A Name To Take Pride In

What’s in a name? Names have power. To know the True Name of a thing is to have power over it! … wait, wrong world. In any event, names are rather important to the narrative flavour of a game so we’ve made some effort to ensure that when you see a good Clockwork Empires name, you know where it came from.

I love this man's name.

I love this man’s name.

Wait, you interject, have we not we read this blog post already, good sir? Why yes, very nearly exactly one year ago? It was and is: The Power Of Names.

Of course it has been a year since then and many things change in a year – including our approach to one or another sort of naming in Clockwork Empires.


Little has changed here as-such, though a great deal of additional text content has been added. (I was particularly inspired by reading Moby Dick which, side-note, is way more humorous than you’d expect, and fascinating besides.)

We also pulled back a bit on the excessive morpheme-clusters that would lead to some real nonsense-sounding names like “Goldenthatchsmith” or “Wrightcrimblesolder” (although my making those up doesn’t do the brutal indifference of the algorithm justice). And yes, a Wrightcrimblesolder sounds like good fun times on its own, but when you have to try to keep fifteen such names straight in your head, it simply isn’t going to work.

So, more breadth of content and clarity of content. It feels much nicer.


Our first take on Workcrew names for CE took the following process:

Take one good adjective that evokes a quality of Clockworkian virtue, for example: patriotic, well-ordered, respectful, just, moral, prudent, civil, industrious. Tip-top! Now add that to one machine part evocative of Steampunk nonsense, for example: gear, grate, wheel, dynamo, axle, furnace, blastpipe, stack, slide, lock, coil.

Now add those together with the work crew overseer’s name as a possessive and you get something like “Mr. Fladgate’s Patriotic Gears” or “Mrs. Hasting’s Well-ordered Grates”.

However amusing, these are somewhat deficient in that they fail to evoke anything about the character of the commanding overseer. Only their family name gives the work crew any identification. And since the early stage of development, the characters of Clockwork Empires have progressed a great deal in terms of evocative individual characteristics. Why not use them?

A new system: Take a trait from the Overseer, use that to pull a random trait-linked adjective. The “Doomed” trait, for example, will yield one of “Ill-fated”, “Cursed”, and “Doomed” as adjectives (subject to change or expansion at our creative whim).

Now we need a base workcrew name. Either default to one of a set of basic workcrew names (under which players have been suffering for about a month: “Gang”, “Crew”, “Band”, “Team”, “Lot”, “Band”, “Company”, etc.). Query the skills of the Overseer, take the highest and use that to pull from a list of skill-specific workcrew name bases. So an overseer with a high farmer skill would take on of “Farmers”, “Growers”, “Planters”, or “Gardeners”.

This results in a great deal of fun:

Are you going to have "Albertine Joist's Cursed Engineers" build your workshops?

Are you going to have “Albertine Joist’s Cursed Engineers” build your workshops?

Colonists’ given names have also been included in their work crew name, as you can see, to make the individual instantly identifiable with their work crew.

This has been a simple tale largely about string manipulation, but it acts as an example of the process of design thought being put into Clockwork Empires at this stage in development! This is just an extension of the principles laid out in the Hatpack It! blog post: The work we are now engaged in is less a process of throwing as many cogs at the wall and seeing what sticks as it is now a process of identifying unwieldy masses of undiluted game (glistening with Fun, and … I’ll stop), trimming and sculpting it down into a more effective form, and interlocking it with other game systems to the enrichment of the whole experience.



14 Responses to “A Name To Take Pride In”

  1. HopperUK says:

    Moby Dick is an amazing book that I tried to read about six times before I finally made it. I still feel pretty bad about poor Pip.

    { reply }
  2. Headjack says:

    A custard alchemist’s assembly is a boon to any gastronomancer.

    { reply }
  3. Lauren says:

    Ishmael/Queequeg is so canon.

    I’m glad I won’t have to remember whether the farm crew belongs to Mr. Cog, Mr. Cog or Mr. Cog now.

    { reply }
  4. Yeol says:

    One hopes that advances in Experimental Fungal Baking will soon allow for the replacement of old boring yeast with Selenian Moon Fungus.

    Just don’t make eye contact with the bread.

    { reply }
  5. Stefan Bauer says:

    Lemuel Hat’s Prayin’ Glaziers? I love it!

    Anyway, hopefully this should make workshop assignment significantly less of a pain in the arse.

    { reply }
  6. Rob Rendell says:

    The Prayin’ Glaziers has a lovely assonance. It would be nice if the name generator deliberately tried to pick the trait-linked adjective and the skill-linked workcrew name to have such correspondences – look for assonances, alliterations and consonances.

    Probably not a very high priority though 🙂

    { reply }
  7. hippocleides says:

    My only gripe is with the Odd 160th. Shouldn’t the military have ironed out the individuality?

    { reply }
  8. Kamisma says:

    Ahab, this is Pequod, arriving shortly at LZ

    { reply }
  9. Alavaria says:

    It’s a pity the crew type name (eg: farmers) doesn’t change with their current assignment.

    When the Hunting Farmers are working in the metalsmith…

    { reply }
    • GDwarf says:

      Yeah, that’s the thing that I wondered about. I mean, you’ll probably want, generally, to assign groups to tasks that they’re good at, and having the group constantly change names would be hard to follow, but it will be a bit odd to have the Drunken Fishermen be in charge of making shoes.

      { reply }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *