Just a few last thoughts on Stardew Valley before I probably put it away for a while. Full disclosure, I'm only up to about 10 hours, but I think thats enough to figure out what's up.

For anyone who isn't familiar with this PC game, it was developed by a one-man team over the past 4 years, and is pretty much based on the early design of Harvest Moon from graphics to gameplay. The one major thing that was supposed to set this apart from Harvest Moon was that it was going to be an online mulit-player game so that you could have sort of a farming collective going. However, in the final months of development he was running into some major problems with it, and opted to release it without multiplayer. So essentially he made his own version of Harvest Moon for the PC.

No question in the world that this is a pretty blatant Harvest Moon rip-off. Some of the animal designs in fact look like they were directly lifted from the game. The developer, Concerned Ape, didn't seem to have much interest in doing anything genuinely original. Even the new leveling up and crafting features, while not found in the early Harvest Moons have been in the spin-off series Rune Factory, since the start, though really I got a feeling that this was more inspired by Minecraft than anything else. At any rate it isn't isn't a new idea.

But now the real question... is that a bad thing? The Japanese developer of the series, Marvelous, switched directions a long time ago and the current series (now Story of Seasons) hasn't been like this for about a decade. Natsume, the American company that owns the rights to the Harvest Moon name, have been releasing their own in-house developed games that have been mediocre at best, and honestly that's being really generous.

So this guy comes along, and decides to make an old-school Harvest Moon game and puts it on the PC, which has never seen an installment of the series before. It's definitely not as good as the best installments of the series, but it's not a bad game. There's a few design issues, as far as the layout of the town and land, and he didn't make any attempts to fix some problems that the series has always had (characterization and story), but not one is going to accuse him of making some cheap copy of the series (that's apparently Natsume's job). This is a good game.

So if a developer takes an idea that has long been dormant and essentially been abandoned by its own creators, is that a bad thing? I guess it's still stealing, but at the end of the day this game is already close to selling a million copies, so clearly there was a fanbase out there that was being ignored. I'm not sure you can fault him for addressing that. In fact, one might say he did a good thing by doing it.

Posted by robio Thu, 07 Apr 2016 12:59:31 (comments: 2)
Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:28:31

I don't have too much of a problem with developers doing their own take of a style of gameplay. That is after all how genres form. For example you never would have the fighting genre if it weren't for Street Fighter "clones" that came after it which slowly expanded on the influenced game.

What's more is that once a game is abandoned I have no problem with developers making a spritual sequel to a game, especially if noone else is picking up the ball.

Thu, 07 Apr 2016 18:32:47
That's sort of my problem with Stardew Valley though. It isn't someone's take on Harvest Moon. It IS Harvest Moon. Even the most unoriginal Street Fighter clones offered more originality than this. I knew it would be very similar but not this much.

So that does bother me a bit. Still, I think the "law of salvage" applies here and if no one else is going to do it, someone probably should.
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