‘Stardew Valley’: Is Sebastian Modeled After ConcernedApe?

Since its initial release in February 2016, Stardew Valley by ConcernedApe has become one of the most beloved games of its time. Developer ConcernedApe, real name Eric Barone, created the entire farming simulator from the ground up independently — a fact that often shocks fans of Stardew Valley. As a result, it’s hard to imagine he was able to put the whole game together without leaving parts of himself scattered throughout. One theory even suggests that the Stardew Valley character Sebastian may be a self-insert for ConcernedApe. 

How did ConcernedApe make ‘Stardew Valley’?

ConcernedApe made Stardew Valley solo. A Stardew Valley player enjoys the night market.
A Stardew Valley player enjoys the night market | ConcernedApe

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For ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley was a way to find a job. At least at first, anyway. After graduating from UW Tacoma, Eric Barone was struggling to find work. 

“So I decided to start making a game, a slightly bigger game, to get better at programming and put on my resume,” Barone told King 5 news. “I kept telling everyone, ‘Oh, maybe it will be done in six more months.’”

“It kind of like, organically kept growing and growing and growing into this big game in 2016 that I was able to release as Stardew Valley,” explained Barone. 

ConcernedApe was just one person, and that meant he had to do everything for the game. He explained that meant “all of the music, all of the art, all of the programming, all of the writing, all of the game design.”

“I want when you’re playing it, I want every moment to be full of joy and wonder, and to bring back the kind of magic that you may have felt when you were a kid and you first played video games,” Barone added.

Massive update adds tons of new content

A farmer prepares for a busy day in ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley
A farmer prepares for a busy day in ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley | ConcernedApe

ConcernedApe launched the massive Stardew Valley 1.5 patch in December 2021, to the excitement of fans worldwide. The long-awaited patch included some massive content additions — like really massive — alongside balances, changes, and bug fixes. 

Players can now access an entirely new part of the map, Ginger Island, after completing a special task for Willy. Ginger Island boasts new locations, NPCs, quests, events, puzzles, monsters, loot, you name it. 

Similar additions have been made in other areas throughout Stardew Valley. That is to say, Ginger Island isn’t the only place receiving new loot, animals, quests, and interactions. Without spoiling too much, you can also add new buildings to your farm and take part in special orders, among other things. 

The entire Stardew Valley 1.5 patch changelog can be found here on the official website. 

‘Stardew Valley’: Sebastian seems a lot like ConcernedApe

It would be surprising if Stardew Valley creator ConcernedApe didn’t leave behind parts of himself in what was obviously a labor of love and passion. In fact, some fans have been wondering if Stardew Valley’s Sebastian is modeled after ConcernedApe. 

One Redditor pointed out some marked physical similarities between the two, noting the black hair, interest in darker toned clothing, and some of Sebastian’s earlier art and haircut. 

They also pointed out that in Stardew Valley, Sebastian’s interests and behaviors match up with some of ConcernedApe’s. Notably, Sebastian spends much of his time alone on his computer. The original poster noted that the developer has referred to himself as a “self-imposed recluse” who worked on their game 10-12 hours a day.

Finally, they noted that one of Sebastian’s post-marriage quotes seems to mimic ConcernedApe’s real life. 

“I did some work on the laptop today. I was actually brainstorming some ideas for a game I want to make. With your farming income, I can afford to do what I want with my life. It’s pretty amazing. Thank you,” Sebastian tells his spouse in Stardew Valley

Similarly, Eric Barone poured his time and passion into Stardew Valley while his girlfriend helped support them both. 

“There are a couple characters that are based off people I know in real life, but mostly they are amalgamations of the many people I’ve met throughout life,” ConcernedApe wrote during a Reddit AmA. No concrete answers here, but it’s hard to ignore the similarities.