Saturday, December 19, 2009

Character Names

For many of us, character names are the most difficult part. You don’t want to make some bad-ass barbarian named Melvin. Even Tom is useless. He needs a name like Badassbarbarian. See - not easy. So what to do? Well, one thing that works pretty darn well is to use foreign languages. Heather, who runs our sales and advertising, uses misspellings of the Italian word for evil for all of her online characters. Anyone who’s gamed with her knows that “evil” is an appropriate term! When I was back in high school, I just morphed words I didn’t know well. Sometimes this worked. When I morphed Nemesis’ name (the Greek goddess) into Nebethis, I thought I was pretty darned smart. Not such an unknown word now though and a touch too obvious.
So how does it work? Get out to an internet translation tool. (I like Babel Fish) Choose a language that sort of matches the person you’re describing’s race. Then twist the word. This works along several means. #1 - it’s a cheap way to get cool sounding ideas. #2 - It might even give you a pronunciation guide. Play testers will tell you that I have had my share of NPC character names where I wrote them but still couldn’t figure out how to say them. This often degraded into calling the person something offensive - probably not appropriate to continue ...

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