10 Tips to Making a GREAT Game Name
One of the hardest parts about making a Flash game is coming up with a name.
It’s amazing that so much is going to bank on the title of a game. It is probably the one thing the player is going to see before any other aspect of the game, so it must reflect the experience or at least excite the player beyond the average title. All the hard work put into characters, interactive objects, enemies and whatever else depend on the player choosing to play the game. On any given game website there are hundreds of games to choose from, so how will yours stand out? A good title is a way to start!
So how would you go about choosing a name? There’s a few different factors.
1) Short, but Not Too Short
People don’t want to read a sentence. 1-3 words should be all, and any more or less should find a way to cut it down. This also saves the issue of website optimization since longer titles result in broken website layouts. Website owners get fussy and abbreviate (or even rename) your games if they do not fit the standard game name size. On the contrary, a tiny game name is going to have trouble getting any exposure. If your game was named “Ak” then it will be dwarfed easily by other titles.
Good Examples: “Grow Cube”, “Modern Tactics”, or “Drunken Masters”
2) Make It Optimized for Searching
Naming a game “Flash Game Fun” is probably going to bury your game so far in the search results that anyone trying to search for it would fail. Use a single word or combination of words that are interesting together. My “Knights of Rock” game had two very different keywords involved and holds the first 11 Google results. On the contrary, my game “Ocean Explorer” could have probably held a better title and is hidden way down in the depths at search result #8.
Good Examples: “Unfair Platformer”, “Metro Siberia”, or “Doodle Defender”
3) Avoid Filler Words
Putting “Fun” or “Game” in your title is probably one of the most cliche things you can do unless your game explicitly targets one of these words (such as the game “The World’s Hardest Game”). These words are just filler… it’s something that makes any game go from “The Exciting Title” to “The Fun Exciting Title” or “The Exciting Title Game.” It looks unprofessional and sounds cheesy. Also, you should never use “My Title: The Game” unless your game was once a movie, book, or other media; “The Game” should only be used when you need to differentiate it from another media.
Examples: “Ultimate Gardening Game”, “Fun Traffic Jump”, or “Shutterbug Fun”
4) Watch for the Duplicate
Games should always get a quick search on the web to ensure that the game title is not already taken. Making a game then realizing that the title is taken just makes your job harder. Also, if your game shares a large portion of the name with another’s game (such as “Pencil Defense Wars” and “Pencil Defense Fighter”) then consider moving on to another title. Be wary that your game may also share a title with a popular book, film, or music album.
5) Use Awesome Words That You Know How to Use
Catch your audience off-guard with a catchy word. I am not saying use a word that no one would ever understand, but take the time to think of good words. Take the word “spin” for example. Other choices may include “swirl”, “whirl”, and so on. But always use words that you understand completely. Never use words that you have little knowledge of as this may lead to future grammatical embarrassment.
Good Examples: “Bowmaster Prelude”, “Monster Basement”, or “Pandemic”
6) Can You Spell It?
Assume your audience has a fourth grade spelling level when you make a game. People are not going to be able to spell “Agathokakological” if they decide to search for your game. If you have trouble spelling it from memory then skip it.
7) Make Your Own Word
“Indestructotank” is a good example of this. The word is obviously the combination of “Indestructible” and “Tank,” which allows a player searching to find it easily (correct me if I am wrong Tony). It is also clever and witty enough to stand out as a good title. If you choose to make your own word, make sure it’s easy to spell and only slightly modifies a word or group of words.
Good Examples: “Indestrutotank”, “Luminara”, or “Exorbis”
8) Make It Related to Your Game
It’s easy to get tied up in a title made of a bunch of cool words that have nothing to do with the game. Avoid this common problem by at least drawing to some element in the game. My game “TBA” draws a lot of confusion because of it’s lack of description, while games like “TwoThree” get the job done. A good title that builds a relationship with the game also builds a relationship with the player, which allows the player to remember the title in the future!
Good Examples: “Descent”, “Cube It”, or “Alpha Assualt”
9) Evolve Your Titles
Don’t make a game title and stick to it! Constantly change up the words to get different ideas flowing. Most likely your game will change throughout production, so do not worry about sticking to your guns until you release it.
here is one progression I recently made:
1) Aboleo Genesis – Aboleo is a confusing word to spell.
2) Anima – Found out it was not the right Latin word.
3) Animus – Found out it was the name of the computer from Assassin’s Creed.
4) Genesis – Too similar to the Bible book, when on it’s own.
5) Spectrum Genesis – There we go!
10) Be Careful Using Genre-Specific Words
Using the words “Tower Defense” in a game nowadays will get it easily lost to the “oh look just another tower defense game” crowd. This also goes for games that have the word “fighter” or “shooter” in them. Don’t evoke a sense of averageness when you can go for awesome. Just be careful how generalized you make your words. That’s not to say that good games haven’t come out of making genre-specific words; “Street Fighter” and “Desktop Tower Defense” were both splendid. But these game were genre-defining on their own so unless you game is helping make history it might be best to avoid common terms.
That’s it for my examples of good game-naming. I’ve started to be more careful as I have began research into this topic, and stepping back I can see where I messed up at times. Game naming is an important task that shouldn’t be neglected by the game developer!