This pack was truly a treat to work on! I was challenged with making floating islands; something that had never been done in the history of The Sims franchise!
Our world building tools use a large, open world style terrain surface, which we can sculpt and paint. This meant that I had to figure out away to remove terrain to simulate floating islands. I did a few days of R&D and came up with a solution, and it totally worked!
Individual “islands” of terrain were isolated, and the rest of the surface area was excluded with a polygon model set to not render. I filled in the area around and under the terrain with rock, dirt and rubble models built in Maya.
I then created a custom lighting scenario which was never full bright daylight, but always dusk, dawn, or night. I created an alpha texture set to scroll across a sphere with manipulated UVs and vertex colors to simulate an auror borealis, to give the sky a magical atmospheric effect.
A debris field was created using an animated vertex shader, as well as animating chunks from the broken bridge and adding larger floating rocks and furniture.
I added spooky and magical VFX such as a swarm of bats and bursts of colorful sparkles shooting from chimneys.
The dark moody lighting was brightened by glowing crystals and magical portals were how Sims navigated from one island to the next. Glowing runes trace the ground using a combination of vertex colors and a scrolling light map.
All of this moody, mysterious and maybe a little spooky set dressing is meant to tell the story that the magic realm broke itself apart from the non-magic realm – either intentionally, or unintentionally... that is up to the player to decide.