Planets³ is a project that shows tremendous potential, and is currently undergoing a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, having already raised two thirds of their goal, with 16 more days to go.The basic premise is a mix of a building and role-playing game mechanics, set in a voxel world which players can fully disassemble and rearrange as they see fit, gradually expanding their knowledge and crafting skills as they explore their planet and eventually taking to the skies and exploring the entire universe.
We liked the concept behind the game and we have an exclusive interview with developer Cubical Drift CEO Michel Thomazeau, who was kind enough to provide us with additional information regarding Planets³.
Softpedia: Your Kickstarter pitch is well put together, and the video shows some great visuals and a nice musical score. How much time did you spend preparing for the campaign before it went live?
Michel Thomazeau: We put a lot of efforts in the Kickstarter campaign; we wanted to show a maximum of visual contents and features to our futures players. The trailer itself is about 5 months of work in total.
We had to create all the concept arts (2D and 3D), bring the prototype to a state that allows us to capture nice videos and of course assembling all of that together in a 2 minutes video.
Softpedia: You're already two thirds there now, with over 5000 backers, and you must be very excited. The Kickstarter month is famous for taking a considerable mental toll on developers. How are you holding up so far?
Michel Thomazeau: We are beginning to be tired and stressed, but it's good stress! Kickstarter is an incredible adventure and seeing all these backers supporting us is the most beautiful reward after so much work.
But we still have a long way to go to succeed!
Softpedia: I see that you have already laid out a plan that covers development efforts over several years. What do you feel will be the most challenging part of the project, both to design and implement?
Michel Thomazeau: We have indeed some challenges to surpass. We already surpassed the biggest one: the “infinite” view distance engine which allows seeing the planets from everywhere in real time.
Implementation side: the most important one will be the vehicle system; we will need to handle physics for collisions and movements. We want to make something as “credible” as possible.
Design side: A challenge will be to balance the progression and the combat.
Softpedia: Crawling through dungeons is always fun and, I'm curious, how will that work? Will you be able to just stumble upon them while exploring or digging inside the game world?
Michel Thomazeau: Yes you could stumble upon them while exploring the surface or the caverns. And digging is a way to explore the depths of the planets.
But the story will bring you inside the dungeons, to complete some quests.
About dungeons, there is something important to know as we are in a game where you can “remove” all the surroundings.
You will not be able to dig inside the world as soon as you start. Blocks in Planets³ have a hardness (or a level if you prefer). And you will need to have the specifics tools (of the same level) to be able to remove this block.
Dungeons follow the same rule as they are made of blocks. So we will create dungeons with blocks of higher level than the level of the tools the players can create, so the players will be able to appreciate the dungeons labyrinth.
Softpedia: What is even more fun than crawling through dungeons is doing it with friends, and I see that your plans also include cooperative multiplayer. How do you imagine a dungeon run experience going with several players at once, will the difficulty scale?
Michel Thomazeau: It’s a good question!
For now we do not have plans to “scale” the difficulty of dungeons if you are in multiplayer.
More than that, some of the annex quests dungeons will be very hard in solo as they will be designed to be done in multiplayer. We really want to promote multiplayer in our game.
Softpedia: Building games have a certain appeal, allowing their players to fully express their creativity, and a hundred different available materials sounds intriguing to say the least. Can you elaborate on the materials' different properties?
Michel Thomazeau: It is like in reality, where we have a lot of materials at our disposal.
In Planets³ it is the same: there will be a lot of different natural materials but also a lot of “crafted” material (when you mix or transform natural materials). We think that diversity induce fun: the more materials you have, the more possibilities of construction you have.
The only important property of a material will be its hardness (for example, an iron sword will be more solid and durable than a wood sword).
Blocks/material hardness (or level) will be important for combat. You will need an adequate weapon level to fight enemies’ armor.
For example, if you want to break a level 2 armor, you will need a level 2 or greater weapon, with a level 1 weapon you will not be able to do much damages.
Softpedia: Loot is important in any RPG, and from what I gather crafting will be the main way to improve your equipment. What will be a player's main means through which to expand the number and quality of recipes?
Michel Thomazeau: Indeed craft will be essential to improve your equipment. And everything will depend on the Job Master, as they will be the one to research and find new recipes for you.
So to expand the number and quality of recipes, players will need to bring Job Master a lot of resources. Resources can come from harvesting natural blocks or dismantling items (that you can loot on enemies).
Softpedia: I'm very excited about being able to build my own vehicles, but I am also very curios how this will work. Will there be limitations to the system or do your plans include allowing players to eventually be able to go all out and build trains and other such large-scale projects?
Michel Thomazeau: There will be limitations; it’s a fact, due to hardware resources and algorithms. It’s a little too early to give you any exact numbers today.
We will try to push the limits as far as possible. Trains should not be a problem; spaceships will be!
Softpedia: The ability to eventually build a spaceship and go in space is certainly a strong draw for many people. Will you be able to take off and explore other planets? Will you find things that don't exist on yours?
Michel Thomazeau: It’s one of the great features of our game. And the storyline will bring players from planets to planets. At a certain moment in your adventure you will need to create a spaceship and travel to other planets.
So yes you will be able to explore space and discover new environment composed of new resources and wildlife. And these new resources will allow you to create new items and get better equipment.
Softpedia: What is the minimum level of implemented features before you will be comfortable with releasing a playable alpha to the project's backers, and how soon do you estimate being able to do so?
Michel Thomazeau: In the alpha we want to have the first quests of the story and all that is needed to complete them in co-op mode.
Other things that are not directly linked to the first quests will be implemented such as complete planets generation, solar system movement and night/day cycle.
We have a lot to implement about users data too, to be able to handle all players account on our website.
We estimated to be able to deliver the alpha before the end of this year.
But first we need to have a successful Kickstarter campaign!