Sir Chair of the Duchy of Desk: MMO Name Inspirations (or the lack thereof)

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Virtual worlds blog Terra Nova takes a look at some of the choices players make when naming their avatars in Massively Multiplayer Online games, examining the rather mundane inspirations that guide some decisions.

Can you find the stupid names in this picture?

While focusing mainly on a World of Warcraft forum thread that examines avatar names derived from common household objects, Terra Nova’s Timothy Burke also touches on a very interesting point about the intersection between names and voice communication:

Other times, we’ve given some thought to how a neologism or random name sounds. But other times, the question itself is a bit of a surprise, and we suddenly realize that something which was entirely textual up to that point is now also oral. It’s really interesting to see how people negotiate that moment of invention, where they have to decide just how to say the character’s name, or decide that they don’t really care how it’s said and will respond to any recognizable variant pronounciation.

As I’ve examined in the past, character names are important to a player’s immersion in the game world. If my character’s name is unpronounceable, or untypable, I have to accept that other players will refer to me by a nickname or shortening of my chosen character name. If you cannot adapt to the name that is bestowed upon you because of the inherent complexity of your chosen name, you’ll find your immersion lessened.

The fact that most games put up barriers to name changes, ranging from a not-insubstantial fee (as in World of Warcraft’s $10 charge) to a complete prohibition on changes (as in EVE Online), suggests that game developers understand the importance of a consistent name, both for continuity of reputation within the game world and for that sticky, immersive quality that keeps players playing—and paying for—the game.

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Universal Universe: EV Nova goes UB

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Macworld brings us the news that Ambrosia Software‘s classic space exploration-trading-fighting-sandbox game EV Nova has been upgraded to Universal Binary (or, for our non-Mac using readers, it runs natively on Intel-powered Macs).

Bad place to be in a shuttle.

First released back in 2002, EV Nova was the third the series of Escape Velocity games, all with similar gameplay and with the ability to be extended and modified via plug-ins, leading to a very devoted online following. There’s even a Windows version.

Think single-player, top-down, simplified EVE Online (but with better quest writing and without all the annoying Cider client crashes on the Mac) and you’ve got a good idea of EV Nova. Might not be cutting edge, but the fact that Ambrosia took the time to update a six year-old game to Universal Binary status says something about the game’s enduring popularity, and about Ambrosia’s dedication to their products.

(Via Macworld)