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.
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:
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.