Being funny is something that comes exceedingly natural to me. Well, making jokes is something that comes exceeding natural to me in my creative works. Yet, I’ve never made any work at all where the main purpose is to be funny. Most of my ideas are actually for one-note jokes, but I’ve never put them into practice.
Why? Well, there beneath me, aren’t they? That was another of my jokes.
I think it is likely because one aspires to be like those you consider great talents, and although all my role models incorporate humour into their work, my big thing outside the world of games is reading and although Austen and Dickens certainly make me laugh out loud, the books do go beyond that. When it comes to games, my big genre to play is JRPGs they ‘always’ include humour but I’ve never played one where that’s the key tone; although I’ve no doubt they exist, it is a very varied genre.
Saying that i do think I could create a game based around humour. What I couldn’t create is a straight-faced grim story-based game. At least, I couldn’t without cracking myself up – full disclosure, I’m very easy to please – I’m a postmodern person constantly laughing at the absurd, and I have a rather low barrier for what constitutes the absurd.
However, the point about cracking myself up is absolutely key. For example, one of the one-note joke games I was thinking of was based around having to jump from high ledges to jump into a conveniently placed cart of hay that has no business being there. This mechanic is taken entirely from Assassin Creed; it is mon ready-made. I assume that the makers of Assassins Creed were being serious, but perhaps they are cracking themselves up. They have to have been having a laugh to release Unity in the state they did after all.
There are two forms of jokes that I consider rather ‘now’ the spouting references form of humour to be found on Family Guy and probably your favourite sitcom, and the sarcastic, ‘ironic’ self-deprecating insularity-causing and soul-sucking form of humour. It is the second form that I can’t stop myself from doing. Although, they’re both lazy ways to ingratiate yourself with the audience, pretending that you’re total best buds. So I do both, I just try to purge as many of the references as I can.
To conclude, I find pofaced absurdities the highest for of humour. However, a natural part of this style – particularly with my definition of the absurd – is that it will naturally go over some people head. Why don’t I consider that other designers feel the same and that some of it is going over mine.
[What got me thinking about this subject wasn’t the example mentioned above. It was thinking about Sunset Overdrive.]