Stuff in MMOs has names. That’s… like, a defining feature. We all know that. These games have titles, and they have expansions, and they have races and classes and… you get the idea. Names. Some of those names slip out of your memory within about five minutes, and some of them stick in your head… and still others wind up on a list of your all-time favorite names in the genre, like this one!
This is hardly an exhaustive list of all the names I love in various games, because that would take far longer. But it’s a list of different categories and an example of a name I love in each. What can you use this information for? I’m not sure. But perhaps it will inspire you or make you smile. Or you can use it as a recollection of some weird names that stuck in your head. Both of these things are welcome in the comments.
1. Game: WildStar
MMO names tend to fall into two categories, either Such-and-such Online (even when there is not, for example, an EVE Not Online) or Large Area of Something-or-other. So I appreciate when a game just features a title which is memorable and distinct by itself instead of in contrast with other titles in the series.
But, of course, that alone isn’t enough. You can’t just name the game whatever; I expect the game to deliver on the promise of that title.
WildStar, as a name, conjures images of the wild west, of star travel, of crazy disjointed events, of noise, of volume, of color, of energy. And it delivered absolutely all of those things. It deserves credit for a lot of things, but “getting the name right” is one of them.
2. Expansion: City of Heroes: Going Rogue
Similar to the above, most expansion titles also have a format wherein the title is either The Important Noun or Descriptor of The Important Noun. Which, again, makes sense because it promises something. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King promises you a Lich King and anger, and by gosh, it delivered on both. World of Warcraft: Legion could be accused of many things, but a lack of the eponymous Legion was not among them. But sometimes you can really swing for the fences.
City of Heroes: Going Rogue promises something in its title. It also delivered on that something. It doesn’t say you can switch factions, but it implies as much, and the best part is that it subsequently delivers on every part of that promise. I adore the title to this day.
3. Race: Forsaken (World of Warcraft)
You can argue back and forth over whether or not the official title of the race is “Undead” or “Forsaken,” but “Forsaken” is a great name. Not just because it’s more distinct, either. “Forsaken” implies that the race is an offshoot of something else (which it is) while also implying that the race has been left behind by its original group. It’s no longer welcome, and that rejection defines the entire race of people.
Which, to be fair, is also the name of the Draenei, but that’s not in a language anyone speaks, so neener.
4. Class: Great Weapon Fighter (Neverwinter)
“When are you going to stop giggling about the grammatical ambiguity for a Neverwinter class, Eliot?”
Never. It’s funny. This class is excellent at fighting weapons.
5. Zone: Jugner Forest (Final Fantasy XI)
Really, every zone in Final Fantasy XI has an evocative name. That’s part of what I love about the game. You may not know what Rolanberry Fields means at a glance, but it gives you an idea right there. It’s named like people in the real world name things, but it’s using a set of cultural assumptions and histories we simply don’t have access to, and those are explained in the game.
So why am I picking Jugner specifically? Because it’s never been clear to me if it’s supposed to be pronounced with a hard J or a Y sound, or if the trailing “er” is meant to be said in the French style. And every variant is fun to say and it’s fun to look at.
6. Dungeon: Snowcloak (Final Fantasy XIV)
By contrast, the names in Final Fantasy XIV are a bit more utilitarian; it’s the dungeons where they get really evocative. Snowcloak in particular has a name that makes a promise and then delivers on it, a big long cave network coated in snow and with blasting gusts of same. It’s also faceroll-level easy, so that’s nice.
7. Faction: T.H.O.R.N. (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
Yes, I am a sucker for names that sound like secret agencies from 60s spy thrillers. But I’m also a sucker for when those names actually do mean something. So good on you with this one, Star Wars: The Old Republic, a shining beacon among a sea of rather bland reputation names.
Seriously, I like the game’s overall reputation system, but most of them have descriptive but bland names that fail to delight. But who wouldn’t want to introduce themselves with something like “I’m Thrak Vol, agent of T.H.O.R.N.”? Joyless people, that’s who.
And people who are still bitter over the lack of RP servers. Which is me, too, but let’s not quibble.
8. Ability: Percussive Maintenance (Star Trek Online)
Percussive maintenance is a real thing in engineering. It’s when you hit something until it starts working (or it’s so broken you have to replace it). You are performing maintenance via percussion. It is perhaps best summed up in a line from Schlock Mercenary: “Equipment that can’t perform its function gets replaced. Equipment that won’t perform its function gets hit until it does or until it can’t.”
I love that in Star Trek Online, in a utopian vision of the future, in a specialization literally called “Miracle Worker,” there is an ability that buffs you when you hit someone in melee that is called “Percussive Maintenance.” This makes me very happy. It just tickles me to think that brilliant engineers have agreed that at some point you have to throw up your hands and just hit the thing until it works, and it has become so ingrained in their collective psyches that it’s become common practice.
9. NPC: Boring Weevil (Final Fantasy XIV)
Yes, we’re back to me finding grammar funny. Sure, I know exactly what this means. It is a weevil which bores into things, which to be fair is sort of what weevils do. Look up some weevils on Wikipedia! Calling this a “boring weevil” is thus odd insofar as you might as well call something a “carrion vulture,” but not inaccurate.
But “Boring Weevil” doesn’t bring that to mind. It brings to mind a weevil whose apartment is decorated in nothing but shades of beige, whose favorite movie is a test pattern video from 1973, whose favorite book is the instruction manual to the TI-83 graphing calculator, and whose favorite song is the emergency broadcast system. Someone without a single interesting thing to consider. A boring boring weevil!
10. Item: Ground Gear (World of Warcraft)
This is just a trash item from Northrend, but it’s still my wife’s favorite item in the game, and for that alone it’s mine too.