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Game CoLab’s Game of The Month: Planetoid Pioneers

In order to promote games made in Arizona, Game CoLab will partner with studios in the area to create a ‘Game of the Month’ promotion where we'll feature games that are new and upcoming. Each month we'll include a blog post and information about the studio and their game in the monthly newsletter. We'll also bring you exclusive interviews and a first-hand look at the game before it's released.

Planetoid Pioneers is an award-winning 2D physics-based action-exploration game, driven by User Generated Content. It will be featured on the front page of Twitch every Friday this month.

The game’s story is set far into the future where humans are able to live for hundreds of years due to medical technology. Bored of their mundane lives on Earth, a few brave humans venture out to explore the galaxy to uncover whatever secrets it may hold. The humans are enabled by an atomizer which allows them to disintegrate objects into resources that can be used to build weapons and vehicles by an advanced 3D printing process.

Data Realms is releasing a special Contributor Edition of Planetoid Pioneers on Steam Early Access on April 15th first, an unfinished version of the game which encourages players to become Contributors by bringing their game ideas and feedback to life. Doing so, they're also invited to help the Data Realms team evolve the concept of Early Access with the powerful Crush 2D engine and integrated tools.

Each planetoid/asteroid that the player can explore has its own rules that can be created by players that attributes to Planetoid Pioneer’s unique and endless possibilities for game play, such as planetoids that can be used as racetracks or fighting planetoids like Data Realms 24/7 Arena stream, where user created bots fight against each other.

Here are a few gifs that show how powerful and fun the game editor can be.

Game CoLab had the pleasure of meeting with the Data Realms team and we got an exclusive interview with them on their thought process and marketing strategies for their exciting new game.

Meet Dan Tabar (left), the developmental director, and Vlad Micu (right), the business development manager of Data Realms, a small independent game studio based in Phoenix, Arizona. Dan founded Data Realms in 2003 when he was still in high school and created his first game Cortex Command which helped him realize his dream to bring to the video game market his own unique designs. Here are a few questions that we asked them about their new game and some advice for entrepreneurship.

1. Do you have your own in-house engine or use a third party system?

“Planetoid Pioneer uses Crush 2D - a physics engine that was specially created for Planetoid Pioneer. Our first successful game Cortex Command also had a physics engine that was built from scratch and led to the vision and potential of the game’s design and future games that we would make.”

2. What platforms do you release on now / plan to release on?

“We plan to release the Early Access Edition of Planetoid Pioneers on Steam, April 15th on Windows, Mac and Linux.”

3. What are the development tools you use the most?

“Everything that you’ve seen in Planetoid Pioneers so far is built in the editor we made that comes with the game. They’re all integrated, they’re all live editing with the exception of painting the textures. We can drag in any image that has an alpha outline and the editor will figure out where the outline is, I can even just drag something from the browser into the game. So there’s no artist who has to make an outline. Even the background was done in different layers that you can hide and lock into place.”

4. What advice would you give to a new studio?

“Look into ‘slow-cooking games’. Consider that as a model to go by instead of trying to push things out very quickly and getting burnt out. It is something that seems counter-intuitive because there’s always the question of ‘how are you going to make a living’? There’s ways to do it. We’ve done it. Plenty of other Indies have done it and are doing it. It’s a lifestyle business, you’re not trying to make a big company and sell it. You’re trying to have fun and live a decent life while making your own creative vision without hating it, yourself, and your teammates in the process because of crunch-time and stress. It is also important to take marketing seriously. The way we’ve embraced marketing is that there is a potential and there’s a strong opportunity for a game like this on the market. Getting this validation gives confidence that you’re not just running towards some fake gold-mine and, at the same time, to make sure that marketing is integrated into the game itself. Marketing starts from day one. Don’t just make a game, market a game too. Most people just make a game because they want to make a game. If you want to do that and make a living and be able to do that long-term, you have to be able to market it as well."

5. What marketing resources do you use?

“We’re going to be on the front page of Twitch every Friday from 3-5pm PST, and that will give us a lot of eyeballs on us. The other half is Vlad going to conferences. He’s been to every conference you can pretty much imagine, about 15 countries. We see potential in this kind of game in Asia specifically because of the Minecraft craze and the desire for kids to go deeper than stacking blocks. If Minecraft is like Legos, we are trying to be like the Lego Mindstorms. We started this project seven years ago with the purpose of building an editor that people can get into. Yes, it’s not watered-down in any way, it's full-on comprehensive and it’s also made to be ‘consumer grade’ because it’s on par with the power and polish that has been put into the engine. It’s an important note to make that we’re not trying to sell a complete game at the beginning of the early access period, and it’s not even the game we’re selling at all. It’s the tools and the editor and the technology we’ve built for seven years. And that’s why we feel comfortable asking for $40 at the beginning of the early access period. Because it’s not just a regular game – it’s all this technology and the tools.”

6. What are your favorite indie game sites?

Tigsource,, and pixel prospector.”

7. Any mistakes / hiccups you have made so far, something you would advise a new studio to avoid?

“Focusing on the game and getting it finished and improved, while also having a version ready for events. When going to events, there’s always this challenge of ‘what am I going to show’? Am I going to spend a lot of time on this public demo and waste that time on the development of the game, or am I just going to show the game as it is now with the risk that it crashes. So there’s a perfect balance. There are many stories of development teams of 50 people who spent a half year just preparing for demos at E3. As an indie studio we can’t permit that. We have to be smart about it. We found our own way and it just came from us making our own tools and that allowed us to be very iterative.”

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