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Published August 15, 2018

To kick off our blogs, I was asked to write about something challenging or interesting from getting kFunction setup and our first game developed.

So, challenging??? My mind went straight to the days, weeks (and I think months!) that we spent naming our company and game.

How did it start?

At the start of every project I believe the naming process will be like this:

NamesBlogDiagrams (1)

But this is exactly what always happens for us:

NamesBlogDiagrams (2)

When I look back at my notebooks and spreadsheets from when we were setting up, I am freshly struck by just how many ideas we went through and how odd some of the trains of thought were. At one point in my book “Cat Furnace” is written down?!

This seems particularly inappropriate for a games developer, and as everyone in our team is a big cat lover, I do wonder where it came from. We also have “Cosmacsmile” which I have no idea how to pronounce and can no longer reverse engineer with any certainty the concepts or words we were trying to combine.

We have a history of this sort of thing too….

I have worked with Chris, my co-developer, for very many years now. At our wits’ end in the 90’s, we decreed that the next thing anybody said would be the name for current sub-system in development. Rather predictably, one of us said “Umm” and that was it – we had the Umm system for the rest of the project.

Another time in the same decade, writing scrolling systems for the new AGA Amigas, we thought we’d try taking inspiration from music. Many people find music inspiring, so surely it could work for us too. We were in to the The Orb at the time, who have some fairly unusual samples in their tracks. So, should have seen it coming… We ended up with two generations of scrolling system, the first “Selass-o-matic” (a reference to Haile Selassie) which at least sounds a little bittle scrolly; and then we finished with “Hello, I’m Brag, Woof” which catchily abbreviates to HIBW, and is plainly awful.

So, to summarise….

This is what I resolved to remember the next time we hit the need-a-name point in the project:

  • Brainstorm independently and then review as a group – this helped us pull in more disparate sets of ideas
  • Give ourselves time. Trying to do it in just one or two sittings doesn’t work – you run out of inspiration and end up hating everything as the hours draw on.
  • Come back to ideas after a night’s sleep. You’ll see them afresh, a bit more like someone independent, and can make better decisions.
  • Talk to a cross-section of people, including but not just your obvious target audience. See what sort of face they pull for each idea.

Hopefully there’s a little encouragement in here for anyone struggling for inspiration – if nothing else it might make you think “if they can do it, anyone can.” 

Good luck!