How do you come up with character names?

Discussion in 'General Lounge' started by The007who, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. The007who

    The007who Call me double 0s Veteran

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    The title explains itself. What's your method to create names for your characters?
    Do you first create your character's bio first, and then come up with a name that
    fits the character?
    Or, you use random name generator programs?
     
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  2. Bonkers

    Bonkers Bioware, do you need a nap? Restaff

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    First it depends on the setting. It needs to fit the time period and place that the story is taking place. Once I know those things I usually look at a baby name site and find unusual or unique names for the period/place that aren't common names. It would be boring if any character is named Micheal, or John, or Mary, etc. I have used name generator programs for last names before, because I was at an absolute loss for a family name. It took a few tries to find one that fit, which lead to the characters' origins and backgrounds, but nothing that affected the story.
    Usually a character can stand without a bio that is fleshed out after they have been in use or action for a bit that causes questions to be asked, and from those questions you fill in the blanks as they occur so you can see them as your audience does.
     
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  3. miani

    miani Veteran Veteran

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    Hero names with the first letter of the name and surname matching have a very powerful effect, examples:
    Bruce Banner (Hulk), Peter Parker, etc. Another trick is to use first letters that match those of other characters (fiction or real), John Connor is the figure of a savior as Jesus Christ is. You can use this trick to create a strong character that haves Hulk characteristics, you can call him Brock Branson. Or an adventurer like Irving Joss (do you got the reference right? :rwink:).

    You can try to use names that have a particular meaning that matches the character personality. It's the easiest way to create a name, but it's not guaranteed that you'll come up with something aesthetically good. Ex: Benjamin means "son of the south", you can use this name based on your character's bio.

    Another way is to create an idiom of your own and match the words to create names. It's not easy for characters names, but it's a nice way to create place names, like mountains, forests etc.
     
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  4. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    I just use whatever name comes to mind.. Sometimes they are a bit based on games I played or books I've read
     
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  5. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Nowadays, I use thematic names. As well as the portrait. You see the trend of personification of inanimate stuff like warship into a girl, planets into a girl, etc. It is just easier to create a character based on an existing object (Of course, the difference is I won't make them all as a girl). Then I searched the alternative name for them.

    For example, in my current game, I use celestial bodies theme for my character. You know, the stuff like The Sun, Earth, The Moon, and Star.
     
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  6. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I start out with a placeholder name, usually a common name like John or Laura or Matt (or even the names the maker comes with), then as the game moves on I get a name generator and use it to find a name I like for them. But for me the name is last, I develop the personality and character first, then I name them once I decide they are staying in the game.

    Of course, sometimes the common name stays. My current name has a Sarah in it for instance, and that was originally supposed to be a placeholder name.
     
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  7. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

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    In general, I don't have a specific method; I just ponder until I find a name that feels right, whether because of meaning, or association with someone I know in real life, or just a name I like that seems to "fit" the character. Sometimes I don't get it right at first and I'll think of a better name later on. I do find, though, that after a certain point in the creative process, when I've thought of a character with a certain name for long enough, that becomes their name and I can't think about changing it any more.

    For my current RPG Maker project, I'm doing something pointless but fun: there is a switch that gives all the characters Japanese names, so for every character, I have to think of a western and a Japanese name, and they have to fit together in some way. It could be a name that, by coincidence, works in both languages (like Erika, my main character); or names that sound similar (Stephanie/Satsuki); or names that are linked by meaning (Rose/Tsubaki). It might seem that I'm making things harder for myself, but I've found that having a self-imposed restriction to work with makes things much easier than starting from the usual endless list of possibilities with no clues on how to get started.
     
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  8. Yougotsomechocolate

    Yougotsomechocolate Random Chest Veteran

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    Well, when it's comes to chefs, I might name them based on their best dish or what they are known for.
    For example, I named a chef mélanger (French for mix) due to the fact that he's planed to be doing that action for most of the game.
     
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  9. Gradian

    Gradian Paperbag Sloth Veteran

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    when im lazy i just think at the top of my head whatever sounds fitting for the character. but most of the time it depends on their traits, setting and other factors, to give a further hidden meaning/foreshadowing to their character. i mostly do this with japanese characters as im more familiar with the naming sense and i find a lot of anime characters' names have meanings that match them down to a T.

    For example, one of my oc is named kounosuke, kou for 幸(luck/fortune), bc he's incredibly lucky and bc of that he likes to gamble. as for -nosuke, i cant really recall what i read about it, but i needed something that fits the kind of naming trend for his setting(meiji era).
     
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  10. Norjen

    Norjen Villager Member

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    I bang F5 on a fantasy name generator site until I see something that sounds ok as it is or something gives me an idea for a name.
     
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  11. Darth Equus

    Darth Equus Veteran Veteran

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    I like this concept. I myself made up the French-sounding last name "Dallant" for my mage by combining "Avant" with Spanish "Adelante", since both words convey the concept of the front, ahead, and/or advancement. Which fits the character development in the story.
     
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  12. AdamMMS

    AdamMMS Dream Uniter Member

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    I typically search for names by meaning (fire, brave, old, etc) and choose one that sounds and looks nice.
    I may add or subtract a few letters here and there so they match, or even change the spelling entirely.
     
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  13. kaukusaki

    kaukusaki Awesome Programmer Extraordinaire Veteran

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    All my characters have meaningful names. I use name books ;)
     
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  14. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    @The007who
    I use websites such as babynames.com. You can find a lot of them through Google. If I want to come up with unique names I'll take a more normal name and try and see what letters can be combined and fit with it.

    As for which I do first, I normally create the ideas of the character personality and what type of role they play in the story, and then choose a name after. But anyway you like best, is what works best.
     
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  15. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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  16. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    I think I'm a bit weird about naming characters..
    If an NPC is important to the plot/side quest, then they get a more "memorable" name.
    Most people's names are "regional". For example, if you're exploring a town where Geomancy was discovered.. then they all have normal/Earthy names. Such as 'Skye', 'Tulip', or 'Rose'.
    In a town of snobby rich people.. their names may be a little more conservative. Such as 'Chad', 'Lania', or 'Theodore'.

    I dunno.. I feel like I name characters in a way that intertwine them into the world I'm trying to create. Hope this helps! :)
    -MIA
     
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  17. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    Depends on the setting.
    While it's a cliche, it can be dependent on what characteristics might define the character.

    Also, unless you are having a game about world/dimension/space travel or something, it's also important to keep the cultural origins of the party names consistent. I remember seeing an RM game years ago about siblings. One had a Japanese name, the other was named Steve.
    I'm partially guilty of it myself, but don't do that.
     
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  18. Nectar

    Nectar Fried Ore0s Veteran

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    I play other RPG games, like Final Fantasy, then I think about the character, what is it that he/she does, and what name would be appropriate for this character. You wouldn't want to name a sweet guy that works at an ice cream shop Brutus or Deathstare...
     
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  19. Switz

    Switz Veteran Veteran

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    Random fantasy name generator site. Not so much to exclusively get my names from, but more as a brain jump starter. I'd say only 30% of names I use come from the generator, the others come from hitting the next button 100 times to generate 10 more names and all those names up to that point start to blend/mold in my head into the perfect name for one of my characters.

    It's the same for town names.

    Dungeons for some reason I never have writers block for? That's weird.
     
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  20. richter_h

    richter_h Eh? Sweetroll? Veteran

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    Names may come later, as long as the character is already present or at least have a basic shape to work on. Until the name is decided, placeholder names often work wonder (like John, Jane, Mark, or Mary; some of the placeholder names ended up being the given name eventually)

    Inspirations? Let's say my memories are fuzzy at best, sometimes a name may come from something I didn't even remember until a certain discovery reminds me of said name.
     
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