The Sims 4: Journey to Batuu – A love letter to Star Wars (and Disneyland)

I had the absolute pleasure to be Pack Lead and World Builder on the Journey to Batuu Expansion Pack for The Sims 4. Being a huge Star Wars nerd fan, I thoroughly enjoyed working on this franchise; submerging myself into the world and the story telling, working in conjunction with Lucas and Disneyland Parks to ensure that we were hitting the mark, while also filtering everything through the stylized lens of The Sims.

Maxis sent leadership to the park to gather reference and then we set about not only recreating what you can see in the park, but expanding the world and making minor layout adjustments to fit with TS4 gameplay.

We broke the park into 3 neighborhoods for story telling; a central neutral zone – The Black Spire Outpost, a First Order District occupied zone, and the Resistance Encampment tucked away in the forests of Batuu. We set the world in a canyon, and added additional housing, agriculture and vistas to sell that it is a full biome.

I primarily worked on the Black Spire Outpost neighborhood. The central shipping port and trade district on Batuu, Black Spire Outpost has an open air market, Ronto’s Roasters, Docking Bay 7, Oga’s Cantina, Dock Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, and of course, the Millenium Falcon!

Some of the challenges we faced included creating so many unique landmarks and structures with the package limitations of TS4. We had to be very cleaver about where we allocated our texture budget.

I designed several architectural shells which could be nested and combined to create larger unique structures to fill in the middle ground. These shells used a combination of tiled textures, vertex colors and decals to get the textural, gritty, lived in look of the Star Wars universe.

Doors, windows, greebles and other decos were created as instanced objects with atlased textures, to keep performance numbers looking good while enabling us to create highly detailed and richly decorated scenes.

As Pack Lead, I was also responsible for directing the creation of props, vfx, and interactive objects, overseeing the layout and texturing of the 2 other neighborhoods and the creation of world lighting shared across all three neighborhoods.