Nomenclature

Discussion and analysis of graphics, story, levels, and so on.
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XkyRauh
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Nomenclature

Post by XkyRauh »

When you're making a mod, how much time do you spend coming up with a name for the creatures, locations, and items? What criteria do you use in weeding out possibilities and settling on a final term?

One of the things that gave the original Keen games their charm, in my opinion, was the meaningful length of names given to the creatures. Gargs and Yorps are very simple enemies, in function, appearence, and difficulty... so they get monosyllabic names. Vorticons, on the other hand, are harder to predict (at first) and are much more dangerous--they get longer names, and are more developed. Those decisions could have been made from story-to-game, or they could have been devleoped as game sprites first, and story written about them second.

Similarly, certain Keen enemies get their names based on their abilities or presence... Skypests, Shockshunds, and Blorbs come to mind.

But are there any Keen enemies whose names are longer than three syllables? Vor-ti-con, Shi-ka-di, Poi-son-Slug, Ber-ke-loid... I can't think of any off the top of my head, besides the Vortininja, but he's an exception, because his name combines "Vorticon" with "Ninja," a term most players are already familiar with.

Many mods, I've noticed, don't really pay attention to that. Some of our mods have creatures who are named with several silent letters, complicated sequences of consonants, and some over 10 letters long! Those are difficult to read fluently, let alone remember and use on a consistent basis.

Since the enemy behaviors are fairly well defined (despite LevelLord's best efforts and patching to confuse us,) we don't get the benefit of being able to write our stories based around enemies with unique behaviors. When we start up a Keen1 mod, it is safe to assume there will be a slow-moving, small-hopping creature... there will be a search-and-dash creature... there will be a patrolling creature, and a patrolling creature that pauses periodically... finally, there will be a creature with a more complex set of actions.

It's up to us, as a mod author, to make these names more memorable and relevant than their originals. If we make the names too complex, the player's eyes glaze over the jumble of letters, and refers to the sprite in question as "the Vorticon replacement." If we make the names too simple, the player's mind glazes over the content, deeming it "too simple" or even "too derived / contrived."

On one hand, we have an entire generation of gamers who are perfectly content to say "Oh, the dog thing got me again." But on the other hand... if we ever do any Keen6 mods, people are gonna HAVE to know the names of those creatures to get in. ;)

What goes through your mind, as a mod author, when it comes to naming your creations? :)

Kdash
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Post by Kdash »

The names just came to me. I didn't actually sit around naming them, I just thought of it one day.

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Ceilick
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Post by Ceilick »

Thats a very interesting discovery that the enemies have at most 3 syllable names. Since im interested in keeping the trends between the original keens and my mod, im gonna have to rename a few of my enemies.

My main enemy in my mod(like the vorticons or shikadi) was the "Krodacian". 4 syllables :(

Other creatures inlcude: Slurple (lick replacement, named for its slurping attack), Magifly (skypest replacement, named since it flies on its magic carpet), Fat Monk (sprite replacement, kind self explanatory, hes a fat monk!).

I really want the people playing to recognize the creatures for what i name them, not the "so and so replacement".

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Post by KeenRush »

I don't even name my creatures. If I have named some I can't remember the names, and they most probably suck since I haven't thought about the names more than a few minutes. My work isn't the quality that would need names for enemies. :)

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XkyRauh
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hehe

Post by XkyRauh »

Ceilick, those names all sound awesome--and I bet your creature designs are cool, too. I think you do a fine job of keeping with the original spirit. Even "Krodacian" is ambiguous, because it could be kro-DAY-shun. (Like crustacean or something...)

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Post by Stealthy71088 »

Ceilick wrote:
My main enemy in my mod(like the vorticons or shikadi) was the "Krodacian". 4 syllables :(

Other creatures inlcude: Slurple (lick replacement, named for its slurping attack), Magifly (skypest replacement, named since it flies on its magic carpet), Fat Monk (sprite replacement, kind self explanatory, hes a fat monk!).
Any chance you might put up some pictures or demo or something sometime soon? I can't wait to play it!

For me, I usually just name something based on what it is- the fire sprite in keen universe is a Flame Giant- or i make some sort of wordplay involved- the planet in Draggin Days right now is going to be named Crispy I. In universe, the civilization that built all the structures in the levels you visit are called the Atlan'jeans.

Oftentimes I don't name them, but i describe them well enough in my story that you probably can guess their names (extremely bad habit- don't do that at home) for example- that brown thing in my christmas mod is a giant rat, and the ice creature is Jack Frost or Frostbite- I never decided on an official name.

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Ceilick
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Post by Ceilick »

Hmm, i like your pronunciation of the name, i was thinking kro-day-she-un, but Kro-day-shun sounds better.

Heres a pic of the 4 enemies:
http://server2.uploadit.org/files/Ceilick-Enemies.jpg

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Freeyorp101
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:D

Post by Freeyorp101 »

I don't really sit round making names, I just - make them up as I go. and if I happen to think of a better name, it takes an unlucky creatures place.

some of my names:

resedai- red sparkly creature, harmless (yorp)

purped- devious robot creature (garg)

carklan- metalic monster (tank robot)

baltor- master of the maze (vorticon)

and yes, they have 3 and 2 and 2 and 3 syllables. ah well... :D

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levellord
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Post by levellord »

Since the enemy behaviors are fairly well defined (despite LevelLord's best efforts and patching to confuse us,) we don't get the benefit of being able to write our stories based around enemies with unique behaviors. When we start up a Keen1 mod, it is safe to assume there will be a slow-moving, small-hopping creature... there will be a search-and-dash creature... there will be a patrolling creature, and a patrolling creature that pauses periodically... finally, there will be a creature with a more complex set of actions.
Actually, its now possible to quite drastically alter enemy behaviour, Vorticons can be made just to slide back and forth, Yorps to charge [in a way] and Gargs to hop up and down on the spot. Switching subroutines allows us to make enemies that turn into each other, or spawn ttwo enemies when shot.

Aaaanyway, I never really think about names, because I'm not that good at em. Yesterday I found my pet mouse, Maus, under the washing machine.

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Post by Benvolio »

You probably noticed that, up to my first three mods I tried to name all characters, with names such as gnarbs and blimplets. Then in Bunny Basher it was just generic animals. After that, I eased off on naming things, and focused more on creating atmosphere graphically/physically rather than verbally. Still, it's up to the modder which they prefer, names or no names.

I personally went through Keen1 calling Yorps "googly-guys", Vorticons "Hi-yah guys" and Butler robots "teapot guys". Absence of names can actually leave something up to the imagination in an otherwise spoonfeeding form of activity.

Notice also how meaningful the names in Keen4-6 are - wormouth, skypest, shockshund, sparky, spirogrip, even Bloog sums up their facial expression, and Blooglet lets us know it's a small version. So if you're naming sprites, that is a good way to name them. Use puns, like Shockshund.

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Freeyorp101
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eh

Post by Freeyorp101 »

meh, I called yorps vargs or yorpys before I got it stuck in my head they were yorps. and i still sometimes call the butler bot tinhat bots. ah well...

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levellord
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Post by levellord »

Heh.

I'm a lil butler bot, short and stout,
Here is my hat and here is my spout.
When keen comes along, I give a lil shout,
Then pop right over and push him out!

;)

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Freeyorp101
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Post by Freeyorp101 »

^ heheh.

and how are narlns pronounced? one syllable or two?

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grelphy
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Post by grelphy »

How would one pronounce "narln" with just one syllable? Nrln? Nrn?

Anyway, I've got one word for all of you name aficianados out there:

Latin.

It's true, of course, that short and sweet is better than long and convoluted, but I find it more important that the name in some way reflect the creature in question. This is one reason I like Keens 4-6 better than 1-3. Yorps, Gargs and Vorticons; what do these names mean? Outside of pre-experience with Keen, they're just nonsense names that could easily be resuffled without much difference. Names in Keens 4-6, on the other hand, are accurate and descriptive. Poison Slug just about says it all; the help manual hardly needs a picture. Even the more esoteric Berkeloid (Berkloid?) has a flame-based derivation from somewhere.

Which is why I say, again, Latin. If you base a name in some way off of a Latin word that accurately describes the creature, you'll end up with a descriptive name that actually sounds really cool.

Example.

I'm going to postulate that you have a flying vaguely bird-like creature. I happen not to know the latin word for "bird" (big surprise), but a quick google search gives "pennipotenti" for "birds". Interesting. Not a term I've ever heard before (clearly English gets the word "bird" from a different root"), but still a potential source for a name. It will need some work ("pennipotenti" is five syllables), but could work. "Potenta," maybe? Not very descriptive, but it works. You could try checking other languages for better matches. Or you could completely revamp your character to fit a better name. ;)

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adurdin
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Post by adurdin »

grelphy wrote:How would one pronounce "narln" with just one syllable? Nrln? Nrn?
I pronounce it [naln], but my dialect is non-rhotic, which I guess it makes it easier.
esoteric Berkeloid (Berkloid?) has a flame-based derivation from somewhere.
Seem more likely it's derived from Berkeley... but you could wangle a Greek derivation of it, I guess.
I'm going to postulate that you have a flying vaguely bird-like creature. I happen not to know the latin word for "bird" (big surprise), but a quick google search gives "pennipotenti" for "birds".
I believe avis was the normal word for bird. pennipotens really means "able to fly", although a noun form of it was occasionally used for "birds".

Anyway, just some random stuff.

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