'I have this problem where once I start, I can't stop': Eric Barone discusses how Stardew Valley has affected work on his upcoming game Haunted Chocolatier

Eric Barone
(Image credit: PC Gamer)

It's no secret that the developer of Stardew Valley, Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, has poured his heart and soul into creating and refining the beautiful life-sim game. But like most things, this dedication can be a double-edged sword, as it has also stopped him from working on Haunted Chocolatier, his next game. 

"[Fan expectation] definitely puts pressure on me," Barone says in an interview with Aftermath, "but it's better to have a delayed game that's actually good than a bad game that's on time. When it's ready, that's when I'll release it. I'm not too concerned with the pressure. I don't feel like I owe anyone anything when it comes to Haunted Chocolatier. It's a game that I'm deciding to make. I don't need to make it."

Recently, Barone took time off from working on Haunted Chocolatier development to focus on  Stardew Valley's 1.6 update, which added a ton of new features and festivals.  "I was like, 'I can't just release a technical update because if I say there's a new Stardew Valley update, and there's literally no new content, I feel like people will be disappointed.' So, at first, it was just the Desert Festival, but I have this problem where once I start, I can't stop. I'm thinking, 'Oh, this isn't enough. It'd be really cool to add this. I would love to add this.'"

Even after the patch was released Barone said that he wanted to wait a bit longer until it was "bug-free and out to all platforms" before returning to work on Haunted Chocolatier. "Once I reopen the book on Stardew, I always have a hard time closing it again because I always want to add more things, make it better, make it cooler, make people happy," Barone says. "It's exciting. Every single thing I'm adding, I'm thinking about how people are going to play this, talk about it, and love it. It's gonna be part of their experience. It could make a memory that they might cherish forever."

Although there is undoubtedly a lot of pressure from fans who get excited by every tiny new detail about Haunted Chocolatier, most fans are just happy to see Barone carrying on with what he loves to do, confident that things are only going to get better. "You can tell from Stardew Valley how much he loves the game and its community, and I know he will be bringing that same energy to Haunted Chocolatier," one player says in a Reddit thread. Honestly, I'd be happy if Haunted Chocolatier turns out to be half the game that Stardew Valley is right now.

Elie Gould
News Writer

Elie is a news writer with an unhealthy love of horror games—even though their greatest fear is being chased. When they're not screaming or hiding, there's a good chance you'll find them testing their metal in metroidvanias or just admiring their Pokemon TCG collection. Elie has previously worked at TechRadar Gaming as a staff writer and studied at JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs about Smash Bros. or any indie game that crossed their path.