Double Fine’s Tim Schafer is of the opinion comedy is a necessity in games and isn’t utilized enough by developers.
Speaking at an NYU Game Center engagement on the evening of March 22, and attended by Kotaku and Joystiq, Schafer said that comedy, is a “really scary” prospect for developers but if it’s “not funny, you’re missing something.”
To him, comedy can be used as problem solving tool, and such was the case with The Secret of Monkey Island. When developing the game, Schafer was tasked by LucasArts with writing the scene where Guybrush Threepwood and Governor Elaine Marley meet and fall in love. The problem he faced, was being able to do it in just five lines. In order to do this, he added a comedic feel to the scene plumped to “absurd proportions.”
“You can’t write a serious scene that has a pirate and a governor fall in love in five lines,” he said. “Humor is a tool to cover up the fact that this is not a solvable problem. If you don’t have anything funny to say about a situation, the player will realize something’s fake.”
During his presentation, Schafer also showed a prototype for a cancelled Double Fine project which used emotions as a puzzle-solving mechanic which drew inspiration from “wacky Japanese games” such as Katamari Damacy because the titles don’t take themselves as serious and are full of emotions when compared to their western counterparts.
The prototype shown was a Kinect title heavy on narrative where players would use gestures control the characters’ feelings. This would force the character to feel emotions such as anger, fear, and love.
Unfortunately, the publisher behind the title backed out once the final prototype was completed, therefore, according to Schafer, “we’ll probably never” see the game released.
You can read the full rundown of Schafer’s talk through the links, and watch a couple videos through Joystiq.