Finding names for a game

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DRW
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Finding names for a game

Post by DRW » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:10 am

We need a bunch of names for our fantasy action adventure. We already have all the female names, but it's a bit hard to find male names that we like.

Do you have any ideas how we can accomplish this?
Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Sales website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
Download website: http://www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:19 am

Two schools for fantasy names
-Study historical names, and how they change over time and place. (Also, spelling of names was even more unregular long ago). Katherine Kerr did a good job in the Daggerspell series.
-Just take names you kind of like and modify wovels (Game of thrones method).

or a combo.

Descriptive names can be effective too, to descibe something about their character or history or social caste. Some made up examples:
-Worrum (servant?)
-Hunch (court jester?)
-Three eyes (shaman?)
-Fingers (thief?)


Avoid (imo):
Fake elvish.

(edit for spelling error)
Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by tepples » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:39 am

You have a point about nicknames, which might apply to people or cultures with a habit of nicknaming. But what is "fake elvish"? It doesn't just mean an abundance of sonorant consonants in the phonology of a fictional culture's language, does it?

You're looking for a naming language. Various sites about conlangs (constructed languages) will help you find these. Here's one series of articles I found in a web search for naming language:
  1. Why many authors' naming languages suck
  2. Choosing sounds
  3. Giving them meaning
Here's another:
  1. Choosing sounds
  2. Giving them meaning
  3. Word order: "great wolf" or "wolf great"?
  4. Inflectional and derivational morphology: How you know "Pino" identifies as male and "Harriet" female before you see them
  5. A worked example
If you want to post existing masculine names publicly or privately along with their putative meanings or in-universe origins in the fiction, I could help guide you toward how to build the feminine ones. I at least try to know the etymology of my own characters' names in case one of my projects gets localized.

Also consider whether your speakers use hereditary surnames or some form of non-hereditary byname, such as a patronymic ("Noah son of Lamech"), place ("Jesus of Nazareth"), occupation ("Bob the Builder"), or physical attribute ("Erik the Red"). I've written an article about bynames and surnames.

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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:46 am

But what is "fake elvish"
It's whenever someone imitates the work of Tolkiens' fantasy languages and naming conventions to create a superficially elvish-sounding name. Let's come up with an example on the spot. Gilfundriel. Doesn't mean anything. Applies for dwarves, too.
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by tepples » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:07 am

Two more naming language tricks:

If your fiction includes involves ongoing or historical contact between two cultures, try two different naming languages, one for each culture. A character's name may hint at ethnicity caste, etc.

Another is to take names from one language, adapt them to another language's phonology, and run them through centuries of systematic sound changes. An example from Hebrew through Greek, Latin, French, and English is "Yosef", "Maryam", "Yitzchak", and "Hefziba", which get worn down to "Joe", "Mary", "Isaac", and "Hepsie".

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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:22 am

Here’s another don’t (again, imo):
Use existing names without taking time evaluating its realworld context at least somewhat. Like when Konami thought it was a good idea to name Dracula in Castlevania Cronqvist.

Dracula, according to this mythos, was born in the 9th century (or was tenth? don’t remember), central europe.
The spelling implies 17th or 18th century scandinavia
The name itself has a structure not existing at the point of time Dracula was human. These names (combining two short nouns; often in a nature romanticist style) were used by the rising gentry and later on the bourgeoisie to mimic the family names of nobles. Dracula was of a noble house, and a very powerful one at that.
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by pubby » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:52 pm

You don't always have to name characters in video games. Especially not the minor characters.

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DRW
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by DRW » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:41 pm

FrankenGraphics wrote:Just take names you kind of like
That's the issue: We have real problems finding fitting names that we like.

Our intention is to take names that actually exist, i.e. not completely made-up names. At least for the characters. Location names might be another issue, but even there I will probably not just connect some random syllables.

For example, our barmaid is called Alison and the warrioress is called Leyla. The king is King Henry.

Descriptive names might be possible too, but this should make logical sense.
If the hero is named "hero" in another language and the adventurer is named "adventurer", this can get pretty ridiculous since it's a pretty strange coincidence in-universe.
The evil overlord on the other hand can have a name that means "ruler" since he or his parents probably gave it to him due to his lineage.

I like the way "Final Fantasy Adventure" did it where most of the names are not too outlandish:
Willy, Amanda, Lester, Julius, Marcie.

But they also have some more fantasy-like names:
Bogart, Cibba, Davias, Watts.
FrankenGraphics wrote:Avoid (imo):
Fake elvish.
That won't be a problem. Since this is a fantasy world in a universe where our earth doesn't exist at all, I will not bother with pretending that they speak some foreign language.
They speak English. Not just for the player, but the in-universe language is English as well. For example, text signs, if they appear, will be written with regular letters, not with some made-up alphabet.

And most of the non-enemy characters are humans, i.e. we don't have that wild mix of hobbits, dwarfes, elves and rock monsters. In this regard, we're closer to "Final Fantasy" than to "The Legend of Zelda", so elvishness is not an issue either.
tepples wrote:If you want to post existing masculine names publicly or privately along with their putative meanings or in-universe origins in the fiction, I could help guide you toward how to build the feminine ones. I at least try to know the etymology of my own characters' names in case one of my projects gets localized.
In the moment, we only have the names Alison, Leyla and King Henry.

Since the story is not supposed to play on our own Earth, the etymology is pretty much secondary, especially when it's just a given name to a regular person, so the meaning doesn't need to refer to that specific person.
I have no problem giving Hebrew, Roman or American names to various characters, as long as the names sound somehow fitting.
I.e. the old magician should not be called Steve.

The characters will not have surnames or any additions. Just single names.
tepples wrote:If your fiction includes involves ongoing or historical contact between two cultures, try two different naming languages, one for each culture. A character's name may hint at ethnicity caste, etc.
Yeah, we have that with the two female characters: Alison the barmaid has a pretty standard current-day name. The name for Leyla from the warrior tribe is a bit more outlandish.

King Henry got a typical royal name.

The adventurer should get a pretty standard name as well since he's also from that same kingdom and a normal guy.

The hero is from another part of the world. He will be the most difficult part.
FrankenGraphics wrote:Here’s another don’t (again, imo):
Use existing names without taking time evaluating its realworld context at least somewhat. Like when Konami thought it was a good idea to name Dracula in Castlevania Cronqvist.
Not really applicable to my game since it's its own world, so we can mix and match stuff as we see fit. Who knows how this name came to be in-universe?
pubby wrote:You don't always have to name characters in video games. Especially not the minor characters.
Erm, so? Do you really think that I believed that I have to name every little side character? And did you believe that giving no character any name is really an option that I just missed to consider?
Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Sales website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
Download website: http://www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by gauauu » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:58 pm

In that case, just find one of those Baby Names books or websites, an do what potential parents do. Each team member reads through a million names and picks a few favorites. Then compare lists.

(Then you can get in a big argument about it, but I suggest skipping that part)

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DRW
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by DRW » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:22 pm

We tried this. We took the 200 best names from the 60s, 70s and 80s from www.ssa.gov and found out that nothing really fits our taste. Tomorrow, we will try specifically British names.
Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Sales website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
Download website: http://www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by dougeff » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:03 pm

I recommend just using temp names. After a few weeks of calling the shop owner "Tim" (for example), you might decide that the name fits him.

Poorly chosen names might be just as good as one's you fuss over for weeks and weeks.
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by gauauu » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:27 pm

DRW wrote:We tried this. We took the 200 best names from the 60s, 70s and 80s from http://www.ssa.gov and found out that nothing really fits our taste.
Sounds like what happened when we tried to name our 4th kid. Don't stop at 200 names. Try the whole top 1000.

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DRW
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by DRW » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:04 pm

dougeff wrote:I recommend just using temp names. After a few weeks of calling the shop owner "Tim" (for example), you might decide that the name fits him.
So, instead of finding good names, you suggest to find random names and get used to them.
Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Sales website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
Download website: http://www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by dougeff » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:48 pm

Not random. Just whatever best name you can come up with in 10 seconds. And come back to it later, if it doesn't fit.

Sometimes "good" is "good enough" .

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princip ... ood_enough

Quote from some article...

"The quest for perfection the first time round almost always leads to costly delays and slow time to market."
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DRW
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Re: Finding names for a game

Post by DRW » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:53 pm

We settled for Nathan for the magiacian and Lawrence for the henchman.

The overlord will probably get a Roman name and we consider giving the hero a made-up or uncommon name.

We wanted to use Logan for the adventurer, but I fear that people might consider this a ripoff or an hommage to Wolverine.

Do you know of any other badass name for an adventurer?
Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Sales website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
Download website: http://www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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