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Michel Thomazeau (Cubical Drift) Planets³ interview

We talk to Michel Thomazeau about the project.


Earlier this month we posted news of a new Kickstarter campaign for a game called Planets³ by indie studio Cubical Drift. With its gorgeous voxel-based graphics and unique mix of adventure, dungeon crawling, RPG and building we found ourselves immediately interested.

Their Kickstarter is now in the final week with $55k of the $250k target left to find. We caught up with Project Director, Michel Thomazeau to find out more about the project.

Tell us more about yourself and how you ended up in the gaming industry?

I am 32 years old, have a diploma of informatics engineer. I always had in mind that I wanted to create something with my two hands, but I needed experience and an idea (the idea was the big deal!). I got 9 years of experience in software development (Realviz, then Autodesk).

In the summer of 2012, 2 friends come to me with an idea: to make a game with voxel, but a game that will not be indefinitely flat. After months of discussion, design, and development, Planets³ was born. I decided to take all the risks for this project; I did quit my job and founded Cubical Drift.

One of the difficult parts of the project was to find the competent artists (because we couldn’t pay them). But we find them! And you can see the result today.

Assuming you hit your KickStarter target, when can backers expect the game’s first playable build to be available?

We will make all the efforts so they can play a first alpha version in fall, even sooner if everything goes better than anticipated. When I say alpha version, it’s not the current prototype, it’s a part of the final game, with almost every feature completed and the first quests of the storyline. This build will respect our high standards of quality.

You use a very distinctive art style for the game’s characters, do you watch cartoons and if so, what’s your favourite?

I am a huge fan of animation (manga but also all “occidental” animation films, 2D or 3D). I have a lot of favourites! I will mention 3 of them: The Incredibles, Despicable Me and Mononoke-Hime.

It is surely because I grew with Tex Avery and Disney Cartoons and with the merge of rendering images in animation films.

I am a great fan of cinema in general.

How will players communicate with the NPCs in game?

This will be “standard”. You see the NPC, and you click to open a dialog box. I don’t personally like when a giant exclamation point appear on the head of a PNJ, but we will certainly go for that too, for more “visibility”.


Would you like to tell our readers more about the storyline of Planets³?

I want to tell you! But I cannot do that! It’s the same as telling the story of a film you haven’t seen. With my love of RPG titles myself, I know that gamers do not want to discover the story before playing the game.

I can promise some surprises will occur and that the aliens will take part a lot in the storyline from a certain time in the adventure. The story will be global, and will take the player on almost each planet.

How big are the planets and are they randomly generated?

We choose to have planets with 8km side. As blocks are 25cm side, planets consist of 32 000 billions of blocks. Moons will be smaller, but full of useful resources.

Random takes a good part in planet generation. But everything is not random, for two reasons:

  • Landscape depend on altitude/longitude/latitude, the world is more coherent
  • Storyline induce some fixed location in the different zones
  • We want to have a specific looking for the planets, as you see on the trailer, and this induce global drawing of the planet and this cannot be accomplished with only random parameters



Are there multiplayer elements planned and if so, how do you aim to implement them?

Yes, there will be multiplayer. There is two king of multiplayer in Planets³: complete the story in multi (we could say coop-mode) on one side and fight each other on another side (we could say PVP, player versus player).

The PVP side is one of the Kickstarter stretch goal. What we want to achieve is “zone control”, players fighting each other’s to get more and more zone by fighting by hand or building traps and fortresses. Clans can even control an entire planet and then can attempt to conquer others!

Is there an equivalent of Minecraft’s creative mode and what are the advantages of the Planets³ editor in comparison?

Sure, it will be the same game but with no story and with access to every component, allowing you to create everything you want with no constraints and with the possibility to fly. We could say the gameplay of our creative mode is really comparable to the Minecraft creative mode. But, hey, it’s normal, the objective is the same.

Do you have plans on bringing the game to other platforms?

We want to bring it to Mac, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One. Planning will depend of our resources.


You obviously drew some inspiration from Minecraft; were there any other games you guys played that pushed you to create Planets³?

Obviously we would have not made Planets³ if Minecraft had not existed.

We all love games where there is a lot of freedom such as Skyrim, freedom with a story (and so with constrains). You will find some elements that are inspired from Skyrim or Mass Effect in our game.

What are your thoughts on the current state of gaming, with the free-to-play, micro-transaction/IAP (in app purchases) driven gaming experience everyone seems to be embracing?

I personally am not a good customer for companies who chose this way of selling games! I never paid for these games. I played the “free” mode and then I found myself discouraged by the long timer / inaccessible objects the game present after some time but do not want to pay to cut nag screens.

Our way of working is that things need to evolve every day; a few years ago online sales do not exist for example. Why the gaming business could not evolve too?

I think diversity brings more freedom for everyone, but I am obviously more “old style” here and I prefer the classic way of purchase video games.


What’s your favourite game (and why) and what’re you currently playing?

It’s a hard question, really! I like so many games, but if I need to take only one it will be Final Fantasy 7, based on the nostalgia (I love materias!). This game is old, but there are so many good ideas in it and I need to confess that this game is one of the rare that made me cry and at the same time hate somebody!

I did start to play Breath of Fire II last month and I’m enjoying playing it again. I currently play to World of Warcraft with friends; we have fun in raids 2 times per weeks when I have the time!

Most of my time is devoted to Planets³ since one year and I want to play lots of games but don’t have the time: Far Cry 3, BorderLands 2, Crysis 3, Mass Effect 3, inter alia. I will surely take some time to catch up at the end of this year when things are less hectic with Planets³.

And of course I am waiting for the next Final Fantasy!

If Planets³ looks like your kind of game then check out the Planets³ Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support before it’s too late.


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