MUSKRAT RAMBLINGS, Thursday, August 12, 2010

Muskrat Ramblings
A Flick Racer Thank-You
posted by John

A thank-you note, and a gift, from my friend James.

When I asked the Army of Dorkness to come through in the name of Good Game Design, helping his Flick Racer game in the Cadburys Pocketgame challenge, you folks answered the call in droves. Both James and I were blown away. As was the competition.

So, without further ado, James’ thank-you note, and gift:


Flick Racer is through to the final round of the Cadbury Pocketgame competition, and it’s thanks to the Army of Dorkness. I mean that completely. The competition went live on 24th July. By 5th August after some heavy leveraging of all my online contacts, mailing lists, Twitter followers and Facebook friends, Flick Racer was languishing in third place with a measly 99 votes. So I dropped John an email, asking him if he could possibly help. Four days later, when the flag came down for the end of the competition you’d added almost 400 more votes to the game’s total. The next closest entrant was two hundred votes adrift.

That’s amazing.

To thank you for getting Flick Racer to #1, I want to do something special for the Dork Tower community in return. I’m going to give you a game. I’ve got two almost-finished designs, which for various reasons have never come out. You get to choose one of them, and I will finish it up and make it available as a free PDF, exclusively for the Army of Dorkness.

Here’s the choice:


Copshow is a game of the glory-days of TV copshows: the 70s and 80s. It’s a fast and dirty card-based RPG, in which each adventure lasts exactly an hour—including commercial breaks and a message from the sponsor. From The Avengers to T J Hooker by way of Starsky and Hutch, this is that game. It’s filled with cliches and catch-phrases, ridiculous fashion, muscle cars driving down alleyways filled with cardboard boxes, interchangeable love-interests and entirely unnecessary gunfights. I am particularly pleased with the character generation system, in which each player takes it in turn to name things that their PC is the best at… and the PC of the person on their left automatically becomes the worst at it.

Copshow was originally called ‘Get Your Trousers On, You’re Nicked’, which was the first line of dialogue in the seminal 70s UK cop-show The Sweeney, until I discovered that a lot of Americans don’t understand that ‘nicked’ is slang for ‘arrested’. It playtested brilliantly at several conventions, but ran into production problems when I tried to find a way to combine the rulebook with the deck of cards in a package that would be affordable. No way ever presented itself, so the mostly-finished rulebook has slumbered on my hard-drive ever since.


High Concept is a card-game of making movies in Hollywood. You play the executive team at a major movie studio, putting together pitches for new movies from the cards in your hand, trying to get yours made while taking over or sabotaging other players’. Cards represent common film tropes, movie titles, actors and more… but each one has a cost attached to it, which will push up the movie’s budget. So a typical pitch will go something like: “I’ve got a chick-flick you’re going to love. It’s Miss Congeniality meets Step Up, but—get this—it’s set in World War 2. Jennifer Aniston and Jean Claude Van Damme are in. It’s called ‘Nazis Can’t Dance’. I can bring it in for $60 million.”

And then someone plays the “They’re all talking animals” card.

Like Cop Show, HIGH CONCEPT playtested fantastically well—I still get people asking me what happened to it—and the game was almost good to go, until I did a bit of checking and discovered that there’s a massive problem with using real actors’ names. Movie titles are fine, but actors protect their name jealously. That torpedoed the whole project, because having real-world actors is an integral part of what makes the game funny. So I couldn’t sell it. But I can still give it away… with updated cards for ‘Everybody is blue’ and ‘Of course it’s in 3D, what do you think I am, an idiot?’

Both games, you’ll notice, use cards. I can’t give you actual cards. What I can give you is pages that you can laser-print onto cardstock—I’ll do them for A4 and US Letter—and cut out. And the game won’t be presented to commercial standards because I have a zero budget for art and a similar amount for the time I have to put into this, but I promise it’ll look decent, and it’ll be fun to play.

Okay! Free game! Cast your vote in the comments! Votes close at midnight (UK time) on Friday!

And thanks again.

James Wallis


So there you have it! Leave your vote for which free game you’d prefer either on my LiveJournal post, my Facebook page, or drop me a line at, through my Twitter account (@muskrat_john) or through the comments section of

A game, folks! We’re getting a GAME!

Go, Army of Dorkness!

——- John


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