Friday, 9 February 2007

The Draenei with no name

For a bit of a break from the Outlands, I thought I'd take a look around the new Draenei area, and rolled up a hunter (I figured there might be one or two shaman around the place...) Thoroughly exploring the many and diverse range of character customisation options, after about a minute and a half I'd selected my desired facial hair/tendril style and was onto the tricky bit of new characters: the name.

It can take me hours to choose names. Obviously it can't be blatantly ripped off from well known sources, as it shows a total lack of originality, will probably be changed for trademark/name policy violations, and, unless you're the very first character crated on a new shard/server, it'll be taken anyway, and the only thing worse than being Gandalf the Wizard is being G4nda1f the Wizard. On the other hand, it's almost impossible to come up with something totally original; of the (careful, this gets highly technical) "lots" of possible combinations of, say, up to 10 letters, most are eliminated as total gibberish ("Good day, sir, I go by the name of Qjsclfffns (pronounced 'Throatwobbler-Mangrove')"), and I think it was Oscar Wilde who said "once you have eliminated the unpronounceable, whatever remains, however unlikely, still gets a few hundred hits on Google". As a thoroughly rigorous proof of this, I just poked random keys to come up with a couple of vaguely "fantasy sounding" names: "Arailla" gets 425 matches, Spanish holidays villas to the fore, and "Drablin" gets 91 (including, according to WarcraftRealms, a level 45 Dwarf hunter somewhere).

In searching for possible names, military codenames can be a fertile source of material, with the added bonus of a lot foreign names automatically sounding "cool". Books and films, obviously, so long as you pick suitably obscure source material rather than being "Darth Voldermort". Then there's music; "Zoso" is taken from Led Zeppelin IV, and I've used it on and off for various game characters since 6th form (when it was mandatory to adorn your books and notes with biro/Tipp-Exed versions of your favourite band names/logos... wasn't it?) Geographical locations are another option, as demonstrated by the Wombles, and they actually ended up giving me the inspiration for my Draenei; Tomsk the Womble being named after a Russian city, and the Draenei having a vaguely Russian accent, one swift browse of a list of Russian places later, and I was out and about on Azuremyst Island!

Anyone else have any good sources of names?


Dragon said...

I regularly scan my spam folder for good name combinations for stories and scripts (and for a laugh) but when it comes to original ones, not really. I have one I stole from a word in Chaucer and most of the others are me looking around my desk for inspiration - e.g. Korgin was KORean GINseng. He didn't last for long though. Ancient Greek, Welsh and just experimenting with letter combinations and the way a name sounds all work for me too.

Hexedian said...

Meh, the easiest way is to punch your keyboard (Note: Gently. G15s are expensive) and try to pronouciate what gets written out loud. Repeat as needed, and as patience lasts. I can't remember it ever failing me.

On a side note, it's a lot easier if you get a totally atypical name and carry it wherever you go.