If we’re talking about games like Stardew Valley, I would need to list them out: My Time at Portia, Harvest Moon, and Animals crossing are just a few I’ll name.
What do they all lack? A centralized plot that lacks delivered objectives and cut scenes.
What do I mean by that? If you ever played an RPG, like the famous Final Fantasy titled games, they all have a centralized plot. There’s the setting or intro, the complication or rising action, climax, and then the resolution or character growth.
Let’s define these definitions a bit more.
Intro: A place where the player understands what to do and what his goals are. This usually means a premise has been set into the players mind and they understand what is happening in the world.
Rising action: Some type of suspense that creates a conflict that prevents the main character from achieving his/her goals. Basically it means, the character has a goal that they want to achieve, like saving a town or defeating a boss, but he can’t because he is too weak. This shows a goal and a conflict.
Climax: A battle or some type of large conflict that the character is trying to over come. Let’s say you are fighting the final boss who has ravaged the lands for many years and with years of exploration and training, you are in the midst of battling this evil being that burned your town. This is the climax. You don’t know if the main character will defeat this boss or not but the character is trying to over come this conflict. Beat the boss and save the world.
Resolution: The conflict is over and the character grows from his ordeals or solves the main big conflict. As you beat the boss, the world is restored. The resolution is keeping the world peaceful again.
Let’s fit that idea to Stardew Valley.
How does Stardew valley introduces you to the game? Or what is the intro?
You are given a letter by your grandfather to start a new life on Stardew Valley. The premise is to just farm. There isn’t much of an intro besides the idea of wanting to get married and meeting new people in your town. But it does set a premise which is do whatever you want to do and life your farm life.
Where is Stardew Valley’s rising action?
It’s the drama between people in the town. There isn’t a strong antagonist where the main character needs to overcome something to grow as a person. It’s just resolving townsfolk drama.
Where is Stardew Valley’s Climax?
In the overall grand scheme of plot design? None. The main character doesn’t have a conflict that he/she needs to overcome.
Where is Stardew Valley’s resolution?
The game is open ended, meaning there is no true ending. There are ending in Stardew Valley but they don’t leave you with a resolved conflict. The best ending that Stardew valley has to offer is a high score from your grandpa.
Even though Stardew valley does have a story line through the dramas the villagers have, it’s an open ended game with an emergent story that comes out slowly. So I wouldn’t considered it to have a centralized plot.
Lets take a look at one of the games like Stardew Valley: My Time At Portia.
My Time at Portia
What is the intro?
At the start of the game you are presented with a letter from your father. The sets the premise of living on a farm and having a wonderful life. Very similiar to Stardew valley’s premise.
It’s very open ended as to what you have to do. It’s pretty much saying, do whatever you want to do and have fun.
Where is My Time At Portia Rising action?
The mayor gives you quests to do like build a couple of transportation for the town, collect certain x resources, and explore dungeons.
The game offers you some mysteries here and there to drive the player’s curiosity more like exploring a dungeon or resolving a towns folk drama.
But there isn’t a rising action. There’s no major conflict that the character is presented, just obstacles to reach a goal not solve a conflict.
The only near conflict the game presents is rebuilding the society of the ruined human civilization, but this isn’t addressed as much in the game. It’s a pretty much hands off in terms of storytelling. It’s more of a lore. I say lore because there isn’t much cut scenes that explains why the city is in ruins.
Where is My Time At Portia Climax?
Fighting bosses! The jump from rising climax to climax is harsh. In the overall grand scheme of plot design, fighting bosses doesn’t have a true conflict where the character needs to overcome his/her own conflict.
There’s no true purpose of fighting bosses besides itching your own curiosity of why the human race collapsed. This boss just supports the lore.
Where is My Time At Portia Resolution?
Pretty much an end credit of what you have done within your farm. It shows you a list of what your accomplishments are. There’s no resolution or any type of resolved conflict that happened.
While the game offers a lot of nice, fun and repetitive mechanics such as lama riding, weapon making, battles, planting, etc, etc… it doesn’t deliver a centralized plot. The game does have some mysteries here and there to drive the player’s curiosity more like exploring a dungeon or towns folk drama, but the overall story falls flat. There’s no antagonist. There’s no conflict. Just a goal of rebuilding and a lore.
Onward to the next games like Stardew Valley: Animal Crossing New Horizons.
Animal Crosing: New Horizons
This game is designed to be shared with other players. Design your own island and have other players visit your island.
Let’s start with what is Animal Crossing: New Horizons premise:
Pretty much you’ve been invited to a deserted getaway island and you start meeting the people on the island. Very much like Stardew Valley’s intro.
Where is Animal Crossing Rising action?
None. It’s pretty much make your own rising action. Let’s check out this little fun meme which has drove this game’s excitement through the roof.
Just look how fun this is to share. No, Animal crossing isn’t a horror game. In fact it’s a family game created by Nintendo. There’s just a lot of items to collect in Animal crossing. Even stuff to decorate your house. It even goes on further by allowing you to craft!
Animal Crossing’s rising conflict is what you create it to be. Designing a murder room and sharing it to your friends can create a murder mystery and a nice story around this idea.
Animal crossing doesn’t have a climax or a resolution because there is no character conflict.
While Animal Crossing is a family fun simulator game, there is zero plot what so ever. So why is animal crossing like Stardew Valley? Because it’s an open ended game with lots of collecting, planting, and growing relationships with your neighbors.
Now finally, the last topic: Harvest Moon. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Just like the old series, Friends of Mineral Town is about life: raising cows, growing plants, and collecting chicken eggs. And marriage!
Intro: You start off with a farm passed down by your grandfather. Very much like Stardew Valley’s premise.
Rising action: None. There isn’t a character conflict that he/she must overcome.
Climax: None. Just raising cows and not letting plants wither.
Resolution: None. The game doesn’t end.
There isn’t a centralized plot in any of the harvest moon series. It’s pretty much one big addicting farm simulator. I’m not saying this game is a bad game, it just doesn’t have a story.
An up coming Indie Game: Harvest Island
Games like Stardew Valley lacks a centralized plot. It’s just hard getting a farming simulator game with a story. Why? Because every simulator games doesn’t have a character conflict. All of the games I have mentioned are open ended! The game doesn’t end!
So I present to you Harvest Island. An up coming indie game that is like Stardew Valley. And with a centralized plot too!
As far as what the steam page tells us, or what I would only want you to know, it’s about a boy who is curious and decides to explore the island that only he and his family lives on. They give bless to the gods required by the family.
Already this starts with a strong premise. We are required to give bless to the gods. This raises some questions already. Which is good because now it sets up a conflict. Why am I on this island?
Harvest Island is a very wholesome and cute game at a glance and is designed in RPG Maker MV. It’s release date is Winter 2020.
And yes, there is a centralized plot for Harvest Island with other farming type mechanics added. It won’t be like games like Stardew Valley because this game will have an intro, raising climax, climax, and resolution.
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