Weekend Discussion Topic #2: Humor in Diablo III

Last weekend’s discussion topic went pretty well, as more than 100 of you guys shared your favorite class memories from D1 and D2 and predicted how your allegiances would swing in D3. This weekend’s topic is spurred by today’s date and the wacky hijinks that often accompany it, to the delight of some and the chagrin of others.

How do you guys feel about humor in Diablo III? From jokes made by NPCs, to monsters with funny sound effects like Fallen screeching for Rakanishu or D3’s skeletons laughing, to NPCs who offer one bad jokes after another. Humor has always been a feature in the Diablo series, but that doesn’t mean you like it. Do you think jokes and moments of levity distract from what should be an intense, gloomy, horror-filled experience? Or are they flashes of light and realism, since some people will always joke even in the teeth of disaster, and that they add to the overall presentation?

I’ve been considering this issue in regards to Diablo III for a while, largely in regards to the, “This is killing business.” quip made by the bartender in the Slaughtered Calf Inn. I’ve seen numerous fan complaints about that line, but I’m not sure if the objection is to the quality of the pun, or if people just don’t think it’s just inappropriate. (Or both, perhaps.)

You’re free to not like it, but if you think corny remarks and jokes from NPCs are out place in the Diablo series… you must not have listened to many gossips or otherwise communicated with the NPCs in D1 or especially in D2. There are dozens of joke lines in both games, with several NPCs basically serving as comic relief. We have all of their dialogues on their wiki pages, and from the famous, “Horazon’s urinal?” remark by DiabloWikiLysander, to what seems like the majority of the dialogue by DiabloWikiGeglash, there are inside and outside jokes galore, especially in Diablo 2. (Which has vastly more NPCs and dialogue than D1, and thus more room for humor.)

We obviously don’t know all of the D3 dialogues yet, with only a small portion of the game accessible via the beta, but there are plenty of comical remarks mixed in with the more serious content. We’ve been told that the DiabloWikiScoundrel has a ready supply of quips, and the DiabloWikiMystic seems (seemed) to have a very wry sense of humor and the absurd in many of her dialogues. (One embedded to the right. There’s a better one here, but the vid title is sort of a spoiler, so I didn’t embed it.) Even with her removed (for now) there are other mood-lighteners galore.

If there’s a real difference between D3 and the previous games in the series, it’s that some of the NPCs make their remarks unprompted, like the barkeeper right at the start of the game, which makes their jokes impossible to miss. Unlike the NPC dialogues in D1 and D2, which you had to click specifically to hear.

Of course the biggest humor (or not) in Diablo II came from the DiabloWikiSecret Cow Level, which began life as an April Fool’s joke and snowballed from there. We don’t know if we’ll see a DiabloWikiSecret Level in D3 (though numerous hints point towards yes), but if so it seems like some-to-all of it will be themed to the “too colorful” DiabloWikiArt Controversy, with unicorns and happy clouds and rainbows and such. And that will be funny! Very very funny! Or not…

Hit the comments to share your thoughts on that, on humor in games in general, or some of your specific amusing memories from D1 and D2.

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46 thoughts on “Weekend Discussion Topic #2: Humor in Diablo III

  1. I don’t like the apparent oversaturation with jokes in D3, but that won’t stop me from playing the shit out of it.
    The game shouldn’t be DURR EDGY AND ANGSTY, but it should make you feel uneasy even if you are stronger than Diablo. 

  2. My favourite from the beta is from the barkeeper

    “See, the problem is they never should have named this place New “Tristram” we wouldn’t be getting attacked everytime if we were called, oh , New Wellington, would we ?”

  3. I have observed skeletons kicking over tables, chairs and gravestones when there’s no one around.  I get a laugh out of that.

  4. I really enjoy the humor.  And the darker and more wry, the better.  To be sure, though, I am retired Army and so accustomed to that sort of thing.

  5. I think it’s fine. I’ll be disappointed if there’s not a secret unicorn level where they shoot rainbow railguns and killing them makes them explode into glitter, lollipops, and strawberry jam.

  6. blizzards games have allways amused me with their humor , like a the bonus levels in WC3 or the sounds your units made when you clicked them multiple times in a row to cows exploding in D2 when you walked up to them and fallen sreaming Rakanishu!!! It also doesn’t disturb me , i anjoy it a lot and it doesnt detract from the atmosphere , after all it is still a game , and Diablo isn’t about superb stories and atmosphere etc. also WC3 humor was very rich and still Warcraft has a superb story IMO. But well , not every developer is gifted with good implementation of humor , bulletstorm for example really irritated me , it was fun at first , but after that all the sh*t comments etc just became to numerous to be funny.

  7. The laughing skeletons are the only things that bother me. There’s something intimidating about them in the earlier games, D1 especially, soulless automatons advancing forward silently. Seeing them cackling maniacally as they hobble around just doesn’t have the same effect. It’s comical yes but I don’t think it’s actually meant to be; I think perhaps Blizzard were hoping it would seem creepy or disturbing?

    • I agree, and add that humour must be appropriate. In the case of Diablo, only dark and / or understated is acceptable. Don’t get me wrong, I love humour as long as it’s good. That’s always my first port of call for TV, and I enjoy it in books too, but I don’t want it everywhere, and if it isn’t appropriate it can have a really negative impact.

  8. I want a rainbow unicorn level so I can really have loot pinatas to break open.

    As for the jokes in times of war jokes are done just for sanity.  There has to be plenty of brutality in the game though to make these jokes work well.

  9. I think a lot of the humour in D3 seems to be of the “Star Wars Episode 1” variety rather than the “Star Wars – New Hope” variety.  They seem to be “pushing” it at you, rather than letting it flow naturally, from the numerous quips from everyone, to the numerous joke weapons, to the humour stuck into many of the monsters.

    I would much rather have a more serious game, with a lot more “spaced out” humour. 

  10. Attempts at humor, much like everything else which could be subtle, is as forced as you would expect from a multibillion dollar company.

  11. I look at D1 as the gritty “uh oh we don’t know what we’re dealing with, we’re totally boned” horror-themed game. D2 is the “welp, the first guy screwed up, guess we’re going to have to struggle to actually defeat evil for reals this time” game. D3 is the Army of Darkness of the series, but with a bigger budget. Campy, full of one-liners and pseudo-dark humor, and a lot of fun to watch (and play). For me it works in line with the series because, by now, there have to be a few people who can look back on past victories and say to themselves “hey, if that guy can do it, I probably can, so lets kick ass and chew bubble gum, and bubble gum hasn’t been invented yet.”

  12. I actually rather enjoy the dialogue from the “village idiot” that appears near the barkeeper in New Tristram after you help out Leah. The two guys standing near were you fought the turned villagers in the same area also have some random dialogue you can eavesdrop on for a chuckle or two (or not depending on how grimdark you think the game should be).

  13. I like humor so I don’t mind the jokes and the bad jokes are even better imo!  When a bad joke is made and it’s SO bad but was made intentionally know it’s bad those are some of the best jokes!

  14. i wasn’t to sure about diablo 3 with the whole color controversy or even the jokes, after spending the past 2 days playing the beta i think the art is fine, there’s even this tree right after you leave town.. very Gothic reminds me of the wizard of oz. bottom line the jokes fit. we sometimes need a little comic relief otherwise it would be to serious. cant wait for 0-5  1-5  12

  15. I like a little pun or two thrown in there, it don’t bother me. Like it was mentioned before, this is a game. The quips and one liners are not going to disturb the gloomy feel of the game.

  16. Anyone who doubts these games can mingle well with humor should check out the SACRED games.
    As long as the humor is in an Easter-egg form, and you feel it was actually an achievement to find, it fits in really well.
    The first time in Sacred 1 when I found the hidden canoe and went to the secret island resort, and got chased off a pack of orcs’ beach towels, it was friggen awesome.  That kind of thing would work well in D3, without messing up the lore.  Humor in standard dialog could be annoying.

    • Sacred series Really 🙂 Kinda like the worst games ever created^^ the Devs couldn’t even patch it properly!

      1’st was decen. 2’nd was ofcourse a joke 🙂 actually the 2’nd still doesn’t work correctly got like a billion errors but what the hell the devs decided to create a third instead of fixing (NUMBER 2) hehe…. what a fucking joke 

  17. I always loved listening to the gossips of the NPC, particularly the gamblers. I hope in D3, we will have more old NPC dudes that gives us their sarcastic humor and somewhat pessimistic view of the world.

  18. It isn’t like there is any real atmosphere in D3 to worry about shattering in the first place…  😛

  19. I think that humor is important to Diablo. Games in general that are dark in theme, the humor really stands out if it is well-done and placed “correctly”. Humor is also Blizzard’s strength: they are great at parody, and this isn’t just Irvine but North had a lot of funny moments in both diablo games as well. Whether they were intentional or not (like the stutter bug where the warrior would say t-t-t-too much baggage. It’s the remix.).

    In WoW, they skillfully made fun of the playerbase, and the playerbase loved it. Because it was done well. I hope they have a healthy amount of humor in the game. There’s plenty of room for it in events and adventures. I want humor because they don’t do any other type of writing very well.

    Example being when the Scoundrel makes fun of the templar, if you’re into datamining.

  20. 💡 I am guessing that the ‘Black Mushrooms’ found in the beta (they cannot be sold and have no apparent use) will somehow make players able to enter the portals which the Treasure Goblins use and take us to ‘Greed’s Domain’ (talked about in the find-able lore in the beta).

    I have visions of gold littered all over the ground, plenty of chests and rare monsters scattered throughout the level(s). 

    Of course this is only my theory based on my beta experience (and my desires…). Also, I have researched nothing to support my guesses and if anyone knows info that discredits my theories feel free to correct me! 

  21. I don’t mind the humor being there, though I generally would prefer it to stay a level deep, that is I feel players should have to go slightly out of their way to access it, such as the double clicking of units repeatedly or going into a gossip section of the tab on an NPC.  Basically I think it would be better if they took it out of a surface play through of the game, so that those seeking a dark and more immersive experience can still have that without such lighthearted humor infringing upon their experience.

  22. I’ll say it again.  I have no idea how anyone ever felt that Diablo was a scary, looming, horrifying experience.  I always considered it a fast-paced action RPG with demonic lore subject matter.  It was “cool”, sure, but there’s absolutely nothing horrifying or scary about it, and there never has been.

    For sake of comparison, people seem to think of Diablo as the movie “The Omen”.  It’s dark, ominous, scary, etc.  I think of it as the movie “Constantine”.  It’s a glorified action/fantasy with subject matter that was typically reserved for movies like The Omen.  There’s nothing scary about it though.  It’s supposed to be fun and cool.

    So to answer the question at hand; I absolutely think that humor belongs in a Diablo game.  I don’t think it should be dominating, but it should absolutely be properly interspersed throughout the game.  Moments of levity are almost always a positive addition in game that utilizes great ups and downs.

    • Well given the time period it would be rare for someone to drink water over say booze if they get a choice.

  23. D1 had an appropriate humor. For example the Ogden’s Sign quest had alot of loughs with Snotspill and the conflict between the fallen ones and the “big uglies” overlords.

    And I should also mention Gharbad the Weak….and Zhar the Mad…well….Zhar was eventually a bit creepy but anyway 🙂

    The way townsfolk told the tales…the way monsters talked and some had some brain and intricate relations in the labyrinth beneath Tristram Cathedral…That was subtle humor…

    That is what made D1 special 🙂  And I expect no less in D3. In fact I am preety certain D3 will have just the right humor 🙂 

  24. I loved the “its killing business” line, mostly because it has two meanings – and it also fits the cranky bartender role perfectly. Just because there are monsters and zombies everywhere, that does not mean there should be no people around to try and lighten the mood.

  25. Some of the jokes I read posted in places are not really jokes as such, the bit about shouldnt of named the place “New Tristram” that could be because he believes the name Tristram is cursed. I mean everyone must know that stuff has gone wrong in Tristram, even if they don’t know what.
    The same applies to the other so called jokes in that I think people are thinking they are jokes but they not really, even though they seem to be humorist.

    • Obviously people will disagree on what’s funny, but I think that line is clearly meant to be humor, in a double-meaning sort of way. 

      For another example, one of the Templar’s gossips is this an impassioned comment about how the “light is both a physical and metaphorical enemy of darkness!” It’s not a “joke’ how the character says it, but it makes me laugh since it’s so overwrought and earnestly-clueless as delivered.

  26. I like humor in my games, in fact, the more the merrier, if you’ll pardon the pun. The Wizard in particular seems well suited to delivering a lot of one liners after specific events, while the Monk and DH seem like the least likely to be funny…which would make their jokes even better, if the timing is good.

  27. I have always enjoyed the level of humor in the Diablo series.  Hell, I remember quotes from Farnham the town drunk to this day “can’t a fellow drink in peace”?

    The level of humor in New Tristram seems appropriate. I think there are always people trying to lighten the mood in tough times.  It’s how you trudge along through the difficulties.

  28. Blizzard has such a great sense of humor, it’d be a pity if they didn’t put it to good use, even in D3.  We can surely expect a dark humor though.  For instance, the farmer that was discovered recently outside of the standard beta areas is a great example of something that is laugh out loud funny, but at the same time, gives you the willies. 

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