Saturday, November 11, 2006

On Naming

I made a rookie mistake. Normally I take quite a bit of time to ruminate on a name before I create a character. Normally....

But I named two characters on the same server both with names that start with the letter "J." That doesn't seem like a big problem except the fact that I mail things to myself all the time. Herbs to the alchemist... items to be enchanted... food from the cook... armor kits from the leather worker... etc. And by naming two "J" characters I broke my general naming rules and my normally orderly mailing (read: autopilot) has now turned to chaos (read: no idea where I just sent that).

Here are some of my general naming conventions:

Name to take advantage of Autofill - Unique first letters
Step 1 - Put the names of my alts in each of the others friends-list.
Step 2 - When I mail something to an alt, type just the first letter and the mail system autofills from the names of people in your friends list.

And as I learned after the great Friends-List-Wipe of 2006, if there's no one in your friends list it autofills with the names of the people in your guild (which for me is filled with alts who haven't logged in since the great There's-Not-Enough-60's-In-This-Guild-To-Raid-With main-character-migration of 2005). It took a month for all that stuff to get kicked back to me.

Autofill, my one time friend, turned into my new problem with the two J characters. I would enter the letter J, for "Jill" for example, but instead it autofills "Jack" because his name sorts first. Oops, wrong mail. Again. At least this time its still to me, so it only takes two hours to fix.

Name to take advantage of Autofill - Avoid certain letters
I also try not to have names that begin with "W" or "B." Why? Because I can't tell you how many times I am in the middle of sending a piece of mail but change my mind. I then try to walk away and press "W" or try to open or close my bags and press "B." Instead of closing the Send Mail window, I wind up filling in the name of someone on my friends list. ("Briar" actually gets a lot of errant mail that way.)

To show you how truly lazy I am, my new rule is to pick names of characters whose letters are around the WASD keyboard position. E, C, V, R, T, G, B, F ... all good choices. This way my left hand barely moves. You think I'm kidding; I'm not. Someone can actually BE this lazy.

Although I tell myself it's "efficient."

Anticipate future name variations - Titles
This isn't really a problem for me because I don't engage in PVP. But I still try to anticipate what a name will look like with a title in front of it. The name "Rume" may sound fine on its own but rank up to "Private Rume" and expect some weird whispers.

Compare to Other Character Names
When you're naming you may benefit from reviewing Naming Patterns courtesy of PlayOn (Exploring the social dimensions of virtual worlds). It's a very interesting read. Also check out the link I mentioned previously that can show you existing player names across servers.

More Links:

  • Blizzard's Naming Policy
  • Sample Mule Names
  • WoWInsider's Take on Naming

  • Update 8/2/2007: Mark of the Wild's Naming discussion with good comments.


    Doeg said...

    Good post!


    And I thought that all you needed to name a character was the appendix of the Silmarillion.

    Boy was I wrong... :P

    Seriously, though, when using the mail system in WoW I am in the habit of typing in more than just the first letter of a name because of the email system at work, which typically requires at least three letters to find the person you want. So if I'm sending something to Doeg, I'll type at least "Doe" before I look up to verify that I have "Doeg".

    And on the topic of mail, I've mostly given up on using mail as an extension of the bank. The problem is managing the bouncing of items between characters; it takes time, and requires that I check mail on every character just about every day (even more time). So I've started to try to clean out the mailboxes, and assign certain types of trade goods or raw materials to specific characters. I'm still carrying a mailbox backlog, but not so big and hard to manage since I changed my mindset.

    I'm seriously considering taking an undead mage I started, but never really played (still in Brill at level 1), into UC to act as a bank extension -- he can hold quite a bit of "stuff" with a backpack and 4 modest bags, and add the bank (plus only 10s to add an additional bank bag), and he should be more than sufficient.

    And the bank, mailbox, and AH are close together in the major cities like UC, so he can act as a middleman to list items found in far-flung areas on the AH without needing to spend time with a main or heavily-played alt flying back for mundane AH stuff.

    Delaney said...

    Ah, nice trick: inspiration via Tolkien.

    I tried to use mail for storage too. I even tried a mod that would keep track of when things would expire. It was kind of buggy though. And I play too inconsistently to trust I wouldn't lose something.

    Mailbox backlog - that's a monkey on my back too.