In the past week I’ve been playing a good bit of Borderlands 2 and a bit of Torchlight 2, but a lot more of the first. I’m still not sure if the writers are clever or 15 year old that spend a lot of time on 9gag and Facebook. So much of the humor is of the ‘LE SO RANDOM XD’ sort. Again I’m not sure if this is because the writers think that’s actually funny or if they’re poking fun at such jokes and memes. I’m choosing to believe it’s the latter–that’s what I hope. Humor in games can be done well, but it seems more times than not jokes in games are pretty awful.
Del: Were you here when I was talking to some of the other GYP guys about jokes in games?
Del: Oh, ok, well one of them was saying how he basically never finds anything in a game funny. Jokes written in, that is. He said that things will happen that he finds amusing, but not stuff that was meant to happen. Like a guy getting stuck in a barrel or something. Weird ragdoll stuff. Is that true for you or can you think of some games or parts in games that were funny?
Jeff: I can’t think of anything really that a writer clearly meant to be funny and I thought was. More so things that happen. Spoken word jokes don’t really make me laugh too much in games.
Del: Hmm, I guess I’m having a hard time thinking of something that was really funny to me. There were a few parts in Lollipop Chainsaw that I found pretty good though. When Juliet asks Nick about his favorite color and her dad was pretty good. Why do you think that is? That games have a hard time being funny and other things don’t, like… Well Kevin Hart is on right now, and he’s a riot. Why can’t games be that funny?
Jeff: Facial mannerisms I think help for real people. Like stand up comedians or in movies. Something I said in the first article was how voice acting can really make or break a game. When it comes to jokes if the person saying it doesn’t sound funny, then it doesn’t really work.
Del: Do you think part of it might be the setting? With a comedian or a comedy movie you know going into it that it’s meant to be funny. So you’re in a mindset to laugh. If you’re with other people laughing their butts off at the cinema or in your living room and everyone is laughing, I think that probably helps. But there really aren’t comedy games. That’s not really a genre you ever see listed on the back of a box.
Jeff: Yeah, that probably has something to do with it too. Yeah, if you’re watching a comedy by yourself you probably don’t laugh as much. Did you ever play Shenmue?
Del: Yeah. The first one on the Dreamcast. I think I played the second one too, I don’t remember though. What about it?
Jeff: That’s a game I thought was funny. The whole thing. I don’t think it was meant to be.
Del: Yeah, I don’t think so either. You’re looking for the guy that killed your father, that’s kind of a serious subject. But the voice acting was awful.
Jeff: There’s games like that, like movies, that are so bad they’re funny. They weren’t meant to be though.
Del: Moving on from the subject of comedy in games, what’s a game that you thought had a really good story. Something you thought of after you’d beaten the game. Maybe the game wasn’t even all that great, some technical issues or something, but the writing was so good you wanted to finish it just for the story. Can you think of anything like that?
Jeff: I think I liked the story in Tales of Symphonia, but I’m not sure that’s what it was. If that is the game I’m thinking of then I liked the story, the characters, but not the gameplay too much.
Del: Ok, then gameplay aside, what’re some of the best stories or characters in a game you can think of?
Jeff: Well, not counting my favorite game of all time–Final Fantasy VII–I really like Red Dead Redemption for its story. But it’s also a good game period.
And we’ll go ahead and call it good here. I interviewed Josh Sawyer from Obsidian today so you can look forward to reading that in the coming weeks. It was a long one at nearly an hour, so I might cut it into two parts. I mention that because I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what they do. Obsidian is know as having some of the best writing, characters, and stories in games. Without a publisher breathing down their necks to cater to a broader audience, what will they be able to do?