By Andrew Dodson on April 3, 2014 at 2:12pm
Since "Minecraft" exploded on the scene in 2011, it made a pretty significant impact on gaming - you might even say that it formed its own genre. We have seen dozens of "Minecraft" "clones" - games using that blocks and a "sandbox world" full of tools to do whatever you want. All those games are fun, but at the same time, they are fun in the exact same way that "Minecraft" is fun. They feel like the clones that they are, but clones wearing different hats and maybe speaking in a funky accent.
When I first caught wind of "Planets³" (pronounced "planets cube") on Kickstarter a few weeks ago, I thought it was going to be more of the same. As I read more about it, though, and more updates and videos game to light, it started to seem like something fresh and new and almost completely different.
What you notice right off the bat about "Planets³" is that you aren't just given an almost flat, procedural generated plane to build upon. You're given a planet. Not just a normal, boring Earth-like planet, either. No, this planet is a cube, hence the title "Planets³." "Planets³" doesn't trap itself into using the same shaped block-units for everything, either. You many other shapes you could craft from the voxel-based environment including things that are round. What really separates "Planets³" from "Minecraft," though, is that "Planets³" is a real RPG with dozens of skills for your character to learn, as well as a real story for the game that gives you some objective that you can strive to complete. Sure, it's got all the tools of a sandbox, but it is also a game.
You can also build a spaceship and go to other cube worlds, y'know, if you're into that kind of thing.
I managed to get in contact with Michel Thomazeau, the CEO of Cubical Drift, the group behind "Planets³," and he was happy to answer some questions for me about his game.
PT: Where did the idea for "Planets³" originate?
MT: At first, "Planets³" was a project between friends (myself, Codingmarmot, and Guyk) to code after our jobs. The more time passed, the more serious the project became. When I saw the potential of our project, I decided to quit everything and launch the studio.
PT: Is this your team's first attempt at using Kickstarter to get a game funded? What have been some of the challenges or things you've learned since you started the campaign?
MT: Yes it’s a first time for all of us. The first challenge was to write the page and making the trailer! The second is the extreme stress that a campaign induces. But it’s an incredible adventure!
PT: So, the cube-based environment has become kind of a genre in of itself since Minecraft exploded in popularity. What are a couple of the ways that "Planets³" separates itself from "Minecraft" or similar games?
MT: First, its art is really something different. The different blocks shapes allow more creation diversity. Second, our game is a RPG, not a sandbox game. Third, it’s also a “space adventure”!
PT: There is a story that goes along with "Planets³" which essentially makes the player to be archaeologists (of sort) that are searching for the remains of an alien crash. Did I get that right? How essential will the story be to the "Planets³" experience? Could you give us a couple of details about the plot?
MT:Indeed, the player will try to understand what happen some years ago with this alien crash. Then he will be asked to resolve the universe mysteries with them.
PT: The Job Masters are an interesting feature in "Planets³." In the huge, open-world environments of "Planets³," will it be difficult to find some of these helpful characters? Are there plans to add more Job Masters in the future
MT: Job Masters are linked to the scenario will not be hard to find as we will “show” the player where to go. But there will be “hidden” Job Masters - players will need to search for them. Adding more Job Master is really something that could happen.
PT: The worlds in "Planets³" are cubes, and I feel like that's going to make gravity an interesting thing to play with - especially at the edges. You also allow vehicles to be made. Now, if I made a fast enough motorcycle and a ramp that was at the right angle, could I make it into orbit? Does Planets³ use orbits?
MT: No, the gravity on edges do not follow any classic gravity rules. You will only switch side, being turned by 90 degrees.
PT: A more serious question about the vehicles - you mostly have them listed as ways to speed up travel. Will it be possible to build a vehicle to assist in digging? A drill or even just some kind of excavator? On that note, will vehicles have weapon mounts?
MT: Yes, we want to implement “digging” vehicles! Vehicles weapons will be for the second opus.
PT: There is a lot of talk [in the Kickstarter] about monsters and bosses and dungeons. Will there be a large variety of enemies in "Planets³?" Can you tell us about one?
MT: Yes, as "Planets³" is a RPG in a vast “world”, there will be a large variety of wildlife’s and enemies. The first “dungeons” will be linked to rats! While progressing in the story, players will encounter some important enemies’ characters, but I will not make any revelation about the story today.
PT: One last weird question - back on the planet's gravity. If a player were to go to the very center of one of the planet's side, build a platform with a laser pointing straight down, and shoot through to the other side, what would happen if the player then jumped into that hole? Would they shoot through, or would they just hover in the very middle of the world?
MT: I think I see what you mean, but it will not be possible to “go through” the middle of the world.
When I first did this interview, I had a final question asking what would happen to Planets³ if the Kickstarter was unsuccessful - well, as of today and me writing the interview up, the Planets³ campaign cracked through its 250k goal, which means that a future exists for us in which we can build spaceships and travel from cube-world to cube-world and that is just fantastic.
There are still some awesome stretch goals that the campaign could potentially meet over the next two days - playable alien races, space battles, gas planets, PvP modes and planets beyond the solar system (an entire universe). The Cubical Drift team apparently has a lot of great ideas for "Planets³," and those ideas seem worth stretching for.
If you'd like to contribute or learn more about "Planets³," you can find their Kickstarter here, and they are also up on Steam Greenlight, as well (only in concept though). Check it out!