Your Name Here

Setting aside content-based restrictions, how do and should games implement names? That is, what text can you enter into that field?

Options here include whether the game allows spaces, numbers, punctuation, or other special characters such as letters not used in that language, smilies and hearts in the character map but not on standard keyboards, etc. The issues of which letters/characters to allow will vary by language, and spaces and punctuation affect the chat system.

A minor but annoying effect for non-monogamous MMO players is remembering whether this game includes last names as names (or just decorations, like a title) and whether this one demands something after the name when sending tells. If the game’s names are one word, no space, then you can “/tell BobBlunderhammer Hi” just fine, while spaces demand a comma or such: “/tell Bob Blunderhammer, Hi” so that the game knows where the name ends. Otherwise, you might want to send Bob a tell of “Blunderhammer Hi,” the traditional greeting of dwarves in the Blunderhammer clan. If you can include punctuation, you need some way for the system to know whether that comma is part of the name or the message. See also Little Bobby Tables.

Beyond the programming, all options involve disadvantages in-game. The use of similar-looking characters is a special annoyance, such as grouping with Mégan, Megán, Megån, and Меgaṉ or sending them tells. The last, in case your system is not showing it, uses Cyrillic characters that look just like M and e. Even restricting it to the 52 Anglo-American characters, let’s hope your capital I does not look like your lowercase l in the default font. Frankly, these people get what they deserve if no one can invite them to groups, although that social restriction is reduced in these days of random dungeon finder and clickable names.

See also name confusion, intentional or not, from names that are similar due to capitals and special characters. You would never notice that Меgan was impersonating Megan unless you recognized the Cyrillic letters.

Putting last names in separate fields makes them irrelevant to most interactions. You send /tell to Alack, and no one in your guild who has not “physically” run into your character knows that his last name is of Ofpie. Similar issues let Hugep Ennis evade the name filter or being reported for a long while.

I find decorative punctuation annoying, but apparently many people think that -=-Killer Assasssin-=- is a great name. Without punctuation, or spaces xXxKillerAssassssinxXx works like a charm. If I could hate them to death, I would.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Your Name Here”

  1. Ahh it takes me back to when we had 20 people in Planetside named Lilly Lillet, using/abusing the 1 l L I combination to form endless clones.

    It was a nightmare inviting them all to the outfit though.

    1. I believe there are a lot of characters in CoH called The Parallel Illusion, since I and l look the same there.

  2. I quite like the system used by Cryptic, name@accountname. That people manage to give themselves atrocious names and account names as well is another matter.

  3. I’d be happy with all names being game-generated. The benefits of having every name you see be appropriate within the context of the game would heavily outweigh the loss of personal choice for me.

    I would certainly limit all player-names to a single name, using only the letters A-Z, with capitalisation only on the first letter. (On English language servers that is, obviously).

    1. Usually I’m all for game-generated names, but at least on the Defiant side, Rift generates some truly atrocious (unpronounceable) names.

    2. My first reaction to reading this was, “definitely no!” After stopping to think for a minute, I realized I might be okay with this if the game gave a list of names to choose from (maybe 25-50 names per list generation).

      I’d hate to have absolutely no choice or have to spam a generate name button until I get something I like.

  4. If we are speaking strictly for MMOs I am a strictly A-Z guy with only/always capital on first letter. I see no problem with allowing ` once in a name, although I don’t use them. I hate the account name links.

  5. I am always disappointed when a gane forces me to spell my nick I use pretty much everywhere backwards. Is it really that bad?

  6. I’ll survive the more ridiculous ones, but it would be nice if names were limited to one keyboard layout on any given server.

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