Design Gratitude #17: Stardew Valley
Also: Abby Covert and Jacob Collier
Today I’m grateful for…
Stardew Valley is an indie farming simulation video game developed and published by Eric Barone (aka ConcernedApe).
It was released on Steam in February 2016 and quickly received a large following and positive reviews. With over 10 million copies now sold worldwide, it's become one of the most popular and well-loved indie games of all time.
Even more impressive than its sales, is that Barone created the entire game by himself! He crafted everything: from the pixel art to the code to the music. He spent four years developing the game, during which time he quit his day job to work on it full-time. It's a truly prolific and inspiring creative effort.
Okay, so Stardew Valley is impressive and beloved, but how's it a good design? Let's count the ways...
Rams' Principle #3: It's aesthetic
I love Stardew Valley's retro pixelated art style, bright colors, and nostalgic soundtrack. They all combine to give the game a unique and charming feel that's both immersive and inviting.
It was heavily inspired by the 1996 game Harvest Moon, and it does an excellent job of capturing a similar feeling of simplicity and warmth while blending in its own distinct style.
Playing Stardew Valley is a huge vibe! Cozy games for the win. All day, every day.
Rams' Principle #4: It's understandable
The game's mechanics are intuitive and easy to understand, making it accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. I admit I'm still a gaming newb (one of the many pandemic converts) and even I got into it right away.
While its farming system is complex and realistic, allowing you to plant and harvest crops, raise livestock, and even mine for resources these systems are presented in a way that's very approachable.
Rams' Principle #8: It's thorough to the last detail
The game's design allows for a lot of player customization: from your farm layout to your character's appearance to the relationships your character builds with NPCs. So many ways to personalize your experience and make the game feel like your own.
The game's open-world design also gives you a sense of freedom and choice. There's always something new to uncover even where you least expect it.
Abby Covert – Information Architect
I was lucky to take a workshop with Abby back during my days at American Express. Her two books “How To Make Sense of Any Mess” and “Stuck? Diagrams Help” are both excellent additions to any creator’s library and I’m very grateful for her work.
You don't see a lot of press for information architects. They fall into the even more blurry boundaries of design because the output of their work doesn't tend to look like what most people expect "design" to look like. But don't get it wrong. They're every bit a designer. Ultimately, if you get the content and the information architecture right you're well on your way to a good design. If it just makes sense, you're close to success.
Check out Abby’s website & buy her books: https://abbycovert.com
Join Abby’s email list: Abby's Email List
Moment of Zen 🧘
"It's not like a note is supposed to be there or a note isn't supposed to be there, it's not like right and wrong, it's more that there are strong decisions and there are weak decisions." - Jacob Collier
No right or wrong, just strong or weak. As true in design as it is in music!
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