Oh, they’re judging you
Animal Crossing‘s letter system can feel like something of an enigma at times. The animal townsfolk go so far as to suggest you use proper spelling and correct punctuation, but this doesn’t always seem like the key to getting a good reply and maybe even a gift. So, what goes into writing a well-received letter?
Security researcher James Chambers dug deeper than Mr. Resetti to dissect how Animal Crossing‘s letters work. In a wonderfully detailed Twitter thread (the first tweet is embedded below; click through to read it all), Chambers explains that letters are actually graded on a seven-check system.
Essentially, the game wants you to: End sentences with punctuation and start new sentences with capital letters; use lots of words that start with these commonly-accepted trigrams of letters; not use a letter three or more times in a row; and use proper spacing. It’s far more complicated than that though, with all sorts of unique scenarios being looked for. Each one is worth a certain point total or point deduction. For instance, a letter with more than 75 characters that uses no punctuation will automatically be deducted 150 points. That’s a deficit that’s nearly impossible to come back from.
Once all the points are tallied up, letters with more than 100 points warrant a good reply and letters with 50 or fewer points get a bad reply. As far as friendship points go, good letters are worth 3 points and bad letters are worth -1 points. Also, attaching a gift to the letter is worth an additional 3 points.
It’s all sort of complicated but it ultimately makes sense. Just write more gooder and it’ll all work out. However, as Chambers points out, the system can easily be gamed. A message with “rEEEEE” that continues until space runs out is worth -180 points; but, a message that’s a variation of “A.A.A.A.” with some intermittent spacing is worth 850 points.
All in all, a very thoughtful and articulate breakdown of Animal Crossing‘s letter system. I award Chambers 1,000 letter points, 3 friendship points, and a couch.
I got a question from Cris asking about how the characters in Animal Crossing “read” the letters that you send them and come up with a response. Specifically, what’s required for a good response with a gift? I’ve also been curious about this, so I took a look at how it works…
— James Chambers (@jamchamb_) August 5, 2018