Animal Crossing: Minecraft Edition

Finally got my town rating up to ★★★☆☆, K.K. Slider to visit, and unlock terraforming! \o/, so I've been digging all day:

Before:

acnh-20200404-yama-island
day one island map

After:

acnh-20200426-yama2
terraformed island map

Not a huge visible difference, the basic layout was nearly perfect (I would've preferred a mirror image where my mountain estate was on SW corner instead of SE, but I'm fine with it; it's the same layout as my Wild World village), but I moved the river course up against town hall to make a lot more space, added chokepoints (marked with path dots visible on the map) where I can jump across rivers, I'm still thinking about a couple more chokepoints or maybe river stepping stones?. Put a secret passage (covered in paths so nothing'll grow there) out to the north beach where Redd's ship pulls up. The temptation exists to build complex mazes, wipe out all the random character of the island, but so far I'm resisting. A dungeon hidden behind a mountain might be fun, though.

One frustration of this is, you can't change beachfront or the big rocks. I have some very inconvenient rocks in my east beachfront; pulling the cliffs back a couple blocks helped, but it's still not a straight run.

Another is, the entire user interface for building is "press A to do stuff". What stuff happens depends on whether you're 1 pixel forward or back of a grid border. Maybe you'll build up, maybe you'll rip down and create a slope, maybe you'll lower the block. You can't tell until you do it, and there's no grid lines, laser pointer, or undo. There's 14 in-game buttons and 2 joysticks Nintendo could've used to put each function on its own button, but they didn't. Of course, the rest of the interface is Nintendo Awkward, so why wouldn't this be? But it's a long sight from Minecraft (Java edition) where you can instantly hit 1-9 for items/tools, left click to hit, right click to build/place. Maybe they think the target market only knows Minecraft (Pocket edition) which has equally shitty controls, so being usable isn't necessary?

Playing the stalk market (buying and selling turnips) requires a little accounting, so I made a spreadsheet:

acnh-20200426-stalkmarket
stalk market spreadsheet

Blank copy, if you use Apple's Numbers: Stalk Market blank.numbers

Nintendo Switch Friend Code: Kamimark SW-5075-6646-9991

(hello, Twitter, which gets to see my images twice because that's the only way to get them off device, then again when I write a post!)

What I'm Playing: Animal Crossing New Horizons

After 2 weeks of delay, my Switch Lite finally shipped. I should've got it earlier, I know, but there was nothing else I wanted.

The device is bigger than I expected, not easily pocketable (unless you wear a ScottEVest windbreaker with giant cargo pockets like I do), the screen's nice, the sticks are a little stiff and the D-pad's very stiff, but all those will loosen with use. Good but not best Nintendo quality hardware. Power brick is awkward, I ended up having to put it on an extension cord from my power strip. I haven't stress-tested battery life, but 1 hour of Animal Crossing = 10-15%, which means I need a recharge whenever I'm not using it.

There's no security to the device, AFAICT: I would like it to require a PIN to start, but instead it just makes you tap A three times and then anyone can play with it. At least I have my password on anything in the shop, but do not let anyone have physical access to your Switch!

I'm unpleased with the Switch UI, but that's true of most consoles. Half the time it's easier to tap on the screen than try to use the buttons to do anything. The main UI is fairly annoying: A single bar of games, sorted in order you last played. No way to pin "favorites" at the front. There's plenty of room to have a 2-high grid, but they don't. There's nothing like the Wii Weather & News apps, alas. Nintendo keeps having good ideas then giving up on them.

Note: I'm going to abbreviate all the Animal Crossing games: ACWW (Wild World, on the DS), ACPC (Pocket Camp, the mobile game), ACNH (New Horizons, on the Switch).

I did a digital purchase for ACNH, and it took a while to install but it's a straightforward process. And I got 300 "gold" on the eShop, which I used to buy Tetris, NES, SNES, a jigsaw puzzle, and a mini golf game, just to have something else in my game bar. The only other thing I'm really interested in is the new Clubhouse Games, coming in June. I have the old one on the DS, and it was a great pack of minigames, I'm expecting the new one to be even better.

So finally ACNH finishes downloading.

The avatar is still not a full Mii. I don't understand this; Nintendo has a perfectly nice, universal avatar-creation system. You can use it all over the UI. You can't use it in the damned games, you have to pick from a handful of potato-looking faces on a single head. My aquiline nose is reduced to a flat triangle. No beard. The only long hair either has bangs, or is wavy; so I went with that. It's better than earlier Animal Crossing games which lock you down to male or female, tiny set of very conservative Japanese hairdos, facial features chosen at random, but it's not good. Not every game has to be Second Life or Elder Scrolls with 100 sliders for lip twitch and eyebrow fluffiness, but the Mii editor is RIGHT THERE. LOUDEST DRAMATIC SIGH POSSIBLE.

I pick my island layout, which cuts off the north and east just like my old ACWW island, and name it the same, Yama (technically Naraka is more accurately the Buddhist underworld, but I prefer the shorter name of the lord of the dead; I've done the Kami/Yama thing in my videogame names for 35-40 years now). The downside of my layout is early game I only have 1/3 of the island accessible, until I get a vaulting pole, which hasn't happened on day one/night one. But later, I'll have splendid isolation for my base in the SE peninsula, put all the villagers & services in the noisy SW area, and my groves up in the north.

The buttons are never fully explained, at least not in the digital version:

L stick: Move
R stick: Shift camera up/down, left/right does nothing
A: Action, Hold in inventory to drag items
B: Cancel in menus, Run while moving
X: Inventory
Y: Take Item
D-Up: Unequip
D-Left: Prev Tool
D-Right: Next Tool
D-Down: Unequip
+: Confirm
-: Save & Quit
Left: —
Left Lower (LZ): Nookphone
Right: Chat
Right Lower (RZ): Reactions (unlocked later)
O: Camera
Home: Quit

If you were playing ACPC, then once you've linked your account, you can get access to a special store from the Nook terminal of several ACPC items. Linking instructions. I've so far only bought the Campsite sign and Market Square flags, but I might just get everything once I have the bells. ACPC also gets 50 leaf tickets, but I've quit cold turkey a couple weeks ago, it's over. Nintendo sent out a survey which basically asked if you were ever going to play ACPC again, and I said no. This is a little unfair, in that ACPC is a slightly entertaining Animal Crossing-themed game, it's not terrible, but it's not as good as having your own unique island, and all the furniture and clothing you can only get for paid currency leaf tickets in ACPC is annoying.

My starting animal friends are Diva (purple, elegant frog) and Lyman (green koala); Diva's OK, she was a regular in my campsite in ACPC, I don't know Lyman but he's been friendly and not too stupid. I know they've lightened up a lot of the animal personalities from the old games, so I keep expecting cruelty or idiocy and they don't do it. Still, I'm pining for some of my favorites like Bunnie, Fauna, Cherry, Tex, or even dumb jock Jay, I wish we got some choices here.

The Nook shop/Resident Services is your main HQ for a while. You need to turn in fish and bugs to Tom Nook until he calls Blathers over. Then you can sell everything, or stack it up outside your house to wait for the museum…

Timmy Nook buys and sells items; one thing I didn't realize early on was you can hit R on the buy list, and go from some crappy furniture (an oil drum and a water cooler, in my case) to a screen full of tools! Including the slingshot! I saw a balloon with a present first day and couldn't get it because I didn't have the slingshot yet! He also has several recipes, flower seeds, medicine, and such. That should be the front screen of this shop. I'm so mad at this UI now.

The "DIY For Beginners" recipe pack he sells includes Hay Bed, Stone Stool, Old-Fashioned Washtub, Frying Pan, Wooden-Block Toy, and Ocarina. To get into any furniture like the stool, you just walk into them, and can then rotate around with the stick. It takes a little getting used to, but my campsite's coming along; tho I'll have to move it soon.

Tommy Nook is useless so far, he tries to give advice but it's all pretty obvious.

Fishing is much easier than ACWW, not as trivial as ACPC. There's some aiming and luring skill needed, but not much. You can't apparently scare them off easily. Bug catching is about the same as ACWW, but you can't scare the bugs off as easily either; ACPC was savage in that, you'd walk by a bug you wanted and it'd vanish. Catching my first tarantula was a bit of a Most Dangerous Game hunt, but it didn't get me. The damned wasps got me twice on the first day, but then Diva gave me the Medicine recipe, so I won't have to pay for the stuff at least.

Crafting starts out with very limited recipes, nothing like the Minecraft grid where everything is possible if you have the materials. But turn in a few fish & bugs to Nook, talk to the animal friends, find bottles on the coast, or shake trees, and you'll find more.

Getting materials can be a little tricky at first. For instance, trees drop one branch on first shake, then often none for a few shakes, THEN they drop up to 9 more. So I spent one loop around the island getting only one branch per tree…

Inventory management is a serious pain, you can't move items between slots like Wild World, you have to drop items, then pick them up in the order you want. Every time I break a flimsy tool, I'm back to sorting inventory out. You also can't split stacks, except one at a time; if you want to keep 50 weeds but sell the rest, pound sand.

Of course Animal Crossing follows real time. You can lie about your time zone or change hemisphere, or "time travel" by screwing with the Switch's clock, but I'm not going to do that. Today is today. With my night/day schedule, I can see morning daylight when I'm about to hit the sack and do my final play of the day, and my wake-up/grind part of the day will mostly be at night, which works fine. Just make sure I keep a net ready at all times to catch tarantulas, because Animal Crossing tries to kill night owls.

I'll get my friend code tomorrow and post it in the next update, and in my About page.

To get photos off the Switch is kind of a pain in the ass. You can transfer them to microSD, do a hard shutdown (hold down "power" 10 seconds), move the SD to your computer, extract, put it back, power back on. UGH. Or spam them 4 at a time to Twitter or Fuckbook, so my post-syndication-only Twitter is now posting ACNH screenshots irregularly, enjoy.