Balance between comedy and seriousness?

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Quadratic
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Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#1 Post by Quadratic » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:22 pm

Just asking for your opinions here.

I was playign Resonance of Fate (Xbox360/PS3), and the game has lots of funny moments, and being serious. But the balance isn't eactly there... It's at the point where the game doesn't take itself seriously. One scene will be dark and depressing(?), the next will be all upbeat and cheerful. In terms of a ratio between the two, in that game, it's pretty close to a 1:1.

So, how does this relate? It doesn't. Well, most VNs have their fair share of jokes, while also maintaining a serious atmosphere about it. Usually, the ratio is around 3:1, or in an upbeat VN, 1:3.

So I ask you, where's the best balance between comdy and seriousness in a VN (or in anything)?

Asking for the sake of my small team's VN.

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#2 Post by Wintermoon » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:46 pm

I don't care if it's 100% comedy or 100% serious or anything in between. However, if you do combine them, it's important to prevent the comedy from undermining the seriousness.

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#3 Post by HumbertTheHorse » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:34 pm

I tend to think if you are worrying about ratios or patterns or constructs while writing, the story may be in trouble. At least my best personal writings are those that come naturally, without consideration for this or that. Then, during editing, you can hear the false notes.

Have you seen 'Burn After Reading'? I enjoyed that film. Most scenes were both serious and funny at that same time. Clooney having an emotional breakdown while watching a dildo swing this way and that. Very funny and I still felt for the guy.

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#4 Post by LVUER » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:27 pm

Unless you are striving for a genre that show perfect balance between seriousness and comedy, you'll need to determine the "base" tone/genre; is it a serious game with comedy as the spice, or a comedy game with some serious tone?

Another example that have bad balance between seriousness and comedy is Shadow Hearts. It was hurt by its own comedy. It has serious and dark story (also heavy/sad ending), but also at the same time, not serious and comedic. The characters are also like that, some very serious and heavy, but other are simply ridiculous.
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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#5 Post by delta-ion » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:30 pm

I think it depends which effect you want to achieve. Some stories use the change between a funny and a serious part to let the reader even more fall into the emotional desaster. But even here overdoing effects like these can destroy a good story.
So I also think that it would be good to decide what is the basic story you want to tell, for that should decide how and when funny/serious scenes are suitable.
But that's only my opinion, so I dont't know how others think about it.
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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#6 Post by kinougames » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:43 pm

I agree that it depends on what you want to do. For example, Ranma 1/2 is a highly successful manga that has an almost 1:1 ratio of comedy to funny. Because of that, it becomes a comedy, but with some serious aspects that give it just the right comedic effect without making it too slapstick-y. It gives the same effect you mentioned...a somewhat serious story that doesn't really seem to take itself seriously at all.

If you actually want to be serious, I'd say 3:1 minimum for a darker story, and 2:1 if you want a "serious!lite" story. (Like for something like CardCaptor Sakura.)
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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#7 Post by Ghurdrich » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

It really all depends on how you pull it off. Somehow, Clannad has some of the funniest scenes I've seen in a VN, but it would also rank among the most tragic things I've ever seen. I forget the actual term for this (there really is one, I swear) but it's something along the lines of putting comedy in your story to make the tragedy that much more powerful. It's sort of like comic relief, but sort of the opposite. I really don't think you can be 100% serious, otherwise you're probably going to end up with some narm (Narm is an unintentionally cheesy scene that was supposed to be emotional.) However, 100% funny is alright sometimes, but most of the time it's hard to develop a plot and a conflict in your story if you never have anything serious. Now, looking at some of the anime I like best (Clannad, Higurashi, Elfen Lied) it seems to be 1:1 or even leaning towards comedy for the most part. But it complements the serious moments. Like, Sunohara in Clannad. Totally a joke character. Never does anything right, a failure at life, never takes anything seriously. However, when Sunohara is serious, it makes the reader/watcher go "Whoa whoa whoa. Alright, I think this is important."

However, as a sort of addendum, I've thought about it a bit, and I think I have played a VN that's totally serious. While a lot of Nitro+ games are pretty balanced, I can't think of one funny or silly scene in Saya no Uta. Make no mistake, SnU is really freaking good, and it manages to not really have any narm at all, despite being totally serious. So I guess that's possible too.

EDIT: (Thinking about it, the shock value of that game probably helps. Even when I want to laugh, I can't, because I'm still trying to comprehend what's happening xD)

As for what I prefer, I can't really say. I don't really like 100% funny, but other than that, just go with the flow. If you look back and you enjoyed writing your piece, chances are people are going to enjoy playing it, no matter the content. It's a bit wishy-washy, but just do what you like.

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#8 Post by Voight-Kampff » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:09 am

I suspect that part of a well balanced equation of comedy:seriousness doesn't rely solely on how much or how little comedy is used. I believe it's more complicated than that. Part of that complexity can be expressed by the quality of the comedy.

If one is writing a story that is primarily meant to be serious, then I'd expect comedy to be derived from the characters. One character ribbing another verbally, or playing off of another character's flaws.

What I wouldn't expect to see is a lot crazy, kooky, zany comedy. Like, all-of-a-sudden throwing in super deformed sprites or having a character punch another character, only to have them disappear in an unusually loud twinkle of light, far off in the sky.

But, as others have mentioned, even in a serious story, I don't believe it's necessary to use comedy to lighten the mood or as a "stress reliever". One could use a calm, peaceful moment. Or a moment in which the characters are simply enjoying themselves at an amusement park, or spending a day at the beach. Of course, beach scenes introduce a whole extra level of complexity as one has to consider the proper ratio of skin to clothing. :lol:

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#9 Post by papillon » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:18 am

Apparently there was a study done showing that 40% is the optimal amount of skin to expose to be considered sexy when out clubbing in England. The POWER OF SCIENCE! We should fund another study looking at the beach environment!
What I wouldn't expect to see is a lot crazy, kooky, zany comedy. Like, all-of-a-sudden throwing in super deformed sprites or having a character punch another character, only to have them disappear in an unusually loud twinkle of light, far off in the sky.
Of course, it's quite popular in fanfic to take a wacky zany comedy and suddenly treat it with deadly seriousness (see Ranma 1/2). You probably *could* manage it within a single work if there was a sudden turning point before which things were zany and after which the terrible consequences of the zaniness started coming through. A bit Into The Woods...

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#10 Post by Voight-Kampff » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:54 am

Huh. Never thought about that before.

For some reason now I'm envisioning transformation scenes in Ranma turned into gruesome, disturbing sequences...

As Mousse is splashed with cold water, his hair starts falling out, blood starts spewing from every pore as his body needs to rapidly shed mass. Needle-sharp feathers start drilling through said bloody pores. Bones crack and compress. He screams out in terror, but it quickly sublimates into a flurry of rapid squawking. His mind permanently damaged due to shock that the human brain was never meant to undergo.

Ah, but I digress...

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#11 Post by Showsni » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:34 pm

Voight-Kampff wrote:Huh. Never thought about that before.

For some reason now I'm envisioning transformation scenes in Ranma turned into gruesome, disturbing sequences...
Like in Animorphs?

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Re: Balance between comedy and seriousness?

#12 Post by Mikan » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:45 am

I read everything I write out loud.
If I'm being too serious or funny it's pretty apparent when I'm in the reading process.

I encourage many of you (or ask a friend) to read your stories or dialogues out loud before releasing your work to the public.

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