Interview with Brandon Pelok from PK Cards
By William Bolt
With the large amount of new CCG’s released every year at Gen Con, I have found it hard to find info about these games and their creators. In my home town one of these new companies exists, PK Cards created In Mentor, Ohio. I have the pleasure of speaking with Brandon Pelok about once a week. On this visit I decided to put him in the hot seat.
In what year did the journey of designing this unique game start? Also, how did the decision to create and produce a CCG come about?
Mr. Pelok – For me the process began in August of 2006. For Brandon Selvaggio it began somewhat earlier. Brandon approached me about designing and implementing the game / web interface portion of a collectible card game concept he’d been developing the production capacity to print. I wanted to make certain we were not going to re-skin a product idea that already existed, so I began to develop a comprehensively new and unique game-play matrix.
If I understand correctly that would make you the lead designer?
Mr. Pelok – I am one of the game’s designers. Its original conception was mine, but it has been greatly embellished and enhanced by the efforts of Andrew Sturgeon and David G. Kahane, among others.
I picture a bunch of guys sitting in a basement working on cards, paper shrapnel all over the room. Was this the way your design team worked? If so who was in the basement, making paper airplanes, with you?
Mr. Pelok – There was no basement, and sadly few paper airplanes. Most of the design work was done through the internet, at first via document update, and then with the creation of a wiki to house and centralize data. Each of the individuals noted in my previous answer lives in a different state than PKXL’s home offices, so face to face development was generally not feasible.
Mr. Pelok – I have known both Dave and Andy for close to two decades. We first came to each other’s attention on another online game, a freeware game whose type was popular in the early 1990’s.
In my opinion the Artwork that makes up the first PK set, from the cards themselves to the Boxes, is amazing! Who is responsible for the layout of the first series?
Mr. Pelok – The final layout was illustrated by Tim Switalski. However, the final layout was the last of twenty or so major layout efforts undertaken in a process of improvement. The very first was made by Jim Bandsuh, and he, Yoshinori Ikehara and Tim modified them until Tim made the final revisions.
I made an online search for the names of some of the artist and I found that most of the artist where unknown, this would suggest that PK Cards discovered them. How many artists worked on the first series? Who are they and how did you find them?
Mr. Pelok – All of our artists for The Broken Seal are (or were) local illustrators, found the old fashioned way. We were very fortunate that the Greater Cleveland metropolitan area has so much high-end talent to pull from. Seven artists were involved with the first set’s creation.
The game play is unique and unlike any other CCG I have ever played. If you had to describe how to play this game, over the phone, what would you say?
Mr. Pelok – At its simplest, the individual ‘unit of play’ is very much like the old card game ‘War’. It becomes a bit more mathematically complex as you take in additional elements of the game, but at its base, it’s a card-on-card joust. Scoring can be loosely compared to the scoring systems of Hearts or Euchre; though this is not precisely accurate, it’s close enough for someone to see how it’s done.
One of the design elements I wished to include was a sense of familiarity. Most people have played some kind of card game before. After becoming familiar with the terms of PK, I hoped players would find the rules and system familiar enough that it would remove part of the learning curve everyone goes through when playing a new game.
This year has seen a number of Avatars in movies and games, they could even be found in MTG. How do the Avatars in your game differ from this recent onslaught of Avatars?
Mr. Pelok – The PK Avatars have special abilities that are designed to enhance the cards in your deck. The Avatars in our game play a vital part in game play.
I have played the online game many times and I enjoy it a lot. I would guess that it cost PK a big chunk of change. What company designed this for you?
Mr. Pelok – PK’s online game was produced in-house by David Kahane.
Wow! That is a big undertaking for one guy. Could you tell us about some of the challenges he faced? Also, did he build this from scratch or did PK buy a program to modify to fit your needs?
Mr. Pelok – All PK Software is Custom Built. Dave had to design a multi platform distributed process fully integrated with PK’s website.
Mr. Pelok – Yes, and yes.
Can you give us a hint at what PK fans will find in the second series?
Mr. Pelok – I could…
When does PK plan to unveil the second series? I would bet in August at Gen Con! That does seem to be the place to go when a CCG company is revealing something new.
Mr. Pelok – We will unveil the second series far before next Gen Con.
Thank you for your time today, as always it has been a interesting talk.
Mr. Pelok– Just glad I could help. Catch ya on the flip!
I am looking forward to seeing what PK Cards has to offer in the next few months. I have heard rumours of several releases date for the second series. Whatever the release date I hope everyone gets to experience this unique game.