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rHornbek

What's in a name?

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It is common in most Multi-player games that the player is able to create a unique name for his/her character. The player is normally limited to the alphabet and in some cases basic numbers. In games where you are encouraged to create names that are somewhat practical, where you are not allows to use numbers and any copy written material, the players still end up with names that do not lend to the lore. Some names like "Cheesepoof," "Nightkillaz," "Fourtwenty" and "Themainman" are fun for some players but don't make sense in the setting. If i wanted the players to choose practical names that fit the environment and aspire to earn these "nicknames" how might you go about it? Some solutions: Based on the race of the character there may be a limit to characters in the alphabet so to better represent the lifeforms language. Each character must be registered before it can be clearly identified, so that no names are used that conflict with lore. Allow the player to earn "Lore Points" that can aid them in the game and maybe result in the reward of choosing a unique nickname; "Nightkillaz" or "Cheesebridge." Some concerns: Would this restrict the play to much and repel them from the game? Would it be a waste of time to bother with such a demand? Conclusion... I enjoy creating names that fit my character and the game environment and it troubles me when I'm playing a fantasy game with players named "Fourtwntysmkr."

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I wouldn't put limits on it for several reasons.
  1. Many players won't pay attention to what is an 'acceptable' name and will become frustrated after entering a couple that get rejected. Then they'll leave before they ever even played.

  2. Is it possible you may have enough players someday that there aren't enough names to go around because you accidentally limited them with your algorithm?

  3. Player names are very personal and can sometimes be one of the only ways to reflect your own personality in the game

  4. I find playing opponents with names like "MidgetHerder" to be very amusing

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On the other hand though, I agree Dasubermechen that it breaks the immersion of role-playing if people have names in 1337-speak.

My impression is that I'd only limit names if you are going for a strict role-playing style game. However in order for this style of game to work you'll need also need strict rules of behaviour as well; you'll still have loss of immersion if everyone is chatting in 1337-speak and meta-gaming. For this to work, I don't think an algorithm would work; instead you'll have to rely on heavy moderation from actual live people. The moderators can check on character naming as well as checking for properly acceptable role-playing behaviour.

I'm also not sure why you'd want to award people the option of a unique nickname like "Nightkillaz" since that would also lead to the immersion-breaking you're trying to fix.

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Thanks!

Another thought is to have each player's name not reflect in the game at all but merely a way for players to identify each other.

"Greatings Nightkillaz, would you like to buy and item?"

to

"Greatings traveler, would you like to buy and item?"

The player might then feel more directly addressed rather than observing the characters conversation.

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Quote:
Original post by Dasubermechen
Another thought is to have each player's name not reflect in the game at all but merely a way for players to identify each other.

"Greatings Nightkillaz, would you like to buy and item?"

to

"Greatings traveler, would you like to buy and item?"


An obvious way to go beyond "traveler" and similar generic designations and differentiate player characters is giving them in-game titles and nicknames, and using them consistently.
For example: "father" (a priest PC), "mighty giant killer" (after a successful quest left as an exercise for the reader), "Your Lordship" or "Viscount of Bree" (and other nobility, with your own titles and place names), "filthy goblin" (ethnic minorities in racist societies), etc.

Changing dialogue structures might be important:
"I'm honoured that you came into my shop, milord! Perhaps my apples are good enough for the table of Your Highness?"
"Bless me, father! Would you like to buy apples?"
"Hey, filthy goblin, do you think you have enough money for one of my apples? Ah ah ah!"

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An easy way of enforcing a certain style of names would be to, instead of allowing any combination of letters from the alphabet, limit the building blocks of the player names to predefined syllables.

E.g., try taking a sub-set of katakana: ka, na, ya, wa, ni, chi, ji, tsu, my, fu, ke, me, we (picked at random). No matter how you combine the allowed syllables, you're quite likely to end up with something that will, at least for a person who cannot speak japanese, sound like japanese.

The downside of course is that it might be a bit too inflexible. It would for example probably be very hard to apply this technique to convincingly mimic, for example, a germanic language.

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You could have a vast database of suitable firstname-lastname lists that are randomly stuck together for the user. The user can randomly have a name generated until they are happy with it.

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Quote:
Original post by darkpegasus
I wouldn't put limits on it for several reasons.
Many players won't pay attention to what is an 'acceptable' name and will become frustrated after entering a couple that get rejected. Then they'll leave before they ever even played.

Sounds great, to me.

Seriously, I dont really see a problem with a system that would deter players who go out of their way to not play the game the way that it is intended to be played.

Quote:
Is it possible you may have enough players someday that there aren't enough names to go around because you accidentally limited them with your algorithm?


This one, though, is a problem. There are only so many names that fit the setting... so to make the player stick to them would become more and more frustrating as players have to try to guess names that havent been taken yet.

One solution might be having the login-name as useful in-game information, in addition to the character name. eg, have the character name used in-game, but it doesnt have to be unique. Simply use the player name as the unique identifier instead and make it available only through out-of-setting screens, such as friends lists.

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Quote:
Seriously, I dont really see a problem with a system that would deter players who go out of their way to not play the game that way it is intended to be played.

I agree.

Quote:
However in order for this style of game to work you'll need also need strict rules of behaviour as well; you'll still have loss of immersion if everyone is chatting in 1337-speak and meta-gaming. For this to work, I don't think an algorithm would work; instead you'll have to rely on heavy moderation from actual live people.

Wasnt there a plugin for Ultima Online that transformed everything PC says or hears into "Ye Olde English" ? Now, it may be a bad idea to enforce this in the game by default, but moderators can just "hang" this on someone especially notorious for some amount of time and just forget about him for the time being.

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