Game Titles: What to do.

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So, you’ve read Holk’s witty denouncement of the ever-present yet horrible titles. But your game is about dragons searching for a crystal throughout eternity but simultaneously in their final fantasy. Your previous title (Final Fantasy: The Eternal Dragon’s Crystal) is bunk and you need a new direction. Hopefully this guide will help you pick out a good title for your game.
(N.B., This guide will not improve your crappy game; it may just disguise its crappiness long enough for someone to download the demo. Alternatively, a good title will help “sell” a good game.)
 
To explore good titles we can look to existing games, movies, and literature.

However, existing games—even extremely well-selling games—often have the problem of bad names since they have historically marketed to the same crowd that now comes up with names like “The Amaranthine Knights of Eternia.” “Final Fantasy” might have been a powerful title in the beginning, but the name is now used to sell to the same market. In the mainstream videogame market “Final Fantasy IX” really means “Sakaguchi’s Ninth Game.” You do not have that power, so there will be few video game examples.

Movie titles can have notoriously bad names as well, but the main lesson we can learn from them is brevity, brevity, brevity. Memento is a great title as compared to Till Human Voices Wake Us and We Drown. (Okay, I love Guy Pearce).

Literature has given us a great list of enduring names that I will mostly draw from to illustrate good titles. So without further to-do, here’s a quick list of titling tips:

Titling Tips
•   Fragmented prepositions (To Kill a Mockingbird, Until I Find You)
These titles add a sense of mystery and incompletion to a work. Is it wrong to kill a mocking bird? What’ll you do until you find me? While these titles can be tricky (and rarely brief), they usually have a poetically pleasing rhythm and often demand that the reader read on.

•   Adjectives following nouns as to suggest action (Paradise Lost, Atlas Shrugged)
This type of title is concise, yet kinetic. Two words that suggest that humanity has lost paradise, or that the greatest men on earth are abandoning their duties. These titles enjoy the brevity, brevity, brevity rule.

•   The work's motto or theme (All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It)
Maybe Shakespeare’s the only one that does this, in which case we need to see more of it. They are not the briefest titles in the world, but their originality makes up for it.

•   Alliteration and assonance (Palace of Pleasure, Love’s Labours Lost, V for Vendetta)
These titles are first-and-foremost catchy. The mind, especially the English speaking mind, enjoys the association of starting sounds. The biggest risk with these titles is forcing the wording to fit the alliteration, which looses all effectiveness as a title.

•   Commands (Look Homeward, Angel)
One of the most psychologically powerful titles. A direct command is gripping to the point of nearly being invasive. The title alone can evoke emotion, as Thomas Wolfe’s work does for me. This is not customary for titles, but can be extremely effective for “selling” your game.

•   Second Person (The World Ends With You)
Similar to commands, titles that mention (or better, address) the reader/player/movie-goer draw said person in. (The world ends with me? Aw shoot. . . I’d better try and avoid that.) These titles can be awkward in their novelty and may make the consumer feel too uncomfortable, but they are a powerful way to go if you can.

•   Concepts separated by conjunctions (Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Steam and Steel)
These are especially prevalent in literature. These titles help if you have strong themes in your work.  Especially if the themes are progressions (Crime and Punishment) or seeming opposites (War and Peace).

•   Allusion (The Doors of Perception, A Separate Peace)
Allusions can be pretentious. But otherwise they help to connect a broad theme of even whole story to another work (yours!). I don’t know how often allusion is used in video games, but I believe this community can break the mold.

•   “Zingers” (Memento, Brick, Crash, Taken, Halo)
Popular in movies and videogames, “Zingers” are quick, powerful, and hopefully memorable. They generally express a concept encapsulated in the work. It is often best for these titles to suggest action, as it adds to the excitement.

•   And, finally, the Golden Rule:
“Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.” –George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

As stated before, these tips will not make your game good. They will hopefully make your title good. There is no formula to make a good title. Choosing one of the aforementioned titling tips and putting your words into it will not make a good title. Hopefully though, these tips will expand your mind even that much further.

Special thanks to:
Holk for making this topic http://rmrk.net/index.php/topic,29558.0.html
and to Rasse for encouraging me to make the topic you’ve just read.


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very nice.

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It is very well done. "Till Human Voices Wake Us and We Drown" would fit under allusion too though - it is the last line of "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock", by T. S. Eliot

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It is very well done. "Till Human Voices Wake Us and We Drown" would fit under allusion too though - it is the last line of "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock", by T. S. Eliot
You are very right! One of my favorite poems, too.

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Interesting read. Fragmented propositions would catch my eye most of all. Perhaps a pol of which would catch everyone's, just for interest's sake?
I'm much too lazy to put an actual signature here.

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very nice work :)

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Very well done. It's a lot easier for people if they know what to do instead of just what to avoid.

Stickied. Finally, I get to use my mod powers. :P

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Very well done. It's a lot easier for people if they know what to do instead of just what to avoid.

Stickied. Finally, I get to use my mod powers. :P

Yes, I agree.
Wow, stickied. That's a big first.

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Yes.
Would the zinger "Chimera" work, or is that cliched like dragon? Not that i've seen any chimera games...

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Excellent topic.  The way you break down titling techniques is very useful.

-flap

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I feel like I'm back in High School English lol. Nicely done. Enjoyable read and informative.
As a dog returns to his vomit so too does a fool to his folly.

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Lmao. i know i just broke every Rule you made.
Because quite frankly. theres the whole game for you in that title.
Take this Advice: "Meow" :3

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I have to say, I am amazed. Your insistence of posting in this lonely topic despite no one having done so in almost a year has given me the unique opportunity of bearing witness to the supreme usefulness of your post and the astonishing grammar that you possess. Not only have you made a title that seems to ignore all of the tips provided, but you have presented it in a unique manner which forgoes all precedence. Thank you.




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Sire.

I Hope That you Maintain Godhoodnessshipness Very Soon.

O. Well see you later :D
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Well, I wish I noticed this article before starting Desorian Chronicles...How cliche does that sound, am I right?
I'm just glad that my next possible game I start to make can have a much better name now!

I love the second-person titles, to be honest. "The World ends with You", a popular RPG series, of course, may sound accusitory, but I find that it makes the game seem that much more epic. If a title like that is directed at the buyer, it makes them seem like they're the holder of a destiny or fate, and I think that it really sets a tone for the game before the experience even starts. =)

Great article, Mantik. I love reading all of these stickies!

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need help with iphone game
do you guys have any good names for an iphone game? because they have much different names than say p.c games.
currently making: iphone game

TIPS NEEDED!

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do you guys have any good names for an iphone game? because they have much different names than say p.c games.

That's like saying "I'm writing a book, what should I call it?". You've given us no information what-so-ever, how are we to recommend you a name?

That said, short, snappy names seem to be common for most simple iPhone games: Angry Birds, TinyWings, Fruit Ninja, etc.
I'm much too lazy to put an actual signature here.

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i was HOPING that it could be a game set in the medival times, about sword fighting and such
currently making: iphone game

TIPS NEEDED!

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You could call it: "Sword Fighting and Such in the Medieval Times for iPhone".

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i was HOPING that it could be a game set in the medival times, about sword fighting and such

Medieval Madness?
Current project: Legend of Chaos (RMXP)

Progression
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well done and bravo!

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Hello, I got 3 different Projects I'm working on and I want to ask, which one of the whriten are the best. Maybe there are better titles, I only want to know. ;)

1. Dimensional Chaos, San Sekai, The Way It Ends (I know the second one is not really original. ;) )
2. Dangerous / Complicated Love, Yuri No Monogatari (That one is kinda wrong, don't know), Unknown Threat/Danger/Menace
3. Four Souls, Fantasy Worlds, Change The Worlds Future (Maybe the last one is to long. ;) )

I would be glad, if I could get some help if someone of these titles are okay or good, thanks in advance. :)

Sorry for Necroposting, I readed the date to late. @.@
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 02:03:18 PM by Miriam Blutleer »

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Titling Tips
•   Fragmented prepositions (To Kill a Mockingbird, Until I Find You)
These titles add a sense of mystery and incompletion to a work. Is it wrong to kill a mocking bird? What’ll you do until you find me? While these titles can be tricky (and rarely brief), they usually have a poetically pleasing rhythm and often demand that the reader read on.

•   Adjectives following nouns as to suggest action (Paradise Lost, Atlas Shrugged)
This type of title is concise, yet kinetic. Two words that suggest that humanity has lost paradise, or that the greatest men on earth are abandoning their duties. These titles enjoy the brevity, brevity, brevity rule.

•   The work's motto or theme (All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It)
Maybe Shakespeare’s the only one that does this, in which case we need to see more of it. They are not the briefest titles in the world, but their originality makes up for it.

•   Alliteration and assonance (Palace of Pleasure, Love’s Labours Lost, V for Vendetta)
These titles are first-and-foremost catchy. The mind, especially the English speaking mind, enjoys the association of starting sounds. The biggest risk with these titles is forcing the wording to fit the alliteration, which looses all effectiveness as a title.

•   Commands (Look Homeward, Angel)
One of the most psychologically powerful titles. A direct command is gripping to the point of nearly being invasive. The title alone can evoke emotion, as Thomas Wolfe’s work does for me. This is not customary for titles, but can be extremely effective for “selling” your game.

•   Second Person (The World Ends With You)
Similar to commands, titles that mention (or better, address) the reader/player/movie-goer draw said person in. (The world ends with me? Aw shoot. . . I’d better try and avoid that.) These titles can be awkward in their novelty and may make the consumer feel too uncomfortable, but they are a powerful way to go if you can.

•   Concepts separated by conjunctions (Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Steam and Steel)
These are especially prevalent in literature. These titles help if you have strong themes in your work.  Especially if the themes are progressions (Crime and Punishment) or seeming opposites (War and Peace).

•   Allusion (The Doors of Perception, A Separate Peace)
Allusions can be pretentious. But otherwise they help to connect a broad theme of even whole story to another work (yours!). I don’t know how often allusion is used in video games, but I believe this community can break the mold.

•   “Zingers” (Memento, Brick, Crash, Taken, Halo)
Popular in movies and videogames, “Zingers” are quick, powerful, and hopefully memorable. They generally express a concept encapsulated in the work. It is often best for these titles to suggest action, as it adds to the excitement.

•   And, finally, the Golden Rule:
“Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.” –George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

Great titling tips. This information is very useful!

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I find myself coming back to this, not to figure out what to name a game, but rather to help a friend with titling his story. Since this guide helps with more than just game design, the uses of these apply to stories, poems, movies, etc, as well. Thanks again for this, 'cause it really helps. Even though I've stepped away from game design for a while, I still write, and use these rules often in naming my stories. All this time later, and I still pop here occasionally to catch a reminder. XP
Thanks again.

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Hello, I got 3 different Projects I'm working on and I want to ask, which one of the whriten are the best. Maybe there are better titles, I only want to know. ;)

1. Dimensional Chaos, San Sekai, The Way It Ends (I know the second one is not really original. ;) )
2. Dangerous / Complicated Love, Yuri No Monogatari (That one is kinda wrong, don't know), Unknown Threat/Danger/Menace
3. Four Souls, Fantasy Worlds, Change The Worlds Future (Maybe the last one is to long. ;) )

Don't really know what they are about exactly, but Imo :
1. The Way It Ends
2. Complicated Love
3. Four Souls / Fantasy Worlds (both are nice)

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Thank you. :D

The games where in order I wanted to do them. ;)

1. Is a horror/hentai game, which has Saya No Uta as an inspiration, but with a self standing story. Writen allready 100 sites for it, but not sure if it's good for a game. ;)

2. It was a game, that I started for the GIAW, but was too buggy there. It's a love story between two girls who get's into a complicated situation. Where they have to decide, to live and fight or die like all of the villagers of their town.

3. That is the basic idea of following 4 different stories, where none of them will meet each other.
The first should be a classic RPG story.
The second should be a story where baddies take the command.
The third story is a story where the balance of the world should be regained.
The fourth story should be an unlockable story, after finishing the game.

I still don't know, which of these three I should do first, but that helped in first for titleing. :) (hope I spelled it right) (\s/)