Posts by Tag / GAME: Stardew Valley (3)


Time Enough for Chill

Here’s something I don’t understand - why is it so hard to find chill life-simulator (and especially farming) games that don’t have time pressure? (I complained about this before and it runs counter to best practices for making “cozy” games.)

Like, whenever I’m looking for relaxing games, Stardew Valley is always recommended. And that makes no sense to me. With the game’s short days that penalize you for being out too late, plus your slow walking speed, plus the fact that the villagers you’re supposed to befriend keep moving around throughout the day, I found it tense, not relaxing. I couldn’t freely wander around looking for someone because I was constantly aware of the ticking clock and the need to start heading home with plenty of time left on it.

When I look at other similar games, my eyes instinctively go toward the top corners of any screenshots to look for in-game clocks and I almost always find one. And I don’t get it. These games tend to also have stamina meters limiting what you can do between sleeps. Crops can usually only be watered or otherwise tended once a day. NPCs can only get one gift per day or whatever. There’s already plenty of systems to limit what the player can accomplish in an in-game day, guaranteeing the calendar will advance and the player will see birthdays and holidays and seasons. Why not let that be it, and have time advancement be under the player’s control? Why also tie in real-time pressure to punish players who aren’t thinking fast enough or planning hard enough for what is ostensibly a comfy, relaxed gaming experience?

Is it really just because everyone’s imitating Harvest Moon?

What if we did this instead: you wake up with your full stamina bar. Doing farmwork or other hard labor depletes your stamina bar, but walking around, shopping, talking to people, etc., does not. It is morning until you use up half of your stamina, at which point it becomes afternoon and everyone moves from where they are scheduled to be in the morning during that day/season to where they are scheduled for the afternoon. Once you use up all of your stamina, it becomes evening and everyone moves again. One could easily imagine townspeople manning shops and other services during the mornings and afternoons, and then in the evenings heading to the bar or park or social spaces. So you can do your shopping alongside your farmwork and such, and then once you’re done working for the day you can head into town and relax by shmoozing with the locals. And then it becomes nighttime when you go home, and when you go to bed it rolls to the morning of the next day.


Capsule Review: Stardew Valley

A life sim that casts you primarily as a farmer growing crops and raising livestock but also features fishing, cooking, crafting, mining, combat, and romanceable NPCs. The game is heavily influenced by the old Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons games, and is presented in a similar three-quarters overhead pixel-art style.