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Article - 'Getting Good Character Names' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 8, 2003

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Getting Good Character Names in your game

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Getting good character names
By Angroth
Do you really want the arch enemy to be called something as lame as Blap? No? Well, read on to see how good names are formed.

When dealing with names, you must primarily consider the setting of the world and general location, the language of where the person is coming from and other names from the same location. For example, If you called your child Bael, it wouldn’t be normal and it would be strange.
Whereas if you called your child, something like Matthew it wouldn’t seem so strange because it’s an already used name.
But then again if you were Japanese, you wouldn’t call a child Bael or Matthew, would you?

So if you want a Japan styled place, ALL the people will most likely be called stuff like Heishiro and actually Japanese like names.
Generally when people make fantasy games, they give all the names an old feel.
So if you’re going to call someone Bael, other names from his country or city might be, Maeko, Charek, Acruel, Jasaen. Those names are generally to a theme of ‘ae’ and ‘k / c’.

And if you give different styled names to different locations, it also makes your game seem more ‘real’ and it adds a nice little touch (almost like an addition onto historical background type stuff).
Also if you have people commenting on names like, ‘Garakk? What kind of name is that!?’
‘It was given to me by my father king Kouron. You dare disgrace him?’
And there you go. Stuff like that makes it seem more realistic because some names are weird when you travel abroad and go to different lands.

The next thing is actually making up names. Some people use 1 syllabol (which is terrible), like Jub or Dok. 2 syllabols is better and you can make decent names but still make cock ups, Vulak, Mortaire.
Mortaire is the better name because it sounds more real and not thrown together; it has the ‘aire’ bit, which is kind of french sounding. But nevertheless the name actually doesn’t exist (To my knowledge).
Using 3 syllabols can cock up a name Azashann isn’t too bad (but it is ugly). Yarano is a better example of 3 syllabols.
And never attempt 4 syllabols as you will almost indefinately get a bad name.

You can always search for names from games, T.V, movies and so on. But you must do so with care, if you were to have a character called anyone of the following names someone is going to think your up to something:
Akira, Cloud, Sephiroth, Sonic, Jack (If you make him big and muscular), Mitsurugi, Squall, Ryu (Street Fighter & Breath of Fire), etc. Need I say more? You understand!

If in doubt you can always use Niclas Forsell’s Name Generator program that is floating around.

Just to be kind I have written a small list of names that you might like (or not!)
A:
Akna, Astua, Astaroth, Angroth, Anabbue, Atta, Atwan, Arko, Art, Adrial, Ayasha, Annako, Anubis, Androdathoras, Andrathon, Akraan, Acruelus, Abadon, Atmos, Atomon, Atrullenta, Androdax, Axor, Arnor, Arbak, Amarokk, Atrau, Atrayu
B:
Borgoth, Barkann, Burtua, Brakk, Bordan, Byashu, Barakka, Briokko, Bantha, Basaan, Baeso, Bargo, Bindu, Bushindu, Bargosh, Brutt, Bruttan, Bullsan, Bretta, Bargros, Bargor, Bullsorr, Braddin, Byonne, Brushin, Barakka, Blam, Braine, Borr
C:
Carmokk, Carnage, Cronn, Celeron, Centroid, Centauru, Centauro, Crow, Cobann, Cobra, Centux, Callor, Calmor, Cerkro, Cheon, Chameleon, Chyqe, Chengia, Choju
D:
Dishmu, Dakka, Death, Dohjan, Darkfen, Drudd, Drall, Deathblade, Darkson, Drakull, Darr, Darsack, Druhatto, Daesha, Dohastu, Dalikk, Drake, Dementia
F:
Fade, Farokk, Fushin, Fyogata, Fuwara, Foshin, Floara, Finkster, Feckler, Faedo, Faerak, Farran, Fordimer, Fortiss, Fortrann, Forbizarr, Falhalla, Flak
G:
Gnungeco, Garokk, Gartak, Grando, Gresse, Gromm, Gorax, Grella, Gjobin, Garuda, Gawe, Grakk, Gujata, Gubishin
H:
Heishiro, Hatsuro, Hann, Hobin, Hjall, Horus
I:
Inufuss, Incabane, Inarra, Iosho, Ikojann, Iemok, Iushin, Incubus, Iomin, Ilissa, Icara, Ibushi, Iowa, Irrusho, Instella, Igesha, Iobann, Irok, Inju, Ibatsu
J:
Jura, Jarin, Jarith, Jorokk, Jiroth, Jalla, Jak, Jusanju, Jyomitsu
K:
Klaw, Kegin, Kaine, Kain, Khan, Kahn, Klot, Kran, Knatta, Knaw, Kyoko, Krueger, Kruedakk, Kaemos, Koashmarr, Kokamon, Kookashindu, Knave, Krull, Kojan, Kujata, Knossarr, Knion, Kuja, Kushin, Kashkar, Kelsh, Knoll
M:
Mortaire, Malice, Mortis, Morakku, Myoshin, Myuku, Mrakka, Momec, Myoko, Mishdu, Mell, Mohatu, Minos, Mintar, Mordan, Mordoss, Marakk, Masadaar, Mullmokk, Myandu, Mokujin, Malakia
R:
Rok, Rocke, Rokan, Rosuro, Rykan, Rykar, Ryoko, Ryoshan, Rarr, Rokno, Roc, Raenara, Raeosho, Ryomaru, Rikimaru, Raven, Rattann, Rodarr, Ruzappu, Rakia, Rankian, Rurann, Rokou, Reiko, Reidou
S:
Schan, Skeul, Smul, Seidou, Sauron, Soromann, Sarakk, Skulass, Safar
T:
Tyna, Tayni, Tok, Tomarr, Tanya, Terran, Terra, Terrophage, Tarrax, Tyer, Tjan, Tjomin, Takarr, Trellix, Tomin,
V:
Vulak, Vishmon, Visage, Visharr, Vyomin, Varkann, Vakraan, Vobarr, Vujin, Vyoko, Vladmir, Vlade, Vukara
Z:
Zell, Zishnu, Zyaku, Zyomar, Zyokan, Zedd, Zanfu, Zenfiar, Zhal, Zhar, Zhann, Zorro, Zokin, Zoashu, Znol, Zomin, Zemon, Zaemon, Zakra