Comedy is hard. Comedy in games is even harder. That's why it's such a delight to see Sony diving headfirst into comedy with the a fantastic tech demo from Quantic Dream.
David Cage, director and writer on titles like Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, wrote and directed the above tech demo/short film. He wrote about his experience in writing comedy and working with the PS4 in a guest post on the PlayStation blog this week. His candid words on writing comedy and the cliches that games fall into are worth repeating:
In a few months, we experienced something between Monty Python and Terry Pratchett (obviously without claiming to match their talent), and we laughed at each projection of the Goblin’s antics and the growing annoyance of the Sorcerer. We learned how attempting to produce beautiful images with such computing power is painstaking, how each second has to be worked out in minute detail, how light and shade became essential, how difficult it is to raise a smile.
And there was also, somewhere in all this, a desire to distance ourselves from the clichés of video games with their stereotyped themes where the bad guys are really evil, where sorcerers summon up demons, where heroes have big muscles and girls have big boobs. We wanted to gain a little distance from our tendency to take ourselves seriously and believe that we are saying something original or important, whereas the stories and universes of many video games are no more than the echoes of things that have been done better a thousand times before us. Howard created Conan the Barbarian in 1932, and Tolkein wrote The Lord of the Rings in 1954, and nothing our industry has created so far can even hold a candle to the genius of Frazetta or the visionary talent of someone like Peter Jackson.
Dark Sorcerer is also about what video games are like today, an extraordinary and fantastic world where anything is possible, but also a world where everything remains to be invented.
The Dark Sorcerer is just a tech demo, and won't be turned into a full game. I do hope, however, that Cage continues with this. Heavy Rain was good and Beyond: Two Souls looks better, but it seems that his talent really lies in writing comedy. It would be great if he could do something like this, but somehow turn it into an interactive comedy.