ITEM NAMING CONVENTIONS

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I have been thinking about the item names for my project and thought this would be worth a thread. So, there are so many different styles of how to name your weapons and armor, i was wondering what kind you prefer?

First of all I am using a modified exfont for my 2k3 project that adds an icon to every major item type in the game (future makers feature icons as well). This makes it much easier to distinguish the different item types. Lets assume we prefix every "Sword" type weapon with a % (that represents a sword icon in the maker).

Example: %Short Sword

Now, the next question is - do you prefer short names or detailled names? When using short names, the icon already explains the item type and makes the names look much more like in old gameboy games (final fantasy legend/saga etc.). Examples:

%Short
%Long
%Knight
%Battle

While the detailled version adds the weapon type also to the name, wich is redundant as it can already be seen by looking at the icon. Maybe its a bit easier to read (and allows you to divide the items further into subtypes):

%Short Blade
%Curved Scimitar
%Knight Sword
%Battle Blade

Furthermore, when trying to describe the items properities we have the choice to choose between a single keyword naming convention (like seen in most traditional console games) and multiply keywords (like seen in many modern computer games, especially those with random item generators). Example: We create a series of ice based swords, some of them do elemental damage while others inflict secondary effects like slow or freezing as well.

Using a single keyword, we are forced to come up with a new name for every item (wich can be somewhat cryptic):

%Frost Sword
%Yeti Sword

While using multiply keywords, its easier to describe how the weapon is working:

%Ice Sword of Stopping
%Ice Sword of Slowing

Personal Conclusion
For myself I prefer the short/single keyword version - because its clean and simple. I dont have a problem brainstorming simple but unique names for all of the weapons in my game - even if there are large numbers (there are just so many possibilities ranging from %XCalibr over %Seven to %Glass). The only downside is, that this ultra short names always carry this "we have only 8 ascii chars available" aftertaste (wich isn't a bad thing).

Well I haven't even touched the possibilities of adding quality and/or material tags to the weapons. This enables us to describe weapons much more precice and adds more variety and color to the game world itself. The downside is that inventories tend to turn into wall of texts. But a %Splendid Mithril Sword of Perpetual Slaying just has charme on its own - or not? :-)

Finally, finally - what are your thoughts? What other techniques to create item names do you know? What kind of names, length and style do you prefer?

Thanks for reading
-Spell
I prefer to give weapons more memorable names. Sure, an "iron sword" will slip through every now and then because its unavoidable in a lot of cases, but for the most part my weapons have names like "100-Killer" and "Falclaymore." For the descriptions, I try to give a bit of an "artistic" description that also implies the weapon's abilities. For example, the Falclaymore:

"Purified demon sword. Its powers return sometimes,
granting a higher critical chance."

Some people may prefer bland names and descriptions like "Fire Sword +3," but I think items can be a lot more interesting and unique when you give them special names and descriptions. Of course, for that to work you also can't have a billion weapons in your game, but that's not really a problem with the way I'm designing mine.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5146
I prefer Stout Spear to †Stout for two reasons. First, even if I can tell from the icon that it's a spear, the thing's name isn't Stout. That's a dumb name. Second, most of my items aren't even gonna have the name of the weapon type as part of the item name, because that's boring. And it looks super weird if every lance in the game except the Stout Lance has its full name listed. The list would be something like †Wooden Pike, †Javelin, †Blade Mast, †Stout, †Spear of Light, †Stonepiercer, †Steel Impaler, †True Mark, †Stormbringer, †Dragon Slayer, and †Spirit End. Be honest, that doesn't look like the weapon type was left out of Stout Spear's name because it was redundant; it looks like the Stout Spear is just named Stout. It's dumb-sounding and confusing.

Also, as you can probably tell from my above list, I hate naming items after what material they're made out of. Better equipment you get as the game goes on isn't just going to be made out of different metals each time. It's going to be created by a more skilled craftsman, or it's going to be designed with some special feature, or it's going to have belonged to someone famous, or it's going to be magically enchanted. Even when the only difference really is the materials, I'm going to use a different synonym for the weapon type if I can help it: Wooden Sword, Iron Slasher, Steel Edge, Damascus Blade, Adamantium Slicer, Eternium Cleaver.

Names like L34 Ice Sword of Slowing or Greater Orcish Crossbow of the Whale drive me absolutely insane. That's not a name, that's a description. It's got no soul. Might as well name your game 14-Dungeon Homebrew Narrative JRPG of Rudra Graphics while you're at it. Put that garbage in the bloody description box where it belongs, and come up with a name. Even just giving me the bare minimum amount of immersion counts for something, guys.

Of course, I don't like traditional RPG equipment anyway. I don't just mean the names; I mean I don't like the idea of having half a dozen or so equipment slots and buying upgrades for most of your items in every town, with most of those items having no effect except being 5 points more powerful than the previous one. It doesn't add any gameplay, and I'd prefer more interesting ways of handling equipment. I think this kind of shitty ultra-generic equipment progression is exactly what causes a lot of people to give their items shitty ultra-generic names. It's hard to force yourself to make it sound interesting when it honestly isn't interesting.
@OmegaHunter: Oh i forgot the good old "+X" naming style. pretty oldschool.

@LockeZ: Some good points there, its always refreshing to have someone with another perspective. d'accord with your last statement "shitty progression = shitty naming" - but making items unique often leads to the "every item features special abilities" syndrome. I tried this a while ago and realized that you just need some basic, boring, filler stuff. But, i have to admit - i like "Greater Orcish Crossbow of the Whale"!

Hey, we could make a forum game out of brainstorming silly item names!

"Witchcane of the jinxed Deceiver" HA!

off to work
-Spell
...I see something like †Stout or †Short and my mind goes to a really immature place.

Also, if you can fit the whole name in there, do it! If you're not doing it for retro aesthetic reasons, then fine, but if not, do the whole thing.
My personal preference is to longer, more descriptive name for more powerful weapons, and shorter, more mundane names for the "normal" items. "Iron sword" is perfectly acceptable if it is a plain old sword made out of iron, but for a shard of creation ripped from the still-beating heart of a dying god, you are going to need something much more magnificent.
@emmych @Neverm0re: But "fit the whole thing in there" and "my preference is longer" is also really immature. Sorry, but my immature self just made me post this - don't blame it on me!

Well, what about

"Greater Fan of Dispel Flatulence" ? (A tier 10 weapon - for sure!)
As long as you don't give adjectives to legendary items, like: Short Excalibur, Long Excalibur, Battle Excalibur.

It just makes the whole thing entirely ridiculous.
This is how deep my nerd goes:

My first game, which was a spoof on just about every RPG trope you can imagine, had an item called the "Vorpal Butterknife" in reference to the item of the same name from D&D 2nd ed (If I remember correctly). In 2nd edition, the magical property said that if you rolled max damage, then you instantly decapitate the target, but a butterknife's damage is a flat 1, meaning you ALWAYS roll max damage.

Honestly, I think naming conventions come down to what the author wants. Item names probably won't break a otherwise good game, and if you are doing what you like as opposed to what others like you will have a better chance of finishing you project.
I guess its stupid when i post the first tier of a few weapon types in my database here, but i really like to see this thread evolve some more. so please: hate it, flame it, tear it apart - but please tell me what you think! all items feature unique exfont icons, items are sorted according to their strength by type - and by the way - the * marks items that have (notable) special abilities (increasing proportional over the next few tiers):

PS: I am thinking about outfitting one or two items of the lower levels (1-6) with special abilities as well, right now it takes quite long until the players encounter a weapon with magical features.

SWORDS
- 01 Gladius (Starting Item)
- 02 Middle Sword
- 03 Bronze Scimitar
- 04 Long Sword
- 05 Steel Sword
- 06 Combat Blade
- 07 Noble Sword*
- 08 Broad Sword
- 09 Sacred Blade*
- 10 Great Sword

BOWS
- 01 Small Bow (Starting Item)
- 02 Short Bow
- 03 Middle Bow
- 04 Longbow
- 05 Light Crossbow
- 06 Heavy Crossbow
- 07 Hunter's Bow*
- 08 Battle Bow
- 09 Storm Bow*
- 10 Composite Bow

KNUCKLES
- 01 Bare Knuckle (Starting Item)
- 02 Leather Knuckle
- 03 Bronze Claw
- 04 Iron Claw
- 05 Steel Claw
- 06 War Knuckle
- 07 Blitz Claw*
- 08 Battle Claw
- 09 Quake Knuckle*
- 10 Mighty Knuckle

Come on - flame the names! Flame them!!
I do actually have some issues with some of those item names:

- 02 Middle Sword

You would do well to find an actual type of blade and replacing "Middle Sword" with it, like "Cutlass".

- 06 Combat Blade

Aren't ALL blades listed here meant for combat?

- 01 Small Bow (Starting Item)
- 02 Short Bow
- 03 Middle Bow
- 04 Longbow

These seem like you are just listing a size progression. Yes, short and longbow are acceptable, but small and middle bow should be changed, maybe "Practice Bow" and "Woodsman's Bow"

- 10 Composite Bow

Being a final tier item, I would expect this to be something less mundane. A composite bow is simply a normal bow made out of more than one type of material, so making this more powerful than the storm bow seems odd.

- 01 Bare Knuckle (Starting Item)

How is this an item?! If you sell it will you no longer have hands?! XD
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4353
I like "Quake Knuckle" haha
Short item names vs long really depends on the nature of the game.
Early RPGs did well with †Broad, †Rune and †Sun. This is because the player's imagination is already hard at work with the game's simple presentation. Seeing as many RM games go for this simplified look, I wouldn't totally rule out a return to †Short.
In other words, for your SaGa 4 (FFL4) game, I would go back to icons and short names.
@Dyhalto:
Yep, for my saga project there will be the classic short names, but the list above was not from this project. BTW: good point with the "imagination at work"!

@Neverm0re:
Thanks for the feedback! I take your ideas "Practice Bow" and "Woodmans Bow" right away. Im also thinking about switching the places of Composite and Storm bow.

Bare Knuckle stays! Saw it in a JRPG fan translation and laughed so hard i just had to use it in one of my projects

@InfectionFiles:
Quake Knuckle stays too!
I tend to pay more attention to the stats than the name of the equipment. Still, it's nice if you put some effort into the names. I prefer if you stick with simpler names to store bought equipment and fancier names like "The Impaler" for unique arms. Note however that the fancier names will only help if the piece of equipment is both useful and has special properties, else my brain will tune it out and it becomes "+80 attack, 90% accuracy" instead.
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