Things have been rough lately for a number of reasons, and one of the best ways that I have found to weather the storm is to plug myself into gaming. It’s kind of reassuring that you can do something repetitive and know that it’s a few less hours where you had to feel anything or think too much. I have murky geek girl credentials, because I usually steer well clear of a lot of the big selling games. I like World of Warcraft (though level 90+ is pretty boring to me, and I will never enjoy group dungeons), but I also love Age of Empires and Banished-type games. Oh, and Orcs Must Die 2 will never get old. I also love a whole bunch of niche games on Steam, like Who’s Your Daddy? and Goat Simulator. I guess I’m weird and picky, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody!
Anyway, Stardew Valley – I love it. For the uninitiated, it’s a game where you are the owner of a farm and you have to do all sorts of activities to make money to upgrade your farm. You can grow crops, go fishing, mine for ores and gems, forage for food, explore hidden areas and make friends (or marry) the townspeople. It’s pretty much the opposite of hectic, but you do constantly have to watch how many hours are left in the day and how much energy you have left. There has been a lot of comparison to ‘spoonie’ culture, and I can definitely see that – it’s kind of refreshing that there are no shortcuts, you can’t put in a superhuman effort in one day to fast-track the game, it’s all about slow and steady persistence.
And oh my goodness, search for the game on Tumblr and see how much effort people have put into their Stardew Valley fan art. Especially the dreamy Shane and Sebastian portraits. There are some serious crushes going on for those two, which is interesting considering that one is an emotionally volatile alcoholic and the other is a sulky emo kid who literally lives in his parents’ basement.
Anyway, my very best quality tips for the Stardew Valley novice:
- Build lots of chests and hoard a certain number of foraged/fished/farmed items, so you are always prepared if you get a quest. I like to build up to hoarding three of each item, sometimes more if I know a particular character loves something, so that I always have a ‘loved’ gift for them (i.e. Shane and hot peppers). Note: Nathan disagrees with this strategy because he just ignore the quests and gives everybody salmonberries for friendship instead, so YMMV.
- Don’t go crazy with farming until you have enough resources for a lot of sprinklers, otherwise it will suck all your energy and you won’t get anything else done unless it is raining. Do make sure that you plant a lot of the crops that are included in the ‘quality crop bundle’ and use fertilizer on them – it really, really sucked only getting four gold star quality melons in summer and knowing that I’d have to wait a whole year for another chance.
- Birthdays are really important – I went from zero to three hearts with George by giving him a ‘loved’ item on his birthday, so worth it.
- Look at the community centre bundles on the wiki before you even start, so you know what you need. It’s beyond frustrating if you get to the last three days of spring and realize that all the farm items that you needed to collect won’t grow in time before autumn comes, so you have to wait until next year instead.
- Watch television! Very important. Especially the Living off the Land show – this will tell you when foraging events happen, like salmonberry and blackberry season. I easily foraged hundreds of these and they are useful for turning into jam en masse and selling.
- Plan out your day as soon as you get up, and make it a logical plan that doesn’t involve too much walking back and forth. For example, I might have saved up four geodes that need processing, so it makes sense to take them at a time when I have some ocean fishing to do, since I’ll be on that side of town anyway.
- Use a spreadsheet like this one to keep track of which crops are most profitable. In the first year, it’s a good idea to plant some of everything to build up your stored items and get those bundles, but once that’s done, it’s all about profit (except for if you need items for cooking).
- Five levels each day seems to be my limit in the mines; any more than that, I seem to be running out of energy or time. I keep a chest outside the entrance to the mines that is stocked with high energy/health food items to take with me, so I don’t have to lug them around with me all the time.
- Have fun!