What’s In a Name?

Who thinks up the names of the resources, items, and recipes in MMOs today? I often think that the process is not much more than reaching into a giant bag with names, randomly selected for each topic.

Perhaps its a large body of head-strung developers with such egos that they cannot create logical names and can only agree on the least desirable label. I can only imagine a table of geniuses sitting around trying to think of a harvestable ores….

“How about Iron?” Everyone jeers and sneers at such a common metal.

“That is so gay” echoes a few. “Its logical, for god’s sake!” stammers others.

“How about something fictional, like Edawnite? We can assign our own statistics, properties…”

“Sit down and shut up, god you can be so inane sometimes” a wickedly sardonic programmer shouts.

“How about aluminum?” a peevish looking accountant stammered softly.

“Great! Awesome!!” the cheers ring out loudly in the room.

“But thats not a naturally occurring metal? It takes great science too create aluminum?”

The crowd bursts out into heckling rabuld laughter, “Players won’t care about that. Heh, they aren’t even smart enough to realize it” a over-weight balding game designer snickers as he packs three ho-ho’s into his cavernous hole called a mouth.

In Everquest 2 you have gold that is worthless, yet coins are traded in that ore. In Vanguard you cannot even harvest gold, but pyrite is a treasured metal — even though gold is highly prized in coins and pyrite can be made into ingots.

Would any true warrior, even at first level, even pick up a tin sword? Would a starving halfling even consider consuming a Stewed Coffee Stuffed Griffon Egg? What would a quest think when he rents a room for the night and finds the bed and furniture made out of Balsa wood?

Do developers even understand the difference in wood, stone, and metal? Do they care that their categorizations are supersilious? Its not even that they are creating imaginary substances, which can be imparted with magical or rare propertise. They use real world substances, that makes no sense in the context they are using, and hope players either just ignore the improbability or are not educated enough to realize the impossiblity of such.

One can debate the fact that being a game or an imaginary world, why should the player care about the names assigned to resources or recipes? I can only answer that if we are not to not expect realistic or arguably logical names for things, why not strip all names and physical relationships from the game, giving attributes letter designations (A, B, C, and D); values for the attributes in vauque conditions (poor, average, good, really good, oh super duper good)! Abilties can be referred to the most common classifications such as combat, magic, and art.

I am unsure how the rest of you view such defamations of item categorizations, but to me its just sloppy. More than likely it was a place name put in during design and was just never changed. I find this affront so evident in Everquest II, and its such a shame because the harvesting and crafting system in the game is easy, fun, and enjoyable to all. With so many logical and valuable materials in the world why did they chose the names that they did?

At tier 3 (fighting giants, nasty gnolls, and all sorts of vile denizens of the Thundering Steppe) in Everquest 2 they have Dandelions as the rare root? Dandelions at least in North America are so common that they are considered a weed — now why would someone use a weed for a rare when there are so many thousands of exotic and wonderful roots and plants to select from?

Sony is not the only ones to blame for such idiocy, with Blizzard and others acting just as careless to this whole Name Game. What’s in a name? To me it lends credibility to the game, a sense of immersion and overall enjoyment.

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