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
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:
• 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
, 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.
(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).
(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.
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.