Gaming

Stardew Valley Modder Brings A Fake Hardcore Mode to Life With Hilarious Results

Taking DIY to another level.

screenshot from Stardew Valley
Concerned Ape

The release of Shadow of the Erdtree has players experiencing the joy and frustration of difficult games, but Elden Ring isn’t the only game that recently got a whole lot harder. Thanks to one quick-thinking modder, a viral joke has become an actual hard mode for one of the biggest cozy games ever.

Earlier this week, satirical gaming site Hard Drive posted a story called “Stardew Valley's New Hardcore Mode Deletes Your Farm if You Open the Wiki.” In other words, no guides allowed. A social media post with the story got plenty of attention, and it wasn’t long before a software engineer, Sylvie Nightshade, took it upon herself to make the joke a reality. According to the mod’s description on GitHub, Nightshade taught herself SMAPI (Stardew Valley modding API) in just two hours in order to make it.

Building the perfect farm is even harder when you can’t check the wiki.

Concerned Ape

Dubbed “Hardcored Mode for Stardew Valley,” the actual mod does just what the initial joke says. If you’re playing Stardew Valley and open a wiki — to, say, compare the price of crops or learn how to get Leah to love you — the mod immediately deletes your save file, leaving you to start a new game over from scratch. To determine whether you’re getting unauthorized help, the mod simply scans the name of every window you have open while you play and triggers if any is titled “Stardew Valley Wiki.” Shortly after posting the mod, Nightshade updated it to also close the browser window with the wiki, “just to add insult to injury.”

It’s a far cry from most Stardew Valley mods, many of which give you new tools to make you a better farmer or add tweaks like map markers for NPCs to provide more information on the village’s goings on. Hardcore mode instead takes access to information away, forcing you to learn what you need to know through trial and error or just bumble your way through the game and hope you don’t screw anything up too badly.

Maybe leaving the wiki alone to just enjoy the game isn’t so bad.

Concerned Ape

If that doesn’t sound particularly hardcore, you likely haven’t played much Stardew Valley — or at least you haven’t played it the way that the game’s most dedicated farmers have settled on. Stardew Valley is full of a staggering number of resources to keep track of, from seeds to ore to farming tools. Then there’s the NPC dating side of the game, which requires players to figure out their crush’s favorite gifts and plan out how to raise their affection levels. And that’s not even mentioning secrets like void chickens. All in all, there’s just a lot going on in Stardew Valley, and managing it all efficiently takes a lot of effort.

All the work it takes to be the world’s best farmer/miner/slime-slaying does raise the question of whether putting in that much effort makes Stardew Valley a bit less cozy. Some people definitely get a lot of satisfaction out of making the most productive farm possible, but at some point, playing optimally does start to feel more like having a second job than enjoying a relaxing game.

So maybe playing Stardew Valley on “hardcore mode” isn’t actually about increasing the game’s challenge, but freeing yourself from the demands of perfection. Without the ability to check grain prices or plot out your ideal community center donation schedule, you can just allow yourself to spend time with your favorite chickens, get to know your neighbors better, and build a farm that suits you best rather than one that conforms to the player base’s best practices. Maybe it’s not a hardcore mode at all, but a return to the game’s roots as a cozy rural life sim. Of course, you could also just check the wiki on your phone if you really can’t help yourself. The mod can’t get you from there.

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