Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What to do when we're running out of names

Do you know what the major reason why I haven’t created an army of alts? It is that I can’t find any available name for them.

No, I’m not kidding. I don’t think my imagination is far below the average, but I still have huge issues finding an available name every time it’s time to make a new baby. And I’m not going for the “obvious” ones, copying names of characters that already exist in fantasy novels. I’m not complaining that I can’t be Galadriel, the night elf.

I get stuck on the most random combinations of syllables. Every single time I try to make a name that has an air of fantasy around it, I can be sure that someone thought of it before.

There are several random fantasy name generators on the net, ready to help me out, and when I first heard of them, I was enthusiastic. Surely they’d come up with something? But the sad truth is that they don’t help very much. Every suggestion they come up with that I find at least remotely attractive (many are not, unfortunately), will inevitably turn out to be in use already.

The name creating process
You don’t want to be near me when I’m in the middle of a character crating process.

On one hand I just want to get done with it so I can do what I had planned to – play the game. On the other hand I know that you’ll do wise to pick your names carefully. What you planned to become your silly little alt might turn out to be your next main. Sure, there’s always the possibility of changing it in the future but if you get it right from the start, you won’t have to go through the hassle to explain the change to your friends and guildies (which at least I would find slightly embarrassing for some reason.)

So I’m really doing my best to quickly find something that feels OK-ish as a fantasy name (even if I’m not role playing I think a name preferably should work on an RP server). A name that doesn’t refer to a pop artist or a book character (with or without changed spelling). A name that feels like “me”. My ambitions are high at the start. But my heart sinks as I over and over again will get the message that the character already exists, and I will slowly go from annoyance, via frustration to something that resembles to nerdrage.

It was hard to find a decent name for my character as far back as in the beginning of 2007, when Larísa was born. And it certainly hasn’t become easier over the years. Players come and go, and many of them will create a myriad of alts, who all will hang around in Blizzard’s databases for a while after the player has stopped his subscription.

Good names has become such a scarcity that players even will create placeholder characters, months and years in advance, to have ready for their future deathknight, worgen or goblin. For a new player who wants to create a name for a character that you’re actually going to you know… play, this is annoying to say the least. The server is just filled with useless ghost characters that you’ll never see in action.

Possible solutions
Rohan of Blessing of Kings, who was the one who brought up this topic in a post today, has a couple of suggestions for what could be done about it. One idea he puts forward is to unlock the name of any character under level 40 that hasn’t been logged in for four months. I support this! It would probably rid us of a few of the placeholders and at least the insignificant alts of ex-players that currently are blocking so many good names.

I’m not as enthusiastic about his second suggestion, that the character would get a sort of last name, only displayed in the chatbox, consisting of your accountname. Larísa would accordingly be called “Larísa@[myaccountname]. The reason why I don’t like it is that this, to me is connected to the realID issue. My accountname happens to be my real name. No thanks.

I think a better solution would be if characters could have a second name. Then I could finally drop that silly ´-accent that I had to add when I server transferred and found out that there was already a Larisa around, some horde character lower than level 10. The server would be big enough to have room for one Larisa Fizzlespark and one Larisa Grimhoof.

I suppose there is some underlying technical issue that makes this impossible. I’m pretty sure that it has more to do with how the databases and the logistics are set up than that they actually think that characters only should have one name and that there only should be one of each on a server.

Offering name suggestions
If we assume that the second-name solution isn’t doable, what else could Blizzard do to help us out? I think a great help would be if they could offer an in-game random name generator service with a connection to the realm servers. This would work in the way that the generator would make the availability check for us. Every name that it would suggest would be free. I would pick the realm, make my character, hit the give-me-a-name-button, and then if it came up with a name I liked, I could accept it. If I didn’t like it I could ask for a new suggestion until I was done.

Of course the random generator would have settings preventing it from suggesting stupid, offensive or policy breaking names.

I’m pretty sure that if this kind of service was available, we would see far less of Pwntards, Imbatanks and Legolaz running around on the realms.

Bad names isn’t necessarily a result of people being evil or plain morons.. I think they come from laziness, lack of imagination and a frustration over the lack of available names.

Like Rohan, I don’t want to play the “That name is not available roulette”. I just want to be able to make a new character without breaking my back doing so. And I wish Blizzard could give us a hand.


Nikola Begedin said...

My main´s name is Larthas.

No, it isn´t Arthas with an L in front, at the point of making the char i didn´t even consider that is how people would see it. Larthas just sounded nice so i went with it.

As for my alts, it´s simple.

I made a program that lists "words" made from the letter in Larthas in all the possible order combinations. Then i pick one that sounds like it could be a name and that´s it.

Right now, my alts are

Lasthar, Hastral, and 2 others which i prefer not to name as they arent 80 yet and i like to keep my leveling alts secret.

I also have a banker called Auriaya because i heard about a research somewhere about how most players prefer buying auctions from female characters (i know, lame and pathetic, but if it works, i´ll use it).

Hyacintha said...

I agree, naming is definitely the hardest part of character creation, and you have some very good suggestions for making it easier!

I like the idea of a name generator that also checks availability, but I think the second function would be useful all by itself. A "Check Name Availability" button on the character creation screen seems like it would be easy to add and would certainly avert many headaches. I frequently find myself considering a name that I'm not quite ready to commit to. If I could see that the name in question wasn't available anyway it would save a lot of deliberation. And of course it's frustrating to finally hit on the perfect name and triumphantly press the "Create Character" button only to find you have to start all over again.

He's hoping that Blizzard devs read your blog, right? =)

Gronthe said...

My imagination is buffed by my two kids, who always work with me in coming up with the names for all my toons.

My method is to always start personal. Think of real life names and their variations first, then go to books I enjoy and find words (not names of characters) but words that have a nice sound then build off that, next I go to the imaginary place known as "whateverville", where I seek for inspiration from whatever source or brain wave that slatters against the canvas of my brain.

99% of the time I get a name from #1 or #2. Gronthe is actually 9 parts #1 and 1 part #3, I skipped literature references that day because I wasn't in the mood to read anything.

If you like, I can rent my children to you, I'm sure they'll come up with some good 13 syllable names; all you have to do is add vowels and take out, I don't know, 10 of the syllables and you'll be good to go!

Holly said...

I usually don't have issues coming up with names, my goal is usually pick a 3-4 letter nickname I'm okay with, and build off of it. I've found anything longer than 4 letters will get shortened by the playerbase, so even though I am "Inkalotopopalas' I'll probably get called 'inky'. So I start with the nickname, and build from there.

For the record Akara Ari started out as the word "Ocarina" Spindra started off as "Spin" "Essra" started off as "Ess" And "Kitchwata" started off as "Kitch"

...yeah, I'm odd.

Ratshag said...

Is no rhyme nor reason fer the names of Team Ratshag members. Me, is just the name Shagrat (one of onlies a few orcs in Tolkien what got his name mentioned) with the syllables reversed. Is always a surprise ta me how rare it be - I think is one other Ratshag in the US now, but were unique fer years. "Genevieve" and all sane variations was taken, so we ended up with a Kinnavieve (unique, last time I checked). Galertruby came straights from the random name generator. Phoenicia were picked fer ta celebrate the rebirth of The Purge. Alayda sounded pretty - just right fer a seven-foot two-toed tusked axe-swinger. DangerMouse just sounded like a cool rogue name - had no idea was a singer using that same handle. And Vyp? Well, it were short, which is handies sometimes...

Can understand the annoyances of buggers reservin' names months out. But not so much it stopped me from snappin' up JPWorgen fer an upcoming bank alt. /bashful

Account-specific last names would be damn fine with me, long as it weren't login name. Mebbes assign a random one ta everyones. Even makin' names unique ta yer race would be a help - could have a Ratshag th orc and Ratshag the gnome on the same server, fer examples.

Dwism said...

When grocery shopping, sleeping or out drinking i'll think of a name I like.

That is why I have a sheet of paper with names on it.
Although that did not stop me from needing help for *my* worgen placeholder :)

Anonymous said...

Most of my character names come from villages and towns in Syria and Iran. There's this beautiful cadence to a lot of the names over there, and the language seems to lend itself to fantasy naming conventions.

I did get into trouble once, though. It turns out a name I had chosen was phonetically very similar to the Malaysian words for "shy cute schoolgirl" ... None of which apply to me (or to my male Tauren shaman).

Syl said...

I know how sad I feel when my name is taken on a server I'm trying to roll a char on - so I'm all for letting people have their first names. some of us are attached to names more than others, I'm sure.

family name is a good option imo, even if I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to find one for myself for FF14 - thank god it sucks, so I don't have to play it now! =P

Oscar said...


Thanks for an interesting post!

Don't you think that's we'd have a bazillion Legolas and Galadriel night elves, though, if last names were allowed? For me, just a single one is more than enough! :)

Personally, I have a disturbing lack of imagination, so the problem you describe is very familiar to me. I solved it by taking the first two letters of my first name and the first two of my last name, then adding a bunch of letters that's appear appropriate to my chosen race (-rrax, -lenth, -wyn, -reon and whatnot — The NPCs provide plenty help here!). One unexpected side-effect with this is that guildmates and ohers (in the pre-DF days, when you actually had occasional interaction with non-guildies, at least :)) immediately know that it's me when I log on to another toon. Oh, and people get very impressed by my veritable horde (or alliance, as it were) of toons!

SpiritusRex said...

I agree, naming a character is the hardest part of creation. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect name when I'm not playing and then forgetting what it was going to be when it comes time to use it - I hear that forgetfulness happens a lot when you get older (Larisa, can you confirm? :p LMAO).

@ Oscar, I like your idea. However, one drawback would be if your rl name were Craig Apple. I can see it now - Crapwyn, Crapex, Crapageddon, uhm, I think you get the picture :)

tweell said...

It would be nice if Blizzard stretched themselves a bit here, but I'm not planning on them doing so.
For my toons, I went Greek, and used names from my college History of the Peloponnesian War book.

Redbeard said...

I’m not complaining that I can’t be Galadriel, the night elf.

Good thing, since given Galadriel's rebellious personality in her youth she would have been more the Sin'dorei type.

Saga said...

I was writing about names myself today, I didn't even realise others were on the topic!

Personally I love names, I am a closet aspiring author so I keep lists of names I like - both "real" and more fantasy like names. I especially like names from Greek, Gaelic etc. Then I might change their spellings or other variations to make them something that feels like "me".

Another thing one can do when looking for a name - and this might seem silly, but it actually can help quite a bit - is look at websites for naming a baby. There are a LOT of names on there, and while not necessarily created for you to use when creating a character in a game or story - they work just as well for that purpose :)

Larísa said...

@Nikola Bedegin: Actually I've mostly followed that pattern. My main is Larisa and my major alts are called Arasil and Arisal. However a bunch of names I've tried from those letters were already occupied. Lately I've tried to come up with something new but... I tend to fail. I'm exactly as bad at creating names as the post indicates.
Players prefer buying from female chars?! Are you serious? I never even notice who I'm buying from, unless it's a guildie, which hardly ever happens.

: To be honest I doubt they read it. I think they follow a few blogs, but most likely the ones that are more into theorycrafting, like Resto4life used to be. GreyMatters would be a candidate. But my ramblings... nah. Too casual I'm afraid. And not enough impact on the community.

@Gronthe: Wow. That sounds like a serious approach! I don't quite understand the role of your kids though. You mean that you start from their names?

@Holly: Strange you don't run into the already-taken issue. Maybe you're playing on a less crowded server?

@Ratshag: race unique names actually sounds like a very interesting idea. I've got some strange hangup about making up special sorts of parties. I always envied the druid-only-parties back in Karazhan and currently I'm dreaming about a gnome-only raid once we finally get gnome healers in Cataclysm. Now imagine grouping up with only Larísas! Considering the number of races you couldn't make a up a raid by it, but at least a smaller party that could conquer 5 man instances under one banner.

From what you describe you seem to be clever when it comes to naming by the way.

@Dwism: Always carrying around a sheet of paper to write down your next character name? That's geeky, possibly even beats me.

: Oh, you've taken the atlas path. I did that with my main. Larisa is named after a city in Greece and I've regretted my choice so many times, especially on my former server where the greek population was bigger. Imagine all those incomprehensible whispers I got from enthusiastic greeks who probably thought they had run into someone with nationalistic tendencies.

I think that the tauren name sounds like a win!

@Syl: I can imagine it would be tough to come up with a last name to be honest. I would have to depend heavily on random name generators, especially since I'm not that good at lore and name giving principles in WoW.

Larísa said...

@Oscar: Hm... Maybe, maybe not. I suppose or hope it's self regulating somehow. If you se Legolas already in the game maybe you won't think it' s as fun to roll one? Your method sounds as good as any others, even though it's hard to "hide", as you notice. But that's the case for anyone who puts a system into their alt naming.

: Confirmed. I've definitely come up with and lost a great deal of decent names.

@Tweell: Interesting that they weren't occupied. Before I went for my stupid atlas idea for naming Larisa, I remember that I tried out a couple of names from Greek literature and mythology. But nothing was available. Probably mostly for good. I had no idea about what an MMO was or how naming conventions looked, so I thought a name like Athena or Aphrodite was fine, which I'm not quite as convinced of anymore.

: Actually I think you're right there. Sometimes I think too much like an alliance.

@Saga: I think name giving is a pain, not only in games. Back in time, many many years ago, when I had ideas about writing fiction, I often got stuck on the name thing. Nothing seemed OK to me. It used to drive me crazy. And finding names for our daughters. Oh, that was such a huge task that you have no idea. It didn't need to be unique in my country, but not far from. We ended up finding really good, and yet - at that time - unusual names. The only thing was that it turned out that we were the trend setters. The names we gave our daughters have increased hugely in popularity and are now among the most common ones in pre-school groups. Sigh. Naming isn't easy at all.

Dyre42 said...

I use several methods for names
1: Pluck name out of midair Usually ends up being the name of a secondary character in a fantasy novel that I forgot about.
2: Consult the Simarillion
3:Recycle an old pen and paper D&D character's name.
4: On female characters I always find an S name and replace the S with an X Xedra, Xandrah (in SAN US), Xelyn

sscougall said...

So far I've gone with two naming strategies in WoW. One has been to fantasy-up a real name, for example, Anneth or Donda. My main Alliance character, Shukeralle, is also a fantasied-up elvish version of my surname.

Another strategy has just been to come up with something gnomish-sounding, or tauren-sounding, or whatever, but this is a lot harder. It also frequently runs into the problem that someone else might have come up with the same name.


Technically speaking it would be really easy to design an MMO name system where you can have duplicate names - characters would have a hidden internal number, or would internally be stored as Character Name @ Account Name. The problem though is how do other players distinguish between all the different Larisas?


And finally, if you think it's difficult in WoW, one MMO where you can have *lots* of trouble with names is City of Heroes/Villains. Say you want to be Hippoman. You've gone through its extensive costume designer to make someone that looks like a Hippoman. Finally it comes time to actually name the character and... what's this? Someone else is already Hippoman? What do I do now? Creative respellings don't work. Changing the style of the name (eg Hippo X) might give the wrong idea.

Bristal said...

Check out Sanskrit names. Google a word and "sanskrit" and you will find multiple translations. Interestingly constructed words (if not difficult to pronounce).

My DK is Antaka, which can mean death, including "from the great serpent of time, which brings death".

My priest is Bhisaj (a medicine man).

My female Rogue is Damanaka, from sanskrit literature, a very devious and sneaky jackal that betrayed his friend.

I do like names to have some purpose.

My main "Bristal" was my first character, I chose it hastily since I wanted to use the first 3 letters of my first name (Brian). And it sounded kind of British or something.

And who knew I would keep it for 3 years? (or that a girl named Bristol Palin would cause me to cringe every time I heard her name).

Oscar said...

SpiritusRex – haha! I guess I'm just lucky that way ;)

And Larísa, I never wanted to hide really. It's awesome to be able to tell folks that they can find me by typing a simple /who command. Almost like a real ID ;)

tufva said...

I originally started with old-ish/traditional sounding Swedish girls names for my characters: Yrsa, Ylfva, Tufva, Alfva, Maya, Ronya - but eventually I wanted names that were more specific to each character.
My now-main (Tufva) I could never change and Alfva is now my bank alt. But Thyrvi became Kyrienne (she's a paladin, so I wanted something to do with valkyries). Ylfva the druid became Maieve. I was stumped for an elfish name for her and browsed wowwiki for NPC names for inspiration and loved the name Maiev Shadowsong. I reckon that surely just like in our world names are not "really" unique in Azeroth, so parents could name their children similar names. Yrsa the hunter will probably become some variant on Diana from the goddess of the hunt, I'm sure I'll have to do some letter acrobatics to find a version that is not taken.

I will admit that I am guilty of having reserved my Worgen rogue name - Lucianne. I just had an epiphany about wanting to play a Worgen rogue after seeing the character Lucian in action in Underworld: Evolution.

I think that Blizz should at least make it possible to search for names to see whether they are taken or not and that has to include below lvl 10, because it is so frustrating to go through your options on the Armory only to be foiled at the character creation screen.

thebellman said...

For almost all of my characters, I've used the inbuilt random name generator, just kept hitting the button until something came up that chimed. It's been rare that the resulting name has been in use already.

But that's an aside. If a prefatory comment can be an aside.

I LOVE the idea of surnames. As an IT professional, I know (or at least can make a pretty informed guess) that it would be a reasonably simple change to introduce, and would instantly broaden the possible name space more-or-less exponentially. Who can we poke at Blizzard to get that done?

Xaxziminrax II said...


I found the name of your next character - available on every WoW server in europe.

No need to thank me.

Coreus said...

It makes me smile to hear about someone else who agonises over their character names. When I moved my shaman to alliance and his troll name did not fit a Draenei at all, I actually called my [huge RP nerd] boyfriend into the room for a lengthy brainstorming session, the result of which, "Tashraal" I was very happy with. =)

I'm irritated to no end with people who don't put any thought into their character names, and even worse with the people who are actually proud of that awesome pun name the came up with all by themselves.

Anonymous said...

I also look at baby naming sites for inspiration. Even if you don't use one of them directly, they're often a spark for imagination. Another good source are various mythological names. Again, it doesn't have to be exact, but it is often enough of a starting place for me. And sometimes I just come up with a name that sounds pleasant to my ear.

The bigger issue though is that you have to let your characters grow into their names. Giving them a name with baggage (like Galadriel) doesn't let you explore who they will become as they explore the world. It's the same with writing fiction. You start with an idea, you pick a name and then the character grows and develops and sometimes surprises you. And after a while, the name develops a certain weight to it, a certain patina, a depth that wasn't there in the beginning and can't be forced.

It might be a leap of faith to trust that a name you pick will develop in that way, but it happens.

Perdissa said...

I feel it really depends on whether you intend to have a common lineage running thru your alts.

For me, I have adopted this naming pattern. I find 2 nice words and chain them together. I usually start with one word that I feel captures the essence of what I envision for the character, and find another word that I feel goes well with it.

I have since realized that:
1. A lot of NPC names are made this way.
2. Some names sound naturally RP, even if you did not intend it to be so.
3. People still guess which alts are mine pretty easily. (sigh)

Some of my alt names include: Northernwind, Brokenblade, Lightfall, Sleepingforest (which had to be somewhat abbreviated)

Pascal said...

For my names I pick the concept I'm looking for and then delve through the languages I speak until I find one that matches. Or in some cases I'll look for a real world reference or part thereof that will be interesting. For example, my Tauren Shaman was called Mingun, after the bell. Because, well, we always need more cowbell.

I like both options. Like Rohan I liked Cryptic's approach, but would like it to be associated with a "handle" if you like. Let me pick a name that I can use for my account that does not reference me or my login and it'll be fine. Then we can have fourteen thousand Narutos or Legolasses on each server.

The first and last name idea works well too. A bit like Lord of the Rings too. My only hesitance there is that the Ipwndu brigade will now have a space to play with as well.


Pangoria Fallstar said...

Every name I've had, has had a great deal of research involved.

A last name would take as long, but it would be annoying to have someone else with the same last name.

If Blizzard were to add a second name it wouldn't be your log-in name (unless they are idiots). What you talked in your post Larisa, (Larisa) wouldn't be Larisa@log-inname. Champions online makes you create a log-in, and then a handle (what you are calling an that is shared by all your characters). Then each character you make can be named virtually anything, since your account name is what is unique.

I wanted to clear that up, since it would then make it a better solution for you to consider, and is actually what Rohan was suggesting (unless Blizzard is very stupid).

Anonymous said...

When i first start an MMO i create the maxium number of alts with the names i i know further down the line if i dont take those names when i want an alt, they will be taken. Doesnt matter what class/look/gender/race, as i will just delete it and quickly make the alt i want and re-take the name.

Cacknoob (the devious)

Rhii said...

I was lucky that Rhii survived her server transfer intact, as Rhii is taken on a lot of servers.

Sometimes I think that how much I like the name determines whether I play the character long term or not. It would certainly explain why Zimzi the troll shaman shot straight to 80 while Azzikeh (who my guildies nicknamed Assy) who was also a troll shaman got deleted at level 13.

It probably also has something to do with why Brithne the dwarf hunter lived and Berdhe the dwarf rogue died. And why Mahewa the tauren druid is gone, but Brehanna the tauren druid is still around.

Aloix said...

Fun topic!
I'm definitely particular about it. I basically use my main's name and variations of, for leveled toons, and for bank alts, it depends a bit on their purpose.
I do sometimes use baby name sites, as Redbeard mentioned, if even to get some general ideas/meanings.

Also, it's a pretty big deal to me to have my 'main' name, properly spelled, available for use on a server. I'm planning on transferring in the near future, and was pleasantly surprised to find it available on a pretty high population server.

I do agree that it would be fantastic if Blizz would implement something(s) to help with the 'running out of names' issues. Also, because I kind of cringe at names with unnecessary/improper/excessive special characters in them.

Copra said...

Larísa, you have an easy solution to that. Stop being 'generic fantasy' type and start using Swedish fantasy -or medieval- names. My main, Laiskajaakko, is Finnish, meaning "Lazy Jack" in English. Pretty suitable for a tank, don't you think? My spriest is a nelf called Pupunen (translates to "Lil'Bunny") which I deem pretty accurate considering her back story.

But for me, naming and background of a character comes first. The actual character creation only highlights the start. For example my characters in SAN started actually from one story seed and that has spread to four characters already, all connected by a way or another.

Oh, and a very good source are the tens of obsolete pen and paper RPG rules, modules and adventures I have on my shelf still. I even had some characters who's names came from the "Dictionary of Demons and Demi-gods"... Talk about back stories!

The problem with generic fantasy like names is exactly the one you described: there are just so few combinations to come up with. Broaden your view a bit and you'll notice that there are loads of unused names and themes out there.

C out

C out

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't have this problem, it's just a matter of imagination. I play on Argent Dawn - EU, which means one of the most populated servers, one of the oldest servers around, and one with RP naming policy. Many, many names are "taken" so I just try again, and again, and again. I've came up with far more than 10 still available names for my possible alts and none of them have any letters beyond the standard 26 on the keyboard. And I'm not playing from the beginning, no, no, the server was at least 3 years old when I started.

Changing the order of letters or syllabes or adding a letter (not accent) in the original name gives you a lot of new combinations.

P.S. Just made a little experiment, I went to Stormrage - EU, I believe this is your server, and used my method of creating names taking Larisa as base.
As of 9.9.2010. 9am, the following were taken: Larissa, Larrissa, Laryssa.
The following were NOT taken:

And it's just something I came up with having spare 5 mins + your name + your server.

I don't get the problem really...

By the way, I deleted those characters so the names should be free again, whoever likes them.

Ossia said...

I'm with Copra on this one. Being Cypriot/Greek myself it's quite easy to get local mythology names and use them as names for my toons. Not to mention that knowing the exact spelling helps alleviate the placeholder issue! For example, non Greek-speaking users will type Charon instead of Haron (the mighty warlock :) ) leaving the proper name free to use.

And afterall, your toons' names are personal. I can't see why we should all go Tolkien with our names, excluding RP servers of course.

Larísa said...

@Dyre42: And it’s not occupied?

: I think that the distinction would be in the chat box, as Rohan suggests, but not in the tag you have above your head. Guilds would ofc distinguish you as well.

I’ve never played City of Heroes, but it sounds annoying.

@Bristal: Sanskrit? That’s a new one. Thanks for the idea, will check that out!

@Tufva: I tried that kind of names actually, but they were always already taken. So you’re one of the name hoarders? Shame on you! ;)

: I don’t know who to poke I’m afraid… Maybe someone who was in the alpha test can? There are a couple of bloggers with connections…

: To be honest I think your suggested name is a nightmare. I even find it hard to spell it just as I’m writing this reply. Sorry.

@Coreus: Sometimes I think that people might have put in more thought into their names than you realize. It’s just that they have a different idea about what is a good name.

: I think you’re right about growing into a name. It’s the same with kids actually. Sometimes I cringe when I hear about the names my friends pick for their newborn children. And then after a couple of years I think the name is just perfect and I couldn’t see that child with any other name. You get used to it. I never thought Larisa was particularly brilliant as a character name, as a matter of fact it was pretty lame. But I would never ever consider a name change for my gnome. She IS Larisa, that’s just how it is.

: I used to have some sort of lineage, making different combinations of the letters in Larisa. But nowadays I don’t feel the urge to be consistent. I’m a little bit thorn at the usage of names that consist of words. It sounds to me as some sort of Indian names and while you can perfectly well roleplay that, do you always want to do that? I think I prefer names that are NAMES, but not names you give to your real life baby, like Annie or Jack.

@Pascal: Oh, yeah. I can imagine that the Ipwndu brigade will excel if they get more space. But I don’t know if it will make anything worse. Either you’re one of those or you’re not. Doing stupid names as one word or two isn’t’ really a big difference.

Fallstar: As long as I could make up the handle myself I’m fine. I’m not fine with that I would be forced to use the account name I picked without having a clue about how this was supposed to work when I started playing so long time ago.

: It’s because of you I can’t find any available name of my liking!

@Rhii: I think so too. Some names picked out of desperation just turn out to be a downer and refrain me from logging on to that alt.

@Aloix: It’s really not to be evil that I have my stupid character in my name. But I just thought that it meant less of a change if I did it that way than if I would start changing the spelling, adding extra z, h, changing “i” for “y” etc.

@Copra: Hm… I’m a bit torn on that to be honest. I’m not playing in an all-Swedish guild, but in an international environment and I want my name to be easily pronounced and remembered by anyone on this mixed server. I would never name my main Laiskajakko for that reason, it’s just too complicated. Pupunen is OK though.

I never played any pen and paper RPG, that would probably have helped as a source of inspiration.

: “Many, many names are “taken”, so I just try again and again and again”. Exactly what I was saying. I don’t like to do this “again and again and again”. I think Blizzard should help us out a bit offering a couple of suggestions for available names for us who lack imagination.

I’m not sure what you want to prove with your list of names. I don’t want my worgen to be named Larrisa.

@Ossia: I think versions of the Cypriot/greek mythology are more likely to work in an international environment than Finnish. Maybe I should bug you for suggestions for a good name for my next alt.

Kalacios said...

I have a couple of different methods when naming my characters.

Sometimes I will look up mythical figures for the class that I am creating (for example, Orion the hunter - with bear pet called Ursa).

As mentioned by someone else here, I've also looked up translations of words that fit in with the class.

I've named night elves before by looking up common prefixes/suffixes (there are loads of fantasy-type sites out there with lists).

I even named one of my alts, a troll hunter, when I was literally looking around my room for inspiration, saw the serial number on a cheque upside down, the number was 008323. Backwards and upside down it looked like EZEBOO. I thought this quite suited a troll :D

Kurnak said...

You can always google for some fantasy name generator. There're a ton out of there and some allow great configurations like producing elvish-type names, or gnomish, or demonic, draconic... Some names may not be able to be used fully (thanks to using special characters like ' or simmilar) but you'll have a ton of names to choose from or even adapt any name you like.
Wiping unlogged characters? Tricky issue. What if I'm sent to work to another country for some years and I'm not able to play properly in my server(like being sent to USA and having a crappy connection to the EU realms). I'd put my acount on hold because I don't want to lose my chars. Or maybe I have a nasty accident and can't play properly for a year, recovering fromt he wounds. You must be very sure it's an abandoned account. 4 months is a very short time. I'd raise it to one year and not focusing on character logging but account logging. If in one year you've not logged in then your names are "available" and you have a grace period of 3 to 6 months to claim them back.
But there's also other problems when reusign names. What if that char was on of the most hated players in that realm? Try convince people you're a different player... you're going to be avoided like a pest.
And for your alts you can do as I did: "forming a family" using variations of the same name so everybody knows I'm the same player. Kurnak, Turnak, Surnak...

Copra said...

Well, I'm not playing in a Finnish speaking server, yet I currently rather choose a Finnish based name or a fictional name which suits the character. Besides, in the current hectic days your character will be referred by the first three characters at best and if there is overlapping in the guild/raid/party with one or two additional. Thus anything reasonable would do.

And as has been mentioned earlier, the name should be something important and meaningfull to YOU, not the rest of the population.

For example Festgubbe could be a nice name for a Gnome... I think.

C out

Anonymous said...

"I’m not sure what you want to prove with your list of names."

What I wanted to prove I typed a streak of random names and 3 were taken while 13 were not, saying you can't come up with a name because "all are taken" is an exaggeration.

It's also up to every player what they feel is the best, but for me it's much easier to invite or add to friendlist players without non-standard letters in their names.

It's just a matter of convenience, same kind as when you said you wouldn't like some long Finnish name because it's too hard to write / pronounce.

I don't agree that finding a name for new alt is particularly hard, it's a minor challenge, and definitely not a reason to give up. I also don't agree with the calls to "allow strapping alts of their names under X conditions".

That's why I object so much to exaggerating this obstacle, as I see it as a reasoning to allow removing names from someone else to our convenience.

Larísa said...

: It sounds as a miracle to me that you managed to get a name like Orion. That bill trick was a clever one. I’ve got to keep an eye open for that kind of names appearing from nowhere.

@Kurnak: The names I’ve gotten from generators have turned out to be occupied, both in WoW and in LOTRO when I’ve tried them. Maybe I’ve been unlucky?
You might be right that wiping unlogged characters is a little bit too harsh, at least after a few months. If you wait more than a year I think it should be OK. And bad reputation? Hm… Really? How long does a community remember that stuff?

@Copra: You’re right that long names often are shortened anyway. Our Eräjorma is often referred to as Era (since English people are clueless about “ä”). However for my own part I wouldn’t want to have a name that means something in Swedish. It just wouldn’t feel right. I’m playing an international game after all. But I know that’s just my personal taste. I’ve played with a lot of fellow Swedes who think differently. I would just hate and be very embarrassed about having a name like “Festgubbe”. (Which means “Partyguy” in case any English reader is wondering).

: Of course I exaggerate! Bloggers tend to do that to make their points come through. It’s called rhetoric. However I stick to my statement that I personally have a lot of annoying experiences behind me when I’ve tried to create a name and over and over again got error messages since it already existed. And I think that process is very much unfun and I hope that they’ll make something to make it easier for us. I really can’t see what bad it would be to offer us a name generator that also checked out for the availability of the name. As a service to those of us who just seem to be unable to come up with a unique name.

Removing other players names after a very long time of inactivity could of course be up for discussion. I do think it’s a little bit strange though if you can occupy names putting placeholders all over the place and then stop playing… What’s the point of supporting that kind of behaviour? It’s basically name hoarding. Next we see is that someone will require cash to give up their name they don’t use anyway…

TM said...

I like to use baby name directories for inspiration. Sometimes the name has come before the alt, even. (Like Alfhildir, a Norse goddess whose name meant "Elf Battle". New ret pally must have!!!)

I sometimes feel strange that I *don't* have a typical naming pattern. My main's name is a completely unique name from an inside joke. I've tried alts that have the same nickname and most seem wrong. Normryn? Normhoof? Normissa? Ugh, do not want.

I have "generic fantasy sounding" names. I have "got it from the random generator" names. I have "means something in x, I think" names. I have names I got from creole dictionaries and names I made with Bablefish and names I stole from friends off server. I have "funny" (to me) pun names - yeah yeah, Worgenhard and Hardlyworgen... All this comment has made clear is that I have *too many alts*.

Anonymous said...

I like my mage I named Beercan

Ferenc Márk said...

Go to or it's sister site, and choose a real name of some exotic country. They are cool, they are real, they even have a meaning.
I wonder if links are allowed. :o

Tesh said...

My three year old daughter (now four) helped me name my main. "Padgi" was curiously completely unique across all servers. "Sendoku" was unique when I used it for a Death Knight a while back, but it's since been used by a pair of trolls.

I actually rarely have trouble finding a unique name. Then again, I do prowl the Armory beforehand just in case. I find a lot of portmanteaus (like Sendoku, a mix of Sendo and Doku) work really well, especially if there are shared letters in the middle.

That aside, I heartily approve of characters having two names. Guild Wars actually mandates every character have two names. It's really easy to have unique names there.

Oh, and incidentally, I've come up with a few names I think are awesome when I play my occasional trial account... but I've taken to deleting them as the trial runs out. No need for me to hold those names in limbo, I figure, since I'm only using the trial accounts to look around, with no intention of coming back. I have one account I play on "for real" on occasion, so why claim namespace with useless ones?

I think it's reasonable to make that systemic; a trial account that isn't upgraded to retail in say, six months, automatically releases the character names. The system can still tie them to the account just in case someone comes back, but if the name wants to be used by a paying player, they get it, and the trial account player is told to change it when they come back. That's just part of the trial player experience, then, and I see nothing wrong with that. That's a price you pay for not having skin in the game.

Faeldray said...

As my thoughts on this were probably a little too long to put in a comment, I wrote my own blog post on it: The birth of a name

Larísa said...

@Tesh: I've never heard of anything as thoughtful! Deleting chars from a test account in order not to keep names locked. Kudos to you!

: Thanks for sending the link. You have a lot of good suggestions indeed!

Trondheimsveikja said...

That's funny - however alike our beginning in WoW was (I also started with a tiny gnome mage, albeit greenhaired rather than pink) I've never had trouble naming my characters.

With about 14 alts spread on 4 realms, I only have two sets of doubles (Kalmia and Siskiaya) and 8 of those 12 names are unique to my account. Granted, four of those names are dialectal diminuitives in my language, but still.

Only once have I had to change the spelling of a name, and only once have I had to pick a completely different name because all my ideas were taken on that realm.

typhoonandrew said...

I'd love to say I have a naming convention in place, but its just random. I do like a name to be non-leet speak, and to have some pull in terms of RP value.

eg. Mortgen, Arkham, Quendalon, Diamon, Roa, Aurac, Rill, Ironaegis, Nagarj.

Staggering how good and how effective the strats the commenters have made on names; darn impressive.

I also like a good 3 or 4 letter name, and they are hard to get. My old spare account has a toon called Raze, which I might re-subscribe to, only so I can delete it and use the name on my main account.

Ndiayne said...

To my knowledge the only instances of Ndiayne on the US servers are both mine. Zoriaa (my draenei) is ... I actually don't remember how I came up with the name, but it was easy enough to snag once I adjusted for the double vowels common in Draenei names.

Same goes for my other girls: Ashtoret (one of the multiple spellings of a random goddess), Spyri (short for Spyridoula), Tansie, and Bidi.

My preferred method is a combination of fantasy generators and looking up baby names and goddess names from other cultures (at least for my non-gnomes). Ndiayne was actually from a customer's name that I kept misspelling.

It is hard sometimes to find a good RP-fitting name, but I think unlocking a name after 4 months is much too soon. There are been times I've had to step away from the game for several months--once for almost 5 months since I didn't have an internet connection.

However, I do think Blizzard should come up with a time frame (perhaps 8-12 months for sub-level 20 characters and 12-18 months for over level 20 characters) where they purge the name database (with a notice sent to players either via e-mail or in their notice pane on the login screen announcing the purge).