Purple Phantom

Breaking the Fourth Wall

5 posts in this topic

"This is the fourth wall we've come across."

"I'm tired of climbing over them."

"Why don't we just break it?"

 

In my humour-based game, I'm planning on having several jokes, including breaking for fourth wall, both literally and in the regular sense. As cliché as it is, I've always found it funny. However, what is a good balance for fourth wall jokes? In some games, when left idle, the character will stare at the player as if to say, "Hey! Get on with it already!" In several shows, films, books, comics, etc., the characters will often break it in various ways from mentioning they're in a fictional world to outright addressing the reader/viewer (a fantastic example being Deadpool from the Marvel universe).

 

Here are some screenshots from me testing a pacing mechanic in my humour-based game. Let me know what you think!



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In order to progress the story, the player has to "purchase" "DLC". There is no money, real or fictional, being spent. The DLCs are more or less just the level areas. Each area can be visited and revisited throughout the game, but you have to complete each of the three areas in each level to progress, to avoid the game being too hard. On top of that, you have to gain skills via buying books, films and games to learn them. Levelling up gives you skill points, which you can allocate to the areas you want to strengthen. (For instance, one might choose to up Edd's AGI (Speed), Tom's LUK (Resist) and Matt's MHP (MHP), so as to raise up their weaknesses. Of course, if you wanted to raise Matt's weaknesses, you'd have to do a lot of raising on everything that isn't LUK (Resist) kek.)

 

ANYWAY, I got off-topic.

 

Basically, how far is too far with breaking the fourth wall and am I doing this right?

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That's a tricky question. It really just depends on how well it flows in your game. This is something where a demo is necessary to really see how well it works, and even then it's subjective. 

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The fourth wall is a tired presentation. There's only so many times I want to hear that a chicken crossed a road. Its reached a point where even 'doing it well' wouldn't receive a positive response from me, just a non-negative one; Its a lost cause when the highest possible achievement is 'tolerance'.

 

In stand-up comedy stealing a joke is the cardinal sin. Your set should always be entirely distinct from the person before you and the person after you. Something to consider.

 

Ofc, some people enjoy being ensconced in regurgitated content. Actually, most people, in my experience. So it could just come down to the timeless debate of do you strive for commercial or critical success; do you simply give people what they want, or do you instead tell them what they should want. 

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I prefer leaning on it (Warning: TV Tropes blah blah blah) over out and out breaking it, but sometimes it can be fun. Honestly though, I am more interested in playing with the idea of a forth wall from a dramatic perspective. How do characters deal with the idea that they are just characters? Do they grow depressed, angry, deny it, ignore it, or maybe even embrace it? Using it for a quick joke doesn't really go anywhere or accomplish nearly as much.

 

That said it can still be funny to brake the forth wall, but a good forth wall break joke is good because it's unexpected and absurd. Say you have a door with a key you have in your inventory. A kind of bland forth wall joke would be to tell the player "Hey open your inventory and use the key already!" A good one would be something like having a character get impatient if you didn't and say "Never mind, I will do it myself! Damn lazy players..." actually go to the bottom of the screen or something and physically pull up the inventory screen, lift the icon for the key over their heads and use it on the door themselves. Bonus points if the other characters have no idea what they just saw and decide very firmly to forget it ever happened least they be driven to madness by the implications. That's gonna be too much for some people, but if you are going to do a good forth wall break you gotta be dedicated. And you can't use them too often or else they will lose their surprise.

Edited by Kayzee
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Honestly, my current project hasn't used the fourth wall. Just... Darkness shindigs, a bit of fun character interactions to see how they view each other, and a bit of jokes toward the antagonists to liven both sides a bit.

 

An example, coming from Darkness, is that he'll make jokes almost out of thin air, and aims them to annoy at certain times. Is he annoying himself? No. Others? Probably. Players? Depends.

 

As for what's been stated, I kind of agree with Tarq. There's been a lot of fourth wall use, dwindling the effect. If it's a good joke, then sure, it'll get me to laugh, but otherwise it's safe to use character to character jokes.

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