Make Random Items Appear Where You Want In Animal Crossing New Horizons

It’s three years after the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, famously introduced to a human contact-starved world right when efforts to contain Pandemic 2020 were at their height, unlike now when the world has largely decided to let the immuno-compromised fend for themselves. This isn’t the place to say what I think about that, but it is the place to write something that, had it been known in 2020, might have helped people out a lot.

The following is paraphrased from my Mastodon thread on the matter.

Every day, the game hides up to 10 100-bell coins, 5 wasps nests, and 2 random furniture items in trees on your island.

If you care about finding any of these things, there is a way to make the game put them where you want them. Selling wasps and items made from nests can bring in about 10,000 bells a day. The furniture can be given to villagers to help increase friendship. The coins aren’t worth much, admittedly.

Doing this, you can easily get the items you want each day without searching among all your trees. I use it to get the two random furniture pieces each day.

To make this trick work, you must have _exactly 17 non-fruit trees on your island_, enough to generate all the randomly-placed tree items. They can be cedar or other, plain trees.

If you don’t discover one of these items on a day, it’ll be left there for following days. It only places new items if the old ones haven’t been discovered, up to the maximum of each type. The trick relies on this fact.

Decide which of the categories of items you want to lock down the location of. Starting from that location, shake each tree until you find one of the objects you care about. In the example images I use furniture (the leaf icons), since those are a type of item it’s useful to search for quickly. You’ll probably want to have a net on hand, and maybe some Medicine, in the likely event you find one or more wasps’ nests.

Once you found the kind of item you want, stop shaking trees for that day. On the next day, all of the items you discovered will be found among the trees you shook that day, just in different places. Now, shake only the tree you want the item to appear in. If it’s not the item, keep shaking the trees you had shaken before until you find it. With luck, you’ll find it before you shake them all. Now stop shaking trees again.

Doing this day after day, you can get the item narrowed down until it appears where you want it to be generated. Once it appears there, stop shaking for that day, and then don’t shake it again on following days. Start over with another of the type of item you want to narrow down.

By working like this, probably within a couple of weeks you can get all the items you want generating where you want them. So long as you don’t shake any other trees, those will always produce the ones you want. If you shake other random trees, you’ll introduce uncertainty into what’s generated.

In this way, I have produced two trees that always produce furniture every day, generally without fail. This trick has been tested for months on my island.

The only drawback that I can find is, a couple of seasonal events (Christmas and Easter) are known to disrupt it, since they can repurpose some of your trees as non-random types for a little while. When the event ends, you’ll probably have to set it up again.

Animal Crossing New Horizons (Lack Of Recent) Updates

This is a bit of an expansion over a couple of Mastodon posts I made yesterday. (On what account? Here!)

Animal Crossing New Horizons was an amazing hit for Nintendo. It hit right at the start of the pandemic, and so quickly became the second best-selling game on the system.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? 27 million copies. Super Mario Odyssey? 23 million copies. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? 29 million copies. These are all very high sales figures. Nintendo has made bank during the Switch era.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons? 40 million units sold. That’s over 2.4 billion dollars in gross revenue, and not even counting Nintendo Online subscriptions and the paid DLC! The only Switch game to surpass it has been Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has sold 47 million units.

You’d think a game like that would have a long support life, but you’d be wrong. Three years in and it’s been over a year since the last meaningful update. Nintendo has largely abandoned the audience of the most popular Animal Crossing game ever made, by a huge margin.

Why is this so strange? Most games don’t update after a couple of years, after all. There are games that have made a go of a long-lived, if no perpetual, update cycle. Team Fortress 2 famously went on for like a decade of frequent updates, and while Valve has cooled on it since it still sees a lot of play. Stardew Valley is still updated from time to time, and it’s an indie game, although one with a very low overhead.

Animal Crossing, however, has, from the beginning, been a form of gaming that almost demands to be played for a significant period of time. People have played the Gamecube version for many years, keeping their island alive through decades of real time.

Before consoles could connect to the internet, of course, they couldn’t even be updated. But with the introduction of the internet a lot of options became available. The possibilities for a game-as-service approach to Animal Crossing have been great and, in large part, unexplored.

Image from Animal Crossing Wiki
Image from Nookipedia

The thing that really made this all visible is the New Year’s Arch item. The first year the game was released, they made available an archway, made of balloons, with the number 2021 set at the top of it. Then for 2022 they made another version of it, but notably, it didn’t involve hardly any new geometry; it was just the 2021 arch with different colors, and a 2 in place of the 1. It looked almost a if it had been auto-generated, like maybe the game itself had support to make arches programmatically. The item’s catalog description, which was identical for both arches, is even careful not to mention the year on the model: “An arch bearing the Gregorian calendar’s number for the new year.” Why be so elliptical about it if it wasn’t intended to be reused many times?

Behold them in their generic splendor

But no, that wasn’t the case. 2023 saw no new arch at all. The first two arches now stand out in the inventory as a stark reminder of that brief window of time when New Horizons saw active support. Ten years from now, people who come back to the game, or (heaven help them/us) never left it will still see only those two arches, mementos of the time when the game was new. It’s not like a new arch would be a huge addition: there’s obviously already a content pipeline that can be used to add new items fairly easily, and a 2023 arch made along the lines of the 2022 one would probably be about five minutes of work.

No one expects Nintendo to add new features indefinitely, or always for free, but the lack of a new arch, the lowest-effort update imaginable, makes it clear that absolutely no additions will be coming to the game, probably ever, not even extremely minor things like updated yearly items. ACNH updates were something that Nintendo could have comfortably milked for years. It’s not like we aren’t already paying them for online server access.

Animal Crossing is not like other games, but Nintendo doesn’t seem to realize that, has never really understood what the series is about. The archway is just another example. And it doesn’t make a fan of series want to buy any new versions if they know they’re going to be supported only for a brief period of the game’s lifetime.

Sundry Sunday Extra: Pringus McDingus and Bunny Day

I don’t intend to make it a habit to post two Sundry posts in a day, but it’s Easter after all, so the subject of this one has an expiration date. This video is from a couple of years ago, when the meme that Isabelle somehow knew Doomguy was still fresh, and Nintendo was still balancing how often eggs would generate in the week before Bunny Day. There is some slight language in text, but we’re all adults here, right?

You may have already seen this, depending on who and what you are. The video has over two million views after all, but it’s important to remember the classics.