Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bleak and Twisted

Enough reviews of Blue Lacuna have come in that I've launched a page collecting them on the official site.

David Monath's review in the new issue of SPAG is the latest. He has a lot of praise for the game, and a lot of good criticism, but the second half of the review seems to veer into scorn and vitriol, which has been a surprisingly common if unexpected reaction.

For one thing, I don't understand why people get so nasty when talking about bugs. I don't like them either. I spent six months beta testing with a dozen people. I want you to tell me about the remaining problems so I can fix them. Sneering at me as you do so is unproductive.

More significantly: a few sentences in the review caused me physical pain. Like "Don't make the mistake of becoming attached to the characters."

Or, "It's important to understand just how irrelevant you the player will be at the end of the game."

Ouch. Did I really fail that completely?

Most of David's statements about the endgame mechanics are catastrophically wrong, and it's intensely frustrating that he phrases his assumptions as if they were absolute truths about the game. There are a lot more possible outcomes and alternatives present than he discovered. But then, that's my fault, isn't it? If bugs or poor design kept people from discovering all the options available, I have only myself to blame.

Other people have found paths that led them to emotionally satisfying endings. I've had reports of players shedding tears over the conclusions they reached with Rume or Progue; one described the character arc he created for his protagonist as "intensely therapeutic." But is it equally accidental that these people found endings they thought were meaningful, rather than ones that led David to call my work a "bleak and twisted" portrait of humanity, a "training simulator for sociopaths?"

I've known for a while that Blue Lacuna has a lot of stories inside it. I guess it only makes sense that some of them are not very good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Release 3 of Blue Lacuna

Release 3 of Blue Lacuna is now available for download for all platforms. This version fixes quite a large number of bugs encountered by people over the past six weeks. Thanks to everyone who sent in bug reports, and please keep them coming!