Tuesday 15 May 2012

He said true things, but called them by wrong names

Naming systems for uniquely identifying characters can be a tricky business in MMOGs, especially when server boundaries are broken down by features such as cross-realm zones in Mists of Pandaria or joining friends as a guest in Guild Wars 2. Maybe the games industry could look to areas with years of precedent; naming a racehorse, for instance, follows fairly similar criteria to character names in GW2: “Your name choice can be up to 18 characters, including spaces. All names are registered subject to approval by the British Horseracing Authority. There are approximately 250,000 names on the current register, therefore it is advisable to check availability prior to submitting your application.”

OK, so the jurisdiction of the British Horseracing Authority doesn’t quite stretch to GW2 yet, but apart from that… A quick glance at the runners of the 2012 Grand National isn’t terribly inspiring though, maybe a couple of potential guild names (“Midnight Haze”, “Smoking Aces”), but there aren’t many names you’d want for a character. Apart from “Shakalakaboomboom”, natch.

Pedigree dogs have to be registered with the Kennel Club, and the list of Best in Show winners of Crufts is much more like it: “Volkrijk of Vorden”, “Fenton of Kentwood” (Jesus Christ!), “Abraxas Audacity”, “Saxonsprings Hackensack” and, of course, “Araki Fabulous Willy” (who wouldn’t want a Fabulous Willy?) Maybe those six extra letters (dog names can be up to 24 characters) make all the difference.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show offers even more tantalising examples, as per a quiz on Slate; I mean c’mon, what MMOG wouldn’t be improved by replacing “G4ndalf” and “KniefStabRouge” with “McMagic’s Candied Ham of Pebbles Run”?

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