SPAG #54 is out, and is really interesting — there’s a great mix of content, and I continue to be glad that Jimmy Maher is seeking out material beyond just reviews. I especially like reading about game design and creation processes, so the issue with the comp winner interviews is always a favorite with me.
I was a little surprised, or taken aback, or something, by one piece of David Monath’s review of Blue Lacuna (though there was lots else that I did agree with). His comments (as his review warns) are maybe a little spoilery, so I will put them after the cut-tag:
The human theme to Blue Lacuna is that people don’t communicate, and then they leave. Even the ending where you and Rume re-unite is curiously dispassionate and it is never clear exactly what the nature of your new relationship is. I imagine a platonic crafts-fest with periodic breaks in fellowship to pursue some all-encompassing artistic passion for ten minutes… and a screaming match over nothing in particular, perhaps resulting from a total lack of open communication. Once I learned I couldn’t respect the characters or take them seriously, a great burden of emotional involvement was lifted. Blue Lacuna: a training simulator for sociopaths.
I had some difficulty identifying with the you/Rume relationship too, but I didn’t think it was because of Aaron was portraying humanity as fundamentally dysfunctional (whether by accident or on purpose); nor even that that was a conclusion one could draw from the game’s flaws. It seemed to me more that the problem was the, er, lacunae in the portrayal. Relationships are not abstract; they cannot subsist on generalities; but Blue Lacuna is trying so hard not to force the player into any gender or sexual orientation that there is very little room remaining for specifics. Rume and (especially) the PC are intentionally under-characterized, to leave the player room to create those characterizations. But the resulting relationship is something rather strange. (And, curiously, the few details you do get are ones I found a bit alienating: I strongly dislike loud arguments, and by some combination of choice and good fortune have largely managed to avoid them in my relationships, so that feature in itself was enough to make the PC feel like Not-Me.)
Nonetheless, I assumed, from various clues in the narrative, the obvious intention of the game, and some passing details in the child-raising segment, that you and Rume were *meant* to have a relationship in which there was real affection and mutual knowledge; it’s just that actually showing that in any focused way would have suddenly made both you and Rume into specific somebodies.
Anyway, I’ve already talked about Rume a bit, so I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here.