Stardew Valley, the game and world constructed by ConcernedApe, has become a mass success over the years due to its relatable characters and refined mechanics. ConcernedApe himself has also expressed his appreciation for mods and their importance in the games industry. Due to its impact on me, I chose to inspect a mod for Stardew Valley that adds more characters and more cutscenes that explore the lore and stories of different characters in the game, the Stardew Valley Expanded mod. In the mod, several fan theories, such as the wizard being Abigail’s father, are explored in full, with new cutscenes with Abigail exploring her magic and her family coming to terms with how Abigail is not Pierre’s daughter. The mod also opens up several new areas, such as a neighboring town and the mountain peak. With all of these new cutscenes and being able to explore more of the valley, many players left feeling hungry even after all of the content of the original game have a chance to live inside of a fanfiction rendition of the game.
However, the mod would not have the same effect it does without the amazing writing and character development of the original game. “Modders infiltrate a wealthier ‘host’ game system” (Schleiner 36). As Schleiner so aptly expresses, mods cannot exist without a game it takes inspiration from. With Startdew Valley Expanded, Stardew Valley itself gives the mod the audience from its popularity, the base mechanics, the characters, and the deep and expansive stories of the characters. Without these tenets in place, the mod would not have any impact. The ideas present inside the mod come about specifically from the question, “How can one make Stardew Valley better?”, so while the cutscenes, areas, and some of the characters are new, the life in the new pieces are from the love and devotion to the original, base game.
Schleiner, Anne-Marie. The Player’s Power to Change the Game. Amsterdam University Press, 2017.