Exclusive: Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone unveils new project, ‘Shut-in Valley’

Stardew Valley, is a game in need of no introduction. A critically-acclaimed indie darling, Stardew captured the hearts of millions of gamers with it’s light-hearted, yet grounded life-sim gameplay – myself included.

Further adding to the game’s charm, is it’s free content. The game’s developer and creator, Eric Barone, is a strong advocate for supporting a game long after it’s launch window – with Stardew Valley receiving content updates years after it’s initial launch. But, in the background, Eric has been hard at work on something new.

In a private interview with Press Reload, Eric filled us in on not only Stardew Valley’s future roadmap, but on a new project.

“Something I always appreciate in games, is the support for a variety of playstyles – and it’s something that Stardew Valley players definitely appreciate too.” Barone explained. “But, as time goes on, people are definitely starting to grow weary of the farming sim genre. There are obviously a lot of people who really enjoy that type of genre, but fans want something different – a kind of antithesis to the calm, relaxing experience visitors to Stardew Valley experience. And that’s exactly what I’ve been working on. Welcome, to Shut-in Valley.”

“When designing the game, I really wanted to lean into the opposite of what made Stardew Valley relaxing and immersive – a game that, rather than calming the player, left them feeling the indescribable pressure of life. If farming is cathartic, what job is the least rewarding?”

“And then it hit me – being a Triple-A games developer.”

While still in early stages, Barone proudly showed us early concept art and mechanics from the project. “A key mechanic in the game, is crunch – the player has a set amount of tasks to complete in a given day, which slowly increase as the game gets closer to it’s release date. This gives the player a sense of urgency for all of their actions, as failure to complete those tasks in many cases leads to you being ostracized by your work colleagues. You work long hours, and barely see any benefit from doing so. You don’t get to see family, you don’t get to see your friends – it’s a dangerous cycle, but one that the industry demands. While Stardew Valley heavily promoted the idea of building bonds with people in your community, Shut-In Valley actively condemns it, as it’s not a ‘good use of your valuable time’.”

“I want to leave players feeling the indescribable pressure of life”

Erice “ConcernedApe” Barone

When questioned on micro-transactions, Barone was bold in his response.

“This game is the antithesis to Stardew, and I stand by that – that’s why, not only will there be 5 pre-order editions, but the game will be flooded with micro-transactions. Do I agree with these practices? Not at all. Does it reflect what the audience wants? Absolutely. And hey, in the $90 edition you get a flannel with a chicken embroidered on it – that’s cool, right?”

So, there you have it – the all-new project from ConcernedApe, cracked wide open. Are you excited for the new project? How many hours have you put into Stardew Valley? What the fuck is a Junimo? Be sure to comment below, and keep up-to-date on all things gaming, exclusively at Press Reload.

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