When you're not casually shopping for new pieces of furniture, or worrying about the ever-growing potential of hefty mortgage debt, one of the features available to players in Animal Crossing allows you to send completely customised letters to your favourite animalistic chums. From there, you'll then receive a reply which somehow seems to register certain elements of what you said and give you a gift in the process. But how on Earth does this actually work?

Well, James Chambers, a software security researcher, has been digging into the game's files and coding to try and find out. The results make a lot of sense, but are surprising at the same time - essentially, the game reads the characters inputted by the player and gives that letter a score based on a number of factors. These factors include things such as correct use of punctuation, whether or not someone has spammed the same letter over and over again, and several more.

When all of these points are totalled up, the overall score determines the response you'll receive from the NPC. If you score over 100 points, your reply will be positive and have a random chance of receiving a gift, but any scores below 50 will receive a negative reply.

The score also reportedly affects the number of friendship points you earn with the recipient; a bad letter has a base score of -1, while good letters have a base score of 3. Attaching a present boosts the score by 3, however, so you can actually get at least 1 point with a letter made up of complete nonsense.

It's certainly an interesting find, although it does take away a little bit of the magic somewhat. Either way, at least now you know that those little critters in your games console aren't coming to life to read your mail...

[via gamasutra.com]