Patrick Braillard, Nate Stevenson and Jacob McAlister all worked for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights for numerous years. With the all too common news this year of talented folks losing their jobs due to the ongoing pandemic, Braillard, Stevenson and McAlister decided to take their love of horror and gaming to create a brand new card game called Oh, The Horror!, currently running a Kickstarter campaign to become a reality.
I had the chance to chat with the team about the game play, the rewards available, inspiration and more.
Nate, how excited were you to be able to finally put time toward this project that you’d been thinking about for several years?
STEVENSON: It is exciting to spend some time on something that is ours. You’re typically so inundated on the creative for what you’re doing with an event as big as Halloween Horror Nights, that you’re so creatively exhausted by the time you get home. And you’ve got all of these fun ideas but you just don’t have the time to work on it. There was now a little time to breathe and think about what would come next. Patrick and I have been creating together for five, six, seven years now. It’s really neat to create something that’s ours. There’s something fun about that. We set the parameters.
Where did the initial idea for the game come from?
STEVENSON: I’m really into games. My whole family is kind of gamers. I have a son who’s sixteen now, but since he was tiny we would have whole weekends where we’d have tournaments of games. We have friends all over the United States and every Wednesday night we get together and have game night online. So we just love playing games. It’s been a big part of my life and my family’s life for a long time. Then I have this whole other side of me that’s passionate about and loves creating horror. So it just kind of made sense to mesh the two together. I do want to say that I had this initial baseline idea, but until I included and brought Patrick and Jacob on, it wasn’t going to become what it’s become. There’s something about collaboration that makes everything one-hundred times better. So the Oh, the Horror! game as you see it now is all our brainchild. Once I brought these other guys on, it’s become this frickin’ awesome incredible thing.
What individual skills do each of you bring to the game?
BRAILLARD: I think the guys would tell you after my 1:00 a.m. texts that my job is to push the grossness and the horror aspect of the card game. With Nate and I focused on the words and bringing the killers and victims to life, it really is a matter of us slapping down our initial thoughts. Then once we do that, it translates over to Jacob with the art. And those three things need to be interconnected. We need to have something that is highly relatable as far as the characters are concerned. We need to have really interesting situations to put those characters in, but then the art really does take it to another level.
Jacob, what kind of artwork and illustrations can people buying this game expect to see?
MCALISTER: I’m working in a style that I’m already comfortable with and that I like drawing, but I also feel like it lends itself to the game well. I’ve been working as a concept illustrator for Universal Creative for the past four years, so adaptability in terms of being an illustrator is a big thing. It was fun that they came to me and that they trusted me to choose a style for the game that I thought would look good. In turn, I was completely rewarded that they loved it and it’s working out. So I’m going with this 1950s kind of vibe for the game. That decade is pushing our branding, it’s informing the fonts that we use and the illustration style that I’ve chosen. I wanted it to feel like if you picked up that card and you looked at it initially and just glanced at it, it looks like maybe it’s a kid’s card game. Until you pull it up a little closer and realize it absolutely is not a kid’s game. We really want people to, even if they’re not playing the game, to pick up the deck and to just want to shuffle through it and to have fun looking at the cards, to see what killers and victims are in there.
Were there any card games that this was inspired by or that you might compare this game to?
STEVENSON: There’s a type of party game that has taken over in a way. I think it might have started with Apples to Apples – this idea of there’s a judge and you play to the judge card game, and this idea that you finish thoughts, and that kind of turned into Cards Against Humanity and now there’s about 40 different versions of that kind of thing. It’s almost a genre of game now; I love that genre of game. It’s a genre of game that I play with my friends a lot because it’s fun and we laugh and we have a good time. When I say my family and friends play games, it’s really competitive. So we also wanted to put a lot of strategy into it too, which is why we’re adding these extra cards. These special cards that actually change gameplay. As the deck grows, when you buy these expansion packs, it’s going to become a completely different game every time. We have that baseline game based on a genre of game because it felt good and right for the product that we’re creating, and then we really kind of reinvented it to make it something unique and different.
BRAILLARD: Not only are we messing with gameplay as far as the strategy of it is concerned, but also the difference that sets our game apart is you’re pulling a killer at random and a victim at random. You really do get to decide what happens with the story of those particular characters. Based on what the group’s reaction is to what that killer and victim combo is, you’re telling the third act of that horror movie. And instantly everybody gets the opportunity to tell that story in a hilarious way.
STEVENSON: Every round is its own little horror short story.
How much is this game really geared towards adults? Is this like a Cards Against Humanity where you would never play with a kid? How gruesome are the illustrations?.
MCALISTER: This is not something you want to share with your children, but I guess it depends on your parenting style. It’s not something I would share with my 14-year-old, but probably my 17-year-old, yes.
STEVENSON: This is one of those things that kids are going to find their parents stash of.
This is currently a Kickstarter where you need to hit that goal to make it a reality. But I think something that people who may not be familiar with the process might not know is that even though it’s a Kickstarter, a ton of work has already gone into this even though it’s not fully funded yet. I’m curious, have you reached the point where you’ve held the cards in your hands or is this still illustrations on a computer? What point in the process are you at?
MCALISTER: We have had a test deck printed and have physically held the cards in our hands. We have things set for printing to go into production and we are all set up to do that. They look great. We are super happy with the direction that it’s going.
Can you touch on some of the different bonuses available on Kickstarter?
STEVENSON: We have a lot of varied levels, but at $500, people have the opportunity to become a victim in the game. Jacob’s just going to draw them and you get to be a victim for the life of the game. In every deck from that point forward, you get to be a part of it. At $1,000, you can buy your way in as a killer and you can actually become a killer for the duration of the game. At launch, through the Kickstarter, we’ll actually have Kevin Smith (“Clerks,” “Jay and Silent Bob,” “Mallrats”) as a victim.
STEVENSON: There are other lower tiers. We have an exclusive box that we call the “Serial Killer Box.” There’s an additional pack of cards with extra killers and victims. We have a collectible pin and it’s one of those things that you can only get on Kickstarter. Essentially, if the game goes the way we want it to and we get it out in stores everywhere, if you’re one of the people who got in on the ground with Kickstarter, you’re going to have all this stuff that was only available on Kickstarter. We will never release that stuff again. We also have a carrying case that is pretty cool. It’s like a little body bag that has a tag on it that’s personalized to you. There are a lot of tiers in the middle with stuff that you’ll only get with Kickstarter.
If people do pledge and order the game when can they expect to receive it? When will it be produced?
STEVENSON: We pushed it out to June. We did that to make sure that we have time to deliver an awesome product. I don’t think any of us want to push all the way to June, but we put it out that far to make sure we can deliver the game that you’re wanting to get. We want that excitement and we want to deliver that product. But we hope to get it out sooner than that.
Other than hitting the Kickstarter goal, what would be the ultimate win for each of you? Do you want this on store shelves? Do you want to keep expanding the game? Do you want a digital version?
BRAILLARD: The answer is yes. There are a lot of pieces and parts that I think people will fall in love with. I don’t think it’s just for the hardcore horror fans, although we are definitely pushing that because we know there is a need from horror fanatics who missed out on having so many of their Halloween events due to the 2020 dry spell. We want to push it to major marketers because we think that everybody will have fun playing it. It’s that kind of horrible, hilarious experience you’re going through, with everyone having a big reaction. Eventually, digital certainly is a goal. One of the wonderful aspects about that is it’s almost unlimited as far as how many people you can have play this game at any one time. It truly is a party game in which it’s the more the merrier. The ultimate would be to have games on shelves, digital and expansion packs coming out regularly.
STEVENSON: We have a lot of goals we want to hit and a long road ahead since this is the very beginning, but I have my own little dream goal. We really thought through how we created these cards and we wanted each and every killer and victim to be their own. We want everybody playing to have a favorite victim or killer. And the art, to Jacob’s credit, is so incredible that each one of these characters is going to feel collectible. You’re going to want to wear it on a hat because it’s your favorite character. So, seeing people embrace the characters like that would be wonderful. I love the idea of people playing this game so much that they start using the verbiage in the game as part of their everyday life. That would be cool to me.
MCALISTER: Honestly, I don’t have an ultimate win. I’m just super happy to be on this team. I just want it to be successful and I just want to be able to move on to that next step. I’m putting my best into this art wise and hoping that it pays off and that people really enjoy this art. I love doing games and I love doing this game. I’m having a ton of fun with it.
You can learn more about the game and support it on Kickstarter.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He is the host and producer of “That Halloween Podcast,” a show where you can hear Halloween-loving conversations with fantastic guests from the haunt, horror and entertainment industries. Listen and claim your FREE Halloween gifts at DePodcastNetwork.com