An Animal Crossing: New Horizons master designer teaches us some tricks for island creation

Image Credit: Natto/Nintendo

Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-11-24 19:18 (JST)
Translated by. Nick Mosier

In November, Animal Crossing: New Horizons received a free update (Ver2.0) and paid DLC that brought with it a wealth of new items and features for creators to use when crafting their islands. Among the many new island creations that are gathering attention on social media, a recreation of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan has been especially popular.

Tweet Translation:
I wanted to make the Fushimi Inari Shrine. (Video version)

On the island, you can enjoy the sprawling vista unique to Kyoto and the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The island was created by an Animal Crossing player that goes by Natto. Previously, Natto created an island called Utsusemi Island, where visitors could enjoy each of the four seasons with its elegant design. The colorful, Japanese style island proved to be very popular with over 10,000 players visiting via dreaming. How does such a talented creator go about their work? We asked Natto directly to find out.

Tweet Translation:
Utsusemi Island Introduction Video. I’m eagerly awaiting your arrival.

When asked what the impetus was for recreating the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Natto said it was seeing the “Torii” item in the recent update. Natto explained that they’ve always enjoyed the peacefulness of Japanese gardens and has been under their spell ever since first visiting one. Natto also visited the Fushimi Inari Shrine last year, so when they saw the Torii item in Animal Crossing, the idea was born.

Natto starts by planning their island creation based on an idea. This process started with drawing sketches. After that, Natto modified the sketches based on reference material of the shrine and started developing the island. From conception to completion, the process took 11 days. For such a large-scale creation, we were surprised to hear how quickly it was completed.

As for developing the island, the process involves making cliffs, slopes and rivers, and then adjusting them. Then placing items and adjusting the landscape again to fine tune everything as a whole. Each pass leads to more detailed fine tuning, resulting in a high-quality creation.

Image Credit: Natto/Nintendo

When asked what they thought of the update, Natto said, “It’s amazing, right?” Of course, the new furniture is great, but they also said the more variety available in landscape development and the new Pro Camera App gave them even more motivation to create.

But from an island creator’s perspective, there are some disappointing aspects as well. One is that the new update didn’t provide many new Japanese style items. A sentiment likely shared by other creators who were using the hashtag “#あつ森和風部” (#NewHorizonsJapaneseStyleClub) on Twitter.

Another complaint is that the number of Custom Design slots didn’t increase. The recent update brought new uses for Custom Designs, but not increasing the number of slots makes it difficult to manage. This is an issue that even players who don’t design entire islands probably have.

Image Credit: Natto/Nintendo

Furthermore, the 2-minute video Natto tweeted to show off their island was recorded using the Nintendo Switch recording feature by taking multiple videos and combining them. The Nintendo Switch can record videos up to 30 seconds, but Natto says that by recording every 25 seconds, they can be combined without it feeling out of place.

It sounds like the biggest challenge was laying out the outdoor décor. Natto was able to solve the problem of cataloging all the new items with the help of friends on social media. After that, Natto bumped up against the daily limit of 5 items per day when ordering from the catalog. This made it difficult to get all the items they required for their island.

Image Credit: Natto/Nintendo

When we asked if they add any little tips for island creation, Natto said it’s best not to overuse the same item or pattern. Instead of lining lots of the same item, they advised that making use of asymmetry can often make things look better. And if making a Japanese garden, they recommend combining the Garden Rock and Tall Garden Rock items with shrubbery. Hopefully these tips will help you with your own Japanese style island creation projects.

Natto also plans to continue developing the extra space on the left side of their island. After that, they said they plan on returning their island to a blank slate and creating another Japanese inspired landscape.

Natto’s Utsusemi Island is currently available via its Dream Address, so if you’re interested, give it a visit.

Tweet Translation:
I’ve received a lot of questions about the Dream Address, so I’ve updated it for the time being.

Please visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and Tofukuji Temple. The left side isn’t done yet.

Sweet Dreams, everyone.
DA 4687-2003-7348”

By the way, Natto also recommends everyone check out another creator named Momosuke. Momosuke has created extraordinarily detailed interiors like a bread store with terrace seating and an antique share house. They also have Japanese inspired designs that are so well done that even Natto was impressed. Seeing other player’s creations is stimulating and a good source of motivation. The recent update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons looks to have reignited players’ passions for island creation, and it doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon.

Tweet Translation:
I wanted to make a simple Japanese style room.