Animal Crossing is a weird and wonderful franchise. You can befriend sentient creatures, explore the seasonal beauty of the great outdoors, and fuss over which couch to buy while trying not to succumb to crippling mortgage debt.
If you're inclined, you can also send your furry neighbors lovely, handwritten letters in an attempt to win their hearts, and perhaps even score some free gifts.
How though, do the cute, furniture-worshipping denizens of Animal Crossing manage to read and respond to the friendly letters you send them?
Security researcher James Chambers, who's spent plenty of time digging into the inner-workings of the franchise, has cooked up an insightful Twitter thread that lays out exactly how the animals parse letters written by players.
In short, the game hands every letter a point score by running seven different checks, which assess everything from punctuation usage and length to the ratio of spaces to non-spaces.
Once all of those tests have been conducted, the letter is awarded a final point score, and high-scoring letters are more likely to garner a positive reply as well as a gift.
Of course, that's the briefest of explanations, so be sure to check out the full thread (which starts with the tweet pasted below) for a gloriously in-depth analysis.
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