It may have been 11 years since Mojang’s blocky sandbox was first released, but Minecraft builders continue to dazzle and amaze us with their mind-boggling builds. Some of the most impressive have been the block-by-block recreations of film and TV worlds. We’ve already seen the entirety of Tolkien’s Middle-earth (opens in new tab), George R. R. Martin’s Westeros from Game of Thrones (opens in new tab), and a completely realized Harry Potter RPG (opens in new tab).
Whole teams of Minecraft players dedicate years to these builds, making them as detailed and as close to the source material as possible. Seeing these impressive worlds on screen is always exciting, but having the ability to wander through them is a totally different experience. With so many recreations, it was only a matter of time before someone started eyeing the vast expanse of the Star Wars universe, but it will surprise you to learn that this impressive feat has been taken on by a single person.
With ten years of building behind him, 22-year-old Aaron Kahn (going by Vistachess on Reddit (opens in new tab) and VC-MC on YouTube (opens in new tab)) first became inspired to start building the Star Wars galaxy after seeing this image (opens in new tab) of a detailed map of Tatooine. Deciding to give Star Wars the official Minecraft treatment, he settled on trying to build the map planet by planet. “I love detailed maps which show all the locations and character paths,” Khan says. “And next thing I know, I was reading Tatooine lore and re-watching the movies. In about two days I had completely finished planning out the terrain.”
Builders have been recreating Star Wars inside Minecraft ever since the sandbox’s release. Over the years there have been hundreds of creations, dozens of impressive Millennium Falcon builds (opens in new tab), lightsaber mods (opens in new tab), and stormtrooper skins (opens in new tab) can be found in every corner of the Minecraft community on sites like Minecraft Planet (opens in new tab) and Curseforge (opens in new tab). But what Kahn is doing is much larger in scope.
Recreating a galaxy far, far away
The original plan was to build a Star Wars multiplayer server, but after being faced with “an infinite spiral of complexity” Kahn decided to focus on an open-world RPG adventure map – which is still a hell of a lot of work. Making it a single-player venture meant more time could be given to focusing on the details of the world, and gave him extra freedom. “That’s when I decided I really could build every planet if I wanted,” Khan says. “Put them all in one adventure map and have a whole bunch of characters and storylines to interact with.”
Starting back in November 2020, Kahn has built two planets so far, Coruscant and Tatooine. Both builds are eye-bogglingly impressive. The sandy landscape of the desert planet of Tatooine has sprawling rock formations and vast canyons. The map includes the Skywalker’s humble homestead, the Mos Eisley spaceport complete with seedy bars, the pod-racing circuit in Mos Espa, and even the Jawa’s colossal sandcrawlers that roam the desert looking for scrap. Coruscant is a world away from the Tatooine build, quite literally. The planet’s cityscape is dense with jutting towers and skyscrapers, and no two look the same. Feel free to waltz around the Jedi Temple or act out the tense political drama in the Grand Convocation Chamber.
To make each planet as detailed as possible, Kahn used a wealth of source material, everything from film screenshots, behind-the-scenes concept art, CGI outtakes, design drawings, and even gameplay footage from the Star Wars games. Understandably, he decided not to build the entirety of each planet because that would be bonkers and take years to build even with an entire team. Building Coruscant alone is an incredible achievement, even if it came with its stresses. “Coruscant is easily the craziest thing I’ve ever done and nearly drove me mad towards the end of it,” explains Kahn.
To build maps on a large scale, Minecraft builders rely on tools like WorldPainter, Dynmap, and WorldEdit for planning. These tools are vital for blueprinting an entire world instead of loading a fully landscaped survival world and then carving parts away. But even with these techniques, there’s still an incredible amount of work to be done, especially if you have a keen eye for detail.
“I wanted the detail to be authentic and the only way I could think of was doing it by hand,” Khan says. “I used WorldEdit for the general shapes and squares but for the tiny details over the entire surface I did them all by hand with mouse clicks. It was insanely tedious, and I hope I never have to do something like that again. It took me two full months and by the time I finished I was way too burnt out.”
It should be smooth sailing from here on out, as Kahn says they started building Coruscant and Tatooine first because they were easily the largest and most complicated to build. “Each planet from here on out will be progressively smaller and not nearly as complicated to build.”
Expanding the universe
It’s all well and good to simply wander both planets and ogle at how remarkable they are, but the adventure map also has a story and RPG elements to get stuck into. There are some light-weight missions you can complete, like finding a device on Tatooine that summons a speeder, or discovering chests with spare parts that can be sold to the Jawa for currency. You can also buy weapons and armor including a bounty hunter helmet that introduces you to a mission involving collecting bounties.
“All of it is my interpretation of several legends and canon storylines that take place as a prequel to The Mandalorian events,” Kahn says. “The missions are mostly just tracking down a target and taking them out, but as you keep going you become more involved with the underworld on Tatooine and many cameos take place leading up to the final mission. If you’re successful there it directly leads you into the Jedi missions which require you to have a lightsaber.”
With Disney pumping out new Star Wars films and TV shows by the year, the lore is always developing and changing meaning certain interpretations of story events are likely to become obsolete but Kahn’s not particularly concerned about accuracy. “It does conflict with the new Boba Fett show,” Kahn says. “But this is just a Minecraft map, and I really feel free to tell as many Star Wars stories I want in any way I want.”
Apart from fine tuning the missions and redoing some of the weapons and items, Kahn has his sights set on new planets with Naboo being next in line (opens in new tab). The plan is then to do Geonosis, Yavin 4, Kashyyyk, Kamino, Utapau, Dagobah, Nevarro, Alderaan, Mandalore, Mustafar, and more. It seems as though it would take a single person decades to build even a handful of the planets but the building process has become more than a project with an end goal for Kahn.
“I’ve spent a long time developing this odd niche skill of building in Minecraft and just recently discovered how much of an outlet it can be for telling stories,” says Kahn. “I’d love to continue doing this even if it makes nothing, it’s very satisfying for me to create and share in this way, and I only want to do more.”
You can check out the map for free by heading over to Kahn’s VC-MC website (opens in new tab), and if you’re feeling generous there’s an option available to donate a small sum that helps support the project.