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Friday, December 08, 2023

Magical Haunted Ghost Chocolate, Stardew Valley mastermind announces new game

Eric Barone, who uses the online alias ConcernedApe, announced last week that he is in the process of developing a new game, titled “ConcernedApe’s Haunted Chocolatier,” to the delight of cozy gamers everywhere.

Barone is the sole designer of the popular farming simulation and roleplay game “Stardew Valley,” which came out in 2016 after four years of development. Over 15 million copies of the game have been sold. 

“Stardew Valley” features a nostalgic, pixelated art style and open gameplay in which the player, who has inherited a dilapidated farm from their grandfather, explores Pelican Town. The game focuses on interaction with colorful, fleshed-out NPCs, along with a variety of quests and activities. 

ConcernedApe stated that the game, which is not finished yet, will move away from the “humble” nature of “Stardew Valley.” 

“I wanted to explore more fantastical possibilities … experiences that take you beyond the ordinary. That’s where magical haunted ghost chocolate comes in,” Barone said. 

An early gameplay clip is available online, which shows “fantastical” scenery depicted in Ape’s trademark throwback style. The player engages in combat with many of the same enemies in “Stardew Valley” — such as slimes and bats — and travels the map collecting ingredients. Boo-esque ghosts float about the screen with chocolate on their heads as the player interacts with a host of new NPCs, including Burk, a buff, mustached man and Nigel — a creepy old man running a bar. 

ConcernedApe made clear that this game does not depart from the wholesome, soothing vibes of Stardew Valley. 

“Don’t think for a moment that, because this game features ghosts in a haunted castle, it is an evil or negative game. On the contrary, I intend for this game to be positive, uplifting and life-affirming. However, if Stardew Valley mostly channeled the energy of the sun, ‘Haunted Chocolatier’ channels the energy of the moon. Both are vital.”

Barone has developed games for 10 years and produced all of the art, dialogue and code for “Stardew Valley,” which he initially began as an exercise in improving his programming skills. 

No release date is known for “Haunted Chocolatier,” though Barone stated that “it will be a while before this game is done.” 

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