The way Stardew Valley ushered in the farming sim renaissance

The way Stardew Valley ushered in the farming sim renaissance

The result of a storm of cozy simulators

Every new batch of gaming news streams we receive, they''re accompanied by memes about the game''s theme that dominated the announcements and updates. Over the summer, there was an endless stream of dark space marine shooters, and after the news streams that rolled through this week, it appears theres a fresh genre: farming simulators.

Ooblets, I Am Future, Dreamlight Valley, Potion Permit, Bear and Breakfast, Witchbrook, My Time at Portia, Wytchwood, Homestead Arcana, Little Witch in the Woods, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life are always ending today. This is excellent news for me, considering its one of my favorite genres ever, and you can bet your bottom dollar Im playing as many of them as I can.

While farming/community sims have existed for a long time, I think we can accredit a lot of their recent resurgence to the success of one exceptional indie game: Stardew Valley. It''s one of those games that is straightforward enough to pick up and start playing regardless of your skill level and even where you are in any given save file, yet still complex enough for players to challenge themselves and min-max the crap out of it if they want.

The controls are simple and you may run it on any device, which means it is available (as well as affordable) on any conceivable platform. The game has boosted a rich modding community, who enjoys bringing a fresh twist on the gameplay, story, characters, and aesthetics.

Besides, it''s the passion of a single developer, and it''s all about the love and care you might expect from someone who loves it. All of these elements combined to form a memorable game, and a global cultural phenomenon that swept through the industry and made Stardew one of the most popular and successful indie games of all time.

If my assumption is correct, then we are seeing Stardew Valleys inevolve across the country as a result of the growing demand for cozy farming/community simulators. Obviously, we must give credit where it is due to series like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons for paving the way for this once niche genre to become more mainstream, but I truly believe Stardew is the main reason for its universal appeal and subsequent popularity.

So today is a wave of all kinds of games that are putting their own twist on the traditional farming/community sim formula, which is a ton of fun to see. Just like shooters or RPGs take the mechanical elements of their genre and try to do something no one has previously done down to the most minute level, simulators are seeing the same level of impassioned scrutiny.

Video games are still a very different form than movies, television, literature, or even their earlier cousin, tabletop games. I cant express how profound it is to see developers explore the limitations of a new genre and create something new.

Most of these games will be used in mechanics, such as farming, mining, fishing, cooking, crafting, and befriending townspeople, etc., but the difference in how these mechanics are implemented and influence each other will always be unique. Each game will have different economic and social systems for the player to interact with, which will result in different outcomes.

Its like that a lot of bioShock, Mass Effect, and Dishonored, for example, have a magic mechanic to complement familiar weapons, such as guns, daggers, and others. While each game that uses its own kind of magic will vary the amount of magic, the cost of that magic will vary (usually utilizing a mana system, which can also have an infinite number of variations).

This is because by nature of a saturated (and nearly oversaturated) market, developers are forced to think creatively when it comes to utilizing the mechanics in their skillbox to create a more engaging experience.

Then we get Cult of the Lamb or Ooblets, which combine community simulation with an action roguelike and farming simulation with a -style animal companion battle. Like storytelling, the key to crafting fresh and exciting games is finding new ways to combine and implement elements we already love.

It''s one thing to retrospectly look at this phenomenon, but it''s another to see it happen in real time. I believe this is a fantastic time for playing, especially farming simulators.

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