Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Discussion about the upcoming Wasteland 3!

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Chippy
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Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Chippy » April 28th, 2017, 1:33 pm

I know Brian Fargo is retiring (which is a shame) and that he values community feedback. Personally I don't feed back anything because I'm a selfish prick and don't want to come across spoilers. But I just want to make one request for W3 - make it funny. Of all the top games I think about replaying, no matter their faults, when I memorize the great moments in them - it's always/mostly the funny moments.

I gave up on Pillars of Eternity after a few hours. I'm sure I'll get around to it one day. But after forking out $1000 on it and having my first impression on a IE inspired game after 20 odd years be my character having the s***s (diarrhea) and they didn't even touch it with a shred of humor at bargepole length - it just struck me that the tone of that game was too academic.

Considering what happened to Modoc in Fallout 2, the humor in Arcanum, a few elbows to the ribs in NWN2...and Wasteland 2 had it's moments. But if this is going to be Brian Fargo's last game, and if the writing is going to be considered to be top notch, then it's mandatory there be great humor.

That's just a fact.

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Ranger1 » May 1st, 2017, 8:24 pm

I'm thinking Wasteland 3 will have a grim dark humour about it. Hopefully we see it in the death animations and funny things people say when they have been shot or maimed. I don't want out and out attempts at humour. Nods to a crazy situation like the Mad Max films do. Like the guy playing heavy metal music on the chassis of a moving vehicle with flame throwers. A subtle nod to the craziness if you will, not played for laughs but funny because its such an extreme embodiment of pathos and the post apocalypse.

I don't think InXile got the humour quite right with Wasteland 2 and at times it spilled into cheese territory which didn't suit the genre.

Bards Tale IV will have lots of humour and is already genuinely funny from what I have seen of the last combat video.

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Zombra » May 19th, 2017, 3:42 pm

Good comedy is certainly a subjective thing. The Wasteland series has some hits and misses.

In general, I strongly agree with Ranger1 that humor is at its best when it is implicit.

Some examples of my taste: a Ranger who is always drunk and lives in the Citadel's jail cell is implicitly funny. A Ranger who talks about poop in every sentence is an explicit joke and not funny. A Hobo Dog vendor who grimly sticks to "customer service speak" even as she is painfully murdered is implicitly funny (and horrifying, in best Wasteland tradition). "You found a random dildo in a safe" is a joke with no context and is less funny. In fact all the random joke garbage items in Wasteland 2 were completely arbitrary to their environment, meaningless, and therefore without humor. ("You found a dildo belonging to the gate guard you just killed" would be dark, but much funnier as it would meaningfully relate to the game world.)

There are exceptions, but a good rule of thumb: if a character is smiling as he delivers a line, he will not be funny. A character who is quite serious about delivering the absurd is apt to be hilarious.

I hope that Wasteland 3 will deliver the absurd without resorting to "jokes". (And especially eliminate arbitrary "joke loot".)
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Remo » May 20th, 2017, 8:53 am

humor is at its best when it is implicit.
Assuming that you can understand the references, yes. But cultural references from when you were born will go over the head of most younger players, and vice versa. And you can't please everyone unless you order extra cheese.

Edited: Can->Can't

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Drool » May 21st, 2017, 9:03 pm

Remo wrote:
May 20th, 2017, 8:53 am
Assuming that you can understand the references, yes. But cultural references from when you were born will go over the head of most younger players, and vice versa. And you can't please everyone unless you order extra cheese.
Again, as I've said numerous times, references are a careful balance. The trick is to make a reference without screaming, "THIS IS A REFERENCE" at the top of your lungs. Conveniently, WL2 gives us an example of both in one spot of radio chatter.

When you're in LA, someone calls in to Mr. Manners, screaming about Serpioids. That's a good reference. It's a callback to the first game, but it's also funny and weird on it's own, even if you've never played the original.

Unfortunately, it then goes on to Mr. Manners referencing the paragraphs book. That reference is too on the nose. People like me get it and chuckle, but someone who knows nothing about the original won't get it, but they'll also know they aren't getting something. If you know it's a reference, but don't know what it's a reference to, it's an annoying in-joke.

In other words, be more Young Frankenstein and less Family Guy.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Woolfe » May 21st, 2017, 10:52 pm

Drool wrote:
May 21st, 2017, 9:03 pm
Remo wrote:
May 20th, 2017, 8:53 am
Assuming that you can understand the references, yes. But cultural references from when you were born will go over the head of most younger players, and vice versa. And you can't please everyone unless you order extra cheese.
Again, as I've said numerous times, references are a careful balance. The trick is to make a reference without screaming, "THIS IS A REFERENCE" at the top of your lungs. Conveniently, WL2 gives us an example of both in one spot of radio chatter.

When you're in LA, someone calls in to Mr. Manners, screaming about Serpioids. That's a good reference. It's a callback to the first game, but it's also funny and weird on it's own, even if you've never played the original.

Unfortunately, it then goes on to Mr. Manners referencing the paragraphs book. That reference is too on the nose. People like me get it and chuckle, but someone who knows nothing about the original won't get it, but they'll also know they aren't getting something. If you know it's a reference, but don't know what it's a reference to, it's an annoying in-joke.

In other words, be more Young Frankenstein and less Family Guy.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Zombra » May 21st, 2017, 11:29 pm

Remo wrote:
May 20th, 2017, 8:53 am
humor is at its best when it is implicit.
Assuming that you can understand the references, yes. But cultural references from when you were born will go over the head of most younger players, and vice versa.
References can be OK if used sparingly, but not as the meat and potatoes of a piece's humor. In my last post, I'm not talking about referential comedy at all! In fact, I find pop culture references to be the absolute lowest form of joke, even below toilet humor. "David Hasslehoff! Get it?" Ugh.

No, I'm talking about implicit humor. Characters and situations that have elements of the absurd, as opposed to the explicit humor of "jokes". It's also important that these characters and situations take themselves seriously. A story about two men fighting to the death over a piece of colored glass can be much funnier than any two laughing clowns throwing pies at each other. Come to think of it, the Killer Klowns of Fountain of Dreams are a perfect example of a weak joke, not funny in the first place, driven into the ground. Wasteland 2 also had a lot of "jokes" where I could practically hear the laugh track. But it did some comedy very well, too. The existence of the Mannerites is a good example of the kind of humor well suited to Wasteland: a cult with a very weird code of behavior, pursuing it to a bizarre extreme, creating all kinds of thought-provoking conflict and opportunities. No "punchlines", no mugging for laughs, just the absurd taking itself seriously.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Crosmando » May 21st, 2017, 11:55 pm

Humor in video games these days is very hit or miss, it's either gives you a smile or it's just cringe; like the writer is trying too hard.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Remo » May 22nd, 2017, 3:31 am

I am not sure what you guys trying to say with this. Is there a medium which address wide audience and isn't a hit and miss? Sure gaming industry has expanded, but was humor in games past any less hit and miss when compared with newer games with similar target audience?
Woolfe wrote:
May 21st, 2017, 10:52 pm
When you're in LA, someone calls in to Mr. Manners, screaming about Serpioids. That's a good reference. It's a callback to the first game, but it's also funny and weird on it's own, even if you've never played the original.
Yes, hence my point, that often you can find Implicit in the Explicit, and that overall your perception of humor is shaped by variety of factors including age.

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Zombra » May 22nd, 2017, 8:03 am

Remo wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 3:31 am
Is there a medium which address wide audience and isn't a hit and miss?
I don't think so, but feedback is still valuable! "I don't like toilet humor" is just as relevant as "I don't like grid-based inventory systems".
Remo wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 3:31 am
I am not sure what you guys trying to say with this.
I thought I summed up rather well:
Zombra wrote:
May 19th, 2017, 3:42 pm
I hope that Wasteland 3 will deliver the absurd without resorting to "jokes". (And especially eliminate arbitrary "joke loot".)
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Woolfe » May 22nd, 2017, 7:16 pm

Remo wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 3:31 am
I am not sure what you guys trying to say with this. Is there a medium which address wide audience and isn't a hit and miss? Sure gaming industry has expanded, but was humor in games past any less hit and miss when compared with newer games with similar target audience?
Drool wrote: When you're in LA, someone calls in to Mr. Manners, screaming about Serpioids. That's a good reference. It's a callback to the first game, but it's also funny and weird on it's own, even if you've never played the original.
Yes, hence my point, that often you can find Implicit in the Explicit, and that overall your perception of humor is shaped by variety of factors including age.
That was Drool, I just agreed with him :D

There is always a line with any art form. As it is subjective. The Simpsons writers were masters of of the implicit and explicit, the references and nods that appeared in amongst the blatant stuff was amazing.

My favourite is still the New York episode... "And that's when the chuds got me"
Obscure reference that most wouldn't know. But even if you didn't "get" it, the context it was delivered in makes it clear that "something" "got" him, which is still an amusing suggestion that brings thoughts of subway dwellers of all sorts....

Humour is HARD to do well. If you aren't good at it, and it isn't your primary task, then you are always better to err on the subtle, as their is less chance you will get it terribly wrong.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Crosmando » June 7th, 2017, 12:24 pm

I tried playing a game called Sanctuary RPG: Black Edition not too long ago and honestly that game is almost ruined by awful, juvenile attempts at "humor". It wouldn't be so bad except that the game has no real "graphics" and is just basically ASCII and text, so the quality of the writing is extremely important. Of course humor is highly subjective and I'm sure some people found Sanctuary RPG really funny, but that's why I would say that video games should avoid humor unless they're 100% sure the joke is good.

Also black humor is highly underrated, Snake Svargas in WL2 was just great in that respect.
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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Chippy » June 16th, 2017, 1:10 pm

I can see the POV for appreciating tone/humor and know that Brian Fargo himself mentioned that W3 will mostly be about the darker side to humanity.

But where I think POE messed up is that the writers created this world, and then expected you to appreciate the tone. So with the first impression I was left thinking:

1. Did my Ranger attract his (Bear) animal companion by not burying his poop?.
2. Is this first quest a reference to shit quests?.
3. Did my character just lose control of his bowels at the sight of that Buwec/storm, and now my party are running for their lives because the contents of his bowels are flying around within the radius of the storm...oh, I'm supposed to forget about the shit and just focus on the epic moment.

They should have just left it at a sprained ankle. You can't anticipate every response to content, but don't put content in that begs to be ridiculed and expect it to be taken in all seriousness, without even a shred of deadpan humor...

...because most people think shit is funny.

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Javaman » June 26th, 2017, 2:12 am

You want to talk tonedeaf humor in games, check out Divinity: Original Sin. Now, I say this as someone who genuinely likes that game, I'm playing through it now, but it's got this disconnect where the main plot is this serious thing (there's a murder, the world might be ending, etc.) and all the bosses and minibosses I encounter are these wierd jokesters with cockney accents. It's kind of cringe-worthy.

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Remo » June 28th, 2017, 3:02 pm

I don't know about cRPGs in general but from what I gathered I except that WL3 will have similar tone/humor to WL2 maybe with a lighter stroke.
Woolfe wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 7:16 pm
Humour is HARD to do well. If you aren't good at it, and it isn't your primary task, then you are always better to err on the subtle, as their is less chance you will get it terribly wrong.
Personally, I think that some of the more amusing/fresh materials often originate with those for whom humor isn't their primary task. But you do need someone like that to manage the overall tone of the work, to avoid humor by committee and overdoing things e.g. go too dense and wacky to lighten up the mood, or too dark and edgy to appear more adult, etc

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Re: Humor in CRPG's is Dead.

Post by Woolfe » July 4th, 2017, 11:33 pm

Remo wrote:
June 28th, 2017, 3:02 pm
I don't know about cRPGs in general but from what I gathered I except that WL3 will have similar tone/humor to WL2 maybe with a lighter stroke.
Woolfe wrote:
May 22nd, 2017, 7:16 pm
Humour is HARD to do well. If you aren't good at it, and it isn't your primary task, then you are always better to err on the subtle, as their is less chance you will get it terribly wrong.
Personally, I think that some of the more amusing/fresh materials often originate with those for whom humor isn't their primary task. But you do need someone like that to manage the overall tone of the work, to avoid humor by committee and overdoing things e.g. go too dense and wacky to lighten up the mood, or too dark and edgy to appear more adult, etc
Agreed. Humour should flow rather than be stamped on. Don't create a situation just to tell a joke, rather create the situation, and if there is humour to had, accentuate it without forcing it down people's throat.
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