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General: Jess Lebow Column: What's In A Name

DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415

Every Wednesday, MMORPG.com will feature a new column from Jess Lebow. As a novelist and former writer for Wizards of the Coast, Magic the Gathering, Guild Wars and Pirates of the Burning Sea, he brings the perspective of a storyteller to the MMO genre.

In his debut column, Jess asks "What's In A Name?"

When I started working on Guild Wars, all we really had was a central lobby and one and a half complete missions. Basically there was enough there to prove that the game was fun to play, but on a very, very small scale. As the game started to grow and more of the pieces fell into place, the more the world took on a life of its own. There began to be choices you could make, different characters to play, and new locations to explore.

It was fun, watching the world grow and expand. And at the very beginning, I was able to completely scour every square inch of the game on a daily basis.

Read the full column here.

Remember to check back each Wednesday for a new edition.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

Comments

  • IsturiIsturi Member Posts: 1,509

    Interesting article. I created my name for my MMO experience AWHILE back. When I first started WoW I wanted a VERY unique name. Not just some STUPID name like Acelightning. So as I was looking at a LOTION bottle and was thinking of the name I wanted to give my TOON I remember I was looking at the INGREDIENTS of all things. THIS was how stumped I was in making my ORIGINAL name. So I started mixing letters around in some of the LISTINGS there and came up with the name ISTURI, AAAHHHH bingo it STUCK with me ever since. After all I thought it was a unisex name. I EVEN came up with a back ground for my toon. I ORIGINALLY played a female Night Elf who came form the TURI clan. There was her then her SISTER Tieturi well acualy half sister. Looks like I need to finish this MYSTERY of the TURI clan someday.

    image

  • DOUBLESHOCKDOUBLESHOCK Member Posts: 5

    Nice read.  He speaks the truth, especially when it comes to MMOs, names have to be very well thought out.  I can recall countless badly named towns or dungeons in some MMOs, ugh.

  • KroggKrogg Member Posts: 480

    Michael Shanks writes for MMORPG?

    ;)

  • rhinokrhinok Member UncommonPosts: 1,798

    Holy crap!  Danny Gokey plays and writes about MMOs?  See if you can get him to plug mmorpg.com on American Idol!

    ~Ripper

  • J_HurryJ_Hurry Member UncommonPosts: 230
    This message was edited on 8/16/15 at 5:30:00 AM
    LGM Alchemist (Legendary Grandmaster)
  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415

    Leave it to you guys. The one columnist with a halfway professional headshot, you mock. ;)

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • KoolaiderKoolaider Member Posts: 450

    I like Lebow. He's a good man. Salt of the earth.

  • FlummoxedFlummoxed Member Posts: 591

    The first time i played EverQuest and saw the city "Qeynos" i thought it was pretty clever. (SonyEQ spelled backwards)

     

    I also name my characters based on whatever happens to be on my desk or around the room at the moment -

    if i were creating a char right now he might be named "Zorbitex" - an ingredient in Odor Eaters foor powder. 

  • PembertonPemberton MMORPG.com ColumnistMember Posts: 5

    Hey gang. Jess here.

     

    Foot fungus powder sounds like a great name for a hero ;)

     

    Why is it I'm always the last one to know which celebrity I look like? While I was working on Pirates, the Beta community said I looked like someone on the Stargate series. My grandmother thinks I look like Hugh Grant. I guess it could be worse. I could look like Charles Manson I suppose.

     

     

  • nekollxnekollx Member Posts: 570

    i rember back in the day there was a old web based MMO caled Penumbra, i'll never forget the time they asked the players for a new boss zone and monster. I sugested a monster slim with slow power

     

    soon after we had "the lair of the Lag Monster" 

  • ElRenmazuoElRenmazuo Member RarePosts: 5,361

    I thought that was the dude from stargate lol

  • WrayethWrayeth Member Posts: 229

    I've got a story or two of my own as far as names go. Nothing so interesting or exciting as naming a town in an MMO "Lagborough", but relevant to the topic nonetheless.

    Let me tell you about my first ever MMO character. It was a toon for Star Wars: Galaxies (pre-NGE, of course, about a month after release), and I was having a tough time finding a name. I'd thrown several names out there, but they had been rejected as they'd already been taken. As a result, I decided I'd just throw syllables at each other until I had a name I thought sounded cool. After about twenty minutes of this, I settled on "Raytheon Kednallen" and finished creating the character.

    Over the course of several months of play, I'd get people who'd occasionally mention "nice name" or "do you work for them?" in passing, but never thought much of it. One day I got fed up with the latter question and asked what they meant. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered "Raytheon" was the name of a real life company....

    When I decided to try out EVE at a friend's insistence, I wanted to get a name similar to my SWG name, yet one that wasn't recognizable from real life. I decided to try "Rayth", but that was already taken, as I recall. I then tried "Wraith" and several variations of that name, figuring that the name would be spoken the same as the first syllable of my SWG character's and that I could focus my character around sneaky tactics as further justification. Not surprisingly, that was taken as well. I ended up deconstructing the word and playing around with language until I arrived at the choice I finally went with: "Wrayeth". Five-ish years on and I'm still playing the same character.

    On an amusing side note, I never really did much in the way of flying sneaky ships. I just flew a covops for the first time a couple weeks ago, though I did have a rapier force recon ship at one point. That one got flown repeatedly until it died, and I never bothered to replace it. Instead of really enjoying cloaking vessels, I found that I generally preferred in-your-face pwnage. Go figure.

    Of course, I am training Black Ops 5 atm, so maybe I'll finally get around to justifying my character name....

     

    -Wrayeth
    image
    "Look, pa! I just contributed absolutely nothing to this thread!"

  • AbrahmmAbrahmm Member Posts: 2,448
    Originally posted by Pemberton


    Hey gang. Jess here.
     
    Foot fungus powder sounds like a great name for a hero ;)
     
    Why is it I'm always the last one to know which celebrity I look like? While I was working on Pirates, the Beta community said I looked like someone on the Stargate series. My grandmother thinks I look like Hugh Grant. I guess it could be worse. I could look like Charles Manson I suppose.
     
     

     

    Yeah, I definitely think you look a lot like Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1. Not a bad thing mind you, just a very strong similarity haha.

     

    Tried: LotR, CoH, AoC, WAR, Jumpgate Classic
    Played: SWG, Guild Wars, WoW
    Playing: Eve Online, Counter-strike
    Loved: Star Wars Galaxies
    Waiting for: Earthrise, Guild Wars 2, anything sandbox.

  • SeirenSeiren Member CommonPosts: 89

    Definetly Michael Shank was my first thought too, you even share the same smile. To add to this article when I RP and write stories for my characters I try to give them background that compliment the games they are in. Like for my Tryker character  in Ryzom - Trykers being prominent lake dwelers in game - her family originates from a fictional lake region called Sandcove, and her name is Trixie Seiren. I always try to come up with names that fit the games I play, even for charcter naming. The first character for the first MMO game I played was called Femtrix. Can anyone guess what game she was in?

  • FaituFaitu Member Posts: 90

    @Wrayeth:

    Oh, I have also been through similar experiences. I learned the hard way that it is always a good idea to throw your newly created names on Google to see what comes up.

    Either way, it's good to know I'm not the only person who is kind of obsessive about names. Sometimes I spend a long time thinking on an intelligent name,  I even try to dig into something related to my character's personality or even try to mix up words from dead languages (and hopefully languages that have something to do with my character) every now and then. It is quite a shame when you find out that there is something silly about your name that you haven't previously expected, after such a hard time trying to come up with it.

  • caemsgcaemsg Member Posts: 105

    2000-names.com never create a MMO name with out it :) i just nicked a acronym from my military training days and reversed it to come up with something totally unpronouncable :P


    but good article it was funny

  • soujiro14soujiro14 Member Posts: 29


    Originally posted by Krogg
    Michael Shanks writes for MMORPG?
    ;)

    LMAO, you're right, he DOES look like Shanks!

    Good read, Dr. Jackson!

    image

  • OddjobXLOddjobXL Member Posts: 102

    One interesting resource for naming, if you ever find yourself going that route again, is the Extraordinary Book of Names.  It's part of the Gary Gygax worldbuilder series.  There's practically nothing and nobody that isn't covered.  Even detailed sections on place names or where names come from, much like your model railroading blogger did.  Because it's a Gygax product there's certainly a focus on medieval names (every culture listed has a section for both modern and medieval and/or ancient) as well as generic fantasy names for popular races/themes.

    Because it's kind of dense it's rarely my first choice when working on names but it's the only naming book I pick up just to read every so often.

    Always notice what you notice.

  • dalestaines1dalestaines1 Member Posts: 107

    Wonderfully written.

    Enjoyed every line.

    image

  • sadeyxsadeyx Member UncommonPosts: 1,555
    Originally posted by soujiro14


     

    Originally posted by Krogg

    Michael Shanks writes for MMORPG?

    ;)

     

    LMAO, you're right, he DOES look like Shanks!

    Good read, Dr. Jackson!

     

    I was actually going to post the same thing, someone beat me too it! lol

    Dr. Jackson was always my favorite character in the stargate series, and Jess's job, indeed this article seems to fit hat character perfectly.  A person who always see's the deeper meaning of a subject.

    I recently watched a program on iplayer about clouds, in this documentry they also coverd how they began classifying and naming clouds very often using latin words.

    Whenever I make a new guild or clan in a game, I too also try to put a lot of thought into the name and have often pondered over how game writers come up with names of places and NPC guilds (like the Zaishen)

    So yea, great article! very interesting, wish there was more of this kinda stuff from devs tbh.

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