of people out there who love the game and would be extremely happy to get new content motivates me to keep working."
His commitment to Stardew Valley is so great, in fact, that he's put his new, as-yet-unrevealed project on hold so he can work on a new free content update for Stardew Valley. But he still wants to be able to work on his new game, too—there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all. That's part of why he'd given thought to wrapping up Stardew Valley completely. Instead, following the release of the 1.4 update, he's going to try to get some help.
"This is going to be a big change for me... I’ve always worked alone, and working with a team is a whole new ballgame," Barone wrote. "However, just as I did with Stardew Valley originally, I’m just gonna go for it, and have faith that I can rise to the occasion and make it work. My hope is that the new team will help take some of the workload off me, so I have enough breathing room to divide my time between my new game and Stardew Valley."
Barone acknowledged that the console update schedule is lagging: The 1.3 update still isn't out on PS4 and Xbox One, and there are some technical issues on the Switch and Vita that need to be addressed. Getting those issues addressed are his "top priority," Barone said, even ahead of new content, although he pointed out that he does not work directly on the console editions of the game.
"[Console updates] are done by Sickhead Games, so there’s nothing I can personally do to have an effect on that process, beyond setting it into motion," he explained. "I am also doing what I can to see the issues with Switch multiplayer get fixed, but that is also not something I can directly accomplish. So when I do work on new content, it’s only when I have no current avenue for addressing these higher priority issues."
Barone said that even with a team in place, he'll continue to have full control over the direction of Stardew Valley, and promised that there are some aspects of the game that he'll never turn over to others, such as music and writing. "But when it comes to programming, fixing bugs, administrative/business work, or even pixel art... I think I’d be okay with having some help," he said.