It's All In Good Humor

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It's All In Good Humor

Games that try too hard to be funny usually end up failing.

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The dialogue in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold game for Wii was pretty clever at times. But that's most likely the influence of the show its based on, itself a loving homage to the 60s Adam West Batman series.

I find it interesting that he mentioned wanting a back and forth between characters the week after reviewing Orcs Must Die 2. I personally enjoyed the back and forth between the characters there, although it did get a bit old after you restarted the level for the fifteenth time, either to grind or because you couldn't figure out how to beat it.

You're talking about every American sitcom...except Seinfeld, Arrested Development, and the Dick Van Dyke show.
For some reason I find that (overly) dramatic efforts that fall flat to be even more annoying than comedy that falls flat. It feels like there's been a lot more of that lately in games. Look at GTA 4 or any other R* game this gen. Their formula seems to be 1- kill off a main character 2- there is no step 2 for them. They kind of assume that the drama is so gripping that offing one of these characters will make us cry when it usually just makes me laugh.
See also Heavy Rain.

Comedy RPG done right? I think that works best when it's an RPG first, and funny second. For example, the first two Paper Mario games. I laughed at those a lot more than I laugh at most of these so-called comedy games, but if someone asked me what kind of game either one is, I wouldn't say a comedy, I'd say a JRPG.

What makes the Portal series so good is the variety in the crew that made it. It didn't have game designers trying to write comedy that they didn't know how to write, nor did it have comedians writing the game strictly for humor's sake and shoehorning the game around it. Rather, it was game first, designed and programmed by game folk, with a story and humor carefully woven in by people who are good at that.

People have specialties. You wouldn't hire a sound expert to do the lighting in a movie, you wouldn't cast a cameraman in the lead role simply because he showed up, so why do game studios keep trying this? Leave the game mechanics to game designers, and the comedy to comedians. Have the two teams work together, but don't try to use one as a replacement for the other. If someone is good at both, that's fine, but don't try to force it.

P.S. Thanks

Well, you've got the South Park RPG to look forward to. Fingers crossed.

I wonder what Yahtzee thinks of Magicka and Kingdom of Loathing. Those are the two games that come the most readily to my mind when I hear "comedy" and "game" in the same sentence, outside of the ones that have already been mentioned of course.

I miss Conker's, anyone else?

I do enjoy me a good jrpg that has a good sense of humor at times. Like Tales of Vesperia. Good times.

The main problem with the whole comedy genre is that not everyone has the same tastes, which would be a killing blow for any triple-A game, hence the whole lowest-common denominator jokes that no-one finds funny.

The remake of The Bard's Tale wasn't all that bad and the two Overlord games were pretty decent comedy wise as well.

I was a bit surprised to hear mention of Armed and Dangerous. It was great fun, but it seems scant few have actually played it.

Well maybe not YOUR Shepard Mr.Croshaw, but it would depend on who's birthday it was.

Well, I suppose there's the Touhou series, but, a) that's not exactly a Triple A release, and, b) Yahtzee is about as likely to review that as he is Pokemon Black2/White2

I would totally invite my Vanguard Shepard to my birthday party. He'd be a hoot. My Soldier Shepard on the other hand, not so much.

I feel like if anyone DEATH should be allowed to morose all the time lol :P

unfortunately it seems the opposite of a super serious lead character just leads to an annoyingly sarcastic and smugly overconfident character

Steve the Pocket:
I wonder what Yahtzee thinks of Magicka and Kingdom of Loathing. Those are the two games that come the most readily to my mind when I hear "comedy" and "game" in the same sentence, outside of the ones that have already been mentioned of course.

Magicka is just the same kind of comedy as unwritten tales. *sighs whistfully, dreaming of portal humour*

I think sarcasm gets a bad rap for being "the lowest form of wit". Sarcasm can be quite nuanced sometimes. I agree though that referencing things is probably truly the lowest form of "wit". It basically amounts to "hey, here's a thing you know from somewhere else!". I admit I laugh to it a lot of the time because it's like an in joke. It's not exactly the cleverest thing in the world though.

I think Death has a bit of humour about him though. He doesn't take everything so seriously.

Also I love the sound of a Blackadder game. Someone needs to get on that right now.

The Disgaea games are pretty funny, but they are JRPGs, so...

Idea: A Kafkaesque story with BioWare style narration, and dialogue options that either go with the flow or go against it that make a dark/light side bar that goes from nightmare to dream.

You may throw money at me now.

"The sheer weight of silliness in games like GTA4 and the Fable series seems all the more bafflingly out of place when the overall storyline and atmosphere can be kinda gritty and tragic. I've always felt that any work that awkwardly clashes a comedic tone with a dramatic one suffers for it."

Never has anyone so inadvertently explained what I find so annoying about Joss Whedon's work.

so where would Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard fall into in this? the game had thoroughly bland mechanics, and was was extremely referential, but it did so in the same way that Mel Brooks movies are referential, and that made it a genuinely funny game for me.

I actually thought Okami mixed humor with serious cataclysm very well. But that's mainly due to the visuals and the jibber-jabber language. Still, it felt serious, creepy, and dangerous when it needed to be, but could still make you laugh without feeling out of tone with the rest of the game.

Ok, maybe I am in the minority here, but I was surprised to find the humor in Brutal Legend pretty damn good. Specially surprised since I am not a big fan of Heavy Metal or Jack Black...

I don't know that I agree about references being the lowest form of humor (that's puns, says I), but it's certainly the laziest. As a role-player, I am often in the company of people who think that repeating a Futurama joke is the same thing as making a joke. It gets old. Fast.

That reminds me of Max Payne 2 . It had so manny jokes , in otherwise a serious game .
Also I dont think that Comedy can work well on its own . I still havent watched a film , that is 100% comedy and its good (Grown ups , meet the spartans ) . It needs an interesting plot and characters to make things work . Even monkey island wasnt 100% comedy , its 50% jokes and 50% adventures .

I think the Bard's Tale was successful in what Book of Unwritten Tales attempted. From the giant rat in the first quest to breaking barrels, it pokes fun at the rpg genre without explaining to you how clever it is in doing so.

JPArbiter:
so where would Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard fall into in this? the game had thoroughly bland mechanics, and was was extremely referential, but it did so in the same way that Mel Brooks movies are referential, and that made it a genuinely funny game for me.

It fell down because it was trying to be funny before it was trying to be a game. It did neither very well. There were a few amusing moments but the gameplay was so incredibly dull that those fleeting moments couldn't save the game for me.

Matt Hazard didn't just make the odd referential joke, instead it was trying to parody the entire history of video games, a big task that such an incompetent game was never going to pull off. Had the gameplay been varied and the combat fun to engage in then maybe the humour could have added to that, but as it stands Matt Hazard was so bland that it was almost insulting when it tried to poke fun at other games, even if it was with the best of intentions.

I tried to like that game, really I did!

I think that the back and forth between Isabella and Aveline (Dragon Age 2) was some of the funniest stuff i've heard. Actually most Bioware games have really funny bits in them. I also quite enjoyed the dialogue in Hunted: The Demons Forge.

While Saints Row has a lot of over-the-top stuff, there's a lot of subtlety buried under the surface. While I would never compare it to the best in terms of film or literature, it certainly has a lot by comparison to other games.

...Then again, that's STILL not saying much.

Mister Six:
The main problem with the whole comedy genre is that not everyone has the same tastes, which would be a killing blow for any triple-A game, hence the whole lowest-common denominator jokes that no-one finds funny.

The remake of The Bard's Tale wasn't all that bad and the two Overlord games were pretty decent comedy wise as well.

In trying to cover all their bases, none are covered.

Scrustle:
I think sarcasm gets a bad rap for being "the lowest form of wit". Sarcasm can be quite nuanced sometimes. I agree though that referencing things is probably truly the lowest form of "wit".

Sarcasm gets called the lowest form of wit because it is not only possible to misuse it, but it's probably the most commonly misused form of wit. Even referential humour hits with the assumed market most of the time, because even if you have never played Portal you know "the cake is a lie" and even if you've never seen Scarface you know "say hello to my little friend" and people clap like trained seals.

Sarcasm is more common than the knock-knock joke, bad puns, and chicken crossing the road jokes combined, and like 99% of it is just...Bad. That's because so many people saw someone do it well and decided "that looks easy." Unfortunately, it's hard to tell someone their joke is off-key and we lack an appropriate Simon Cowell analogue to shoot people down. Sarcasm therefore spreads among people with neither self-awareness nor shame, and BAM! Lowest form of humour.

Really, it's just the form of humour most likely to be used poorly, but close enough for most people.

I agree with the point about referential humour from the article, but I also keep in mind that Epic Movie hits well with its audience. I am not its audience. I'm not sure any thinking person is its audience. It doesn't hurt that every joke seems to be followed by a mug to the audience. You know, the universal sign for "that was a joke. Laugh now."

So yes, it gets a bad rap. But mostly because referential humour tends to hit with its target audience.

...Sarcasm is supposed to be a form of humor? I mean, I certainly find it a more amusing way to show just how little I think of the specific thing I'm commenting on, but the "show how little I think of a thing" is more the point then the slight amusement I get out of it.

Darksiders 2 certainly isn't humorous, but you can't exactly call Death the most serious guy ever. He deliberately trolls everyone because he enjoys being a dick (or, as he admits it to a side character you have no reason to actually find, pretends to). And keep in mind that sarcasm was what made Blackadder Blackadder. Or fuckin' I dunno. Whatever. Maybe I'm stupid. Wear a hat.

Steve the Pocket:
I wonder what Yahtzee thinks of Magicka and Kingdom of Loathing. Those are the two games that come the most readily to my mind when I hear "comedy" and "game" in the same sentence, outside of the ones that have already been mentioned of course.

Yes Magicka is hilarious. It also has referencing, but parts are funny in their own right and it is very violence based humour with some added chuckle inducing dialogue.

This reminds me once again, that while I like pc and console games, and even flash games when they are done right. If I want humour I get it from pen and paper games run by friends. Ideally everyone chills out, they get into junk food, crack jokes and do stupid stuff. I'm not sure if it is funnier being a player and participating, or being a dm and laughing at these jokers. I've seen other dms pull comedy off really well by throwing in odd npcs, animated pies and the strangest situations.

Yeah, pen and paper can be serious, but people are there for fun so they will also want to joke about. The most unfunny game I played in though, was vampire. Oh we are poor suffering vampires in a dark world without gags. Sheesh. I made an odd Lithuanian pagan vamp with a love of wood carving, an inherent laziness and a natural brilliance with the sabre, and he was so out of place.

I'm trying hard to think of actually funny games, but the Portal series is the only one that comes to mind. Even Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (free online now, thanks BBC) was mostly amusing more than downright funny. And Douglas Adams wrote the text!

Maybe it's just a pacing thing. Videogames have a pace somewhat determined by the player, so that's going to interfere with the timing of a joke. But it isn't a complete show stopper, as Portal demonstrated.

Too bad. I prefer laughing to super serious. I play games for entertainment.

I found Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to be a witty and humourous game with a serious plot and characters.

Well, besides the fact that it was in the locked-in conversation style of Fallout, Old World Blues for New Vegas made me laugh quite a bit. And Blackadder RPG needs to be made. Now.

duchaked:
I feel like if anyone DEATH should be allowed to morose all the time lol :P

unfortunately it seems the opposite of a super serious lead character just leads to an annoyingly sarcastic and smugly overconfident character

Yes, DEATH should be grim and grumpy, but that should make him the perfect straight man to anything else.

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