UPDATE 04/04/2014: Planets³ has succeeded its minimum funding goal of $250K.
With 36 hours to go, it currently rests at a tally of $274,627.
If it reaches $300K, a Mac version of the game will be produced, while $350K will fund a Linux version as well, along with vehicle control blocks. And if if makes $400K a PvP system will be added.
"We are incredibly grateful to every backer we have for believing in our dreams of a Cubical world," said game director said Michel Thomazeau. "The kind words, encouraging each other and helping us to get featured on websites all over the world has helped us to fund. Without you guys, there would be no Planets³. The love for our game is both very heartwarming and endearing - we can't thank you enough."
ORIGINAL STORY 31/03/2014: What happens when you reach the end of the world? How do you - y'know - get past it? That's what I've been pondering since I laid eyes on Planets³, a miney, crafty, RPGish sort of game that's just entered its last week on Kickstarter. A busy genre, for sure, and Planets³'s hook? Cube-shaped planets.
They're wonderfully rugged to look at, chunky little blocks of earth and sea, capped with icy polar regions and covered with thick cloud banks - some of which bend around corners. It makes for the most immediately tangible crafting game I've ever seen, and a quick whiz about on a very early prototype suggests that it's going to be a lovely place to dig and to dive through, blocks crumbling beneath you, mountains stretching away in every direction.
There will be more than digging and diving, however. Planets³ wants to provide players with a story that sees you starting on one cube-shaped planet before building up your tools, your abilities, your skills, and launching yourself across the universe. Again, there's nothing new to much of this in an age of Starbound - and with the glorious prospect of No Man's Sky on the horizon - but it should be fun to piece your own spaceship together, and the narrative seems to be closely linked to the progression systems as you unlock new crafting abilities, work with local NPCs and explore dungeons. You'll be able to do all this with friends too, by the looks of it, and you'll be able to share the things you make along the way.
Planets³ started life as a part-time coding project for a group of friends, before its ambitions got a little out of control. A quick chat with NeoM, the CEO and co-founder of developer Cubical Drift is enough to reinforce the crazy scope of the undertaking. Take the basic atomic unit of Planets³'s universe, the pieces that are used to make worlds that the team describes as being "randomly generated...but with determinism." "We call them blocks," he tells me. "They are 25cm square and come with different shapes - cubic, slope, tetrahedral. All the scenery is made of these little blocks. Planets are 8km square, so that's about 30 trillions of blocks!"
If Planets³ is successfully Kickstarted, Cubical Drift's planning to release the game in two parts. There's Race to Space, which should be available in late 2015 and will take players as far as the solar system, before Space Enemies arrives in 2017, opening out the universe and bringing the narrative to a conclusion. It's worth remembering that Kickstarters slip pretty frequently, though - and that's even without their designers trying to populate giant procedural galaxies.
And that plan depends on completed funding, of course. At the time of writing, Planets³ has 5 days left on the clock and is over $50,000 short of its $250,000 target. Can it plug the gap in time? With 30 trillion blocks, I guess, almost anything is possible.