Arduino Micro Pushes Animal Crossing’s Buttons

Repetitive tasks in video games often find a way of pushing our buttons. [Facelesstech] got tired of mashing “A” while catching shooting stars in Animal Crossing, so he set out to automate his problem away. After briefly considering rigging up a servo to do the work for him, he recalled a previous effort that used an Arduino Teensy to automate a bowling mini-game in Zelda: Breath of the Wild and decided to use a microcontroller to catch stars for him.

[Facelesstech] programmed an Arduino Pro Micro to fake controller button presses. It starts with a couple of presses to identify itself to the Switch, before generating an endless stream of button presses that automatically catch every shooting star. Hooking it up is easy—an on-the-go adapter allows the Switch’s USB-C port to connect directly to the Arduino’s Micro-USB port, even supplying power!

[Facelesstech] also designed a compact 3D-printed case that packages up the Arduino Pro Micro along with an ISP header for easy updating. The case even lets the Arduino’s power LED shine through so you know that it’s working!

If you, too, need to automate video game button-pushing, [Facelesstech] has kindly uploaded the source code and 3D designs for you to try. If you’d prefer something a little more low-tech, perhaps you might try a mechanical button pusher.


21 thoughts on “Arduino Micro Pushes Animal Crossing’s Buttons

  1. This really screams there is something horribly wrong with game design…
    Two of these projects on HAD in almost no time…

    If the game requires that level of pointless spam ‘A’ is it actually a ‘game’ – you know that thing that by definition should be enjoyable! While some slow pace, ‘tedium’ in a game can be a good pacing tool, or give a good moment for plot developments this game that seems to be all accounts contain no actual gameplay just grind has me lost… How is it actually fun? If you want to slave away pushing A for hours surely you can get some minimum wage job and actually be paid for doing the menial labour, while also getting some exercise?

    1. @Foldi-One: Wishing on shooting stars is a side activity to get certain items – it’s not a core activity of the game, isn’t tied to progression, and isn’t even a great way of making bells (currency). There’s also a limit to how many star fragments you’ll get the next day on your beach, so pressing A for hours is unlikely to really do much good.

      That said, the game doesn’t tell you anything about whether or not you’re near the limit, so I guess most people assume it’s a long time when it likely isn’t. Point being – this is a fun project with the Arduino more than anything, and very much overkill for the game.

      1. Looking at the added replies below – I’ll just say that bemoaning the entire game just because of this project strikes me as silly. It’s a fun project for one mechanic of the game, and honestly it’s using the mechanic in an unconventional way.

        Normally, this isn’t a bad mechanic – you’re walking around your village and you see (or hear, as it makes a sound) a shooting star – and quick! Before it goes away, press the A button! Then the next day you curiously find a star bit on the beach. You can do it multiple times a night too for more star bits the next day.

        This is supposed to be an event that tests your awareness and ability to react. Which isn’t really a bad thing – but it’s easy to cheese. And I must admit – I’ve cheesed it myself with an 8BitDo SN30 Pro+.

        So – please don’t take this as a realistic portrayal of how the game is meant to be played. It’s not.

        1. Hmm, so its not actually as all the articles suggest a stand there and spam button by design? Its supposed to be part of the game more organically than that…You are just cheesing the system spamming the button knowing it will happen at some point then?

          Still don’t understand how folks find it a game, rather than a chore (as if its still like the GC version every element that you could call fun is done far better somewhere else, and without the grinding extra dull life sim parts…). But its not the damming evidence of terrible game design in the way it sounded, you are not meant to sit there spamming the button for reward its actually supposed to be interactive in the same way I assume you still have to walk around to dig up weeds etc…

          In which case I no longer think this is perhaps the worst gameplay loop in a thing masquerading as a video game, I expect I’ll still hate it, but at least you are supposed to be involved in this process, which vastly changes how you view it as part of gameplay. Might be a dull game to me, but it is at least supposed to be interactive, not just push button for reward again and again…

          I drew the conclusion as this sort of project came up more than once in quick succession that they had dumped any pre tense of interactivity and were just making you spam a button for gain, and that it is important enough to the core gameplay to be a gate you must sit there and spam at for long enough to be allowed to progress…

          1. “Hmm, so its not actually as all the articles suggest a stand there and spam button by design?”

            You can only “wish upon a star” once per star, and repeated presses have no effect. Spamming the button 50 times for two stars has the same effect as pressing the button two times for two stars.

            What the automation does is to ensure you catch all of the stars without supervising the game.

            “you are not meant to sit there spamming the button for reward its actually supposed to be interactive in the same way I assume you still have to walk around to dig up weeds etc…”

            Yes, it is supposed to be interactive – you hear or see a meteor and you respond to it.

            That said – there is no penalty for responding too early, so automating the A button ensures you always catch them.

            And yes, this is only one mechanic. You definitely have things like digging for weeds, finding fossils, paying back Tom Nook, buying clothes and furniture, decorating your house, talking to villagers, etc.

            . . . but it’s also definitely a slower / relaxed pace game, and meant to be played over a period of months, as events in the game take place on certain days, which are tied to the system clock. I can completely understand this game is not for everybody. And yeah the game can be improved, some things are annoying (like inviting other players over to your island, or trying to buy anything in bulk).

    2. It’s a single mini-game within a much larger game with many other mechanics. Mini-games are mostly gimmicky and tedious but not usually necessary to beat the game. I often skip them unless there’s a good reward making it worth the time. Have you ever played the game in question, because it sounds like you haven’t? It’s be like judging a book by a single word written on its cover.

      1. I played some of the earlier GC version, and couldn’t see how all the make work and drudgery makes up a a game, and by this I’d say its only gotten worse… Only the Loanshark and Mr.Reseti? seemed to have real character, and only the NES classic games were actually fun gameplay, if you got lucky enough to have some…
        I suppose I can just about see the primative home decor stuff, but if that’s what you want to do there are better games for it..

        So guess what I’d play the NES instead… And just skip all the fake, tedious, simulation of a dull not quite real life to play the fun bits…

        1. So then just play the NES instead, why bother moaning about a game series that clearly isn’t in your set of interests. It’s ok for things to exist that you are not the core market for.

          1. The one I played some of seemed devoid of any actual game in amongst the grind of the core gameplay.. And these articles imply its only gotten worse – which is my only point.

            Gameplay should never drive people to want to automate this sort of thing enough to actually do it… This sort of thing used to be reserved for cheating at competitive titles, or proof of concept for openCV and the like…

        2. Your point is misplaced then as this is an example of a tiny part of one specific game while you are making it sound like it’s the entire game and some sort of fad that is engulfing modern games across the board, which it really isn’t. That may be your perception but not what is necessarily happening.

          1. You don’t need to defend someone else’s game’s honor from someone who doesn’t like it on the internet. An attack on something someone doesn’t like about a thing is not an attack on you.

          2. @John
            Has nothing to do with honor or defending an attack, if someone makes a false or ignorant remark I’ll correct them. There’s a huge difference between stating an opinion and forcing your opinion as fact despite evidence to the contrary.

          1. John, if $15 becomes minimum, how much do you think a gallon of milk or loaf of bread are going to cost? The farmers and bakers have to pay their employees too. (Although as usual there will be an agriculture exception). Your dollar menu at the fast food place will become the 2-dollar menu to cover the payroll. Basically, instantaneous, severe inflation.

            And all the money you or your relatives saved throughout their lives? Yep, it all just lost half its buying power.

    1. I remember the rapidfire mods to 360 controllers that wired the pwm driven indicator leds to the button trace so that the controller basically pressed itself very quickly. Then developers of online games got wise to it and started detecting if the input was being triggered too quickly for a human.

      1. With some experimentation one could add a pseudo random delay between button presses to fool the detection… It quickly devolves into an arms race :-)

        I used an ATiny85 Digispark clone as a mouse clicker for the “cookie clicker” and “paperclip games”. There was definitely a minimum delay below which it didn’t work, but it was still faster than clicking the mouse yourself, especially after a few minutes when your finger gets tired.

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