Michael Westgarth quizzes Cubicle Drift's Michel Thomazeau about their voxel based space adventure Planets3
21 March 2014 | By Import
French indie development studio Cubical Drift are attempting to raise $250,000 via Kickstarter to fund their cubical vision: Planets3. Part Zelda, part Minecraft and part Lego, Planets3 will plant players within a universe of cubed planets where they must fight, explore and build their way to the stars beyond. We got in touch with Cubicle Drift's Michel Thomazeau to find out more.
Strategy Informer:So tell us a little about the Cubicle Drift team. How many of you are there and what are your backgrounds?
Michel Thomazeau: We are eight for now: two devs, two creative artists, two graphics, one musician and me, Michel Thomazeau.
The programmers and I have nine years of expertise in software development. One of the devs, CodingMarmot, has four years background in video game development. Some of the artists have backgrounds in video games too and it helps a lot.
Strategy Informer:Can you give us a brief overview of Planets3 ?
Michel Thomazeau:Planets3 is all about bringing a story over a voxel world. Planets3 is a RPG with all that it [a RPG] involves. There will be a storyline with a lot of quests, characters that will accompany you in your adventure; some of them will help you to progress. And we want to bring the construction aspect in the quest: some of them [characters] will ask you to build specific structures.
Strategy Informer:Are there any features of Planets3 that you could share with us that haven't been announced already?
Michel Thomazeau: Not really, we didn’t want to reveal pets on [the] Kickstarter campaign, but finally we did it. The features list we revealed on the Kickstarter page is somehow complete.
Strategy Informer:Can you explain how your “Infinite View Distance Engine” works?
Michel Thomazeau: To see planets from everywhere was a gameplay constrain. But [as] planets are made of 30 trillion blocks, this was impossible to display. So we needed to implement a specific engine to be able to display a “sub resolution” of the planet. The further away you look, the more details will disappear. So as you can see on the prototype screenshot or video, you can see planets, even if you are very far from them.
Strategy Informer:What challenges did you face when trying to enable an “infinite” view distance?
Michel Thomazeau: Multithreading algorithms was the worst part of the challenge!
Strategy Informer:How do physics work on cube planets with edges?
Michel Thomazeau: It’s really simple, we “just switch” the elements, making them rotate by 90°.
Strategy Informer:What made you decide on a voxel-based design for Planets3?
Michel Thomazeau: In fact we decided to make Planets3 after having voxel based planets. It all started with an idea: to make a coherent voxel world.
Strategy Informer:From a visual standpoint, it's easy to see why many people are comparing Planets3 to Minecraft. Is Planets3 inspired by Minecraft in any way?
Michel Thomazeau: If Minecraft didn’t exist I don’t think we would have made Planets3. Inspiration comes from other RPGs or adventure games like Skyrim, Mass Effect, Zelda. But also from physical “games” like Lego or movies like Star Wars.
Strategy Informer:The planet surfaces in Planets3 are comprised of slopes and triangles, rather than individual cubes. How important are these shapes when constructing buildings and vehicles?
Michel Thomazeau: These different blocks shapes and their small size (25cm) allow real diversity or more “precise” constructions.
Strategy Informer:Is vehicle creation limited to recipes, or will players be able to make any vehicle imaginable?
Michel Thomazeau: As [with] physical Lego, you will have a limited amount of what we call “control blocks”, but vehicles will be made of “simple blocks” too and these ones are almost unlimited. Players will have a lot of possibilities in terms of vehicle creation.
Strategy Informer:Are Planets3's story and RPG elements optional? Can players free-roam?
Michel Thomazeau: They are not optional as they will be the only way to evolve. But players can free-roam on the planets as freely as they want.
Strategy Informer:How do you feel you've been received on Kickstarter so far?
Michel Thomazeau: Kickstarter is an incredible experience. It’s exhausting and stressful, but it’s really a great adventure! I think we have made great [progress] so far, but we have still a long way to go.
Strategy Informer:Why have you decided to release your game in two parts, as Planets3: Race to Space and Planets3: Space Enemies?
Michel Thomazeau: Because we do not want to make players wait for 4 or 6 years before being able to play to the game.
Strategy Informer:The Planets3 Kickstarter page claims Planets3 will cost $30 at launch – is that $30 for each individual Planets3 game, or both together?
Michel Thomazeau: It's $30 for each individual game.
Strategy Informer:Space Enemies, which you refer to on your Kickstarter page as the “full game”, won't be available until 2017. Aren't you concerned that Kickstarter backers will find the distant release date off-putting?
Michel Thomazeau:Space Enemies is a great game, and we need years of development to achieve it. This is the reason for the existence of Race to Space.
Strategy Informer:Do you have any other videogames projects planned?
Michel Thomazeau: Yes, but not in the next three years, where we will focus on Planets3.
Strategy Informer:Where can Strategy Informer readers find out more about Planets3 and Cubical Drift?
Michel Thomazeau: On our website, www.planets-cube.com, or directly on the Kickstarter page (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1247991467/planets3).
Strategy Informer:Good luck with the Kickstarter and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
The world of Kickstarter is a precarious place that offers no guarantee of funding, regardless of the quality of the projects on offer. Whether or not Planets3 makes it is entirely down to potential backers. So do you think Planets3 and Cubical Drift has what it takes to reach its goal of $250,000? Let us know by leaving a comment below.