What Game Engine Does Stardew Valley Use?

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is an amazing game in many different aspects. Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone developed the game’s code, art, music, and other assets single-handedly over the period of four years initially. What started as a humble prospect meant to improve his development skills eventually turned into one of the best games of all time. Stardew Valley, however, was a success due to being quite different from many other games with similar gameplay and goals, and of those differences in the engine of the game itself. Having said that, let’s see what game engine was Stardew Valley built on.

Stardew Valley was developed using a custom-made engine that Eric Barone built himself. The game’s engine was built from scratch using XNA Framework until eventually migrating to MonoGame in order to improve the future prospects when it comes to upgrading the game.

It’s clear from this short answer that Barone didn’t use any commercially available game engine to develop Stardew Valley, the engine was built from scratch and custom made and it doesn’t even have a name. If you want to find out more about the game’s development stay with us and keep reading!

How long did it take to make Stardew Valley?

The most cited timeline when it comes to Stardew Valley is four years. It took Barone four years to develop Stardew Valley. It’s important to mention however that during those four years he “re-did” the game multiple times. The game itself was his hobby, he started working on the for two reasons. First, he was fresh out of college and was unable to find a job with his computer science degree, in order to develop his skills more he started working on Stardew Valley. The second reason is, he was not content with the current state of the Harvest Moon series (a series that heavily inspired Stardew Valley). He took it upon himself to develop a game that will be everything that Harvest Moon is, and so much more.

He frequently spent 10+ hours a day working on the game as all the assets and programming were done by himself. If anything he took the phrase “if you want something done right, do it yourself” to a whole another epic level.

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After the game’s release in 2016, Barone took the feedback he got from the community seriously and improve the game the best he could while focusing his effort on the multiplayer version as well as ports on other consoles and mobile devices. In the same year, publisher Chucklefish got involved. Barone decided to involve the publisher to receive help when it comes to localizing the game and porting it to other consoles. In 2022, Chucklefish and Barone ended their collaboration.

What game engine was Stardew Valley built on?

Eric Barone himself stated that the engine for Stardew Valley was built from scratch using XNA Framework.

XNA framework is as the name implies a set of free tools meant for game design and development. It includes an extensive set of class libraries, specific to game development which in turn makes it highly adaptable for numerous other platforms.
If you open your Stardew Valley game files you will notice that the vast majority of them have a .xnb extension. These files are usually compressed libraries of images (and other files) that will appear in a video game when the game is started.

Those compressed files are created with XNA Studio. In other words, the XNA Framework is a collection of APIs (software interfaces that facilitate communication between several programs). In 2021 Barone migrated to MonoGame Framework, which basically does the exact same thing as XNA Framework but better, this in turn future-proofs the game and allows for some extra features to be implemented.

When it comes to re-using Stardew Valley’s engine, Barone explained, on Twitter as well, that it’s not really meant for any other game. There are however in today’s day and age numerous alternatives available for indie game development when it comes to engines.

Was Stardew Valley written in C++?

Stardew Valley was written in C++ and developed using XNA Framework as we’ve already mentioned. He only later migrated to MonoGame. Plenty of other indie games were built on MonoGame for example Escape Goat, Chasm, Celeste, Salt and Sanctuary, and many others!

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As you can see Stardew Valley was almost a singlehanded effort of Eric Barone developed over the course of 4 years and the game is still being improved today! When it comes to the game’s engine, Stardew Valley uses a custom-made engine suitable only for Stardew Valley. Essentially the game was built in C++ programming language and XNA Framework. In recent times, Barone migrated to MonoGame in order to “future-proof” the game. His engine is not commercially available.

  • Valentina Kraljik

    Valentina Kraljik is a writer and editor at Game Horizon with a deep love for everything related to video games. With a degree in Information Sciences, she brings a well-informed and unique perspective to her work. Valentina's writing is known for covering a wide range of video g...