In this week’s Interview with an Indie Developer we catch up with Michel Thomazeau, the project director of Planets³ and the CEO of the Cubical Drift Company. Michel is 32 years old and has 9 years background in CAD software development. Planets³ is a title we really look forward to here at ManaPool, with several of us backing the Kickstarter and plans for a potential ManaPool server after release. So what’s Planets³ all about? Read on to find out!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about Planets3 and your Studio, Cubical Drift. Could you tell us a little about how Cubical Drift started?
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. It took almost 1 year to create it, as I am a prudent person. Cubical drift was born October last year and a local business incubator is also supporting us.
Where did the name Cubical Drift come from? How did you go about choosing it as the name of your studio?
It took us a lot of time to choose the name; we wanted something that could show people we are making video games and we needed an available name. It was not something easy. But finally it’s a mix of pixel (cubical) and a little poetry (drift).
Upon first seeing the game, many people will immediately draw the comparison to Minecraft. Whilst Planets3 is actually quite different, this will be one of the most important aspects in the marketing and presentation of the game to potential players. How do you deal with this?
We totally assume this aspect of our game. We choose to use a voxel world for our RPG and Minecraft represent voxel game today. So it’s ok. But Planets³ is not really a “Minecraft-like;” we are making an RPG, not a sandbox game.
One of the interesting aspects of Planets3 is that players aren’t just limited to cubes, or a specific shape. Could you tell our readers a little more about the different shapes and building possibilities here? What are the limitations?
As you can see in our Kickstarter page we have 6 different shapes for “cubical” blocks and one shape for a cylinder. These blocks are 25cm square. This allows real creation diversity. We show some examples of what can be possible on our trailer or Kickstarter page.
How big are the planets in Planets3, and how do players get from one planet to another in their solar system or galaxy? How big is the universe in total?
Planets are 8km square – that’s about 30 trillion of blocks.
Players will need to build their own spaceship to travel from planets to planets. The universe is infinite! But in the first opus we will only have one unique solar system with about 8 planets.
When running a private server of Planets3 – what are the limitations in terms of size or the planets? Do all players spawn on the same planet or does the server spread people across them?
It will depend on the choice of the players and the chosen mode.
With the story mode, all players will play together so they will “spawn” together. But with the creative mode, or the custom mode (when players custom their own server) they will be able choose the spawn locations.
Could you tell us a little more about the servers we can create? What options and settings will be available to the players or in fact the server admins? What should we expect in system requirements? It’s rather likely that we spawn a ManaPool server – so we’re very interested!
We want players to be able to customize almost anything in the game (textures, models, quest, NPCs, landscape generation, planets and solar system generation …). About options, I think this will be somehow “standard.”
For configurations, It is really too early for that. I can’t give you exact numbers about server spec requirement today.
Could you give us a brief overview of how the crafting system works? What kind of items can you craft? How much depth does the system have?
Crafting items will be rather simple: you need to harvest resources (by digging for example) and then choose the shape of the item you want to craft.
What is interesting and adds depth is how you manage to “learn” the recipes for every item: by using the Job Masters research skill or by getting rewards from quests or by killing monsters. Another interesting part is that players will be able to import “real” 3D models for their items.
It’s incredibly awesome that you can create and design your own vehicles. Could you explain the mechanics behind this? How does a vehicle ‘know’ it’s a vehicle for example? How are its stats or speed determined, or whether or not it drives, glides, sails or flies?
The vehicle system will be a nice challenge!
You will get some specific parts; we call them “control blocks,” like an engine, a wheel or a cockpit. And you will need to link them with “simple” blocks. If the vehicle is “well” built, then it will run.
All control block will have specific “stats” to respect. For example an engine can support a certain weight for the vehicle, some wheels will only work fully on flat and hard road (or it will slow down the vehicle). And so on …
We will try to keep the process simple.
This is a personal and hypothetical question – but could I create a giant armoured mech suit and walk around in that? Mechwarrior style?
Not in the first opus, not even in the second opus I think. A mecha is too much to handle technically speaking, but perhaps in some years it will be something possible… wait and see ;) I personally would love to do that!
Within the building blocks/systems, are there movable parts? Triggers, levers or more advanced systems? For example, what if we want to design a hangar bay which can open and close remotely?
Yes we want to implement this kind of mechanism. The question is when. No answers today!
Could you tell us more about how the cooperative elements will work? Suppose two (or more) players work together, does one person progressing the story progress the story for all of them?
This will be our focus for the first opus multiplayer gameplay: the co-op mode.
Yes the story will be “stored” on the server, not “on the” characters. The server will evolve with players’ progression in the story. If a new player joins them, he will jump directly into the action.
There are Job Masters in the world which help advance the story and teach players the skills required to advance. How do they fit in the game? Do they live in buildings we construct or have existing ones? Is the world in fact inhabited and ‘living’?
Job Masters are essential in the game, without these masters players will be stuck (in the story mode).
They are specific NPCs. You will first need to help them, resolving their quests, then they will become job masters, allowing you to use their skills.
You will be able to build them houses, and regroup all of them in your own village. They will have specific needs and ask you to build them specific houses.
What activities are there in the world for players besides building and exploring? Could you tell us a little about combat or the kind of enemies players can encounter?
The first activity will be to evolve in the storyline.
As in any RPG, players will face different enemies and monsters, fight in dungeons to find specific items or save people.
Each “zone,” each landscape will have their specific fauna and flora, and it’s the same for caverns.
Are there any group activities in Planets3, as in things that you could do on your own but would be better organised with a group of players? [For example, dungeon raids or something along those lines?]
Playing the game with friends will be more fun and monsters will be easier to fight. Some monsters will fight in group; better face them in a group too!
What is the one feature you’re most proud of in Planets3 and you feel will be a huge selling point to potential players?
Planets³ is all about bringing a story over a voxel world. And I think this is the best selling point.
But I am most proud of our sub resolution engine that allows having an almost infinite view distance.
When can potentially interested players expect to be able to take a first real look at Planets3?
Before the end of this year! (If Kickstarter is successful).
More information about Planets3
Concept Art Gallery: