The Coast News Group
Justin McElhanon of Vista and his business partner Jason Manzano beta test their new card game, One Drunk Night, at a gaming convetion last year. The two are in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign, which stops at the end of this month. Courtesy photo
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Game makers hoping for the right cards to be dealt

VISTA — Board games have made a roaring comeback in the public domain.

Numerous bars and restaurants are carrying games as another avenue to increase patronage and provide a different experience for a night on the town.

For one Vista man and his business partner in Texas, though, the two are just trying to get in the game.

Justin McElhanon, 39, of Vista, and Jason Manzano, 35, of Austin, Texas have created the game, One Drunk Night, through their company, Atomic Children Games. The creators are essentially putting their spin on popular card games such as Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

“I will absolutely say we were inspired by them,” Manzano said of those card games. “To me it was in its own genre. In my mind it just started going off in whole new ways that could be taken advantage of.”

The two have alpha and beta tested their creation and recently began a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of reaching $10,000 to fund their project.

One Drunk Night, McElhanon admitted, is an adult game where players create their own story. In short, it’s an offspring of the choose-your-own-adventure books popular in the 1980s and ‘90s.

“We knew we had a game people liked and people enjoyed,” McElhanon said. “We went through all the cards and made sure they were all right.”

The two friends met in Austin about eight years ago, and five years later started coming up with ideas for a game.

About three years ago McElhanon moved to Carlsbad, then to Vista, but never lost sight their goal. And while this game isn’t producing revenue, McElhanon keeps busy at his day job with the biotech start up, Argonaut Manufacturing Services in Carlsbad.

Although both have other work obligations, it was during beta testing at two game conventions last year that they had a feeling their product could sell.

“It took awhile to create all the cards, that was probably the biggest bottleneck,” McElhanon said. “It’s a creative process. The choose-your-own-adventure was the one that really worked.”

The game begins with the “adventurer” choosing between two starter cards. From there, the other players submit the middle cards and receive points if their cards are selected.

To end the round, the adventurer selects an end card, which carries a higher point total.

The game, however, is less about winning and more about the hilarity of developing a story, which is up to the player on where it takes them. Obviously, the game’s title suggests play can and will take a more adult-centric theme.

In short, One Drunk Night gets dirty.

However, the base version of the game is appropriate for ages 14 and older, while the Not Safe For Society version is recommended for ages 17 and older.

“Our game, having 700 cards, can go more than 30 ways,” Manzano said.

Currently, the game is 22 percent funded, with the two business partners fighting against the Kickerstarter clock to get the project funded and into production.  The countdown is less than two weeks.

Of course, they are still searching for backers to fund the project.

“To be honest, we were social media dumb,” Manzano added. “The Kickstarter will tell us where the game should sit. If it were hugely successful, it’s something we can do. If it were moderately successful … it could be passive income. If we fail, we could sell out to a publisher.”

McElhanon said they definitely still want to produce the game. “I know we have a solid game … it’s just more of learning the marketing better and distribution,” he added.


Jp February 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

Having got to play the beta and bggcon this year I have to say it’s a fun game.

The stories can be quick short stories. Or much longer epic tales.

Plus it’s like COH on steroids but different. Where each round is a new joke in COH. The stories in One Drunk Night let the joke keep Goin and changing based on the fun.

There is a short video review of the game on the fb page and the kickstarter. Defentily worth a look even if you don’t think it’s your type of game.

So I already pledged on kickstarter I recommend everyone does 🙂 . (i really want a copy of the game).

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