Today we're pleased to bring you an interview with Chris Castagnetto. He's the designer of the just-put-up-on-Kickstarter game Frontier Skies, from Game Salute.
Hi Chris! Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions.
No problem at all. Thanks for your interest in Frontier Skies and for asking for the interview.
So, first, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in southern California and have been a big gamer for most of my life. I started hobby gaming back in 1994 with the original Star Trek and Star Wars CCGs, and have been a hobby gamer ever since. Throughout high school I worked as a volunteer for a number of gaming companies, at conventions working as official representatives for their companies, and I also participated as a play tester for a number of their products. During college I got more involved in video gaming and MMOs while still maintaining weekly game nights for our local table-top crowd. After college I moved to the bay area where I was lucky to land a position at Gaia Online, an online game publisher where, over the past 6 years, I've had the unique opportunity to try my hand at everything, including game development, marketing, business development, licensing and many other elements of the gaming industry. In my free time I've been spending the majority of my time back in hobby gaming, both as a player as well as a designer and playtester. I worked closely with the designer of the Star Trek Deck Building Game as well as the Star Trek Continuing Committee where I also won the 2012 Continental Championship.
Have you always been a game designer of some kind, or was this a recent endeavor?
Game Design has been something that I have been involved with since 2007, both with designing and developing my own games, and working with other companies and designers to help design and play test their titles.
We’re unfamiliar with Gaia Online; can you tell us about that?
Gaia Online is the leading online hangout for teenagers and young adults. More than three million visitors come to Gaia Online every month to make friends, play games, and participate in the world's most-active online community. Gaia Online provides a fun, social environment that inspires individuality and creativity. With everything from art contests to discussion forums on poetry, politics, celebrities and more, to fully customizable profiles, digital characters and cars, Gaia Online is a place where you can create your own space and express your individual style. For more information, visit www.gaiaonline.com.
Frontier Skies is described as a “steampunk-themed minigame.” Is it a minigame from Gaia Online that’s been blown up into a full-fledged board game?
Exactly. In 2009 we had one of our most-popular mini-game events on Gaia Online, which was a steampunk-themed mini game called Frontier Skies. Ever since that event our fans have been wanting us to bring back the characters, fun, and adventure to Gaia. With all the feedback and popularity of the game we decided to take the theme, characters, and art from the game and bring the fun and adventure off the screen and into the living room and convention floor by creating the card game.
Does someone need to be familiar with the Gaia Online universe in order to appreciate Frontier Skies, or does it stand well on its own?
Frontier Skies is a completely stand-alone game. Although the characters, world, and art are the same as the online game they also stand along as a completely independent adventure game.
How were you introduced to “Euro-type” games?
I have always been a big fan of hobby gaming. When I was younger I was really into Magic, Star Trek, Pokemon and Ameritrash board gaming, but in 2006 when I moved to the Bay Area I was introduced to Euro Gaming and haven’t been the same since. No more Risk for me—now it's Agricola, Puerto Rico, Ticket To Ride etc., etc.
Looking at your Boardgamegeek profile, it looks like many of your favorite games are worker-placement games. What is it about those that you like so much? Are there worker-placement aspects to Frontier Skies?
I love the control that Euro Gaming provides, and especially worker-placement and role-taking games. I am not a fan of dice or randomness, so games with more user control and player interaction are the ones for me. Another element I love about Euro Gaming is how in most games all players have perfect information about everything around them and can strategize accordingly. In Frontier Skies, players always know where they stand when compared to the other players and it’s that perfect information that you have that helps guide your strategic choices to help put you ahead of your
opponents and block those crucial upgrades that they want to make.
As a Christian, what have been some of your challenges with staying true to your beliefs in while working in the video game world?
That’s a hard question. In the online gaming world there are a lot of companies and people out there who are always looking for a quick buck and a way to partner together to later take advantage of you. I would say the hardest thing to do is find good companies and people to partner with to create partnerships that are beneficial to both companies in a positive way.
Are there any upcoming game designs you can share with us?
I’m currently working on another game for Gaia Interactive that I’m really excited about. I can’t share much about the game or the brand or who will publish it, but we are all really excited at Gaia about this project and can’t wait to share more with the community over the next few months.
Here’s our One-Word-Answer section!
Favorite pizza topping?
Favorite game designer?
Favorite episode of your favorite TV show?
Stargate SG1: "There But for the Grace of God"
Coke or Pepsi?
Chris, thanks for joining us today. Make sure you check out Frontier Skies over on Kickstarter!
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