BY DAKOTA DAHL
At Rue Morgue we love to shine some of our humble spotlight on cutting edge inventors in the world of horror culture. We recently heard rumors that Luanga Nuwame, a Mississauga based artist who creates the impossible out of nothing more than cardboard, glue and gumption, had started tackling a project centered around a horror board game. He is building it with live updates on YouTube, where fans can interact with comments and give suggestions. We were lucky enough to catch him when he isn’t busy, and get the scoop on how things are going.
You’ve carved out quite a corner of YouTube. Tell us a little about yourself and your channel.
My name is Luanga Nuwame, but most people call me Lue or L.A., and I started my YouTube channel Homemade Game Guru back in 2008 as a hobby and a way to share my enjoyment in making simple cardboard crafts. In 2011, I started making more grandiose adult-themed crafts to give people a challenge, like a cardboard swimming pool, a world record sized board game and cardboard furniture, and I found a unique niche in the crafting world. Since then, I’ve still treated YouTube as an occasional hobby to share videos when I have a random craft idea. And along the way, I’m lucky to have amassed almost 7 million views and 14,000 subscribers.
I also launched an independent comic book publishing and craft company called Zelpha Comics and Collectibles (www.handmadecardboardinnovations.com) to sell many of my handmade cardboard crafts and published books.
Tell us about this current project.
During this current pandemic, I’ve been creating concept after concept to keep myself busy as I’m laid-off from my truck driving job. The way my mind works is that I randomly conceive of an idea and I just go with it. Back in early May, I randomly thought about making a new 3D cardboard board game based on the horror genre after watching one of my favorite movies again – Cabin in the Woods. I had no idea what I was going to do with the game or how it would look, but that is the challenge and fun of creating something new.
Between May and June, I got sidetracked with two other projects I needed to complete – a superhero 3D poster collage created to raise money for a local food bank and 3D handmade poster-booklets to celebrate Canada Day called ‘Beautiful Canada’ – but when July came around, I was invited to do a podcast with Retro Movie Geek about the movie Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (the first horror movie I saw as a kid). That podcast discussion about the fun and beauty of horror movies reignited my desire to complete my original made-from-scratch horror board game idea. Now five YouTube videos in, the game is really taking shape and a growing number of viewers seem to like where the concept is going.
Can you tell us more about your comic “Enter the World of Mephistopheles” that the game is based on?
Ok, this is where things get dark from a personal perspective!
Firstly, the game was not originally based on my comic book series Enter the World of Mephistopheles. While I was creating the game and the graveyard motif was already chosen for the board, I decided to use the characters I created in my comic book to add to the game. It made sense to incorporate my horror comic book I published years ago with my new horror board game. The comic has some demented characters that I believe will compliment the finished game.
As for how the comic book came about…I’ve created my own comic book worlds for decades and have self-published numerous comic books over the past five years, but Enter the World of Mephistopheles was the first comic I ever created and drew back when I was 11-years-old and suffering from depression (even though I didn’t understand what depression was at the time).
Back in grade 6, my Catholic elementary school had something called the Young Author’s Celebration in which kids get plain white books and create their own stories. While other kids wrote about their pets, or family vacations or fun fantasy adventures, I wrote a dark story about an insane cannibal boy who was abused by his father and he grew up to become a prolific serial killer. The killer was captured by the government and died in a teleportation experiment. Upon death and his descent into hell, the killer got his sanity back and accepted his eternal damnation punishment. Unfortunately, Satan loved the anarchy and death the man caused when he was alive and decided to send him back to the world of the living to continue eating people. The man hates his new mentally-aware undead existence and wants to die, but he can’t. He only goes back to hell when he sleeps and he goes through a never-ending cycle of fighting Satan only to lose and wake up hungry for human flesh. Add in a hot demonic wife of Satan and a killer arch-angel with a happy face as a face, and my story was unlike anything my religious school was ready for!
As you can imagine, an 11-year-old writing and drawing something this dark in a Catholic elementary school was something that got attention. I got a ‘B’ for the assignment, but I also got a talk with the school nurse, vice-principal and guidance councillor. The story was my innocent way of dealing with my anger issues and loneliness at the time. I now think back and laugh about the whole thing. Back then I had no idea why everyone was so bothered by the story.
In 2018, I cleaned up the artwork and dialogue and published my story as a 70-copy limited print comic called Enter The World of Mephistopheles #1 at Niagara Falls’ Frightmare in the Falls horror convention.
Do you have a working title for the game, or will that come later?
The tentative title is now ‘Enter The World of Mephistopheles: Into the Bowels of Hell’. I’m still playing with title ideas, but so far, I like how this one sounds.
I’m totally addicted to “Betrayal at House on the Hill” since it’s fun role-playing as the villain, sometimes. What are some of your favorite horror board games? Did any of them influence the layout of your game-in-progress?
To be completely honest, I’ve played only a small handful of horror board games. Most of my friends and I are huge into video games and we’ve enjoyed classics like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Dead Space, The Evil Within and Left 4 Dead.
The horror board games I have played in years past and enjoyed include the card game Arkham Horror and Nyctophobia – which was really fun to play.
I want my game, when it’s done, to be its own thing. I don’t want it to echo anything else out on the market and hopefully it will entertain people in a unique way.
What’s your LEAST favorite horror board game, and why?
I don’t have one and even if I played more horror board games I didn’t like, I wouldn’t name one. The same goes for horror video games, which I play far more. Regardless of how ‘bad’ a game can be, as a creator, I can still appreciate the time, resources and effort that go into making games. It’s not easy making an entertaining board game that will satisfy various expectations. So even the shittest games out there still get my respect because someone was smart enough to get their creation to market and at least try to make something happen.
What other horror influences helped shape this project?
I love classic horror movies! I love the sharp imagination and risk taking that went into making them. It took that Retro Movie Geek podcast and horror convention appearances to slap me awake on how much I truly enjoy classic horror. Creators like Wes Craven, Stanley Kubrick, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter created characters and stories that are timeless. My all-time favorite horror character is Freddy Krueger. I have a standee of him in the basement. Freddy was the first horror creation, which I know of, to kill his victims in innovative, crazy and funny ways. I like that approach and want to mirror some of that in my game.
Of the newer movies, besides Cabin in the Woods, the entire Conjuring Universe (Annabelle, The Nun, etc) is enjoyable and inspiring. I have many zombie references in the game because zombies are fun and still popular.
So, I look to the classics, a few newer horror franchises, plus my own odd fascination with the idea of the devil (thanks to a Catholic school education) to incorporate into my game.
The center ‘bowel of hell’ within my game was a touch I put in when I thought about the best punishment players can do to one another. What is more terrifying than a swirling pit of lava that leads down to the vary anus of hell?
And by-the-way, I’m not religious at all! After questioning everything during my Catholic high school education, I broke from the church after graduation and I’m now a Deist at heart. But religion, its contradictions and the idea of the Devil fascinate me to this day.
So far, your game looks like people are actively trying to sabotage each other while working towards taking on The Devil. What’s the in-universe explanation as to why players wouldn’t just team up to take on the Lord of Darkness?
I’m glad you asked that. My interpretation of the Devil/Satan/Mephistopheles is that he is more of a deity that wants to be entertained, versus just a mindless pure-evil construct like a stereotypical comic book villain. Yes, he can be evil, but he is also intelligent and willing to give you a chance at freedom IF you play his mind games. In my game, players are in his domain trying to escape and you have to play by the Devil’s rules. His rules include the idea of ‘who is willing to do more to please me!’
In my comic book Enter the World of Mephistopheles, Satan loves to be entertained. What all-powerful creature wouldn’t? Also, in my universe, even the angels are killers and the idea of ‘purity’ is blurred.
I personally think a game is more fun and revealing when players are forced to do and say things that cause genuine agitation among a group of friends. Just like in Monopoly when you own the hotels and take all the money from an opponent, it creates animosity within the game. I’ve seen board games and video games push friendships to the limit! I’ve seen rounds of Street Fighter II turn into actual street fights! That is what makes a timeless game! I want that animosity from the very beginning straight through to the end of my game! Have players do everything they can to screw over their friends for a chance to escape hell. Let’s question what real human nature is!
What do you hope the final project will look like? Or do you try not to let anything like that influence the creative process?
I just go with the creative flow and try not to pre-conceive the finished idea. When I started, I had no idea how the game would look or play. When an idea hits me, I add it and go from there. As it stands right now, the overall look of Enter The World of Mephistopheles: Into the Bowels of Hell is done and I decided on a 3D cemetery layout with removable tombstones. I am motivated to make my designs visually appealing, three-dimensional and different from anything currently available.
I think players will enjoy the idea of landing on a space, pulling it out of the physical board and feeling the anticipation of what that space will tell you to do!
How helpful have fans suggestions been while working on this?
I think because this is a new untested idea I have been randomly throwing up on YouTube, the responses have been slow, but are growing. In the five videos I’ve made about making this game, most videos are bordering just 70-100 views. Most of my videos are in the tens of thousands of views. That being said, I have been getting more and more comments from viewers who are discovering the series and they are pitching ideas in the comments. I’ve garnered some loyal commenters who have shared thoughts in each video. So yes, I’m getting limited, but growing feedback from people discovering the videos and I enjoy that. I want honesty and critiques from the public. I have many ideas, but there is always some new idea or alteration suggestion I haven’t thought of.
Making the game board and accessories was the easy part of making Enter The World of Mephistopheles: Into the Bowels of Hell. Completing the game cards that will force players to interact with each other, and the final rules is the challenging part. I’m looking to show more of the cards in my next video and invite viewers to share their suggestions that will please Satan and screw over their friends.
Are you happy with your progress so far? If you could go back and change some decisions along the way, what would they be?
I’m very happy with how the game has matured so far. Knock on wood – most of my random ideas and design choices have worked out the first time I attempted them. Until the game is truly complete and ready for test play, I can’t second guess anything I’ve done. I won’t change anything until I’m sure changes need to be made and that can only be determined when I get people to play a beta test edition.
What advice can you give to others trying to get into building their own games?
My advice to anyone wanting to make a board game, or anything creative, is to just do it! You only live once and an unmade idea is nothing more than a distant fantasy – a made prototype is a near reality! Stop hesitating and procrastinating and worrying about where you will get the money and so on – just create your masterpiece and as it comes together, you will become more inspired to do what is need to get the finished idea out there. Seeing an idea take physical shape builds confidence and that hunger to share your idea with the public will move you forward.
As always, what future projects can we look forward to from you?
At the same time I’m working on this Mephistopheles board game, I’m also creating my own line of independent comic book character, cardboard articulated action figurines. Just like the board game, I do everything by hand out of just cardboard and glue. I’ve teamed up with some amazing independent comic book creators to make action figurines based on their characters. From Nira-X and Mr. Monster, to Northguard and Yuki and Panda, I want to help fellow indie publishers grow and prosper during these screwed-up times while introducing a new type of action figure using my unique style. The cardboard articulated action figurines will also feature many of my own comic creations. Mephistopheles might make an appearance.
I have a comic book series called Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars in which I brought the classic hand game to life as a brutal planet wide war. Along with artist Hugh Rookwood, I’m looking to publish issue #4, the last issue, by fall this year. The other issues, plus the few copies of Enter the World of Mephistopheles #1 I have left, are on my website www.handmadecardboardinnovations.com.
As I’m answering these questions for Rue Morgue, I’m thinking about launching both my cardboard action figurines and the Enter The World of Mephistopheles: Into the Bowels of Hell horror board game at the same time on Kickstarter. That is the power of Rue Morgue – you guys got me thinking of possibilities.