Take you for a ride on my big green tractor
Something we have been seeing more and more of in gaming is mainstream titles being modded for blind players. Thanks to this trend and to the modding community, a set of mods to make Stardew Valley accessible have been released. SDV has been a long time favorite of many sighted gamers ever since its release back in 2016. Now thanks to mod developers like Shoaib and GrumpyCrouton totally blind players have the chance to also enjoy this title the same as their sighted gaming peers.
As a blind gamer it can be hard to see through the fog and determine if a game is actually playable, or if all the chatter is wishful thinking. I’ll dive into this game and the mods and let you know exactly how playable it is for people of any sight level. I had lots of questions before I jumped into the game, but couldn’t find the answers. I’ll attempt to cover all of those and more in this post.
This will be a longer blog post as there is a lot to cover. At the end will be the information on the giveaway, so even if you only browse all my words, stop the browsing at the post’s last heading.
- Name: Stardew Valley
- Developer: ConcernedApe AKA Eric Barone
- Game Price: $14.99 on Steam
- Mods price: Free
- Mod Developers: Shoaib & GrumpyCrouton
- Support Shoaib on Patreon here!
- Platform: Steam
- Genre: farming simulator / resource manager / RPG
- playability Discord to discuss the game
- Note: The game was played with the accessibility mods while using the NVDA Screen Reader.
What is Game Modding
Modding is when a 3rd party developer makes scripts for a game which change the behavior of the game. This can be anything within the game from cheats to accessibility. Not all games allow for modifications, but some game developers intentionally make the game open for modding, and Stardew valley is one of these games. This means that any developer can add in accessibility features, and that is exactly what has happened with SDV. This is also the case for other mainstream titles like Minecraft and Hades which have been talked about quite a bit in the past year.
The two main accessibility modders for Stardew Valley are Shoaib and GrumpyCrouton. They have released a total of 4 mods to make Stardew accessible, and it is all because of them we are able to play this game now as blind players. Not only have they made the game playable, they are still working on the mods. Shoaib rates his completion percentage at 75-80%, and GrumpyCrouton is adding content as it is thought of, or as requested. Now is the perfect time to pick up the game and give it a play, and you can expect even more things to be made accessible, but more on that later.
Playing the game and showcasing the mods
Now that we’re all on the same page with what modding is, how do the mods in Stardew Valley work? The best way to showcase this is through opening up the game and getting into a new farm, so let’s do that.
This is a stream archive where we have a few drinks and go over the game. As always BSG streams are not for minors or those who are easily offended. If you aren’t one of these enjoy.
Pop out the audio player for Stream 140
About Stardew Valley From The Steam Page
Stardew Valley is an open-ended country-life RPG!
You’ve inherited your grandfather’s old farm plot in Stardew Valley. Armed with hand-me-down tools and a few coins, you set out to begin your new life. Can you learn to live off the land and turn these overgrown fields into a thriving home? It won’t be easy. Ever since Joja Corporation came to town, the old ways of life have all but disappeared. The community center, once the town’s most vibrant hub of activity, now lies in shambles. But the valley seems full of opportunity. With a little dedication, you might just be the one to restore Stardew Valley to greatness!
- Turn your overgrown field into a lively farm! Raise animals, grow crops, start an orchard, craft useful machines, and more! You’ll have plenty of space to create the farm of your dreams.
- 4 Player Farming! Invite 1-3 players to join you in the valley online! Players can work together to build a thriving farm, share resources, and improve the local community. As more hands are better than one, players have the option to scale profit margin on produce sold for a more challenging experience.
- Improve your skills over time. As you make your way from a struggling greenhorn to a master farmer, you’ll level up in 5 different areas: farming, mining, combat, fishing, and foraging. As you progress, you’ll learn new cooking and crafting recipes, unlock new areas to explore, and customize your skills by choosing from a variety of professions.
- Become part of the local community. With over 30 unique characters living in Stardew Valley, you won’t have a problem finding new friends! Each person has their own daily schedule, birthday, unique mini-cutscenes, and new things to say throughout the week and year. As you make friends with them, they will open up to you, ask you for help with their personal troubles, or tell you their secrets! Take part in seasonal festivals such as the luau, haunted maze, and feast of the winter star.
- Explore a vast, mysterious cave. As you travel deeper underground, you’ll encounter new and dangerous monsters, powerful weapons, new environments, valuable gemstones, raw materials for crafting and upgrading tools, and mysteries to be uncovered.
- Breathe new life into the valley. Since JojaMart opened, the old way of life in Stardew Valley has changed. Much of the town’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. Help restore Stardew Valley to it’s former glory by repairing the old community center, or take the alternate route and join forces with Joja Corporation.
- Court and marry a partner to share your life on the farm with. There are 12 available bachelors and bachelorettes to woo, each with unique character progression cutscenes. Once married, your partner will live on the farm with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll have kids and start a family?
- Spend a relaxing afternoon at one of the local fishing spots. The waters are teeming with seasonal varieties of delicious fish. Craft bait, bobbers, and crab pots to help you in your journey toward catching every fish and becoming a local legend!
- Donate artifacts and minerals to the local museum.
- Cook delicious meals and craft useful items to help you out. With over 100 cooking and crafting recipes, you’ll have a wide variety of items to create. Some dishes you cook will even give you temporary boosts to skills, running speed, or combat prowess. Craft useful objects like scarecrows, oil makers, furnaces, or even the rare and expensive crystalarium.
My Experiences Getting Into The Game For The First Time
I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into this game. I’ve always been interested in resource and time manager style games, but everything that was accessible was too shallow and couldn’t catch and keep my attention. Then insert Stardew Valley, it turns out this game was everything I wanted with more than I expected.
Installing the mods is very easy, SMAPI is a direct download, and all the main accessibility mods are also downloadable outside of Nexus Mods. That and there is a mod install guide on Shoaib’s Github page.
Once I was in the game there was a learning curve at the start with how movement worked, but that was due to a lack of my understanding, not anything with the accessibility mods or the game. Once I understood that you only interact with the tile you are facing, not the tile you are standing on, everything became much more clear. There will be more on that in a later section of this post.
The menu movement took a little bit of getting use to as well, but nothing bad. You use W A S and D to move in the menus, and control enter and left bracket to simulate a left mouse click, right clicks are simulated with shift enter and right bracket. It is different, butt once you are aware of it, the menu keys are quite easy and they become natural with time.
Everyone starts the game with a farm that is about 60 by 60 tiles (roughly because it is not uniform) and it is filled with weeds, stones, boulders, trees, bushes, stumps, and hollow logs. It is a complete disaster, and you have nothing but 500 gold and tools like an axe, scythe, hoe, pick axe, and a watering can to clear out the land and get to farming. The Mayer gives you 15 parsnip seeds, and your first goal is to get some land cleared, hoe it, plant some seeds and get them watered. You then need to water your seeds every day when waking up (unless it is already raining) and figure out how to spend the rest of your day. You’ll build up stone, wood, sap, fiber, and other resources from clearing land, and getting a chest crafted and placed for 50 wood is a solid plan.
I did all the above, and hopped right to starting the land clearing process, but quickly ran out of stamina and passed right out. So watch your stamina with H. Clearing land and farming uses stamina, and you don’t want to run out or it costs you gold and you feel like a dummy.
After waking up in my bed refreshed I had no clue how to go anywhere so I checked my mailbox on the east side of my house, and did a debug warp beach to try some fishing. After a cut scene I got a poll, and quickly realized fishing isn’t accessible yet, but more on that later in the post. With the help of a mod I became a professional fisherman, and sold plenty of fish to build up some gold and buy some additional seeds to add some variation to my farm.
Since that first day I’ve been hooked. I’ve managed to clear my entire farm, plant a 16 by 6 plot of land with scarecrows and a well, all ringed by a stone path for easy navigation. I Built a silo and a large coop, then I explored the mines down near level 10, upgraded my house so I have a kitchen, and I’ve stopped warping and now an walk around to nearly all maps. I’m now in the winter season so am building up gold through fishing, and I’m slowly upgrading all my tools to steel or gold level and filling my coop with oddly named chickens.
All this was made possible because of the accessibility features added into the game through Shoaib’s and GrumpyCrouton’s mods. I have the ability to use some vision to play the game, but I don’t have to, and I choose not to unless I get hopelessly lost and don’t want to warp out. I didn’t expect this level of accessibility, but nevertheless it is there and they have truly done something great here, so let’s get into what these mods do and why this is so great for all blind gamers.
About The Mods & Their Developers
Shoaib the developer of Stardew Access wasn’t involved in the accessibility modding community until one day he happened across a stream by the blind MineCrafter LogicProXGaming. After that chance encounter and a conversation on Discord he started working on accessibility mods for Minecraft and quickly made a name for all he did on the game. After much work on MC he started looking for another game he could mod for accessibility, and he saw the opportunity Stardew Valley offered right away. He is not blind himself, but he has built up a lot of experience with modding for accessibility, and knows what is necessary to make a game playable for blind gamers. Thanks to this previous experience after just a short time he had a working Stardew Valley Access mod. Then after continued work for a couple months he has the mod up to 3/4 complete and more than far enough for someone of any sight level to play the game.
The Stardew Access mod makes it so the menus in game read with NVDA, and also so you can read all the cut scenes. This is very important because it allows you to interact with your inventory fully, crafting, social aspects, the map, and all game options. Not only that but you can check your coordinates in game and movement is so simple with WASD. Some other commands are Q for what time it is, R for gold, and H for health and stamina. All this adds up with GrumpyCrouton’s mods to make the game completely playable.
Stardew Access also makes it so NVDA reads your currently facing tile, and that is a requirement for game navigation. This will be covered more in depth in the next section of the post. It is a great feature, and it is so natural with the way the game movement system works with the addition of GrumpyCrouton’s Accessible Tiles.
Another much appreciated aspect of the Stardew Access mod is the way Shoaib has implemented the ability to add, destroy, and move buildings to and on your farm. This is done through marking the upper left corner of your land where you want the building to go, and using a buildsel command to start the build. For example if you go to coordinates 20 30 on your farm and enter in the command mark 1 you then have a mark at 20 30. Then when choosing where to build with robin you use the command buildsel 1 and the building is started. This is perfect and so very accessible, and is a great way to implement accessible building.
One very important thing about Stardew Valley is that the camera angle is Isometric, similar to the birds eye view of Hades, and this makes for lots of accessibility features to be added. Since you are looking down on your character from above, you can navigate with an easy to grasp left right up and down movement system. This is made even better with the Accessible Tiles mod made by GrumpyCrouton. The mod does two very important things. First it makes it so your character only moves in a grid pattern, meaning you hop from the center of one tile to the other. This makes navigation a seamless and easy to learn process. The other feature of Accessible Tiles is the ability to track characters, objects, points of interest, resources, entrances, mining features, and other things I’m sure I haven’t found yet. You simply use control page up and down to switch between categories, page up and down to move in a category, then the home key to say how far the object is away, for example south west 14 tiles at 16 4.
In addition to Accessible Tiles GrumpyCrouton has also made two other mods, one of which is the Auto Travel mod. This allows a player to press V to save their current locations, and to set them as a point they can easily teleport back to. Like Shoaib GrumpyCrouton is not blind, but wanted to help his father in law who is blind play Stardew Valley, that is how auto travel was born, and since then it has been nothing but forward progress.
The third mod GrumpyCrouton has made is the wasteless watering mod. This makes it so you can’t accidentally water a tile that doesn’t need water. It plays the sound, but no water is actually lost. This helps quite a bit in the beginning when you are learning the game, and it will save you lots of trips to your pond because you were watering a plot of grass instead of your parsnips.
The other thing that makes SDV perfect is the debug commands built into SMAPI. SMAPI is the mod handler for Stardew Valley, similar to the mod manager on Slay The Spire. It is required to use any mods on Stardew valley, but the install process is nothing more than running an install for windows .bat file and following the steps. SMAPI is more than a mod manager though, it also allows for the use of debug commands to warp yourself somewhere if you get stuck. For example if you are lost you can type into the SMAPI window (or the chat window with the ChatCommands mod) “debug warp farm” and you’ll be teleported to right outside your house door. There is much more it offers, but you can look that up on your own if it is something you are interested in.
There are lots more mods which weren’t made for blind players, but which do help us out quite a bit. I’ll list everything I use with links at the bottom of the blog post.
Why Stardew Valley Is The Perfect Game To Be Modded For Accessibility
As mentioned earlier SDV has an Isometric camera angle, meaning you are looking down on yourself and the maps from above. This is a simple to grasp concept, and one all Hades players are already use to. It is also only a 2D game where you can move North South along the Y axis, and East West along the X axis, but there is no Z axis to get confused with. This makes it very easy to understand the layout of a map, and to move within it and between maps very easily.
The way movement works in SDV is one tap in a direction faces your character in that direction. A second tap then walks you in that direction. As you move in the direction you are facing the Stardew Access mod reads the name of the tiles directly in front of your character. You can then use tools or interact with the tile in front of you with C or X depending on what you want to accomplish. This is a very important mechanic in SDV. You interact with the tile you are facing, not the tile you are standing on, but once you understand this it is a great way to move, and one which lends itself to blind play.
You can also check coordinates with K, so you always know exactly where you are. This navigation system means a totally blind player can easily play Stardew without any sighted assistance, and get a full gaming experience out of the game without having to sacrifice any parts of the game. It is practically as easy as moving a chess piece on a board, even if a SDV map is much larger than a chess board.
Another thing which makes SDV perfect for accessibility is the simplicity of crafting. As long as you have the items in your inventory, you can go to the crafting tab in your inventory and craft the item with one button press, assuming you have unlocked the recipe. You then place the crafted item down on the tile you are facing, and you are done.
When it comes to upgrades and expanding your farm there are shops in the town, and you’ll be accessing and talking to the owners for equipment, upgrades, seeds, recipes, and whatever else you need. All of the normal shop owners have been made accessible already, and you can make it through multiple game years with the current mod state. Nearly everything you come across is going to read with NVDA, and even if something doesn’t you can still count inventory spots if you need to give the item to a NPC or put it in a recycling bin.
In addition the game works with a controller, and I actually prefer to play with it that way. I use joy2key to reprogram my right analog stick for Q, H, Q, and J, this way I can check my stats while running around. I cannot track items with Accessible tiles, but when that is required I just use my keyboard.
What Is To Come With The Mods
When I reached out to Shoaib and GrumpyCrouton they both filled me in on their future plans for their mods.
When it comes to Stardew Access Shoaib said he would like to make every menu in game accessible. Menus like the Museum, recycling bin, and other random bits where the mods don’t read yet. He also said he would like to make the fishing mini-game accessible, which would be an outstanding addition. As it stands right now blind players need to use a mod like Fishing Assistant to automatically reel in the fish, and though it isn’t a deal breaker, it would be nice to have fishing be fully accessible. He also said he would like to add in accessibility support for other mods made by other developers, so other mods commonly used by blind players also read with our screen readers.
When it comes to Accessible Tiles, Auto Travel, and Wasteless Watering GrumpyCrouton said the main goal right now is adding in features the community comes up with. So if you play the game and have ideas make sure to join the discord. Aside from advancements and bug fixes on the three mods GrumpyCrouton said they’d like to make a mod to create a central storage system in game, and that could be quite helpful for those of us who have hoarding issues and a half dozen chests we run between all the time.
So It Is Actually Fully Playable?
Yes…simply yes! Stardew Valley is completely playable, even with the mods not being quite all the way finished, anyone no matter their level of sight can play the game. Minecraft has been criticized by members of the blind gaming community due to the accessibility limitations of the style of game, but those issues are not here in Stardew Valley. It is a completely different genre, and because of that you are fully able to play it with or without eyes. As the mods get closer to completion there will only be more you’ll be able to access, and eventually it will all be accessible.
SDV is now 100% [playable and you can do the vast majority of things in game, but the Stardew Access mod is still in development, and not quite everything reads yet. That isn’t a reason to wait on playing however, you could spend 100 hours of game play and never need those menus quite yet.
You can download and play SDV right now. There is no exaggeration or wishful thinking involved, if it is something you are interested in, there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing it and diving into that farming lifestyle.
Mods, Useful Links, and some Info
Getting Started Info & Guides
Stardew Access Setup Guide on Github
This guide will tell you how to download and install SMAPI, and how to install the mods. Installing a mod after you install SMAPI is simply copying and pasting it into your game’s mods folder.
Stardew Access Getting Started Guide on Github
This is a guide on Shoaib’s Github that will give you some basic game information. It is not too detailed, but it should give you enough to get up and running.
Stardew Valley Useful Coordinates
This is a listing of coordinates you can use when playing so you can easily find different entrances to maps. This is useful for finding different exits from your farm, and also for finding things like your farm’s pond. You can also use accessible tiles to track most of these objects or entrances now.
Mod details and keys
Straight forward, gives you mod info along with different keys you can use in game.
Youtube guides by Access4All
These guides are a bit out of date already due to how fast the mods have been developed, but you can still get some useful info from them.
updated Youtube guides by Access4All
These are a revisiting of the above guides to reflect recent updates to the mods.
Video guides by StoryOfABlindLife
These are some additional guides which cover specific topics and daily play of Stardew Valley.
If you want more help from fellow players you can chat in the SDV help channel on the playability discord server.
Mods I use
SMAPI-3.13.4 direct download from Github
SMAPI is the mod handler, and it is required to use any of the below mods. Only use this link if you are reading this blog post near publication date, otherwise you’ll need to download the latest version from SMAPI.io.
permalink of the Stardew Access direct download
This is the direct download for Stardew Access from Shoaib’s Github. This is required to make the game work with a screen reader.
permalink for Accessible Tiles latest version
This is a direct download of the latest version of Accessible Tiles from stardew.grumpycrouton.com. You need this to track objects, resources, and for tile based movement.
Permalink for Auto Travel latest version
This is also directly from the developer’s website stardew.grumpycrouton.com. This mod allows you to set quick warp points and access them by pressing V.
Permalink for Wasteless Watering latest version
A direct download from stardew.grumpycrouton.com. Not required, but very important so you don’t waste all your water and stamina.
Glue Your Furniture Down from Nexus Mods
The site sucks and you need an account to download, but many mods are on nexus so it is worth going through the process.
Chat Commands Mod on Nexus Mods
This mod allows you to use the SMAPI debug commands like warping right in the game’s chat window with a forward slash.
Fishing Assistant on Nexus Mods
I prefer this mod because it only auto reels and catches chests, I still have to cast and set the hook myself. There are more automated mods out there, but this one is easy to use and the config file in its mod folder is easy to customize.
Time Speed from Nexus Mods
This mod is great for blind players since navigation can be tricky in some locations. It allows you to either pause game time completely by pressing N, or change its speed. It also uses an easy to use config file you can edit.
This post was a lot of words, but to sum it all up. Thank you to Shoaib and GrumpyCrouton for making a collection of mods which allow all blind gamers to play Stardew Valley. This is the latest game to be completely unlocked to everyone without sight, and it is not only a hell of a lot of fun, but horribly addictive. I had to tear myself away from the game to write this, and it was a rough decision I may never get over.
Though this isn’t a traditional review…if it was I’d give the game a 10/10 and the mods a 9.8/10. Once they are completed there would be no reason for them not to be at 10/10.
If you are a gamer who wants something meaty to jump into or on top of (depending on your preference) this is the game for you! Get your hoe and get to living that farming, mining, and sweet talking townies lifestyle.
The Stardew Valley Giveaway
The giveaway is closed, the winner was @jpellis2008.
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