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A Nameless Dread - Naming a Character in an MMO


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#1 Humble Hobo   Members   -  Reputation: 251

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:24 AM

Quick thought, and hopefully a bucket of change as I collect all of your $.02.

Let us imagine an MMO in which the PCs can get world recognition. Perhaps through some rare feat of awesome, they get a statue built of them and their character's name inscribed on a plaque. Another player rescues a town and actually becomes part of the lore, and the NPCs of that town speak of her for ages to come.

"The mysterious sorceress saved us, her name was... XxePiCLootErGirlxX5¥55!s. Yes... that was the name of our hero."

Now ignoring for a moment that this kind of NPC/player interaction is hard to do, let's assume an MMO where you can be incorporated into official game lore.

Question: What do you think the typical MMO player is willing to put up with as far as "naming conventions" in order to maintain good lore? Would they mind, or would it strike home as a big issue?

Some ideas (not necessarily good ones):

A. Starting a PC, you have to pick from a list of 400 or so pre-defined first and last names, resulting in a unique combo.
C. Some regular expression or algorithm that determines the 'coherence' or 'lore-friendliness' of your chosen name, and makes you choose again if it's too ridiculous.
D. A blacklist of inappropriate or lore-unfriendly names.

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#2 Explodinator   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:31 AM

A is viable
C can be circumvented
D can be circumvented

You need to implement A in such a way that it is expandable, though.

For player satisfaction, consider having a Gamer ID and a Character Name. Your character name will be your interaction label for all NPCs, but your Gamer ID is your interaction label for all system related things such as friend adding, etc.

#3 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7463

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:35 AM

B. use a configurable name generator much like an appearance tool to generate a user name.

#4 Humble Hobo   Members   -  Reputation: 251

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:38 AM

Lol, I forgot to include an option B. Just assume that option B is the perfect solution, everyone, and I'm just testing you Posted Image


Another thought is a somewhat modular version of option A. Pick a name out of components. WoW follows a kind of formula to NPC names, like:

- CoolName NounVerber
- EpicName AdjectiveNoun

And perhaps the name itself doesn't have to be unique. There can be a couple dozen John Smiths running around, as long as they all have some UID code under the hood.
Any other issues with duplicate names I wonder? 'Identity Griefing'?

#5 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3340

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:40 AM

I must admit that naming conventions in MMO's as well forums somewhat interest me. If you asked me to define a basic set of rules for allowable names it would go something like this:
  • No obscenity based names
  • No use of Trademarked names
  • No names of God from any religion


Beyond that I wouldn't really have an issue. My personal opinion on lore based names is that by pre-defining a type of name that can be used you are in effect creating an artificial reality which is confined by a set of rules decided upon a limited set of opinions which doesn't necessarily bear up as natural even in a lore-type of existance. In real life, some parents who are frigging weird and will name their children the most bizarre names you can think of, some people also change their names legally to unusual and downright strange labels (I am looking at you "The Artist formerly known as..." and you "Sony Playstation 2"). In our current environment the use of unusual appellations has become commonplace for example: Stormynature, Humble Hobo etc.

#6 luke2006   Members   -  Reputation: 106

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 08:54 PM

Would it be worth limiting how someone could write their name, instead? So there is a forced initial capital letter, and all others are lower case. Only two words at most. No numbers, symbols, underscores, etc; just letters, and perhaps letters with accents. And you could still include your black list of swears and such. This is kind of a combination of C and D (perhaps it's that elusive B?).

If someone wants to be called Arthur, that's fine. If someone wants to be called Franglobinjit, that's great! If someone wants to be called _Xx_a55a55in_xX_, they are IP banned, and perhaps a squad of black ops soldiers are deployed to deal with the issue.

Also, what if the player got given a title by the game, too? If the player uses the sword as their main weapon, they may become known as "Arthur, the champion". Or if they are thieves, they may become known and "Hiratylbin, the cunning".

#7 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19545

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 12:21 AM

d'Artagnan, M'de Treville, McPherson, and John Smith should all be valid user names IMO.

Personally, I'd like:
  • No consecutive capitals (NAme = no)
  • No more than two capitals per 'word' the entire name. ('JoHn SmiTh' is allowed)
  • No more than two spaces or hyphens, and they can't be consecutive. ('Bob-the-awesome' is allowed)
  • Each 'word' no longer than 12 characters, with a combined total of 20-ish. Each word no fewer than two characters, with a combined minimum of four.
  • No underscores at all.
  • No numbers at all.
  • Only certain symbols are allowed, they can't be consecutive, and you can only have two symbols total.
  • Accented characters are allowed, but no more than three total.
  • Blacklist of names (common swears and etc...)
  • Whitelist of good names that fit to the theme of the game auto-suggested to users (five randomly chosen names are displayed, but user can still enter a custom name).
If a user's name is reported as "Blatantly stupid or offensive" by other users, he will be contacted and told to change his name, and in the meantime will be given a generic name. If he again chooses something stupid, he will be given one more chance. If he violates that chance, his name will be assigned by a mod and permanently locked in place. Any name reported is brought up before the mods, and if the mod disapproves of it, with one-click it gets automatically added to the blacklist.

I'm also a fan of separation of 'user name' and 'display name'.

If, as luke2006 mentions, players can also earn titles, they ought to be able to select from their unlocked titles, or choose to go without a title, to fit the theme of their name and roleplaying (or non-roleplaying).

For example, I'd allow names like "Gandalf the White". However, that user might not want, " the wise" appended as a earned title to his name, if that means it'd ugily display as "Gandalf the White the wise". If it was, "Gandalf the White" with under the name, "Wiseman", or "Master wizard", that'd be fine (but users should still get to choose whether it displays or not). In the same way, if a user is in more than one guild, he should get to choose what guild name he displays (or whether he wishes his entire guild alliances to remain hidden).

Edited by Servant of the Lord, 29 May 2012 - 12:27 AM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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#8 Humble Hobo   Members   -  Reputation: 251

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:32 AM

Excellent solutions.

I've been working out some designs of a pre-defined name list (or combinational component list), and there just aren't enough names to go around if the game expands beyond the anticipated playerbase. That, and many people have a 'favorite' MMO name that they use for all of them. The inability to use it in a predefined list might be obnoxious.

As Servant of the Lord, Luke2006, and Stormynature suggested, a solid set of rules, backed up by an additional blacklist would probably suffice.

The important thing is to actually show the naming rules to the player as they create names (instead of a message that just says, "Sorry, you have to choose a different name"). It's a lot easier to color within the lines when you know where the lines are.

So,
1. List of rules and expected conventions (shown to player if they mess up at first)
2. Blacklist check for common offensive or inappropriate terms
3. In-game option to flag, sends approval note to a mod. Some poor intern gets an email each day with a bucket of flagged names, and approves or blacklists them.

The reason I'm concerned with this, is because I really want the players to become part of the history, the lore, and the news. Wouldn't it be amazing if some of the game's blogs and podcasts discuss some portentous plan that (so-and-so) is up to? Or if a player could gain recognition from others as the leader of (such-and-such) guild, identifiable on sight within the game world.

<Change of Direction>
Personal Opinion - how much care do you put into your MMO names? Does it take half an hour of painful struggle before you can decide? Do you have a favorite name that you use for all MMOs? Or do you just hit 'randomize' and roll with it?

Edited by Humble Hobo, 29 May 2012 - 08:56 AM.


#9 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19545

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 11:05 AM

<Change of Direction>
Personal Opinion - how much care do you put into your MMO names? Does it take half an hour of painful struggle before you can decide? Do you have a favorite name that you use for all MMOs? Or do you just hit 'randomize' and roll with it?

When young, I'd use the 'randomize' and alter it some.
Now, I just use one of three names and go with the first valid. One's really common, so it's often rejected, but the others are unique.
It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#10 Sercan Altun   Members   -  Reputation: 137

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 02:58 AM

Maybe if game incorporates some systems using the player names, players may digest the predefined name list concept easier. For example if you can trigger a quest reward if you have a "Barbaric Surname". Or if you can create lineages like guilds and carry some reputation with your surname. Of course if you are going to go with a predefined name list you will definitely need a Gamer ID

#11 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3693

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:29 AM

In MMOs, as opposed to single player games, the character is *you*. You socialize, you send messages to others, all done under your nickname. People use the same or similar name for all games, very similarly to the forum. Here we have Servant of the Lord, Luke2006, Stormynature. Ask them to change their names to something that would fit the theme of this forum better and observe their reactions :)

Example. You are a gaming clan, you found out a new MMO, you think it's fun to play, so the leader of your clan register ther and, as always, use his "real" nickname LazyRaccon which is obvious because you all know him by this name and it would be confusing otherwise. It does not matter what game it is, if it is space or SF, he has to use the same name or his frined/clan mates won't know who he is.

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#12 Olof Hedman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2825

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:48 AM

  • Accented characters are allowed, but no more than three total.

Good suggestions, except this one.
Accents aren't decorations, as english speaking people seem to think, they actually mean stuff in the languages that use them :)
I'd like to use all valid characters of my local locale...

#13 japro   Members   -  Reputation: 887

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:01 AM

I think making a distinction between the players name and the characters name would also be ok. Similar to the way it works in Diablo3 except maybe even with generated names. So the player can call himself D00mbr1ngZ0r420 if he wants to and that name also gets displayed most of the time to other players. But as far as NPCs etc are concerned they use the lore friendly name of your character...

#14 davekuyk   Members   -  Reputation: 116

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:44 AM

In Everquest (the first one), at least at the start, all player names on the RP (role play) servers had to pass through a human filter; i.e. an online gamemaster approved (or not) the requested name.

Seriously.

This worked quite well when it worked well, however, just as any system relying on people, it was only as reliable as the people involved. Back then GMs didn't get the training nor were they monitored as GMs today are; they pretty much did what they wished. Many took the name approval seriously, others didn't.
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#15 Humble Hobo   Members   -  Reputation: 251

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:51 AM

I find that apostrophes are also abused in NPC names as well (not technically a bad thing). Especially in fantasy, names like "

En'lor", "

Urn'ar'aun", and "

Ny'skel" give the illusion of a fictional language, while really it's just some apostrophes.

Again nothing wrong with that! In fact, I think it's a good idea to allow an apostrophe or two because it does present the illusion of an underlying language.




Ultimately, I think I favor a generic ruleset rather than a pre-set list. (Although 'earning' combinational name chunks would be fun -- thanks Secran Altun).

In the end this rather supports the concept that the players are originally from Earth, and so exceptionally diverse names are to be expected, and only add to the immersion.



#16 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19545

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:48 AM

  • Accented characters are allowed, but no more than three total.

Good suggestions, except this one.
Accents aren't decorations, as english speaking people seem to think, they actually mean stuff in the languages that use them Posted Image
I'd like to use all valid characters of my local locale...


Yea, but regardless of what they are, they are used as decorations by Americans in a very annoying way. I've never seen legitimate accented names with more than a couple (but then again, I don't have much experience internationally).
If it's actually a common thing (having more than three in a single word/name), then raise the limit. If users abuse it, lower the limit. I'd like them to be used properly, but I'd rather not use them at all (or limit them artificially) if they are abused.

This breaks immersion: ϾÕÖlǵuɏ
This increases immersion (to me): François or d'Lõiuse
They have to be used sparingly for my American-esqe view to be increase immersion and not break it. Even "d'Lõiuse" ("Of/From Lõiuse"), while valid, is pushing it for me. If you're releasing it primarily for the American market, it'd be better to err on the side of caution, IMO, or else you'd waste alot of moderator energy monitoring it.

Or, how's this for a compromise: Allow as many accented characters as you want, but if anymore than two accents are used, automatically (silently) put it up for a moderator to view on the "List of names to be approved". If the moderator approves it, it's permanently recorded to auto-approve next time.
It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#17 TexasJack   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 12:22 PM

B. use a configurable name generator much like an appearance tool to generate a user name.


Could the parameters given into an appearance editor by the player be used to secretly generate a name in the background while the player is creating their character? Of course there would be a thousand players who designed their player to look like the latest hollywood hero with identical names, but this could be gotten around.

If the different design parameters allowed enough diversity, could the game potentially get away with vetoing identical players (both appearance wise and name wise)?

#18 Humble Hobo   Members   -  Reputation: 251

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 07:13 PM

If the different design parameters allowed enough diversity, could the game potentially get away with vetoing identical players (both appearance wise and name wise)?


Interesting idea -- a name generated by looks. Potentially, yes. Ultimately no, because I think it detracts too much without gaining anything substantial.

1. Developer - wants unique names among all the characters on a server, and avoid stupid or offensive names.
2. Player - wants to name their character whatever anything (including stupid and offensive names)

On one hand, players will most likely be outraged if the naming is too constrained. Some modularity can be accepted if there's enough diversity, and some players just won't care either way, but many will be annoyed. Most MMO gamers have a favorite set of character names, and would feel slighted if they couldn't use them (especially if no one could). To have your name auto-generated for you would feel a bit controlling.

On the other hand... well why do developers care about unique names anyways? To give them a feeling of individuality and purpose? Or as some unique id for programming reasons? Come to think of it I'm not sure why it's advantageous to force uniqueness.

I'm tipped towards thinking that a set of reasonable naming guidelines to avoid outright stupid, offensive, or haXX0r names would do just fine. Players might even be more willing to understand why they can't use numbers or symbols if it's possible to be incorporated into the lore of the world.

#19 Recoilthreat   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:13 PM

My feeling towards names in any type of game is depending on what type of game it is. Doing some observation on different games fps vs. RPG or rts most people will try to make names that are relevant to the lore in rpgs where as in fps they will choose a name that will make them stand out when they make a kill or an intimidating name in rts.
So in the case of having a game where the player gets added into the lore and if it is know ahead of time you’re going to have a fair amount of players that will make a name to fit the lore but for the other side you will have trolls trying to rip people out of the lore

With that in mind I would say a good set of rules would be aimed at charters. Lettering and numbering in any consecutive manner and no special char like !@@#$+_() and as servant of the lord had mentioned above with the capitals. Pretty much looking at what most griefers put as names you can limit right off the bat. Past that have the names show up in lore would be the best way for any moderator to black list them.

#20 ReaCaer   Members   -  Reputation: 160

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 06:43 PM

If its a hardcore RP game I guess that people would agree to get their name chosen by the faith (random rp'ish name generator), and you could let them pick a single word alphabetical name to use it as a nickname: "John 'Rabbitrapist' Smith"




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