Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nomenclature updates

So, an update to the animal name debacle. Well, I guess it wasn't that bad - just a bunch of boring, boring work that's not quite done.

I was feeling strong this weekend, so I went into this handy excel sheet cribbed from Dan Meyers. I'm not sure how he extracted the data, but he has a solid 100 years of the top male and female names born in the US in one handy excel spreadsheet. Well, okay, semi-handy.

I basically did interval selection on the names, figuring that the difference between 1890 and 1891 would be pretty small, so I did each decade instead, from 1890 to 2000. Put all the names in one column, and filtered out the duplicates. As a result, I got 2500-odd male names that were semi-popular in the last 120 years, and 3500-odd female names. It's surprisingly interesting work going through them all, although I will be grateful when I'm done. I'm up to about name 1000 in each of them. Basically, what I'm doing is pulling out spellings I find difficult or confusing, names that are either completely off the wall or that are too close to another name I want (ie Brian vs Bryan vs Brion vs Bryon). Some of the silly names I'm leaving in, as I can imagine a sheep named Commander.

I'm less picky with the male names than the female ones, because the ratio of male:female names is likely to be pretty low amongst farm animals, and so the player will be typing them less often. We'll see how the numbers come out; I'm hoping for 1,000-1,500 for the females, and about 1,000 for the males.

I did look at replacing the nomenclature values with indexed text, but it got kind of ugly pretty quickly. Since there's a rename option, I'm not too worried. The players will give up the ability to name all their chickens "SOUP", but so be it. I am planning on keeping a list of gender neutral names for insertion later, so there's a chance of a silly name somewhere along the way. Actually, there's plenty of human names that are plenty funny as is (Armani got cut, I'm afraid), and others that are funny in context (a ram named Byron? WIN.)

I've made a note to play with using these as external files, so people can tweak their own, but I think that will wait until I'm in a mood for frustration.

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