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A theological and technical update

The Castle of the Blue Moon explores, inter alia, the notion of free will.

Though I touched on this very fleetingly in a review of the visual novel The Vestibule a few years ago, available at this site, I thought now would be a good time to revisit the topic.

From a theological point of view, free will makes a good deal of sense. If we are in any meaningful way pre-programmed or compelled to behave in a particular way, our personal responsibility for such behaviour rapidly approaches zero, and it would seem unjust that any of us be "punished" (I use this word for want of a better one, aware of its inadequacies) for our own acts. Throw the notion of free will out of the window, and one can happily jettison moral responsibility, which is a cornerstone of any religious system in which God (or gods) rewards or chastises men for their deeds.

Yet, our everyday experience teaches us that free will is not that simple a proposition. We may act a certain way out of ignorance (as in the case of a small child, or someone with a disorder of brain development), duress (the proverbial "do this or I'll shoot your family" scenario), external constraints (for example, I would love to devote more time to completing this game, but work and family have to take priority most of the time) and so on. When faced with a list like this - or with a purely materialistic, "computational" model of "how the mind works" - it is easy to come to the opposite conclusion: that free will is an illusion, and that everything we do is in some way biologically or socially determined. A similar conclusion can be reached by pessimistically minded theologians, who - faced with the problem of human wrong-doing and sin - conclude that such acts are all pre-destined or willed by God for mysterious purposes of His own. (Those familiar with the novel on which this book is very loosely based might recall that it, too, explores predestination - though in a more "positive", light-hearted, and even "romantic" sense.)

Though I personally reject this position, this game - in my opinion - does a fairly good job of playing "Devil's Advocate" with it, particularly with reference to the game's heroine, Dorcas. To say more at this juncture would be a fairly large story spoiler, but I hope to continue elaborating on this topic in further blog posts.


On a technical note, our team is switching development of this game to RPG Maker VX Ace (in lieu of RPG Maker XP) for technical and compatibility reasons. However, the game's story, script, mechanics and other aspects remain the same, and we hope that this will not detract from your enjoyment of it.

Pax vobiscum,


In the beginning....

....there was a man sitting on a bus, about halfway between his workplace and his hometown. The bus was travelling at a speed that would make most snails look like Usain Bolt, and for reasons best known to itself, its driver had decided to make an unscheduled pit stop in the middle of nowhere, even though none of the passengers had really asked for one.

So some of them stayed on the bus, including our protagonist.

Having little better to do with his time, and having consumed his limited supply of snacks, he began to reminisce about books he had once read.

"The Blue Castle," he said to himself. "Now that's one I haven't read in a while. Perhaps I could find it online while this driver finishes answering the call of Mother Nature."

Mobile Internet was understandably lousy and worked at speeds similar to those of the bus, but it was better than nothing. He read the first page, then the second, and then the third....but stopped around page twenty with a sigh of disappointment.

"I remembered this as being pretty good," he mused. "Was I really wearing rose-coloured glasses back then? Or have my tastes simply changed?"

Upon further reflection, he decided that the latter explanation was the more accurate one. When he had first read the book, he was a solitary resident, whose life consisted chiefly of work and the odd take-out meal. He was now older (if not necessarily wiser, if his choice of transport was any indication), and was now on his way to meet his family, including a six-month-old son who had just learned to say "Agoo!" Was it just that Montgomery's tale of a lonely spinster wasn't cutting it any more?

"No," he thought. "That's not it. Let me read a little more."

So he did. The driver returned, the bus started, but he continued to remain absorbed in what he was reading.

"Okay, first impressions are always dangerous," he said to himself as he leaned back (or rather, tried to - the seats were fairly small, and our protagonist could charitably be described as "overweight"). "This is a pretty good book, except for two things. One, it has a faint reek of Calvinism that offends my Catholic sensibilities. Isn't sectarianism a wonderful thing? Second, what happens next? Sure, there's a happy ending, but shouldn't there be more to this?"

He shook his head. The book had been written a century ago, before sequels and spin-offs had become de rigeur.

"What if I were to retell the story," he wondered. "Of course, not as a book. I can't write books; my last attempt began nineteen years ago and ended ingloriously. But what about a game? A role-playing game, to be exact?"

He carefully neglected to remind himself that the last time he had written a game was when he was a teenager, and that it was a text-only game, and that those things had happened half a lifetime ago.

"Let's see. We can't just adapt the source text to a game - it would look too much like one of those cheesy inspirational romances, and a man's man like me can't have that." (Somewhere, the Internet society for Manly Men was weeping.)

"What if we transplant it into the future - and thereby have some sort of justification for the whole predestinarian thing?"

"What if we take the story beyond the author's own conclusion? What if we added a clown to the whole thing? After all, isn't everything better with clowns, koalas and Winnie the Pooh? Since I can't fit the last two into this story without looking like I was on drugs, why not the former at least? What if we deconstruct the whole thing, and then reconstruct it, just to annoy those who think bittersweet is the sweetest taste?"

The bus was nearing its destination, and our protagonist had more pressing things to attend to. So he did. But somewhere, like a seed buried in soil, the idea slowly began to put out roots, until the time when it would rise above the ground...

...a year later.

Slow and steady, or so they say...
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