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Modding Stardew Valley

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GCU chapter.

After the recent release of Stardew Valley’s biggest update since its launch eight years ago, cozy gaming fans have had much to explore with the latest 1.6 update. With tons of new content added, many players have dusted off their save files to explore what things and events there now are in the quaint seaside farming town. Only, what many casual fans don’t know is there is an easy process to make some of your favorite games highly customizable through mods!

A mod is a package of files containing additional, fan-made content to modify or change the base, or “vanilla” version of a video game. These changes can be cosmetic, enhance storylines, add new content, and much more. Popular games like “Skyrim” and “Fallout” are well known within the gaming community for their ability to be tailored through mods, and Stardew Valley is another great one with thousands of different options!

Downloading and installing new mods can take as little as fifteen minutes for a completely refreshed gaming experience. If you can download a game from Steam, you’ll be able to pick this up very quickly. Here’s a quick guide to walk you through installing your first mod.

Getting ready

First, you’ll need a PC running Linux or Windows, or a MacBook updated to the latest operating system. For this guide, I’ll be focusing specifically on Mac users, though it’s simple enough to apply to other OS. You’ll also need a copy of the game Stardew Valley that has been run at least once, a free Nexus Mods account, and a download of SMAPI, the mod loader and manager for Stardew Valley. Once you’ve gathered your materials, it’s time to get started.

To start off, download SMAPI to your desktop and unzip the file by double-clicking it. Open up the folder unzipping creates, and open the file for your operating system. For Mac users, this will be the one titled “install on macOS.command.”

Opening the file will automatically launch the terminal program for your device. Simply follow the instructions in the terminal and add SMAPI to the pre-made game path it recommends. Tip: make sure to copy this game path, it’ll come in handy later!

Make a mod folder

Before you start to download other mods, we need to make a mod folder for easy access and organization. Go to your “Finder” menu bar in the top right corner of your desktop, then go to “Go,” and find the option from the drop-down menu that says “Go to Folder.” In the search bar that opens, paste in the pre-made game path you saved earlier. This will open your “MacOS folder,” within it, there should be another folder called “Mods.” Right-click this, select “Make Alias” in the dropdown menu, and place the duplicate folder somewhere easy for you to access, such as your desktop or documents.

Now, the most difficult part is over, and the fun part can begin! Take some time to look through the mods available for Stardew Valley on Nexus Mods. I tend to sort by most downloaded to get an idea for the most popular ones within the user base, or look up recommendation guides to see what mods other gamers enjoy!

Once you’ve picked a mod you want to download, first check the requirements for the mod on the About page. Some mods require other programs to run, so you might have to do a little extra downloading to make sure it can load.

Popular “support mods” you’ll likely need are “Content Patcher” and “Json Assets” to allow custom content to the game. Once you’ve gotten all the requirements downloaded, unzip the files into your Mods Alias folder. Things might start to look a little cluttered, but SMAPI will be able to read it regardless!

After you’ve downloaded a few mods you’re interested in, try launching Stardew Valley to test out if everything is working properly! Launching the game will also bring up the terminal menu, now with different font colors. To break it down, text in red means the mod couldn’t be launched, and text in pink means a mod has an update available. The black and grey text is the information SMAPI is running to change the original game, and not super crucial to pay attention to. After SMAPI reads everything in your mod folder, the game should launch without issue!

Mods have allowed me to completely change the way I play Stardew Valley. I personally run my game with 214 different mods, though I wouldn’t recommend that to start with! If you ever decide you want to go back to playing the game how it was originally made, all you need to do is delete the mods you’ve downloaded, and you’ll be able to start anew! I hope this guide helps and happy farming!

Dani is a senior at Grand Canyon University studying Professional Writing for New Media. When they aren't hunched over a computer screen typing away, they can often be found socializing with friends, explaining the latest celebrity news and drama ad nauseam or rewatching some of their favorite horror movies.