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Developer creates horror-inspired card game

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

If you’re into card games full of “dark, campy humor that play like a 1980s era horror movie,” then local artist and video game maker Todd Wahoske has been busy developing something just for you. And judging by the success he and his business partners have had in bringing their creation to market, their game, “You are the Maniac,” is already appealing to a sizable audience.

Wahoske began development of “You are the Maniac” last February. Initially, he and his partners decided to create a technology-based card game that could be utilized as an iPad application, but the idea morphed into an old-school approach.

“We first thought that we would make a ‘Dungeon Crawler,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’-type card game, and then thought, ‘No, that’s the game we really want to make eventually, so let’s make something else first that can serve as a template for the game we wanted to make later,’” Wahoske said.



An artist and video game designer for more than a decade, Wahoske says that much of the inspiration for “You Are The Maniac” came from growing up in the ’80s and having an affinity for slasher films. He was intrigued by their use of makeup and special effects.  

“I kind of grew up watching horror movies as a kid,” Wahoske said. “I was like 10 years old, probably too young to be watching ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Halloween’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’”




Wahoske says that trying to create an actual card game players can see and touch has been a unique experience.  

“I have to give my business partners credit for reinvigorating me to make an actual physical card game instead of a video game as an iPad app,” Wahoske said. “I don’t even play a ton of card games, so for me, this was a new thing to get into. We thought if we’re going to do this, let’s make it a little bit different than the typical card game.”

After developing the idea and rules for “You Are The Maniac,” Wahoske’s next challenge was to create the prototype for each character and, through his artistic skills, bring those characters to life on a deck of playing cards. Each likeness has a cartoon or graphic novel look. Wahoske says development of the game is about 70 percent complete. 

“It’s like a living thing,” Wahoske said. “Every time we play-test it with other people, we come up with new rules and character development. There’s always something that comes up that makes us think we can refine the game a little bit better.”

Four decks make up the game — the victim deck, the maniac deck, a weapons deck and a plot twists deck. “You are the Maniac” is a points-based game and recommended for ages 13 and older.

Wahoske has been taking the cards out into public places and getting feedback in locations like Mekka Coffee House in Nevada City.

“It’s been a really fun project to work on,” he said. “The cards are like edgy, modern-day Norman Rockwell creations. Making the characters starts to make you feel like there’s this whole little world out there where these people are actually living.”

The characters populating “You are the Maniac” have names like Rick the Dick, Jenny the Blonde, Leo the Hipster, Saul the Stoner, Jessica the Sorority Sister, Sam the Butcher, Pamela the Firecracker and Marty the Doomsayer.

Wahoske and his partners began a Kickstarter campaign approximately 45 days ago, with a goal to raise $15,000. Kickstarter is a web-based“funding platform for creative projects, including everything from films, games, and music to art, design and technology.” As of this week, “You Are  the Maniac” had 666 backers pledging a total of $27,000.

“We were successfully funded and ended up exceeding what we asked for on Kickstarter,” Wahoske said. “Card games on Kickstarter are kind of popular right now, so our timing was perfect. People pledged from all over the world — South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and France.”

Wahoske is hoping that pre-orders for “You are the Maniac” will begin shipping by April of next year.

“The theme of this game is what really separates it from other games,” he said. “It’s for a horror audience, and we didn’t really see anything like it in the market. It’s been a good opportunity for us to do something that’s never been done.”

Anyone interested in “You are the Maniac” can go online to http://www.youarethemaniac.com.


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