I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with all of this extra time in 2017. Part of me simply wants to return to all of the abandoned projects from years past, but I also know that I’ll never quite be able to distance myself from games the same way I used to. To that end, I’ve explored the idea of making one myself; something small and a little weird, probably in Twine for the sake of time. As I’ve looked to other Twine creators to educate myself on the format and perhaps spark a bit of creative inspiration, I’ve found myself in a position not to dissimilar from when I decided to return to games writing.
Looking at the masters at work, I feel, quite frankly, in over my head.
My initial ideas for games have mostly been offshoots of abandoned stories from my youth – epic sweeping narratives that probably wouldn’t lend themselves well to an interactive format. They’re also far too long, meaning that I’d likely spend most of that time writing a novel before trying to figure out how to convert and present it in the most awkward manner possible. The truth is that my favorite Twine games are typically under five minutes long – snapshots of a greater world that linger and build in your mind long after the fact. They’re also deeply personal and sincere in ways that others games aren’t, an obvious reflection of the people creating them.
Though I’d be lying if I said that my favorite of these stories were particularly cheerful tales, Forgotten plays into a very specific brand of suffering from a surprising source. When I was young, I would often think about action figures and game characters as sentient beings with no agency of their own. As you’d imagine, the more I thought about this, the more it terrified me. Forgotten is the last gasp of a dying world, perhaps a sector of a system that has been overwritten so many times that it doesn’t have anything left. Because of this, the few characters left within this remnant have become aware of their fate, perhaps because their routine fell apart, forcing them to ask questions for the first time. It’s written and presented in a vague enough way to make any number of interpretations valid, though perhaps those answers aren’t that important in the bigger picture. After all, regardless of how much you know, whether you are god, hero or executioner; you unable to do anything but watch the inevitable degeneration of that world. You are powerless.
There’s something absolutely terrifying about that. But even worse, by the end, I found myself missing something that I barely knew.