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JasRonq

Opinions on Gameworld Jargon

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How do you feel about jargon in games where things that exist to some large extent in the real world have names that differ from their real world equivalents. This could be names for specific types of weapons that are similar to real world weapons, names for types of buildings, or anything else that the player may recognize. In my specific case I have a swamp setting with high fantasy world rules and weapons based on those from the Moro culture. These weapons will often look a bit like daggers, machetes, swords, or spears. What if a spear just isn't called a spear, though? What if a spear is a Budaik, and a dagger is a Pira?

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Original post by JasRonq
What if a spear is a Budaik, and a dagger is a Pira?

Is a Budaik a particular TYPE of spear, that's got a feature different and special compared to what we usually think of as a spear? Is this type of spear unique to a place where they speak a foreign language?

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I think much depends on how you plan to use it. I've read science fiction books where key concepts are described differently and it can be intriguing to pick up the context from listening to people speak (sort of puzzle solving). But I've also read others (fantasy seems particularly bad with this) where it feels like every damn word has to be worked out. In games Diablo 2 is an interesting parallel in that it uses obscure, historically accurate names for some of its weapons.

If you're going for a sense of atmosphere I think you'd be fine if it wasn't something the player would have to look up time and again or (even worse) memorize. You could make it an option, or put up the real meaning in a tool tip. If it's an RPG maybe you could reveal more detail, including basic real world equivalent, based on something like a lore skill.

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I'm not sure about the Budaik, Tom, but the Pira is a specific design of bladed weapon. The words in this example are historically accurate usage from a foreign, non-english speaking culture.

The Pira: Pira

Considering I had never heard of them before I did weapons research for my game though, I hardly think that true historic accuracy really means anything. Also, if I can use a different name for a specific weapon design, then I can name the general weapon group it is part of as well.

In Diablo 2, Wavi, there are also pictures that you see of the weapon every time you are exposed to the name, which helps identify what it is and what it means for your character. This would also be the case in my game as it would be used in a similar way.

Another example was in Morrowind the signs pointing to cities used the native alphabet which was unreadable but then had a tooltip on it translating it. How do you feel about that sort of treatment?

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Original post by JasRonq
Another example was in Morrowind the signs pointing to cities used the native alphabet which was unreadable but then had a tooltip on it translating it. How do you feel about that sort of treatment?
At this point, a valid question would be cost versus reward.

How much effort (easily quantifiable) is required to develop a language for your sign posts, and implement tool tips to translate them, versus the increased sense of immersion (harder to quantify) given by a local language?

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Indeed, though I don't necessarily need to go all out with a different language. Morrowind just used a font for those things that made it look non-english even though the letters were 1-to-1 with english and just looked different. In that case it would only be drawing a new font, comparably easier. As for naming things, well we do a large amount of that already. Every place name and character name has to be thought up, this does add to that in that now I'm naming weapons and other item types. Depending on the number of weapons and the number of characters and monsters I already have to name this can be a small increase or over doubling that work load of creating names.

I can't say that the foriegn lettered signs of Morrowind added much on their own, though it was a nice touch, but a new font is probably a fairly easy and very efficient tool for this considering the reusability. As for names, overuse would possibly get confusing, but again, in moderation it would add a nice touch. That is all I can see either of these really being at best. A little work for a little gain, and not a replacement for the atmosphere and worldbuilding effects of good art design, building architecture, and geography.

The Morrowind made good use of art design and architecture to create its atmosphere and for me it was pretty immersive. What I wanted to know here is not if these little touches add much, but rather, do they, or can they be a detriment?

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Original post by JasRonqThe words in this example are historically accurate usage from a foreign, non-english speaking culture.

Then it's perfectly fine, isn't it. The words "katana," "scimitar," and "shuriken" are frequently seen in games precisely because they're existing words that apply to existing weapons.

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Yes, but most people haven't heard of a Pira, so if this is ok, what do you think of the situation when I make it up?

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Yes, but most people haven't heard of a Pira, so if this is ok, what do you think of the situation when I make it up?

You can make it up if you're really good at making new names for things and explain it's meaning (almost every time when it is mentioned) in the game. Realism doesn't have to be considered here (and anywhere else too..)

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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what do you think of the situation when I make it up?
I think you should have a good reason for doing so.
One reason could be procedural generation/combination of weapons.

Diablo/rogue-likes tend to suffer from the problem of item proliferation, and I don't think that made-up names would be particularly less useful than "Erik the red's frozen fiery long-sword of imminent doom +5", for instance - just as long as you stick to some system of categorisation.

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Making up names for things is fine as long as players can figure out what you're saying by context. For example, use the terms "budaik spear" and "pira blade/pira dagger" in dialog, and in the inventory screen make sure the icons for the budaik and pira get the message across by themselves. This way, the made up names become transparent and serve only to add flavor to the game.

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I'm not sure about the Budaik, Tom, but the Pira is a specific design of bladed weapon. The words in this example are historically accurate usage from a foreign, non-english speaking culture.

The Pira: Pira


That thing definitely needs its own name. It doesn't really look like a dagger at all, more like a small machete, and calling it by any other known name would just be confusing.

If you make sure that it's easy to figure out what the names mean either from context or people directly telling you (maybe put a picture next to the name all the time), and the names mean something, then go for it.

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