The Map Editor is a solution to the problem where people waste hours on finding a good map. If you don’t have a map prepared before you start creating a town, you will have to choose one of the randomly generated maps. If you do have a map prepared, the game will automatically accept your map and randomize on the villager locations. It’s also good for creating map diversity. You are allowed to create any crazy maps as you like. However, avoid doing stupid things with the Map Editor, or you will not have a good town like you deserve. An island town is okay as long as you have a source of the river coming from the waterfall. Just like I said in the previous chapter, if you’re not being stupid with the Map Editor, you can trust yourself to use it.
Stages of the Map Editor
The Map Editor is divided into six stages. Each time you complete a stage, you can move onto the next stage. Once you pass a previous stage, you can go back, but that might mess up on the work you have done.
- Stage 1 – Build the cliffs
- Stage 2 – Make the river
- Stage 3 – Establish Main Street
- Stage 4 – Add precision
- Stage 5 – Set locations of ramps, rocks, ponds, and attractions
- Stage 6 – Save your map
You have a 6×6 grid, where each acre is 16×16 spaces. You can also adjust the edges by setting them at any level of elevation. You can set up the elevation at any way you like. However, there are a few restrictions to the elevation rule:
- All Main Street acres must be at the same level of elevation, and in horizontal notation.
- All six bottom edges must be ocean edges.
- At least one edge from the left, right, or top be a land edge.
- At least one bottom acre should be at Level 1.
There are other restrictions, but bypassing them won’t prevent you from saving your map. In fact, as long as you follow the explicit restrictions, nothing can stop you from saving your map. Failure to follow the implied restrictions will result your town to looking stupid. Examples include, but not limited to, multiple mesas in town, one closed ditch in the center of town, and three ridges like a farm. There’s no need to worry about a Level 1 acre being north of a Level 2 acre because there’s a 360° outdoor camera in-game. You can even make Main Street on top of a ridge or have all of Main Street and the river in valleys.
To set elevation of each acre, you can move the cursor and toggle between Level 1 and Level 2, with the edges being Level 3 and ocean levels. Level 2 represents the upper elevated areas while Level 1 is to the lower elevated areas. You can set elevations anywhere, but the A+ map has oceans on two sides and a corner, mountains on two sides and a corner, half the town is at one level of elevation, and Main Street is right at the north end of town.
Not all ocean bordering acres have to be Level 1. You can have sea cliffs. However, if you want beaches, they should be at Level 1. The mountain bordering acre can be at Level 1 if you want a really tall waterfall, or it can be at Level 2 in case you want two waterfalls.
When you’re done setting up the elevation of each acre, you are one step away from completing the first stage. You can set edge offsets. Don’t worry about precision. Your only focus is to decide how far the edges can go. When two neighboring acres are on different levels of elevation, you can choose where the edge leans towards. It can be 8 more upper spaces, 4 more upper spaces, no offset, 4 more lower spaces, or 8 more lower spaces. Until you get to the fourth stage, the offset applies to the whole acre. In regards to the ocean bordering acres, the offset is at the minimum of 4 ocean spaces. You may push it back to 8 ocean spaces, but no acre can be pushed to 0 ocean spaces. In game, there are a few more spaces on every side of the town, including the oceans.
At this part, make sure that you do not have any offsets overlapping to the Main Street acres. The restriction that requires a flat row of acres not only means that every acre on the same row must be Level 1 or Level 2, but it also means that there should be no elevation offsets that bring the cliffs towards these acres. But you can have cliff offsets in bordering acres. Another thing to keep in mind is that at least one acre bordering the Main Street acres is at the same level of elevation with no offsets into the acre.
After you’re done with setting up elevation in each acre and the elevation offsets, you may begin working on the river. Just like the mountains, you are free to build however you want, as long as the restrictions are followed:
- All river acres must be adjacent for the river to flow in a straight line.
- The source of the river must be near a mountain bordering acre at the edges of town.
- There can be only one waterfall in the middle of the river.
- It can pass Main Street only once.
- It can pass through any acre only once.
- It can be in only one ocean acre, and must be flowing out rather than being parallel.
- You can have only one mini-island in town.
Speaking of the last restriction, you can break the river into two channels. After you do so, you can either re-unite the two rivers before they empty into oceans or stay separate. But you can break the river into two streams only once. In terms of waterfalls, it’s okay to split the river into two on the upper elevations. That would bring you one more waterfall. You can also have waterfalls near the oceans instead of having mouths of the river.
If you choose not to break the river into streams on Level 2 or at all, you should realize that you can have only one waterfall, so if it intersects with the cliffs again, it will create a canyon. You can have bridges over canyons, and that’s not a problem.
After you draw the river, you’ll need to find a spot for the big lake. It should be at a corner of the river, and on a flat acre. The waterfall lake is naturally formed at the source of the river, but every town needs a big lake. Some fish cannot be caught outside the lake. Since it’s at a corner, no Main Street acre should have this lake.
Once you’re done with the river and the cliffs, you will be able to build Main Street. It can be any row of acres as long as they’re all at the same level of elevation, no offsets overlapping, and only one or less river junction.
Main Street contains all of the main attractions and a train track south of it. The attractions on Main Street include Town Hall, the Museum, the Dream Suite, the Fortune Teller’s Shop, Club LOL, Nook’s Homes, the Post Office, a photo booth, Timmy and Tommy’s Store, a Gardening Store, the Able Sisters, Kick’s Shoe Store, and the Shampoodle. The Shampoodle is above the Able Sisters while the Gardening Store can merge with the Nooklings’ Stores.
You can place the Main Street attractions anywhere you like. However, there are a few restrictions to this as well.
- The Photo Booth, Fortune Teller’s Shop, Dream Suite, Club LOL, Nook’s Homes, and the Post Office must be together.
The Able Sisters and Kick’s Shoe Store must be together.
The Nooklings’s Store and the Gardening Store must be together.
- There should be a 6-space wide walkway in the middle in order to access Main Street from town.
- If there is a river, all attractions must be at least one space away from it on both sides.
- If there are sea cliffs, all attractions must be four spaces away from the edges for a bench and lamp.
And a few notes aside, the walkway is six spaces wide, but all six spaces are on the right half of the acre. The river is always in the middle.
Let’s say that there are 80 spaces total. Both ends have sea cliffs, the walkway acre is the third to the left, and the river acre is the third to the right. You will have 55 spaces left to work with. Between the river and the right sea cliff, you have 25 spaces to place your stores. On the other side, you have 30 spaces. By following the restrictions, here are the space warrants for each attraction:
- Able Sisters and Kicks – 12 spaces
- Nooklings and Gardening Store – 8 spaces
- Museum – 9 spaces
- Town Hall – 9 spaces
- Complex (Post Office, Nook’s Homes, Club LOL, Dream Suite, Fortune Teller’s Shop, and Photo Booth) – 16 spaces
Because of the spacing restrictions in this layout, the Complex and one of the two large attractions (Museum and Town Hall) have to be on the right side while the shops and the other large attraction should be on the left side. You can put the Museum on the far left side, then the clothing stores on the right of the Museum, the Nookling’s and gardening stores in between the walkway and other stores, the Town Hall right of the river, and the Complex right of Town Hall.
The more spaces you have on Main Street, the more flexible the attraction layout is, so be wise when you decide on the river and cliffs in the first two stages of the Map Editor. After all, the A+ map I described earlier should have 88 to 92 spaces total, with 74 to 78 workable spaces.
Another thing about Main Street. It cannot be on the southern six acres. If it’s anywhere other than the northern six acres, the walkway will have two exits (one to the north, and one to the south). The southern exit will have a Train Station nearby on the left, which basically sums up your Main Street.
After you finish the Main Street, as well as mountains and rivers, you will advance to the precision stage. This is where you will get to make even more offsets of the town.
The only focus are on the beaches, the river, and the cliffs. As you go along the cliff edges, you can continue making offsets at each stage. This time, the maximum you can move the cliffs is at four spaces away from its host spot, whether it’s at a lower elevation or upper elevation. Be sure that you don’t wipe out the straight edges completely.
When you’re done determining the offsets of the cliffs at every edge, your focus is on the unusable spaces and determining what type of edges they are. They can be straight, curved from the second level, or curved from the first level. You can only do this to the adjacent spaces to the cliffs.
When you’re done with the precision on the cliffs, your next step is doing it at the ocean boundaries. Again, the offsets can take you up to four spaces away from the host spot, but you cannot make the land move closer to the map boundaries.
Once both the cliffs and ocean boundaries are finished, you can work on the river precision. Without working on the river, every river acre has six spaces on both sides. You can move the river’s axis either way, but only by six spaces. You will be required to do this at every junction of the river. Plus, you can determine the shape of the unused spaces.
At this point, if you haven’t split the river to make larger islands in between, you can do the same for smaller islands. However, this can only be done in a whole acre, and just once. The maximum spaces in width of the small island is 8. It’s okay to make it big enough for a house to fit in it.
And by the way, if you make the river diagonal at a cliff, the waterfall would be diagonal, making it more interesting.
The final step of the stage is choosing which ocean acres have beaches and which ones do not. You are required to have beaches. There’s no point in going in the sea and being stuck without finding a beach. You will be deciding this at every ocean edge on Level 1. Each beach segment had to at least be four spaces long, as well as the sea cliff segments. Also, you can have no more than 8 segments (four beach segments and four cliff segments). The river must empty into the same segment.
On the last stage before saving your map, you get to choose the location of attractions, holding ponds, rocks, and ramps. By this point, your map has been built, but you still have a few more kicks before it’s finally ready.
The first step is on ramps. You only have five choices of ramps, and they are based on how they go. They can be sideways, going either way. Or they can be straightforward, whether they are completely sticking out, completely recessed, or in between. The maximum amount of ramps you can have depends on how the mountains of the town are built. For every secluded cliff, there should be only one. If you have only two pieces of flat land (one on the upper level and one on the lower level), you can have no more than two ramps in town. Unless if the waterfall is too close to the edges of town, you must have one ramp per side of the river.
The next step is on placing the Re-Tail, the Plaza, and the HHA Showcase. Since Town Hall is on Main Street and the Train Station is automatically determined, you only have three attractions to choose from. If you do not have enough flat acres in town, then you have screwed up completely and must go back to the earlier stages. If you still have six flat acres or more, then you’re still in luck. Once you place the attractions, you should determine the offsets of the attractions. The Plaza has no offsets since it takes up an entire acre, so your only attractions with offsets are the Re-Tail and the HHA Showcase.
When you’re done, you can place holding ponds in town. You can choose which acres have the holding ponds. You can have one if you want more building space, or you can have five if you like that extra water in town. Of course, you can have two, three, or four in your town. They don’t have to be in their own acres. They can share acres with the Re-Tail, and can even be places in cliff acres. After placing a holding pond, you will focus on the offset and precision.
The last step is placing rocks. You will need at least 9 rocks in town, but no more than 12. You can choose between four types of rocks, four different rotations of each rock, and placement of the rocks. Choose wisely though, because if you place them in spots you don’t want them placed, then it’s your fault.
When you’re all done, you can save your map. Remember that it must look very good if you want a good town. You can have only one saved map to your cartridge or file, as creating a town automatically selects the map. Of course, the tree and villager placement is randomized, as well as the grass patterns, grass placement, town fruit, initial bridge placement, and colors of Town Hall and the Train Station.
The Map Editor applies to neither Traditional Mode nor Sandbox Mode. However, if you’re looking at the perspective of Traditional Mode, the Map Editor had two phases. The first phase is the Map Editor feature itself, but the second phase is the entirety of Sandbox Mode. If you’re looking at the perspective of Sandbox Mode, the Map Editor is basically only one phase, the Map Editor itself. When you play Animal Crossing through the Sandbox Mode, you can finish the rest.