How do you come up with names for your characters?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Gabu, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. Gabu

    Gabu Veteran Veteran

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    Simple question. How do you guys come up with names for the characters in your games? Do your characters have First And Last names?
     


    The game I'm currently working on has a party system similar to Final Fantasy VI. I currently have 13 Playable Characters in my game and I'm struggling coming up with names for these characters. I've tried using sites like babynames.com & Meaning-of-names.com, but my issue with the names from these sites is that I fear that some of these names may be to basic. By that I mean I feel that people wont feel like they are in a world of fantasy with a character named Bill or Katie.
     
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  2. OmegaGhost

    OmegaGhost The Chilling Ghost Member

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    Simple, yet interesting question...


    I always do one of four things:


    -Get a name generator of some kind and roll it until I find something "fitting" (Rarest)


    -Going from a basic word/name and modifying it until it's distinct enough (Rare)


    -Get it from a name database I have, that I add to whenever I see a cool name (Common)


    -Search for names with meaning relevant to the character's backstory/life/skills (Most common)


    I normally don't create any last names if the character has no relevant family or backstory tied to it, but for them I'm more practical and tend to just mix basic words.


    Something like Crimstone (crimson+stone) could work, or maybe even stylize it as Krinston.


    I rarely care about names being "too normal" because that varies depending on person, nationality... even though I like weird/uncommon/exotic names.


    If you want something sounding novel, try getting names from exotic cultures and playing with them, adapting to your needs.
     
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  3. Sysen

    Sysen Veteran Veteran

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    If it's first name you think of usually it represent the character either by personality or element (if there's one)


    If it's fantasy character, i mostly use the name from these baby name or behind the name websites with keyword "ancient" or historical"


    The last name is usually hard for me, especially if it had long story to it. If i have hard time on last name, usually i put two word that represent the backstory for character's last name like Heartblade or something similar
     
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  4. Gabu

    Gabu Veteran Veteran

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    @OmegaGhost & @Sysen
    So if you were to name a character has that has an affinity for fire, you'd basically just search for Names that mean Fire?

    Also what are your thoughts on Last names that seem like first names, would you ever give a character a last name like Irvette or Cordelia?
     
     
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  5. GoodSelf

    GoodSelf Zhu Li! Do the thing! Veteran

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    I go for names that sound nice, or use famous artists/musicians/actors as a basis.
    For example, if my character is into science or alchemy, I might use a name like "Issac", "Alexander", or "Albert"
    If the character is shy, and reserved, I like to think of people I personally know who act that way. Or just take a page out of Ni No Kuni's spellbook and call her "Starey Mary".

    Last names actually come pretty easily to me, but I would look towards epics such as Game of Thrones or Harry Potter for ideas.
    Or, just look around your room! For example, the legs of chair? Legis. That half-full bottle of sprite? Emptite.


    Also use words that sounds pleasant, or are easy to say such as: Levota, Darniss, Flaye, etc etc 
     
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  6. OmegaGhost

    OmegaGhost The Chilling Ghost Member

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    Q1: Yeah, or anything meaning flame, heat...


    But I personally prefer doing this about plot importance than powers.


    Q2: It really depends on the first name, but it's an option, even though I try to avoid it to have more "unique" last name.


    On a sidenote, I forgot to mention that sometimes I use words from other languages as names, but that's been done to death already, so it's very rare for me.
     
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  7. BigToastie

    BigToastie Veteran Veteran

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    To be fair I make them up myself, think of names, and when a character fits the name, it gets it assigned!


    For more specific like (a fire mage) for instance I will take some influence from specific names relating to fire.
     
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  8. Sysen

    Sysen Veteran Veteran

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    It don't have to be the name that means fire, but more like to have the feeling of hot, fiery, or something that sounds similar, such as Fia, Flara, Corona, etc


    But eventually, element is one of the factor, you can name the character anything as long it doesn't seem off (unless it's part of the story).


    It's okay for me to have last name that seems like first name.
     
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    The most frequent thing I do is literally just play with different syllables and sounds until I hit what feels like the perfect combination to describe the character.  The name doesn't have to have any meaning behind it to give the player an idea of what the character is like.  I've touted Billy Budd, Sailor as a prime example of how this can be so effective - the characters have names like "Billy Budd", "(John) Claggart", and "Edmund Fairfax Vere".  Based on these names, which one do you think is the prudent, rule-following captain who follows his head rather than his heart?  Which one do you think is the lovable, popular, naive man who's compared to an angel?  Which one do you think is the sour, jealous villain who sows discord among his shipmates?


    It's very likely that you guessed right.  The sound of a character's name can reveal just as much as an on-the-nose name like "Cruella De Vil", "Discord", "Snow White" or "Edge Maverick" that bring far more direct connotations with zero deniability in the mind of the audience.  When your character's name is Cruella De Vil, you might as well put a billboard on their forehead that says Hi, I'm the Villain; don't bother sympathizing with me.  There are places where you want to do this, but an RPG where you have 20-60 hours to get to know the characters (and especially one where the characters often have turning loyalties or hidden motivations) is not the place.


    I'll also indulge myself in including a real-life name or one from another character in a video game or other story that I liked, if I just happen to love that name a lot.  I try to avoid common names like "Mike" or "Sophia", as well names already used by super-popular characters like "Cloud" or "Ryu", because it's too likely that my player will already know a person or character with this name and therefore come in with an emotional bias toward the name that may not be appropriate for the character in question.
     
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  10. BlissAuthority

    BlissAuthority Dang, it feels good to be a Princess Veteran

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    I'm a sucker for meaningful names, so I go to babyname websites and plug in meanings until I find something useful.


    Among other things, this is how I found out that Ralph's name lives up to the meme.  It's short for Radulf, which means "Wolf's Council."


    This can result in cross-language weirdness - there's a reason that so many mages in JRPG's are named Eclair, and it's not because of a fondness for desserts - which is why you should definitely fudge the results until it sounds right if you use this method.  For example, Claire is much less jarring than Eclair to an English speaker.
     
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  11. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    I'm in the meaningful names club, but rather than hunting on baby names sites, I usually go more with setting and scour wikipedia. Coherence is my thing; I try to pick a theme or setting or whatever I want for whatever reason for my game and create everything towards that goal. I'm working somewhat on a celtic fantasy epic right now, so I'll try to (within my means) create art, music and stuff that fits this. My characters and locations are named according to relevant celtic characters, words or whatever. For instance, one of my main characters is a lesser noble and a knight, he's a bit the staple knightly character, and I've named him Morvan after a great Breton leader/king. Something I'd like to do someday is maybe a light-hearted, goofy pirate game with New Orleans music: names would be around the pirate theme with a side of goofiness (think Monkey Island). So yeah. I'd usually steer clear of "Katie" or "Steeve" unless it really fitted the setting. Not that I have anything against those names per se, but you get my drift.
     
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  12. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    I myself tend to HATE meaningful names unless the name seems like something the parent really wanted for their child (whether they are that way or not). I actually tend to make some music refrence with my characters name, though not always their first name, usually it's a refrence to heavy metal or power metal.
     
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  13. BlissAuthority

    BlissAuthority Dang, it feels good to be a Princess Veteran

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    On the subject of modern names:  I am sometimes amused by the practice of mispelling or slurring modern names to come up with your Original Fantasy Name, do not iron (or wash with bleach). I'm looking right at you, Peeta. And at every Meri in YA fiction.


    Phonetic spelling can result in some interesting names based on modern ones.  Don't overdo it, though, because it gets tiresome with every Ptahm, Dikk and Hari.
     
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  14. Gabu

    Gabu Veteran Veteran

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    @BlissAuthority
    I see. so for a name like Serena, Spelling it as Surina would be okay, just don't go insane and spell it As Psurenuh, right?
     
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  15. BlissAuthority

    BlissAuthority Dang, it feels good to be a Princess Veteran

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    More that it should be consistent and phonetic if you're going that route.
     
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  16. Niten Ichi Ryu

    Niten Ichi Ryu Grey Lords Emissary Veteran

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    Names are very influenced by the culture they are from, and usually have a meaning. Also, if a culture has spread to many countries a same name has phonetically changed according to the accent and grammar rule of these countries.


    Take my name, Mathieu. It comes from old Hebrew Matthityahu and mean gift of god. As being also the name of an evangelist, it as spread trough Europe in the form of Matyush, Mattaus, Matheus, Mathieu, Matthew. But it as also been literally translated in local language like Bogdan in Slavic and Theodore in Greek.


    If you have some legendary heroes and personalities or gods in your world, names may come from them.


    For family names, they might come from a birthplace or a job hold by the characters or one of their close ancestor. This is particularly important for noble characters as the lineage is a high value in noble societies, and name help relate to a famous ancestor
     
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  17. Arithmetician

    Arithmetician Veteran Veteran

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    I like to draw names from mythology, science, philosophy, or anything that seems consistent and thematically relevant.  I do like there being some significance to the name... though one can always subvert the meaningful name by having the character be the opposite of what it would suggest. 
     
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  18. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    I'm sure you are saying this in reference to some weirdly alien unfitting names so it's a reasonable statement, but really "something you'd want for your child" is very relative and dependent on the setting. Take my celtic epic, for instance: one of my main characters is called Creirwy (it's a woman's name by the way). Would much any one in our modern day and age consider calling their baby girl that? Doubt it. But so would be calling her "Nancy" in 500 AD Ireland. Also, there are all kinds of people. Take guitarist Frank Zappa: he's called one of his daughters Moon Unit and his son Dweezil. He was clearly an eccentric, but who's to say it can't ever happen in games, especially to characters who happen to be the Heroes of the Worldtm and ought to have had a special childhood or whatever anyway?
     
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  19. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    I don't really see how this comment follows, though this is probably my own misunderstanding. What I meant to say for "something you'd want for your child" was actually about the parent's expectations. When I say meaningful name, I mean something like a fire magic user named Pyro, in a world where people can only use one type of magic and said magic comes to them randomly. When I said "sometihng you'd want for a child" I meant something more akin to naming the child Pyro because the parents really wanted a live-in flamethrower. I myself wouldn't apply the meaningful name trope to a name like Creirwy or even to Moon Unit, unless Moon Unit turned out to be an astronaught in a world where space travel was only discovered just as he became old enough to be an astronaught. I'd accuse his parents of being rouge psykers at that point. When I say meaningful name, I mean a name that points to a significant element of the character's story not to a vauge quality like my own name which loosely translates to "righteousness". I also don't mind allegorical names too much, like naming a character on a quest Odysseus or Ulysses  or Creirwy if you're using it that way. Creators calling back to creations that inspired them is acutally something I like to see, I also make exception for characters that have named themselves, my own game has a goddess who (re)named herself Dia...though that's a music refrence, her original name was also a music refrence so I guess that falls under allegorical name.


    to summerize, when I say I hate meaningful names, I mean I hate names that allude to the powers or explicit story of a character. I don't mind an allegorical name, and I don't think unusual names are a problem. One of my characters is name Iii, I-I-I, her first name is the same as her initials, it's also an allegorical name cause it's a Black Sabbath refrence, though the song doesn't really fit her.
     
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  20. SLEEP

    SLEEP grunge rock cloud strife Veteran

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    I use name sites, but its more just names that jump out at me than picking the most "fitting for the character by terms of name meaning" choice.. like, I pick a theme for the name, and then the one which feels right. i pick names like an idiot! This isn't advice. Its not because im not fussy - its the opposite. if i let myself be too fussy, i'd be madly looking at Names for weeks. For some people, that's not a bad thing. For me, i would hate it. I just gotta chill and pick the one that *feels* right.


    It helps i prefer to make characters for the modern day imo. Works 4 me.
     
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