Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon

Parts of The Isle of Elanor were based on the games Stardew Valley (SDV) and Harvest Moon.

I chose to follow the user interface design of SDV. The SDV design simply works. The tabbed dialogs in SDV are the simplest, most functional design choice possible. User interface is the “easy” part of programming a game. It doesn’t require much time, and I wanted a functional user interface so that I could work on the fun and interesting areas of creating this game. At some point, I will rework areas of the UI.

However, there are clear aesthetic differences between the user interface and art styles of The Isle of Elanor and SDV. The Isle of Elanor is more subtle: it uses a less saturated color palette and much less “bling” than SDV.

The Isle of Elanor and SDV are fundamentally different games in many ways. The Isle of Elanor is set in an imaginary time period that predates the modern world of SDV. The Isle of Elanor is a fundamentally more complex game than SDV. The Isle of Elanor features role playing, combat, economics and other game play areas that are much more complex than SDV.

Using a standard color palette, and without using very plain art assets, it’s physically impossible to make a game with a farming mechanic with 16 pixel tiles that doesn’t look in some part like SDV. It’s not possible to defy the laws of physics. This explains why many SDV game assets look like assets from Harvest Moon. This explains why the farming aspects of a game like Core Keeper look like SDV.

Here are two bed graphics. They are the same size, 32 x 64 pixels. One asset is from Harvest Moon and one asset is from SDV.

Which bed is from SDV? Which bed is from Harvest Moon?

The only distinguishing artistic difference between the two is the lower graphic uses a black outline. Each graphic could be easily fit into both SDV and Harvest Moon. This same comparison can be done with a lot of assets from the two games.

Did ConcernedApe (the creator of SDV) steal the art style, design and structure of this asset?

Obviously, he didn’t. He had seen the Harvest Moon bed and he drew his own bed. He was working within the constraints of 16 pixel tiles. 16 pixels is the graphical unit size in SDV, Harvest Moon, and The Isle of Elanor. When you have only 16 pixels to work with, it’s physically impossible to draw some items that don’t look like items from other 16 pixel tile games.

There’s a huge library of art work created by SDV modders, and in most cases, this art work fits into the SDV world, not because the mod creators were following a SDV style guide, but simply because the mod creators were working within the constraints of 16 pixels.

During the prototyping stage of The Isle of Elanor, I made use of SDV art assets. I posted screenshots of these prototypes on reddit and places like the Libgdx discord server. Some people who saw those screenshots mistakenly believed that I was attempting to use the SDV graphics in my game (even when I stated that the assets were for prototyping).

Here’s a comparison of a few common sprites in Elanor and SDV. They are clearly different, every pixel.

Stardew is a great game. I will probably play some SDV tonight with my daughter.