The Name’s the Thing (with apologies to Shakespeare)
I checked out Darrell Hardy’s blog post this morning on Immersive Gameplay and decided I’d catch up on his back posts. I enjoy reading his thoughts. He’s a talented guy who has some interesting insights. Anyway, I noted he had an article called What did you call me? and I couldn’t resist chiming in with my own opinions. It evolved a bit, so I thought I’d let it serve double duty and put it up here for your edification and enjoyment.
Using different letters is good advice. I do that myself. Otherwise I tend to end up with a lot of names conglomerating around certain letters, so I try to spread them out.
This might be obvious, but say the names out loud. Who cares if it looks like you’re speaking in tongues? Names in games are meant to be said aloud. Take for example: Melnibone. I’ve heard it pronounced many different ways, but most were wrong (i.e. not my way of saying it) or Cthulhu (which we’ve both heard countless variables stated as the one true way at cons).
I’ve always had a penchant for naming things–this stems back to my love of linguistics. Good inspiration is studying a root language around which a particular society is based or something in another language which might possess the sense of what you’re after.
For example, in RunePunk, there are the Andari, a race unto themselves of once-humans, who are fluctuating a bit in and out of reality. They were designed to evoke the images of ghosts without truly being ghosts and I hunted around various languages until I settled on German as the base. I think around this time The Others had just come out or the trailers were running and I liked the idea of “others” as what they could be called, but it wasn’t too sexy. The German word for other people is andere and so I twisted it just a bit and Andari was born.
I did/do the same sort of thing for Iron Dynasty naming…I get a lot of mileage out of an online English-Japanese dictionary, putting spins on them as needs dictate.