digital vignettes

Introducing a 2017 Project!

Some of the most common comments in that survey that I did last week were about wanting a wider variety of games written about, especially with a focus on smaller titles that you might not have heard of, and similar such things.

Conveniently, covering little pay what you want itch.io games has become one of my favourite things to do in recent months, and so I have developed a project that focuses entirely on that (to go along with everything else, not to replace any of it):

@365tinygames

As the name suggests, I’ll be publishing one writeup of one tiny game every day in 2017. Since this is…sort of a ridiculous commitment, I’ve been working to create a backlog for a bit of breathing room, and I’m loving it so far.

In the last five or so days I’ve played and written about eleven games, from visual novels to digital painting to tiny vignettes; the posts have taken between five minutes and two hours to put together and have no real coherent style - much like the games that inspire them, they’re varied and often experimental.

Obviously you won’t get to see any of this until 1 January, but I’m excited and I wanted to share with you. I will probably reblog some of my favourite posts to this blog, but it’s designed to be a standalone project so you can go and follow there if you are interested :)

The Big Bad Wolf 7 - Appetites

Kai poured the stolen rum over the bananas he had painstakingly sliced in Worm’s Tupperware container.
“You are one lucky bastard, Fat Maggot.” He slid the make-shift bowl towards the raccoon, watching as she dug her little paws into the bananas and slurped up the rum. He didn’t know if raccoons were supposed to have alcohol, but Worm had developed a taste for rum that rivaled that of Jack Sparrow. And so far, she seemed to be doing just fine. Flopping on her side, the fur-ball rolled onto her back and let out a high pitched purr, staring blankly at the wall. Worm loved her rum, and she obviously didn’t mind being drunk as a sailor either.
Pouring himself a shot of whisky, Kai threw back the liquor, wincing at the bitterness as it scorched and slithered down his throat.
“Damn.” He shook his head, shaking off the burn. “I’m telling you, Worm, that girl was kinky as fuck. Even for me.”
The raccoon was ignoring him, rolling herself over the countertop like a croissant. Kai grabbed an apple and sat down at the table, pulling his hunting knife from his boot. When he didn’t have a belt to latch it onto, this was the next best thing. Unsheathing the blade, he sliced the fruit into eight pieces—just the way Alice used to do—then grabbed the peanut butter jar from the edge of the table. As soon as he unscrewed the lid Worm seemed to come back to life, hopping off the countertop and pouncing onto the other chair—her stepping stone to the table.
“Yeah, yeah, chill out, you greedy little shit.” Kai scooped out a glob of the peanut butter and spread it over the apple before handing it to his pet vermin. She frantically licked away the condiment before nibbling at the apple, a satisfied gurgle rumbling from her chest.
After helping himself to several slices overpowered by double the amount of peanut butter, Kai grabbed his whisky bottle and took a swig, not bothering to use the glass this time. “Don’t look at me like that,” he warned as the raccoon eyeballed him for more food. That, or she was silently judging him. “It’s not like I paid for a hooker.”
When he got no response, Kai flopped back against the backrest of his chair, despair setting in. He really had hit rock bottom; he was talking to a trash panda about his sex life. How much worse could it get?
Kai thought back to his escapades in the underbelly of Cache Creek. Part of him enjoyed the seedy side of the town—the bar fights, the easy women, the cheap liquor and shit food. He had everything he needed: an outlet for his aggression, a quick and dirty lay, alcohol to settle the nerves, and greasy fuel for his body.
And this is what he came home to: a bag of stolen apples, a jar of peanut butter, and a fat, drunk raccoon who didn’t understand rationing and just kept getting rounder by the day. It was all he needed in life, so long as he was left alone by the rest of human society. The men he beat up never came looking for revenge; the women he fucked never came looking for a name; and the barkeep never bothered collecting for his tab. Kai always paid up, sooner or later. And that was enough to keep trouble off his back.  Despite a history spattered with violence and delinquency, he was more honest than the best of them, and he always kept his word—whether it was a promise or a threat.
But for the most part, Kai just kept to himself. He didn’t care to build social circles or conquer the Underbelly and name himself king. He enjoyed the quiet bliss of his little shack as much as he enjoyed the sex, booze and bar fights. And a snuggle from an unusually flirtatious raccoon never hurt either.
When all was said and done, there was very little that Kai actually wanted from life. He had no ambitions, no goals, no stars to set his sights on. But there was something else—a hunger he could not satiate. Or perhaps hunger wasn’t the right word; it was more like an emptiness, a lack—like something was missing even though he could never pinpoint what it was. His memories had long returned, and his days with therapists and prescription ADHD medication long over. He had no quarrel with how things had played out on the outside. After all, this was very likely what he deserved. But despite his lack of ambition, despite bearing no thirst for anything more than the immediate gratification of his whims, he found himself in a perpetual state of searching, of walking in circles and yet remaining convinced that he was on the right path—that he had latched on to the scent of that illusive something and was trailing close behind, nipping at its heels.
Still, he never seemed to find it. Every now and again its scent would waft by, and he’d jump into pursuit, only to end up exactly where he started. He’d told himself it was his imagination—that he was getting far too caught up in those volatile feelings people often got swept up by. Still, he couldn’t seem to stop. Like a phantom passing through a corridor in the dead of night, it never failed to both terrify and intrigue him.
Something had its hook in him, and whatever it was, it refused to let go. It wanted to be found, and yet it hid from him with the stealth of a skilled huntress. It was frustrating, and yet it gave Kai some elusive sense of meaning. While survival was an inborn instinct he couldn’t shake, no matter how desolate and depraved his life became, it was this intangible something that gave him a thread to cling to—something beyond his basest drives.
Perhaps it was the very thing that kept drawing him to the Underbelly—to the fights and the shenanigans, the escapades with insecure, lonely women. There was something there, hiding under the surface. It was waiting to be excavated, but only by one.
His name was Kai, and he lived in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere with a fat, drunk raccoon named Worm.