Making a Game #2 | Names are HARD

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If there’s one thing Halley and I learned straight away it’s just how hard it is to create a name for something you’re planning to put hundreds of hours of work into!

To name Lost Gauntlet Games we spent a good half a Saturday in deep discussion, trawling through notes and scribblings both in Halleys phone and my google drive. While I like to think we’re both pretty good at “knowing what sounds good” it’s amazing how much consideration you can put into something that if done well noone will notice haha.

The final shortlist of names, we split our favourites into two lists and then rated them separately so we would give our honest opinions instead of reacting to what the other person rated something!

A Formula For Naming “Something”

Compartmentalizing is something I use a lot when managing projects to:

  • Make sure everything gets done and
  • Break things down into digestible chunks

So how do we use compartmentalization to name something? well when it came to naming Lost Gauntlet (and our upcoming project, more on that soon!) we used a formula for creating names that I wanted to share today in case anyone else finds themself as stuck as we were when we sat down and said “lets name the brand!”

The formula:

  1. Identify the theme or feeling you want the name to evoke
  2. Create a compartmentalized list of of ideas based around a word you find matches your theme or feeling
  3. Create a shortlist of references to keep your ideas down to earth.

Identify the Theme or Feeling for your name

This is a rather short one but basically try and tie your name down to a theme or feeling that you find evocative, if you find it evocative someone should as well!

The names you come up with if you tie your imagination down with a theme like “Cute and Japanese” or “Grim & Ancient” are going to be extremely different. This simple step gives you a guideline to refresh your direction as you get into listing your ideas, and gives you something to google if you get stuck looking for words.

Our theme was whimsical, thought provoking & adventure!

For example if you were doing the Grim & Ancient route, to find source words for your mini-lists (you’ll learn about these in the next section) jump on google and punch in search terms like:

“Ancient synonyms”
“Grim Names”
“Dark Stories”
“Grim Words”

Armed with your theme it won’t be hard to build your lists, and by doing this step first when you get to the end of the process you’ll have created something that evokes the feeling you set out to create.

Listing Your Ideas

Trust me you’ll come up with some stinkers haha, it helps to google ones you think might be good to check how they would be perceived, Soul Shelter ended up being a health site so we knew that wasn’t an idea we wanted to go down anymore 😛 ( Purple Ticks are ones Halley liked! )

So what do I mean by “list of ideas”, well in our case it was about theming different mini-lists around a word that we found evocative.

For example one word we liked was “Hermit” we’re both a pair of hermits, and we thought it reflected us well, so a mini list for hermit might look like:

  • Hermit Hut Games
  • Hermit Mage Games
  • HemitCraft
  • Hermitforge
  • Hermits Table

These ideas can then spawn their own mini-lists such as

  • Magecraft games
  • Magestone Games
  • Little Mage Games

An important thing is whenever you get stuck on a particular mini-list, don’t dwell! switch gears and start thinking about other words you like, and branch off entire new mini-lists, keep that creativity flowing and don’t worry too much about how good or bad those names are, but do highlight any that you find speak to you.

Keep at it until you’ve reached a point that your lists getting are sitting around two pages!

Keep Yourself Grounded With Some References

Secondly, we looked at other companies we liked and wrote down a list of their names to reference. These names help to keep you grounded as you explore the torrent of ideas that come pouring onto the page once you start really getting into it.

Some of the companies we looked at were:

  • Stonemaier Games
  • Alley Cat Games
  • Steamforged Games
  • CoolMiniOrNot / CMON
  • MCDM
  • Fantasy Flight Games
  • Lookout Games

By having these handy as we move through the next step, it gives us something to compare our ideas too and see if they compete.

Putting it all together

Now with our list of references + list of ideas, we can start filtering out the diamonds. Work through your list and find the names that you think are good and highlight them so you can build a shortlist.

Because we were starting a brand I took the time to research each one I went to highlight first to check if there was any other businesses and if the domain name was available for that particular name, but you might not need to do that depending on what kind of project you’re working on =]

That left us with a pretty big shortlist which we then narrowed down even further by setting ourselves an arbitrary shortlist cap of 5 names.

Then, since we’re doing this as a team we split it into two lists and marked off our score out of 10 for each name without the other person being able to see our answers, that way when we joined back up we couldn’t influence each others scores by discussing it at the same time and instead got to compare our raw feelings about each name.

And that’s how we settled on Lost Gauntlet Games!

What is Lost Gauntlet To Us?

In the end we chose lost gauntlet both because Halley had a great idea for the logo, and we liked the call to adventure it evokes. It’s a fun name, that fulfils our goals of creating whimsical projects, it reflects how we feel, ready to start our adventure.

More To Explore

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If there’s one thing Halley and I learned straight away it’s just how hard it is to create a name for something you’re planning to

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