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Terraforming my Animal Crossing island has turned into a disaster

Oh God! Oh man! Oh God oh man oh God oh man oh God!

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons - a player stands in the middle of an empty island, portrayed in black and white Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers players a paradise, but I have befouled my personal Garden of Eden.

Two things happened, and they coincided in a terrible manner. The first is that I decided to dig into the game’s terraforming options. New Horizons allows you to completely customize your island, reshaping the cliffs and bodies of water as you see fit. I went ahead and decided that a blank canvas would be best, so I razed everything to the ground. No water, no cliffs. Nothing but pure grass and the occasional tree so I could pick and sell fruit.

As soon as I sealed up the waterways and turned around to look at my flat island, I realized I’d fucked up. Terraforming is a slow, finicky process. Clearing the island, a pretty simple task, had taken a few hours. Now I had to build all of it back up.

Was it worth it? Well, after hours of labor and trying to figure out how to curve cliffs and set up ponds, I was able to craft a charming little cliff with our homes. I even puzzled out how to make beautiful hearts out of stone paths, and how to build natural waterfalls.

The downside is that the precisely crafted area takes up about 15% of our island. The rest of it is just a cluster. Houses are everywhere, with no rhyme or reason, in a flat wasteland. The only thing one might run into out there is an orange tree or a random orchard of exotic fruit trees. It looks so bad, and now I have to use my imagination to bring all of this back to life, one block at a time. In this economy?

You might be thinking, Oh, that’s not so bad. Cass, you just have to look at your island as a garden of endless opportunity. Except ... I’ve also plunged my island into eternal night.

I woke my husband up on his birthday morning nice and early, just in time for him to buy 1.7 million bells’ worth of turnips. I built a ramp that would lead up to our rustic little abode, but seeing it to completion would require waiting a day. So, I time-traveled forward to the next morning, when that ramp would be complete. And it was gorgeous!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - a player stands outside their house at night
It does look fantastic, when not enveloped in a cloak of eternal night.
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Then I realized that I had foolishly, selfishly time-traveled when my husband’s birthday turnips were on the line. I rushed back to his house, and exhaled a massive sigh of relief. They weren’t spoiled — we were just in a temporal paradox. Now I can’t return to my natural home dimension without risking him losing the big investment. So now, when I wake up in the morning, the sun is setting on my Animal Crossing island. All day, I am subjected to a dark night and an empty island.

But what else am I supposed to do? Spoil my husband’s big turnip haul? The ones he bought on his birthday?

It’ll take at least a few days before I can get my island back on track. All of this is fixable; I haven’t backed myself entirely into a corner. But for now, my island is a disaster. I can’t log in during my lunch break anymore, lest I leave my house and immediately get tackled. You see, in my quest to create a blank canvas to paint my vision upon, I accidentally created the perfect spawn condition for tarantulas. And there are no obstacles, so they spot me from 400 miles away and hone in on my ass like an oncoming train.

I’m also constantly getting lost, because there are so few landmarks on my barren, sad island. Even the music that plays at 3 a.m. in-game is sad. It’s a few plucked notes, a persistent but quiet snare, and some very silly horn noises. It’s like the soundtrack knows my myriad follies and is laughing quietly at me.

I beg of you, learn from my ways — do not create a cold, boring island where no light touches the land.

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