Monday, March 31, 2014

Planets³ taking cubes to the stars and beyond, one Planet at a Time.

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be talking to Michel from Cubical Drift who is here to talk to us today about Planets³. Thank you for joining us today Michel.

Hi, I am pleased to be here, thank you for your invitation. I will present myself: I am 32 years old and I am the Planets³ project director. Last year when I saw the potential of our project I quit my job to focus only on Planets³.

Ever since a certain mining and crafting game showed up any time a game shows up with cube style graphics people immediately make a comparison, so how does Planets³ differ from other cube games?  

First by it’s art. With our 25cm square blocs and their different shapes, it’s really something else.

Secondly Planets³ is a RPG. There is a story, quests, dungeons … Some characters will accompany you along your adventure, helping you to progress.

And third : Space !

How hard is it to create a storyline in a world that can be changed so dramatically?  Does that ease in changing the landscape play into the story at all, say in a Hercules and the stables kind of way?  

Planets³ is all about bringing a story over a voxel world. So yes there will be some “awkward” situations, it will be our job to avoid or resolve them.

Lot of story elements will be “placed” manually in all the landscape and caverns.

Will it be possible to simple build a tower into the sky or will buildings have more stresses than just gravity to deal with?  Will space elevators be an alternative form of getting into orbit or even traveling between planets on a “bridge?”  

There will be some altitude constraints for construction. But “space” elevators should be something possible. It’s a little too early to talk about that in fact, but I would love that this will possible.

Your campaign puts a strong emphasis on the job masters and how they’ll be providing you with crafting recipes and the like.  Does that mean everything will be made through recipes or will buildings and such still be made from individual blocks laid out in the field?  

You need to distinguish different types of items:
- the blocks that come from materials (natural or crafted)
- what we call meta-block : a specific object that has its own 3D model (a door for example) and that can be bigger than one block. Also the control blocks for vehicles are special meta blocks.
- and the equipment items (weapons, armor, tools …) that can not be “placed” on the 3D world.

You will have a lot of material, allowing you to have a large diversity of blocks to place. And you will also have a lot a meta blocks, allowing you to have a large diversity of special “construction” items.

The Ogre 3D Engine is a less of a “household name” when it comes to gaming engines.  What was the reasoning behind using it for this game?  Does it allow easy porting to Linux and OS X based systems or even consoles down the road?

We use Ogre because we use it since many years and because it is free. It was easier for us to start with this engine. But in fact Ogre is just a little part of our engine. The bigger part of our engine is custom, homemade. For example the blocks lighting engine is completely custom and do not any Ogre feature. Bringing it to Linux and Mac will not be a problem for Ogre as it is supported. But we will have a lot of work to port our own code. It is a possibility that we switch for a more flexible engine in the future.

Concept Art

The campaign mentions the first release will be Planets³: Race to Space which isn’t planned for final release until Fall of 2015.  Is that all backers are getting with this campaign or will they be getting the “full game” of Planets³: Space Enemies as well which isn’t even due out until 2017?  

Yes as said in the Kickstarter page Backers will get access to the first and the second opus of the game (computer version only). So yes it’s about 4 years of Planets³ for backers!

There are lots of large scale crafting/exploring games out there, some who even launched here on Kickstarter like Planetary Explorers. What makes Planets³ different from the others?  What are their similarities?  

We will have different planets to explore, traveling with a custom and handmade spaceship. Each planets will have different landscapes and wildlife.
The story will bring players to some planets. These planets will be much more attractive than other, as they will have a lot of story elements. But other planets will have their good points too, as they will be completely random generated.
Our craft system is somehow unique, as you can change items forms and materials.
And our vehicle creation system is unique.

I have to applaud your willingness to stick to the cube theme even into your “pie” chart for the budget breakdown.  How important was it to you to share with potential backers the projected costs and planned use of the money raised by this project?  

ahah, yes we wanted to bring the cube theme everywhere! I personally ask for this, Reymantha did make a great job about cubical design
I think it is important for backers to know what are the most costing tasks and how we distribute the money. It helps to make the project more credible as we know what we want to do. We did estimated the development cost, it’s not a magic number.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

I follow Kickstarter since its beginning. But I do not remember how I discovered it, certainly with a video game project.

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A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

We have planned recurrent updates, first of all a monthly dev report, where backers will be able to follow our development progress. And also weekly news, with a picture, a screenshot, a video depending on the events.
We will open a forum too, where backers can discuss with us about different elements.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

I think this is the most difficult part of our project, as we are totally unknown. It’s really hard to get visibility all over the world. I think our press relation partners have achieved a really great work to get the press attracted by our project.
We have now a lot of article and videos about our game on the web.
We did look at kicktraq and kickspy, but I think that nobody, even these tools can predict the future.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Take your time writing your Kickstarter page and rewards and goals. Because when it’s published, it’s done, you cannot go back. This was our first Kickstarter campaign and we made some little mistakes, perhaps we more time we could have done things better.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Support us on Kickstarter! Together we will create a great game!
Thank you for this interview.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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