Interview: What's next for Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley Running

PCG: How do you think your life is going to change?

EB: Yeah I mean, I don't want it to affect my life in any way. My lifestyle isn't going to change. My career plans haven't changed. I love making games and I want to continue to make games. If anything, this just makes it so that I can relax and create games without there being a huge amount of pressure, you know? Not only from myself and from life events, but also people that I know, family and everything. They know now that this isn't just some crazy pipe dream that I had. It's actually a real thing. That feels good.

PCG: Did you get a lot of pushback from your family developing a game for four years like this?

EB: I think they mostly believed in me, and I really appreciate that. I'm fortunate that I had friends and family who believed in me. But I wouldn't be surprised, and I wouldn't blame them, if they had a little bit of doubt that maybe I was just kind of insane.

I pretty much have ideas with regard to every single area of the game that I could expand on.

PCG: Were you working as well?

EB: I had a part time job at the local theater—I was an usher. So I was doing that, but also me and my girlfriend were living together—well, we still are—and kind of living off of her grad school stipend. Kind of scraping by, I guess.

PCG: Will the success of Stardew change the scope of the project? Do you plan on hiring people maybe to help you with it?

EB: I haven't really decided on that yet. In terms of the content of the game, I don't think I want to hire anyone. Like I was telling you before, I think part of what people like about Stardew Valley is that it’s kind of like a personal thing. And I think the fact that it's been a success with me just working on it by myself—I don’t really want to change that. However when it comes to things like porting the game or adding multiplayer or more technical aspects of the game, I'm open to possibly bringing more people into it. But I just have to assess that first and see if it's something I need help with or not. I like working alone, I like working by myself in many ways, so if I can get away with it I'll probably continue to just do it like that.

Stardew Valley

PCG: What do you plan to add?

EB: I pretty much have ideas with regard to every single area of the game that I could expand on. I want to release a pretty substantial free content update. That's my plan right now. When that'll actually happen—like, in what order I do things—I'm not quite sure yet. People, for example, have expressed a lot of interest in me adding more marriage candidates, especially Shane for some reason. And I'm definitely open to that. I like all the characters and so I'd be fine with adding pretty much anyone as a marriage candidate. Of course I only have a limited amount of time that I can spend on working on things but I'm going to try to basically expand every area I can.

I have a lot of ideas for end game content, to make it so that you can keep playing the game after two or three years in-game and there's more stuff to do, you know? These huge long term goals to keep you engaged with the game for a long time. Also the mines are an area that I think could use some more variety. I used to have dungeons in the game and stuff—that was back when the mines were procedurally generated, which didn't end up working out, but I would be interested in adding something like that again. Not necessarily procedurally generated dungeons, but just more varied areas to explore in the mines with some different gameplay mechanics.


PCG: Is there anything in the game that you're unhappy with?

EB: Well, there's nothing that I really dislike. There's a couple things that maybe I regret a little bit, but I'm still actively releasing updates to the game and things might change a bit. For example Grandpa's evaluation at the end of two years I feel like is a little bit harsh. It’s kind of something I added at the last minute to tie together the story with your grandfather, and I feel like it's a little bit too harsh and it kind of breaks the relaxed feel of the game. And many people who’ve played it have expressed that same idea. So I'm actually working on that right now, even this morning I was finishing it up. I'm going to change that a little bit, make it softer. Make it more open ended, so you don't feel like there's some score that the game is evaluating you on and judging you for. I want Stardew Valley to be a really relaxed and joyous experience. I don't want it to be stressful at all or for you to feel bad that you didn't please Grandpa.


PCG: What about co-op? Will that be part of the big content update you mentioned?

EB: I was thinking it would be separate from the content update, so that's why I was saying I'm not exactly sure what order I'm going to do the stuff in.

If there's one thing I’ve learned from the development process of Stardew Valley it's “do not make estimates.” Because I thought that [the game] was going to be done two years ago.

PCG: When I was first hearing about Stardew Valley a year or two ago, co-op was almost the selling point of the game. Did you see Stardew as a co-op game first?

EB: You know, not really. I kind of felt like I needed to add co-op because that was something that would make it substantially different than Harvest Moon, and would kind of justify its existence at all. It kind of makes sense for PC. As the game evolved and gained a lot more character of its own, I felt like its existence was justified regardless of co-op. So I got to a point where the single player was pretty much done and I didn't really want to... a lot of people wanted to play the game, and I felt bad just holding off because I wanted to finish multiplayer which I didn't even know exactly how long that would take. So I just decided to release the single-player version. And I'm still going to add multiplayer. I mean, I've been saying that for a long time and that's a promise I've made, and I'm going to do my absolute best to follow through on that promise.

PCG: Do you have a sense of how long that might take?

EB: No. [Laughs] If there's one thing I’ve learned from the development process of Stardew Valley it's “do not make estimates.” If you can help it, never make estimates. Because I thought that Stardew Valley was going to be done two years ago, three years ago, right? I was saying “oh, it'll be done in a few months,” and then three years later it finally is done. So I just don't want to make a promise that I can't keep, or even a suggestion that I won't be able to live up to.

On the next page: Stardew Valley's content update plans, the possibility of DLC, and a big secret...

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.