My Island Getaway: Animal Crossing during a Pandemic

If you’ve been with my blog a while, you may have noticed the occasional gaming article here or there. Months ago, I wrote my first Stardew Valley fan fiction and it was a blast to write. So I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing the last couple months; Animal Crossing! I’ve been playing Animal Crossing for the last couple decades now. Yes, while everyone in the world is now playing the game, I want it on record that I’ve been playing since the Gamecube. Wild World, City Folk, New Leaf; I’ve done them all. Hundreds of hours in each, accumulating to over a thousand hours of paying off debt, buying turnips, and decorating my mansion.

The Premise

You hop on a plane to a deserted island, your first couple of weeks is spent in a tent. Over time, your island grows as more villagers move in and eventually you start infrastructure projects such as building bridges over water and paving in pathways. Your island will eventually have a clothing shop and a museum, and if you’re like me, you might’ve built a cafe and a public park with a wrestling ring.

When I Left

The Pandemic had just begun and I aptly named my Island “Last Hope” which has turned into my darkest chapter in Animal Crossing history. In my sick fantasies I’ve gotten on one of the last planes and am tasked with rebuilding society. Tom Nook is trying to save the world. Every bug, fish, and fossil I collect is an attempt to preserve the future and show that it is possible. Oftentimes I have wondered if Animal Crossing is set in the apocalypse with mutated animals that can speak. There are very few humans. And then I wake up, tend to my garden and celebrate birthdays with my neighbors.

Why it’s kept me sane

The game itself is relaxing. I have loans that I can actually pay off and when I pay off those loans, they go towards meaningful contributions until I one day own a mansion. If I invest in the stalk market, I can expect a huge return on investment and due to globalization, I can also find a high turnip price. When I pull weeds, I can transform the weeds themselves to terrariums and hay-bales. Early on, it kept me from waking up before noon as turnip prices change twice a day. Now I slump out of bed and when I start up Animal Crossing, I am already in my bathrobe. If I want to change? I literally wave a magic wand. If I want more cash, I plant money in fertile money soil and grow a money tree. If capitalism worked like that in real life, I’d have much fewer complaints. When I was but a humble beach bum, I sold seashells by the seashore. That’s literally how you get ahead in animal crossing. No 5 years of intensive studies in College, no two years at a call center, simply picking seashells; that is the world I want to live in.

How has it changed over the last couple decades?

Not to date myself, but I probably started playing Animal Crossing back in 2003, 2004. Each iteration has changed how Animal Crossing society functions. Mostly, neighbors were a dick on the Gamecube and would probably make you cry. In the Gamecube, I remember setting pitfalls (gaping holes in the ground), whacking neighbors with nets, and writing heated messages. Now, not so much. Most of my neighbors I like and I use Cyd as a reminder that there are much worse neighbors out there. Two of my neighbors are superheroes, so I’d say that’s pretty good for my relaxing island getaway. And Mr. Resetti must have died, which is sad. If you restarted the game with saving, he’d show up and yell at you. Do it enough times and he’d play God. Trees would die, the world would change color and I don’t know what other horrors many had to bear witness to as I always saved. Also, coffee. There is no coffee in the newest version! I used to wake up every morning and have my virtual cup of joe, so hopefully that gets updated soon.


And that’s it! Another article for the books! This year, the blog is growing. We have officially surpassed 2019 in unique visits to the website and views are about 30 away from surpassing last year. At this rate, we’re set to surpass 2018 by the end of the year. So remember, if you like my content, leave a like, share with a friend, and follow the website. This year growth has exploded and I couldn’t be prouder. The more exposure I have, the healthier the blog becomes with organic traffic. Eventually, the hope is to have the blog pay for itself through ad revenue. So remember to pause ad-blocker for this website. In addittion, I have a couple ways to support me. Below is the link to my Patreon and Ko-Fi:

Support this Blog!

Any little bit is much appreciated. A one time donation of a dollar or a monthly subscription helps support me as a creator. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

The Hidden Horror of Stardew Valley

He held Grandpa’s letter in his hand and began to open the seal. Mid way through, he stopped, and put the letter back in the drawer. He turned to his keyboard and began typing, waiting for his next call. Grandpa’s words echoed in his head, “No, no don’t open it yet… have patience.” He sighed and waited. Across from him was a skeleton and to his left was another co-worker. His once clean desk was in disarray. “Get it together”, he thought, as a call came in. “Hi, this is … over at …”. As quickly as the call came, it was over and he was back to his thoughts. No light came into the office and he was located in a corner in the back of a dimly lit room. Grandpa’s letter still sat in his drawer and he often wondered what it said. But he thought, “it could always be worse” and saw no need to open it. He checked the clock and it was time to go home; he was late and would miss the bus.

When he arrived to his small, two bedroom apartment, he sat down at his table. When he was comfortable, he opened the fridge and checked for food. He grabbed a beer and finding nothing edible in the fridge, settled for ramen in his upper cupboard. He slid back in his chair and turned on the TV. He flipped through the channels, trying to find anything to entertain him, at least for a bit. He settled for a rerun of an old childhood show and made his way to bed. It was already midnight. He stared at the ceiling for an hour, restless and tired, but not entirely sure why. He was happy. He made steady pay and had a job. Yet he couldn’t stop thinking of his childhood. He drifted in and out of sleep.

His alarm beeped and he slammed his hand down to stop the sporadic sounds coming from his nightstand. He checked the clock and it was 11:30. “Shit, I’m late for work”, he thought. When he arrived, 10 minutes after 12, the desk next to him was empty. He had liked his neighbor and brushed it off as business needs, thankful that he still had a job. He had been with the company for the last 3 years, in the same role. He had seen plenty come and go, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. He got his first call of the day and forgot about it.

He sat alone in the break room for lunch. There was a dartboard and a Wii and a vending machine filled to the brim with soda and chips. As he unpacked his cheddar and pepperoni sandwich on whitebread with a smidge of mayo, he decided to grab a bag of chips. As he typed in “A5” for a bag of Cheetos, his finger slipped and added another 5. He typed “A5” once more; the metal curled and the bag began to drop. Halfway through, the bag got stuck, hanging in the vending machine. He went back to his table and took a bite of his sandwich.

After lunch, he wandered back to his desk and began to daydream. He thought back to 3 years ago when he first decided to accept his offer from Joja Corporation. He needed a job and it didn’t seem to matter so much then what he chose. He had finished his studies and he needed the money. Another call came and he answered “Hi, this is … from Joja Corporation, how can I help today?” He reached for the drawer and couldn’t find the letter. “Huh, I must have misplaced it.” And then he took another call.

When he went home that night, he took a deep breath. He pulled a beer out of his fridge and boiled some water for the ramen. He sat and watched his shows. When he was tired, he went to his bed and drifted to sleep.

“There will come a day when you feel crushed by the burden of modern life…” Grandpa’s words echoed as he slept. And the haze lifted as he was pulled from his sleep, the last words evaporating before they could form.

He sat thinking about the envelope all that day. He sifted through his loose papers in his desk, searching for what was lost. He couldn’t find the letter. And then he began to forget. Clock in. Clock out. Routine was routine and life was easy. Days turned to months and months to years.


… When he got home, he was exhausted… He sat for a bit and then went to bed… He had been with Joja Corporation for 9 years going on 10. Tomorrow would be his work anniversary… He would receive his card and… Gosh, was he tired… And he drifted off, mid thought…

“…and your bright spirit will fade before a growing emptiness.”, Grandpa’s words echoed as he dreamt. “When that happens, my boy, you’ll be ready for this gift.” A single tear fell from his eye and when he awoke, his eyes glistened.

When he got to work that day, he searched frantically for the letter. And then he found Granpa’s letter… Crumpled, stained, and wedged between the wall and the edge of his cubicle. It looked old and worn. When he opened the letter, the words had all but faded. He could not read what Grandpa had wrote. He tried to squint and hold it up to the flickering light. But it was all too faded and was a relic of the past. Time had passed and the letter along with it. “If I had just opened it then…”, he thought. And then he sat down and cried.


Hi All, Thanks so much for reading! It’s been a long while since I’ve gotten around to writing a short story. I’m quite happy with how this piece turned out and have been planning on writing this for quite a while now. It is my first venture into what some might call “Fan Fiction” and I decided no better way to start than with the game that caused me to fail my marketing final. It plays with the “What if” in Stardew Valley and ponders the question of what would happen if your character never opened the envelope and simply put it back in the drawer. I plan to be writing more short stories for 2020 and will finally be getting back into writing articles. It has been slow going now that I’ve been working but I’m making a steady income and would rather not rush a post. As a reminder, you can always donate if you want to support the blog but I write for fun so do not feel obligated to. As always, feel free to leave comments and if there’s anything you want me to write about, let me know!

Best,

Mike

Gaming for Beginners: Stardew Valley

To continue with the trend as of late, I’m going to try another series. As you can imagine by the title, this series will be about gaming. I realized that if someone says video games are “a waste of time” they either 1) Have not played video games or 2) they tried video games, didn’t understand what was going on, got frustrated, and decided video games were stupid. So here I am to help. To remedy the issue, instead of writing reviews geared for those who already play games, I am hand picking games that provide a challenge, have depth, and are easy enough to jump into and enjoy for ANYONE.

Story

So let’s start with stardew valley. The story of Stardew Valley starts out simple enough. You’ve sold your soul to Corporate America and are working at a job you hate just to make ends meet. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the story of the American Dream! While at the office you remember a letter your grandfather gave you before he died and him saying “open this when life has you in a tizzy”. In the letter, is the deed to the family farm. And thus begins your journey to Stardew Valley.

Gameplay

When you arrive, the farm is a mess. Weeds run rampant and you only have enough money to buy a few crops. Thus begins your first season. You clear land, meet villagers, and tend to your harvest in the hope of having a bigger yield next season to build a farm that Grandpa would be proud of. If you’ve ever fantasized about being a lumberjack, now’s your chance. Instead of growing thousands of pumpkins, plant a thousand trees; once they’re fully grown, chop them down. Want to spend most of your time fishing, use your rod and buy a few crabbing pots along with some bait. Want to hunt monsters all day and be a miner? Buy a sword and grab your pickaxe.

What did I do? Who was/is farmer Mike? I grew bored of planting crops, so instead I built a coop and a barn and had my sheep Ann and my chicken Lucy to keep me company. Then as months turned to years, I built a wine cellar, built a greenhouse (coffee all year round!!!), and grew wheat and hops to make beer. Then I met a villager, fell in love and accomplished what I’ve never been able to do in real life; settle down!

Time

So as you can imagine, this game is quite involved. I failed my marketing final because I had the brilliant idea of buying this game a week before (still got an A in the class). However, this is a game that you could play for 30 minutes, stop, and continue when you have more time. It’s beyond addicting. It has catchy music, beautiful sound effects, a rewarding progress system, and better conversations than you have with your friends in real life. It is a game where you could start playing in the morning, look out the window and realize that the sun has already set, then keep playing till the sun rises again. What’s more, it was developed by one individual during his free time. If you spend money ($15) you’ll be supporting one man who pursued his dreams and made a beautiful piece of art.

Verdict

This game is fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a new hobby, this game is a great starting point. If you’re trying to understand why all your nerd friends would rather sit inside all day than talk to your lovely face, just give this a try. I give this game:

5 out of 5 ripe potatoes: A must play


So there you have it! My first ever video game review! It was a lot of fun to write and hope you enjoyed it as well. I plan to do more in the future and think it’ll be a nice addition to my book and movie reviews. And with any luck, I might even make a game┬áconnoisseur out of you yet! As always, thanks for reading! I’ll post a link to the trailer for “Stardew Valley” below and feel free to comment if you have questions!

Stardew Valley Trailer