After years of working on it solo, Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone now has a small team helping him deliver updates to Stardew Valley. While he plans to keep supporting his wildly popular farming sim with the help of others, he's also working on not one, but two game projects by himself, and one of them sounds like it's a bigger undertaking than Stardew was.
"Yes, I'm actually working on a couple new projects," says Barone on Twitter. "One takes place in the world of Stardew Valley, but is not a farming game. The other, I'm not 100% sure about the world yet, but it will tie into Stardew Valley in some way."
Barone's tweet quickly racked up thousands of likes on Twitter, prompting him to set some expectations while sharing a few more details with IGN UK. "I'm purposely staying very vague about my new projects because I don't want to create a bunch of hype yet," Barone says.
While Barone has mentioned working on an unannounced project by himself before, including in a recent Q&A with USG, this is the first time he's given any details as to what he's cooking up. Barone tells IGN UK that both new projects are single-player, top-down 2D games with pixel art. The one Barone's been working on longer, he says, is essentially a finished idea in his head and aims to out-do Stardew in every sense:
In general, I've been approaching this game with the goal to surpass the quality of every aspect compared to Stardew Valley... art, music, sound, narratives, etc... and I think I have been achieving that so far. I just have to put in the 1000's more hours of work necessary to finish it.
Barone says the other project is something he picked up recently "as a little thing to have fun with" and hopes that if it becomes a complete game, it'll be smaller in scope and won't take as long to finish.
With regards to both projects, Barone stresses that he doesn't want to attract much speculation or hype at this point in time. "I'd like to just make whatever game comes naturally to without too much pressure or expectation," he says.
I'm not setting out to make the next indie smash hit, I just want to make another game that I enjoy and am happy with. And to share some of my art & ideas with the world. If it becomes popular, I will be happy, but it's not my focus— ConcernedApe (@ConcernedApe) February 11, 2020
With Stardew Valley having sold over 10 million copies across its various platforms, Barone likely isn't feeling financial pressure to rush through either of his solo projects. He's also not beholden to the expectations of a publisher, either—in October 2019, Barone took over publishing responsibilities on Stardew Valley for all platforms but mobile, and he says he would like to self-publish his future titles as well.
"One thing that will help make self-publishing easier for me in the future is that I'm not really big on marketing," Barone told USG last fall. "My hope is to continue making games that are compelling enough to market themselves by word of mouth."