Developed in Southeast Asia, Coral Island is yet another upcoming farming simulator. In the words of the developers, Coral Island is a re-imagined farm sim game inspired by classics. Grow crops, nurture animals, and befriend the islanders. Decide whether to revitalize not only the town but also the surrounding coral reefs. It may get tough, but stick with it, because the island is ripe for change.
This is great for an elevator pitch, but we know that by this point there are many farming simulators in development. Funnily enough, one of the most common question I am asked about Little Sim World is – what differentiates the game from The Sims? This question is fair, yet somewhat redundant at the same time and Coral Island is a a great example why this is the case.
Many developers, publishers (and also gamers, sometimes) believe that game development is about original ideas. This is, in my opinion, not true in most cases. Most of the greatest games made in the past decades were built on either existing mechanics or use minor adjustments upon previous iterations games in the same genre. This means that for the most part there is very little ‘real’ originality.
For example, Stardew Valley is a slightly more modern version of Harvest Moon. Hollow Knight is Castlevania and Hearthstone is Magic the Gathering. Giftlands is Slay the Spire, Bloodstained is again, Castlevania, One Step to Eden is Megaman Battle Network, Starbound is Terraria, Terraria is 2D Minecraft and Wargroove is Advance Wars. Temtem is Pokemon… so on and so forth.
In fact, most of these games are nearly identical clones of the original but with modest adjustments on its predecessor (very often with worse adjustments). Yet somehow, their ‘originality’ is not often questioned partially due to their success as well as unique execution. Now, this brings us to Coral Island.
Veterans of Stardew Valley know by looking at the screenshots and GIFs of Coral Island, that this is a carbon clone – except in 3D. To be fair, many successful indie games borrow mechanics from other games as already indicated. In the case of Coral Island though, I would argue that this is taken to the extreme. All the combat mechanics, farming and even overall tiling system looks identical to that of Stardew but albeit in 3D. Yet, looking at it’s Kickstarter at the time of writing, it has raised almost $200,000 in just a few days of launch.
Ultimately I would say that, I do not believe gamers are too bothered about originality as long as the game is actually fun. The biggest culprits are reskin or cloned games that are fundamentally bad or uninteresting to play. To clarify, I am not endorsing clones. I am just proposing that the fundamental components of financial success of any game, indie or AAA, is not necessarily originality. If you would like to be truly original, in the sense that Pokemon, Dota or Super Mario are in the truest sense then yes, it can also work out for you. However, in 2021, it is unlikely one can easily accomplish this task as a small indie team with little resources.