If it weren’t for a pretty boy prince and his gang of studly bodyguards, Stardew Valley would have easily been my favorite video game of 2016. Creator Eric Barone took what was essentially the classic Harvest Moon formula and pushed it even further to make one of most flourishing, deep, and refreshing video games in years.

And while it sprang out of nowhere on an unexpecting indie audience only a year ago, Barone has actually been developing it for the last five! Long before we were swept back to grandpa’s farm, Stardew Valley, or Sprout Valley as it was called back then, looked like a generic RPG Maker game. We know this from a batch of screenshots that Barone shared in a recent retrospective on the last year of his life.

Considering that I had spent the previous 4-5 years in my own little bubble, working alone, doing essentially the same thing every day… and now suddenly to be thrust into the limelight… it was quite the change! I’m happy about it, of course. I mean… it is a weird feeling, at first, to have something that once seemed so distant, so impossible… some pipe-dream that you fantasized about in the dead of night… actually come true. It takes some getting used to, and that’s part of what this last year has been for me.

But I’m very, very grateful to have this opportunity. I’m excited about the future. I have many ideas, and I want to keep making games for a long time to come. I’ve learned so much from Stardew Valley… the importance of beta testing, how to make decent pixel art, how to use Steam, how to maintain a game after launch. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes, too. But I try to view any blunders in a positive light… fertile ground from which to improve and grow stronger.

I’m proud of Stardew Valley. I think it’s a good game. Is it perfect? No. Is it the best I can do? No… really I see this as just the beginning… I’m just dipping my toe into the water. And I’m looking forward to making the next step.

The Switch port will be the end of me!

I had to set my farm aside for a while when my gaming laptop crashed last year, and I haven’t had the chance to get back to it yet. Barone and his partnership with 505 Games will give me a hugely appreciated chance to go back later this year once Stardew Valley launches for the Nintendo Switch. Not only can I see my friends all over again, I can also take the game with me wherever I go!

Sorry, real-world friends. You might not be seeing me for a while after that release.