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This Animal Crossing fan-made terraformer is much better than the real thing

If only!

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An Animal Crossing character in a field of yellow flowers Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

I learned a lesson in April from Polygon’s Cass Marshall: Terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is insufferable, and you should not raze your island to the ground and expect to rebuild it. Like Cass said, terraforming is a slow, finicky process. So far, my brush with terraforming has been to build a platform for my museum, and it took an embarrassingly long time.

The museum platform isn’t the only thing I have planned. My island, Sears, is under construction. Once I’ve finished moving each of the residents’ homes, I’ll continue terraforming, working rivers around the newly redeveloped residential area. It’s going to a be a huge pain in the ass. What’s even worse is that is a better way! Animal Crossing: New Horizons player and game developer Fichman created Island Planner, a tool to help plan out island remodels — or, of course, just to play.

A museum on a platform with a dinosaur and an Animal Crossing human
The fruits of my terraforming labor
Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

An early build of the tool is available on It’s still pretty basic, but it’s already exactly what I wished terraforming was like in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Instead of using your character to rebuild, players take a Sims-like approach. Using the cursor, you’re able to drag a tool to create rivers and plop down buildings. Despite some early build quirks, it makes building (and planning) painless.

Fichman said on Twitter that he’ll continue to work on and update the tool to add more options, like fences.

I’ve enjoyed playing around with the tool, and it’s definitely helped me visualize my island redesign a bit easier. Previously I’d been considering drawing out a map to help plan where all the new stuff will go, and now I don’t have to. I’m sure to get frustrated while I’m terraforming the island of my dreams, but at least I’ve got a plan now.

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