Submit your questions for Prototyping Lead and Ship Designer Ethan Pasternack!

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    Excited to announce that I’ll be having Ethan Pasternack on the podcast!  Here is an overview of his involvement with the game:

    At the time when the project was started I was a graphic designer, and as the most technical among us I ended up being the main Styrene guy – designing and prototyping the ships was my biggest ongoing contribution to the game line by far. However I also did the graphic design for the first set (skinning the ships, figuring out how to display the stats, etc), which because we were working in parallel with the Game Design team (rather than after they were done) the needs of the ship design and layout ended up strongly influencing the game mechanics as things progressed and we figured out what could and couldn’t work on the medium we were working with. So the work Mike Mulvilhill and I did together figuring those things out had a lot of impact on the way the game morphed from the original concept to the final design that hit the shelves. So this title was actually my first real foray into Game Design (which eventually took over as my career path), though an uncredited one since it wasn’t officially my job yet.

    By the end of the run I had personally engineered all but one or two sets of the styrene models (for the last ones I had finally found myself a worthy successor in Darrel Rustvold) but I never contributed further to the game design or the graphic design.

    Feel free to post your questions here! (keep them related to Pirates CSG of course)  Please list questions in a first-person format, as if you are asking him directly. I cannot guarantee that all questions will be asked, as we may run out of time.

    How did you get involved with Pirates CSG?

    Styrene/Prototyping/Physical Ship Design

    James Ernest’s first ships for the game were made from LEGO. How and when did the shift to styrene plastic happen?

    How did the process work for prototyping ships?  Mike said you may have had some in-house dies at the office that were used to cut shapes out of styrene?  Were you creating any dies yourself?  Were the ships created in a computer program first to make a model, and then switch to making it come to life in the physical world?

    What was the typical timeline for making sure prototypes could be mass produced? Were there designs that you made prototypes for that the factory could not produce?

    What computer programs did you use? (for both the graphic design and styrene prototyping/etc. ex: Maya)  Were there any conflicts between what you used in the States vs. what the manufacturers in China used?  If the game was made today, what tools would you prefer to use instead?

    Were there any difficulties when some of the ships started being produced on one card instead of 2 or 3 cards? (ex: the megacard ships/creatures from later sets like Ocean’s Edge)

    For some of the ship designs that had rules integrated into their physicality, which came first? (ex: the krakens where a ship can be surrounded and placed inside – I assume it was inspired by the Dead Man’s Chest movie rather than a rules or keyword-first approach?)

    I love the logical order in which the ship stats appear on the deckplate cards.  Was there any internal debate or decision making when it came to that kind of display? (such as having cannons in a different spot, or flavor text on the front of the card somehow, etc.)

    Do you remember any ship designs where the prototyping and design process came before the rules or keyword for that ship type? (ex: Schooners, Turtle Ships, etc. I imagine it was a daily or weekly exchange with Mike to make sure things would make sense)

    Were there ever any alternative designs for the fort concept? (such as larger forts, or different shapes such as a star/castle/etc.)

    How did the process for creating the 10 masted junk work? (first one being the Baochuan from South China Seas)

    What ship designs were your idea?

    Were there ever material issues when making ship designs with special characteristics? (such as the translucent sea creatures, glow in the dark ships, and glittery ships)

    What was the hardest ship type to create? Were there any surprises when a prototype came together more easily than expected, or construction that was much more difficult than expected?  The 2 masted junks can be notoriously difficult to build despite their small size – was that the case in prototyping as well, or possibly more a function of the styrene mass production happening in China?

    Did you design the giant scale ships seen at GenCon 2007? If so, how did that process work?

    Were any theoretical ship designs impossible due to the size of the cards that the ships were produced on?

    What was your favorite and least favorite ship design to prototype or engineer? (such as any that came together perfectly and looked great, or some that were really tricky to make work)

    Were there any ship designs that you wanted to see in the game that never made it in?  Were there any ship designs that other employees or fans of the game proposed that you tried to make work, but simply couldn’t due to their intricacy or difficulty of building the model?

    On a similar tack, had you designed any new ship types for potential sets beyond Return to Savage Shores? (that likely nobody knows about)

    Graphic Design

    How did the artwork for ships in Pirates of the Spanish Main come to life?

    Do you know if the first print run of Spanish Main (with faded cards) used a different ink process or different styrene? (Shane mentioned the process for working with the artwork on the computer was a bit finicky)

    From Gladius: I’d like to ask about how the cards were laid out on sheets (how long were the sheets? Were they really printed in long rolls or on sheets of a certain number of cards?; were there different sheets with just rares, just uncommons, etc. or were they laid out in some way to match the pack distribution? How were packs “packed”? E.g., sorted by hand or by machine? We’ve noticed that sometimes the SE preconstructed ship parts don’t match the sprue cards- were the SEs all printed   separately and then hand assembled? What can you tell us about the Obago Deuce’s production numbers and how many got into the wild? Any idea what happened to the rest?

    Who took over on graphic design for the game and did you still play a role in that for the second set and beyond?


    Do you still have a collection of PCSG stuff?

    Do you still have any prototypes or 1 of 1’s?


    Do you have a favorite ship type to build?  Least favorite to build?

    Do you have a favorite set?

    Favorite faction?

    Favorite game piece?

    Favorite ship type?

    Favorite terrain type?

    Favorite rule or game mechanic?

    Do you have any least favorite sets/pieces from the game? Or at least something that didn’t hold up as well as expected?

    Did you have any ideas that never made it into the game? (for a set/faction/game piece/mechanic/etc)

    Did you have any input on how Ethan the Farseeker was implemented?  (such as stats/faction/etc.)

    Conclusion and Future

    When was the last time you played PCSG?

    What are your favorite memories of the game?

    Is there anything you would have changed in hindsight?

    How did you get out of Pirates?

    Do you think the game has a chance to come back in the future?

    Do you think the game could work as a Living Card Game or as a non-collectible game?

    What distribution/packaging method do you think would be optimal for the game if it was in stores today? (sealed packs just like the original game, semi-collectible small boxes/tins, non-collectible all in one box, etc.)

    Do you think the game could come back as a digital/virtual game?

    If Pirates CSG came back, would you want to return to it?

    If you were trying to bring the game back now with its current situation, what would you do?

    What are you doing now?

    Where can people find you online? (if you want them to!)

    Anything that you want to promote or give a shoutout to?

    Questions of the Day

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