Lessons from an Indie Game Developer

In unpacking my decision to NOT grow beyond myself as the driving force behind CA, I’d like to share with you the tale of someone I find rather inspiring, one Eric Barone, a.k.a. @ConcernedApe.

Eric is the creator of Stardew Valley, a videogame where you leave a soul sucking corporate job to take over your late grandfather’s farm in some small rural town. It has low-fi, Super Nintendo-era graphics, and has you farming, foraging, fishing, mining, and building friendships with the 20-odd townspeople.

Stardew Valley graphics.

It’s positively charming.

Eric was interested in making videogames, but it was never his profession. In 2012, he just started making Stardew Valley.

He did all the art, all the writing, all the programming, even all the music (it’s quite a soundtrack, and has even has a symphonic arrangement that tours). Everything.

He’s sold twenty million copies. It’s a game that has brought joy to and is beloved by millions.

I first became acquainted in 2020, when I was looking for a new game to pass the time during the early months of quarantine. It cost fifteen dollars. My kids and I love to play it, we’ve logged over 100 hours. In 2021, Eric released version 1.5, a huge expansion pack to the game. It was automagically downloaded and installed into my copy of the game on my Nintendo Switch, no charge. Suddenly the game was just bigger and better.

Eric is an inspiration to me. Here’s a guy who has completely thumbed his nose at the supposed “right way” to create a great game (the big budget studio, the specialized teams, the publishing/marketing engine). Instead, he just spent time in his studio, lovingly and patiently crafting something great for everyone to enjoy. His charm and style are woven throughout; it’s unabashedly his and nothing was debated in committee.

I had already been on my CoachAccountable journey for 8 years when I became acquainted with Stardew Valley and the story behind it. The story immediately gave me profound comfort to see such similarities in eschewing distraction in favor of focused creation.

This is about as independent a venture as they get.
At your service.