In real life, few things are more bone-chillingly terrifying than the prospect of marriage. In the simulation game Stardew Valley, though, it’s just what you do. Some speedrunners are messing around to see how fast they can get the job done—and they can do it in under an hour.
Yesterday, the speedrunner TomatoAnus posted a video of a glitch-free speedrun in Stardew Valley. Note that the run itself isn’t technically performed by TomatoAnus; rather, the speedrunner Haboo—who currently holds the world record in that category—performed the run, and assisted in punching up the video’s script. Check it out:
A lot of the success is contingent on the initial setup of a Stardew game. First, Haboo set up on the forest map, since foraging for seeds—ergo, eventual money—is key. That’s also why Haboo chose to play as a female character. When you play as a male character, you’ll get cookies and cash from your mom as bonuses for passing the first two milestones. Playing as a female character means you just get cash from your dad. Haboo also set the number of starting cabins to two, and opted for the spread layout. Of course, Haboo also checked off the “skip intro” box, but that one’s a given.
Finally, Haboo chose a cat as their pet, not because cats are better than dogs (they are) but because, in Stardew Valley, a dog’s bark lasts 188 frames more than a cat’s meow. According to TomatoAnus, that shaves about 3 seconds off the run time. Yeah, that’s just how in the weeds we’re getting here.
Eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in Stardew Valley have a bar of eight hearts, each of which represents 250 “friendship points.” You can earn friendship points by talking to the villager of your eye, giving them gifts, doing side-quests—that sort of thing. Let too much time pass, and you’ll lose friendship points. Fill the bar up all the way and, if they’re single (and willing to mingle), you get to date them. Once you’re dating, you can woo them up to 10 hearts, which allows you to propose and eventually marry the NPC of your eye. It might sound tedious, but hey, it beats the hell out of mindlessly scrolling through Tinder.
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Haboo focused on wooing Shane, who’s enviably laidback, what with his hoodie and stubble. To juice friendship points, Haboo gives Shane a parsnip and then talks to him, netting friendship points for two actions rather than one. If you check Stardew Valley’s exhaustingly extensive wiki, you’ll see Shane only likes parsnips rather than loves, but it’s an easily obtainable item from the start of the game. As for how Haboo has so many parsnips just laying around? At the very start of the run, Haboo planted a bunch of turnips and then napped for 19 days. What a dream.
The entire 40-minute run is composed of seemingly pedantic decisions like that. It’s one big, fascinating, fine-tuned calculation about the chances of specific actions happening or not, the number of experience points needed to level up specific skills (and how to do it), and the number of friendship points associated with specific gestures. And they say there’s no formula for love.