Delusions of Eloquence: Blue Lacuna (2009)

Mr Reed is an intransitive writer. His prose has no object. The reason why I use the honorific is because I know several Aarons and Mr Reed could never force his way into their company. It’s not just that his prose is immature and purple, that his narrative voice is that of a droning dullard or that his “insights” verge on idiocy – what is of far more concern is that his writing is empty of substance. Mr Reed’s sentences can be rapidly written and once one learns how banal they are, their reading need not be hampered with comprehension. It’s like watching a bricklayer lay bricks. You might as well take a nap or watch the news while the author diligently drones on, laying words on top of words. And is Mr Reed a diligent bricklayer! Oh boy! According to one player, Blue Lacuna is roughly the equivalent of a 1000 page novel.

Never mind the Aryan Girl fetish or the trite metaphors. What is truly nutty about this passage is that Mr Reed apparently fancies himself a wisdom writer. The wisdom he offers is this. Blonds have “cold” souls, and should you run into one whose soul is “warm,” consider yourself lucky.

The single most amazing thing about Blue Lacuna is that it uses the Inform parser and yet feels like something written in Adrift. The troglodytic parser and the hilariously unhelpful tutorial are unfortunately the game’s only comedic relief. The writing is a monotone of humourless, pompous kitsch that is quite refreshing in its sameness. Normally writers have their ups and downs, especially if the project takes several years to complete, as was apparently the case here. Mr Reed has somehow managed to consistently scrape bottom, never lifting above “dandelion touches on delicate nerves.”

The secret of Mr Reed’s prose? Slip in an archaic term (‘bough’ is so much better than ‘branch’), latinate your diction a smidge (‘infuse’ is after all much more classy than ‘fill’), always tell and never show (why bother describing a graceful arrangement of pine branches when you can simply call them graceful), never shirk from the painfully obvious (make clear that the forest is outside), avoid wit at all cost (which should be easy for Mr Reed) and hope that your tongue swimming in its sea of spit becomes a poet’s quill.

So the parser has been deliberately broken and the prose is execrable, but what about the design? At the very opening the game forces the player to make a series of explicit choices: the PC’s gender, the Significant Other’s gender and love xor art. This is never a good idea. Leather Goddesses of Phobos did a similar thing, only there the choice was made implicitly and rather unexpectedly and was in fact quite witty. Here it is not only painfully explicit and inelegant but also utterly useless. No matter what gender configuration you choose, the sex that follows is the same, the only difference being the pronouns.

Considering that Blue Lacuna has had no fewer than eighteen testers, the sheer sloppiness of its implemenation is astounding. Perhaps they were hypnotised by the monotonous drone of Mr Reed’s prose. Or maybe they learned that the secret of reading a mammoth of an infodump, written by a guy who thinks having sex is like touching oneself with dandelions, is skimming the words while thinking about something else.

Deja vu.

I’m flattered that you follow my work religiously, but there are people on this forum who have yet to succumb to my charm.

Jacek, what are some games you would recommend? (Apart from Gamlet, of course)

the problem I had with blue lacuna was the broken npc interaction on the island, I liked the first part, wish I could have finished the game but like I said: broken

This is sadly the usual approach to IF criticism. Focus on the “interaction” and ignore everything else. Why? Beacuse this is a tiny community of grumpy, isolated cranks, and the last thing a grumpy, isolated crank wants is someone pointing out how talentless they are.

I’ve already answered that question in my self-interview. Oh, I see, you want me to do the usual fawning. While some games are certainly playworthy, I can’t think of a single one that is fawnworthy. Anchorhead is a good game, but I can’t imagine it changing anyone’s life the way Blood Meridian has changed lives, including my own.

I’ll take the playworthy, too.

I myself am more a fan of Suttree or Child of God, but I think I can say neither changed my life.

Good review, Jacek! Thanks for playing this game so I didn’t have to.

I could smell this one out so I kept a safe distance since before release (still got my promotional postcard round here somewhere…?)
The author obviously put a good deal of time (& stamps) into the project so it’s remarkable and disappointing to read those glaring glitches.

Style over substance is not for me. I suppose that atmospheric prose games must be an acquired taste? Acquired from romance novels?
Yet I’ve never read a review tackling the whys and wherefores of such an aversion - thanks for the eloquent criticism.

andr0id, supposing you’re not actually Jacek in disguise (a disguise of a disguise), you should know 3 things:

  1. Jacek is a long-time IF troll
  2. Jacek holds a grudge on Aaron Reed
  3. the parser’s “glitch” is actually a feature of Blue Lacuna: it’s designed such that you only need to type highlighted words

Not to mention that Pudlo’s tried this shtick already in RAIF, when Blue Lacuna first came out. It generated more reaction than it did here, mostly because everyone’d seen it before and recognised this for the unoriginal rehash that it was.

You may still not like the game, of course. But don’t take Pudlo’s word. Read reviews - on any game - by Emily Short, by Paul O’Brian. Check out IFDB entries for the game, see other reviews you find there. Judge the game on their merits, or better yet, on the game’s own merits.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t judge the game - any game - on Pudlo’s say so. Even if it turns out, later on, that you agree with him. … kh&reviews

Probably a generous supposition.

A freshly-minted account, with only three posts. So the idea is that this is a new user, and one of his very first actions is to dive into a dormant Pudlo thread to praise Pudlo for his “eloquent criticism …”

Yeah. That’s a thing that happens.

Blood Meridian is one of the dreariest, most tediously self-important books I’ve ever read, and even worse: it pulls its thunderingly awful allegory (I hate allegory) from another of the dreariest, most tediously self-important books I’ve ever read – Moby Dick. I’m surprised your trollish tastes don’t run to more irreverent fare. If any author is ripe for ridicule and lampoon it’s Cormac McCarthy.


Moby Dick, dreary and self-important? That’s odd. I absolutely loved that book from the first paragraph until the very end, and still remember some scenes as vividly as when I read them (even where I were when I read them). I’m not saying that because I loved it everyone has to love it - I’m especially aware that some of the whale-description moments (most famously, I guess, the one where he measures and pontifies over the skeleton of a whale) can be off-putting. I’m just surprised to hear those two adjectives…

I too love Moby-Dick, especially the digressions. But people’s mileage will vary, I suppose. And it was a huge mistake to assign an abridged version in high school, before I understood what it was for it to require a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off.

In other news, duckduckgo has a way to go. When I type “moby-dick” into your search engine, I don’t want ten pages about Moby.

who doesn’t love that meaty classic? :slight_smile:

oh, Laraquod, seemingly…

yeah, Melville’s grandgrandson is a true dick… :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a safe search omission right there. Weirdly “moby dick” works just fine.

The descriptive passages were OK, I just found the characters’ concerns tedious. It’s not just Moby Dick. I generally find obsessive revenge quests pretty boring. Other stuff that sucked for me due to finding the revenge motive dull and off-putting: Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds. Clint Eastwood does some pretty good revenge. But when he does it, you don’t have to take a bath in it.

So okay, Moby Dick — I pretty much knew that wasn’t going to be near a universal opinion. But I don’t see any posse forming to defend Blood Meridian. It was the mention of Blood Meridian that really sparked the combination of those adjectives. I just threw Moby Dick in for a two-fer because I also don’t like that book. 87


I don’t know. I feel like if he had said his favorite book was A Confederacy of Dunces, that would have been fairly clever.