Archive for March, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl First Impression

Also, as long as I’m procrastinating, might as well post this too. It’s only like a week or two late.

  • Diddy Kong is a lot of fun. I was surprised as how fun and balanced a character he was.
  • But Sonic the Hedgehog is definitely my favorite character.
  • Moves are way easier to pull off. Love chaining combos in midair? So much easier now.
  • Way more floaty. Wee!
  • Because there’s a lot more airtime, there’s a lot more focus on combat in the Y-axis. Sonic’s down stomping attack is used a lot.
  • Sonic is now the fastest character. However, he doesn’t really move all that fast compared to the characters in Melee. Thus, everyone moves more slowly.
  • The nerf bat hath smiteth Link, my previous main. He feels a lot less visceral than in Melee. Part of might be the animation cycles; in Meele it was totally possible to pull off two or three spins in a row on DK. Now, not so much. Things feel slower and smoother.
  • SOOO much more of an emphasis on items. I have no problems with items normally, and Nintendo hit the sweet spot with the defaults in Melee. Now it just feels like too much.We’re talking like five smash balls in a single round, and two or three insane ships of doom, split into three pieces which everyone battles like crazy over. Yeah. When you play with items (he said, abusing italics), you fight for items. There are now at least five or six items of power equal to or greater than the stupid hammer. And they spawn all over the place! Seriously, it’s completely insane.
  • However, you can turn it all down and/or off, so I’m not complaining too much.

Hootenanny and Humor Desensitization

So, there’s a third round of Hootenanny auditions. Huzzah!This means the chances of skit from James entering in the running again is much higher than it was several days ago, when the chances were zero.

We even have (extremely busy and pressed for time) actors this time.

To prepare (and because most of the penn2ers are noobs and needed to see it anyway), I watched about half an hour of the show from last year. My previous skit? Painful. Horribly painful and embarrassing. We were nervous, we fudged up lines, and most of the (extremely frequent) puns were either too subtle to show up in dialog, or not funny when they did. Overall, it just didn’t flow well at all.

Part of the issue was just how long and elaborate the lines were. Having taken speech since than, I now realize that part of the issue was that the script was not written to be verbal. One of the great and unique things about authors like Dickens and Wodehouse is that most of their work reads great on paper and sounds great when read out loud. I definitely lack that gift. Hence, the target time for this year is two to three minutes. Much longer than that, and the audience looses interest.

Another part of it was just The Stage and Preparation. Joking around and having fun with a skit while auditioning was great. We were all loose, we had scripts, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what we had was a decent skit. I was wrong, but it didn’t really matter at that point because we didn’t know I was wrong, and it’s much easier to convince people that your skit is funny if you think it’s funny.

However, as the event drew closer, I became completely immersed in the dialog. I began to doubt that it was really as humorous as I’d previously supposed. Others in the cast felt the same way, so we began to edit. Humor is so much easier to deliver if you know exactly what part is supposed to be humorous. You can build up to it, emphasize it, and all sorts of wonderful things like that. But after going through the same lines so many times, we lost track of what was funny.

The writer behind Portal was interviewed recently, and he said something that resonated with me.

“Tough guy dialogue is just about as macho the 50th time you hear it. Funny dialogue is funny once — maybe.”

I can’t really say much about macho dialog as I can’t write it without instantly deleting my work and washing my hands to get rid of the slimy cliche,  but the latter part is definitely true about humor. This year, I am relying much more heavily on 3rd parties to see how much they laugh when reading the script.

But there are still issues. Especially tying it off neatly. Everyone loves a climax directly followed by a witty comment. Do you have any idea how insane that is to write? This is why half my skits don’t even have real endings and sort of trail off into the distance, much like this post.

Ah, well. At least I can write code.

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