The Writer’s Struggle: Naming Things

in Advice

Now, its time to talk about the most difficult thing in all of making games. Harder than coding. Harder than art. Harder that eventing or mapping. The most difficult thing you will ever encounter.

No matter how many methods I’ve come up with to do it, I’ve never really mastered it. Naming things.

Why is it so hard? In all my years writing stories, making games, making RPG characters, the one thing, that has always alluded me: Names. The whole story flows into the outline. Complex characters with goals and desires and flaws… but all of them are written in the outline as “Adventurous Guy” “Ninja Girl”.

So, let’s walk through some steps to maybe overcome our inability to name characters/places/etc.

Method 1: Baby Name sites

So I have my character, its a Ninja character right? So I know, I’ll just look up Japanese names in a baby name site.

I know, Ichiro. No wait, that has a boring name, and I can think of like 8 anime characters with that name and I hate using names that I see other places…

And a baseball player, but seriously, who watches baseball?

And a baseball player, but seriously, who watches baseball?

Or what about Yasahiro. That means calm and knowledgeable. That is a pretty cool meaning. But it doesn’t roll off the tongue really well. Or it does, I don’t even know anymore. Why is this so hard!?

Method 2: Random Name Generators

Fine. Fine. I’m just going to go to a stupid site and just click a button and have it tell me what I should name this character. Maybe this Elven Archer, I can get a name for that one right?

Túchanar: As opposed to one chanar, or three chanar
Tunnor: Two, nor three, nor four.
Daedhrogon: Yes, the Day Dragon.
Arahaelon: “Whats the weather like out there?” “It are a hailin’!”
Loenor: “I’ll have to give my name back eventually.” “Why?” “Its a loaner.”
Aeglosson: Better than a matte son I suppose…

These names are awful too. I’ll never be able to do this. Fine. Fine. I’m going to get desperate.

Method 3: The Keyboard Smash

Beloved by renowned writer HP Lovecraft, let us just smash our hands into our keyboard and see what comes out.

Seriously, how else do you explain the Old Ones?

Seriously, how else do you explain the Great Old Ones

ewfbecipdfkldjkemcueienmoxeconewoferuafoduifegasndfarpekbgeumounjnbqhyeoi

Ferua?
Becip?
Duifeg?
Xeco?

Nope. Nope. Nope. I’m doomed. This is terrible.

Method 4: Cry, Accept Your Fate.

AdiBPrO

Auuuugh, I’ll never get this game finished. It will sit eternally on my hard drive with a bunch of placeholder names because I can’t figure out what to name them.

Fine. Fine, they are all named Bob. Just an entire world of Bobs. Wait wait. I have to name locations too. Fine. Bobland. Bobtown. Bobville. Bobian Empire.

And the name of the game: The Bob of the Bobs.

I don’t even know. I have no idea how to name characters, places, or games. How do you do it? Tell me about your naming schemes in the comments below. Or just tell me about your own woes when it comes to naming things.

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