Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Star Wars is going to be reclaiming numerous character names on Nov 1. Essentially names of character who are under level 30, have not logged in for 3 months or so, and do not belong to current subscribers will be freed up. I think this is great news. Last time I tried to make a character, it was quite hard to come up with a name that had not been taken.

It's interesting to see what approaches new MMOs are taking to naming. Names have to be unique, so that you can uniquely identify the people you mail or interact with. But at the same time, the "good" names get taken early and players have to resort to more and more unusual names.

Cryptic tags character names with @account. So you can use any name for your character, but your account name has to be unique. The downsides here are that there is an explicit link between your characters and your account, which a lot of people don't like. And it does look kind of funny.

Some games like GW2 allow names to include spaces or punctuation (a common one is a period). This allows you to make names which are more complicated, but still easy to remember.

FFXIV makes you chose a first name and a last name. This allows you to vary a common first name with different last names, while still having everyone use your first name in conversation. As well, it seems to make people name their characters better.

Of the current methods, I like having a first and last name the best. It's simple and easy, and feels natural. I think that new MMOs should strongly consider using this model for their naming schemes.


  1. While I prefer the FF14 model as you do, the Cryptic one has an awesome side feature. Accountability. While I know first names, actually knowing the person behind the keyboard is tremendously valuable. I can just ignore anyone with that account name or easily group with them again. I find it makes a stronger social bond.

  2. It's not clear why Bioware enforces unique player names when they have Legacy surnames which are in essense not different from "@account".

    As a result, it's nearly impossible to use any naturally sounding name in SWTOR. I utilize random name generator for naming, but when it produces a decent name, it's usually already taken!

  3. I think that TSW had the start of a good compromise. You could set your character first and last name as you wanted but needed to have a unique nickname. You should be able to build on that and display the unique name like a title or guild name. The user experience may be confusing as most people would probably try to mail/whisper "John Doe" and not "JDUnique123" but you could probably work around that with friends lists, guild lists, and proximity awareness.

  4. @rimecast: The system also fits very neatly with TSW's slightly occult theme, in that you can think of it as a "true name", which is different from your "normal" name, and has deeper meanings (and power). At least you can think of it that way if you want to, I don't think it's ever introduced in that way in the story.

  5. I do like the first and last name thing too, but the @account works equally well. Not sure about accountability though, you can always have a second account to be naughty on (since Cryptic games are F2P). :P

  6. My main complaint about the account name is that it looks ugly. I usually use a variant of my name as the account name, like RohanV or rverghese. So you get something like:


    Which looks ugly whenever I see it.

    In FFXIV, my character's name is Coriel Ravenstar, which just looks better to me.