Funny descriptions

gokuby

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I literally fell in love with making funny descriptions for my items this week, problem is, my game isn't that fun(well it is fun, but you know, the atmosphere is not humorous ;p)

Of cause it hasn't got a depressing ambience, where you want to lay down and cry every five minutes, in fact the story is kinda meh, I focussed on gameplay with lore to tell the history of the world (kinda like darksouls, just not so "dark")

Now the question is, are these descriptions acceptable, or are they destroying the fourth wall?

Examples(roughly translated from german):

Wooden axe: How can you cut down trees with this thing? Are we in Minecraft?!

Blunt sword: Almost as dull as the descriptions!

Holey gloves: These pair of gloves are definitely not "Made in Germany"...

Many of them are refering to other games, or pop culture quotes.

Like to hear your opinions about this topic ;)
 

Clydous

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I personally adore making ridiculously humorous descriptions for my in-game items and abilities. However, I keep other games out of my descriptions. It's one thing to make a reference to an already existing game/movie/show/etc. It's something totally different to directly mention it. Why, just by your inclusion of Minecraft into that one description, I totally want to abandon your game and play Minecraft (no, not really, but do you see what I mean? =P)!!!!
 

Ms Littlefish

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I pretty much always do something that veers more on the silly side. That's my aesthetic.

But, there are ways to make humor work in games that take on more serious tones without it being jarring. Throughout all events in history people have told jokes, so I think the important thing to consider is what is humorous in the context of the game. What kind of jokes would the people in that world probably get a kick out of?

And I really think it's the same for games that are outwardly comedic, too. There are a number of games that are extremely humorous without needing to break the confines of their world to deliver their bizarre vision.

Some games do have an easier time breaking the 4th wall without it destroying the experience (it depends how much the game cared in the first place), but others can't really handle it at all without raising eyebrows.
 
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Aoi Ninami

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Funny descriptions do not damage the fourth wall, because they are part of the interface, and thus on the players' side of the wall to begin with. What would damage the fourth wall would be if the characters said something that showed they were able to read the same description the player is seeing.
 

Ms Littlefish

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While UIs can break immersion unless designed ingeniously, I wouldn't really lean on that technicality as permission to remove the player from the game's walls. In fact, I think the better challenge is coming up with a way for the player's wall to become part of the game's walls.
 
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Sharm

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It may not damage the fourth wall (which I disagree with), but it is immersion breaking.  Is your story good enough to reimmerse someone who's been reminded of the real world through your joke?  Are the pop culture jokes funny enough on their own that they'll still be funny if someone picks it up 5 years later, or will it seem dated?  Are your self depreciating jokes just reminding the player that it's a bad game and making them want to quit when they might have otherwise kept playing?  I agree with Ms Littlefish, it's good to have joke descriptions as long as it supports your game.  If it undermines or distracts from it, you shouldn't do it.

BTW, I don't get the "made in germany" joke.
 

Ruby

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@Sharm; I think he put the "Made in Germany" joke because he (the creator) is from Germany. 

Other than that, I agree with Sharm. A huge selling point to most gamers is that the game has a replayability factor. Pop culture jokes, and jokes about other video games, isn't going to make the game very playable in a few years when the game/actor you are referencing isn't as popular. I would go for more classics if you must put them in. Other than that, jokes are great, subtle points to a game that would make it seem more immersing. 
 
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I think the "Made in Germany" may allude to "German craftsmanship" stuff, like saying that German-made stuff is good...

Honestly, your jokes are far too...blatant. They're not very clever. Like your wooden axe description—it just outright says "Minecraft!" A description like "A step above punching monsters or trees with your bare hands." will be a reference people can understand but doesn't rely on outright saying "THIS IS A MINECRAFT JOKE!"

Subtlety is especially important when making references to other works, because you don't want it to be something that just puzzles people who don't know what you're talking about.
 
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Kes

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Another reason for not directly mentioning the name of another game, is that you should never assume that your player has played the same games that you have. If you have a player who hasn't played Minecraft, using the name has zero humour to it. Having a line like the one above about punching trees would be better.
 

BloodletterQ

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Don't openly state the allusion. Also I have a pretty serious setting (Game of Thrones level fantasy and I will be using the PV Games Medieval resources) and have my descriptions be my protagonist' commentary and he is kind of an ass.
 

Razoir

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I think you'd have a fun time looking at Disgaea's amazing item descriptions ! ( ******* Sword "Nice guys can use it too !" ) down to every item has it's own witty flavor text, many referencing other works and pop culture.

Speaking of references, i believe what the is the most fun about a reference is actually getting it, when you get a well made reference, it actually makes you happy. As such, blatantly giving out a name will give far less pleasure to the player that making a subtle description that he will connect with if he actually know what you are referencing. Of course, ideally they should also be made in a way where they are actually also fun to read by someone that doesn't know what you are talking about. I think being too over the top is not a great idea though, in DIsgaea it works because the whole game is over the top. But for a more serious game, i personally prefer when ridiculous item descriptions are more scarce and references less easy to notice.
 
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TheGamedawg

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It seems like it could work.  One trap I find people fall into is trying to make their game exclusively dark and serious.  However if you stick too much to it the writing may come off as pretentious.  Adding a little bit of humor, even if it is something as simple as this, eases up a bit on the tense nature of the writing.  If done well enough, your players may be on the search for new items just so they can see their item descriptions.

A little bit of research later and I remember running across this video by Extra Credits.  Have you ever heard of these guys?  They talk about various aspects of games, including designing, writing, and selling.  And behold, they did an episode on humor a little while ago!
 

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