In older Animal Crossing games, grass could wear down over time, eventually creating paths that marked your most popular routes. Initially, some players found this deterioration annoying, partially because you couldn’t control it, and partially because it introduced a few issues. But with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, The Path has hit a wave of nostalgia.
In early June, Japanese New Horizons creator @Denim2_mori uploaded a pattern that mimicked the traditional path found in older games — except this time, you could decide exactly where this route appears.
The post exploded, and it’s easy to see why — there’s something pleasing about its worn and overgrown aesthetic. Since then, folks have started developing all sorts of variations on The Path, allowing for different takes on colors, seasons, textures, and width. Some even add minor details to spruce up the basic dirt pathway, like tiny flowers or mushrooms. The top image in this post, for example, hails from Twitter user blossomyfairy and it strives to give The Path a more ethereal feel. The core idea remains the same: finding a way to depict some sort of natural-looking grass deterioration. If you’re not using The Path, chances are extremely good that you know someone who is, or know someone who has tinkered with it.
It’s the rare trend that has taken over hardcore circles and evolved into new forms while always maintaining the original authorship. Most folks who take inspiration from @Denim2_mori cite them by name, if not append specific hashtags on social media sites like Twitter (#thepathacnh, #thepath.) This is a marked difference from how popular ideas in the New Horizons community usually work — once something gets big enough, the original creator tends to get lost in the mix. Ideas start to feel like they belong to the wider community, and not a specific author. This tendency in turn has created tension and arguments within the fandom, as people fight for recognition or try to intellectually “copyright” specific design choices to no avail.
The Path has undoubtedly become grander than any single person — Denim2_mori even acknowledges on Twitter that other people have had the same basic idea — but it’s heartening to see people still pay homage to its origins. A month later, ‘The Path’ is still going strong, with fans crafting new takes on it nearly every day. Here are some of our favorites takes on The Path and its many variations, along with helpful creator codes for you to download and remix.
— Yuika (@moon__acnh) July 13, 2020
— (@hana___ac) July 10, 2020