Planets3 (pronounced PlanetsCube) is speeding towards its funding goal with 5 days to go. A voxel based world-builder with RPG elements, we wanted to talk to the project director Michel Thomazeau to see how it differs from other builders, and learn a little more about the story progression.

It’s a really eye-popping game set in a vibrant multi-verse, where players can create their own rocket ships and visit distant procedurally generated worlds, without a loading screen. Cubical Drift were kind enough to build us a pre-alpha build so we could check out the engine and get a sense of the aesthetic, so the images you see below are our own screenshots, and it’s important to remember this is very, very early alpha work.

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What is Planets3, and who are Cubical Drift?

We are a small team. The co-founders of the company are 3 old friends that met at their engineer school 13 years ago.
We surrounded ourselves with competent and truly motivated people from different horizons (creative artists, graphics and musician) to develop the game of our dreams.

My name is Michel Thomazeau, and I am the project director of Planets³ and the CEO and co-founder of the Cubical Drift Company. I am 32 years old, and have a 9 years background in CAD software development at Realviz first and then at Autodesk.

There’s no avoiding similarities to Minecraft, but its block world is not voxel based, whilst yours is. Explain the difference, and what it means mechanically for Planets3. How will it affect building, the type of structures you can create, and the game world?

Crafting items will be different as it will use “normal” 3d model with our specific design

This depends on what you call “voxel based”; it seems that this term is use for different situations. Our game is made of small blocks (25cm square and with different shape) and the view distance is almost infinite as we use a “sub-resolution” engine we developed ourselves to be able to display blocks that are on different planets. This way we can answer to one of the gameplay constraint: to be able to see everything (with more or less details) wherever you are.

The result is that the further you are from a construction or a landscape, the fewer details you will see.

So how does the engine you tweaked and the block sizes you’ve chosen open up new horizons for crafting. For instance, can you create more intricate objects than in Minecraft?

Blocks are smaller and have different shapes (6 in total + the cylinder) so yes it offers much more creation diversity. You can see the “motorbike” or the tree we created, it’s really something else. Crafting items will be different as it will use “normal” 3d model with our specific design, like you can see with the different weapons we show in the trailer.

Your Kickstarter talks about ‘natives’ – will these natives have their own technologies, and what form will they take? Does each planet have differen’t natives? 

The “natives” are the NPCs you can find in each planet. Indeed each planet will have different natives, some of them will be humans but other will be “aliens”. These characters will help you to progress in the game.
Some of these natives will become your Job Master and teach you their technologies.

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The worlds are procedurally generated, so how will each world look different? Will there be different fauna and flora, and climates? Will there be a loading screen between worlds, or will players be able to fly on their rockets to each world seamlessly?

The worlds are created with a mix of procedural and “manual” generation. We need to place specific things at specific locations for the story needs. Each landscape, which depends on latitude/longitude/altitude, will have its specific fauna and flora and climatic events. There is no loading screen when playing in Planets³; everything is based on the sub-resolution engine that loads in real time what you need to see. The engine use multithreading algorithms. The only loading screen is when your load the “universe” when you start playing. Even going to another planet will be in real time without loading screen.

How many worlds will render in your seed then? An infinite or finite amount?

The first opus, Race to Space will be limited to one unique solar system. There will around 8 planets that you can see wherever you are. Around 6 of them will be part of the storyline. The second opus, Space Enemies, will open to the universe. We will generate an infinite amount of solar systems, with a limited amount of planets for each one. The story will be limited to 3 solar system.

You will have several Job Masters that will teach you different types of items.

The job progression and NPC world ‘helpers’ seems similar to Terraria. Will there be quests granted from these NPC’s, and could you explain the ‘job’ mechanic in more detail. For example, can you pick only one job and then level along this progression, or learn all jobs? 

There is no “job” or “class” in Planets³. There are Job Masters, some special NPCs who will teach you new recipes. You will help them to progress by giving them resources to research new recipes. So you don’t have to choose a job, you have to find these special NPCs, complete the quests they give to you and help them to progress. You will have several Job Masters that will teach you different types of items.

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But can you ‘level up’ your skill in each class/equipment set up?

You will not level up your skills; you will level up your equipment. For example you will start by using a wood stick as weapon, after some progression you will be able to use a metal sword, then a gun, then a plasma gun and so on … But you can try to fight high level enemies with a heavy metal/carbon stick that will be much more resistant that the first wood stick you used. It’s up to you.

You mention a ‘story line’, does that mean in a way that Planets3 is a procedurally generated open world RPG? The world is split into around 6 layers, as Earth is split into geological layers… will each layer come with dungeons and new enemies and things like that? What kind of weapons will we see?

No class, it will only depend on your equipment.

No the story will not be randomly generated, we will place the specific story needs at specific location. The story will be linear and bring the players to discover the first planets and then the other planets. But yes it is an open world RPG, as you can go everywhere you want. But you will need to complete the story quests to be able to progress. The first planet is split into 15 zones, which define the 15 first “level” of the game. There will be dungeons and news enemies in almost each new zone.

In Planets³ everything is based of technology, you start from nothing, fighting with wood sticks and then you will technologically evolve to be able to use more advanced weapon like guns, and then sci-fi weapon like plasma gun or light sabers.

Explain the character classes in more detail… are these classes like an RPG? Do you, say, pick a warrior and stick with it, or can you dabble in all roles?

No class, it will only depend on your equipment. If you want to “play a warrior” you will equip a high armor and a big weapon and jump into melee. But you could choose to switch for a light and discreet armor and try to pass through the enemies.

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We want players to be able to custom almost anything in the game

I see the game has dungeons. Are these all 100% procedurally generated, or are their dungeons pre-made with pre-made bosses to explore? 

The same principle as the planets’ generation is used for dungeons’ generation: some “rooms” will be placed manually. And the story’s dungeons will contain a specific boss.
But there will be randomly annex dungeons, not linked to the story; these dungeons will be more procedurally generated.

You’re able to modify the game via an .xml file, how important is mod support to you, and are you allowing total conversion mods, things like that?

We want players to be able to custom almost anything in the game, opening to the players the tools we will use to make the game.
Allowing customization is really important for us, we know that this is what players like!

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Why did you pick the Ogre engine over something like Unreal5.. what benefits does it have over other engines?

We choose Ogre for mainly 2 reasons: first we use this engine since many years and second it is free.

If – god forbid – you don’t meet your funding goal, what plans do you have to release the game? Alpha? Early Access?

Without funds we cannot make the alpha as it require 6 months of full time work. The only option we have if Kickstarter failed is to get these funds by other ways; I already know that this will be hard. Let’s hope the Kickstarter campaign will be successful!