Sunday, June 26, 2016

I am my own grandpa

For the past few days I've been diving breathlessly into Banished (a shockingly good game, if not exactly perfect) and the many, many, many... many times I've been forced by some miscalculation to scrap my city and start over have brought to mind an old nuisance that seemingly will just not die out.

As I've repeatedly and at length expounded in the past, naming is more than just window-dressing in games. It expresses identity. I am Werwolfe, from my unstable temperament to my love of nature and social pariah status to my predilection for anachronism to whatever other real, imagined or self-imposed character traits I care to assign myself.

So I, the wise and ever-Byronic mayor Werwolfe, welcome you to the scenic village of Nyctimus on the banks of the... the... of the... wait, that ain't right.
Esthervile? What the hell? I didn't write that. I don't even know anyone named "Ville." Why isn't my town's name Nyctimus? My town / planet / space station / undisclosed location names are always either Niflheim or Nyctimus. "Werwolfe of Estherville" kinda lacks that mythic tonality, y'know?

So yeah, I hate the auto-fill. I hate it in city sims. I hate it in TBSes:
I hate it especially in RPGs, the last genre where you should ever be prompted to surrender the choice of your own identity.
To clarify, I've got nothing against the availability of a name randomizer. It's a useful tool. Maybe you want to take a randomized name and make it your own, appending your own meaning to it or building your character around it. Off the top of my head, Aedan above sounds sort of like Aiden so maybe I want to make him into a truly Edenic Lawful Good stick-in-the-mud and play that role to the hilt. Maybe you just want to use the name randomizer as inspiration. In LotRO I flipped through scores of randomized names for each of my characters, not to actually choose one, but to see what kind of suffixes and such to use to massage my mythological mutt names into something Middle-Earthling.

However, the randomizer should never be the default. The player should always be presented with the blank name box, the grand question of "who are you?" The randomizer button should stand nearby as a backup, but personal choice should always come first.

And yeah, it seems like a minor issue, having to drag-select and hit delete, and I've likely put more work into this post than it would take me to delete hundreds of randomized names, but it's the principle of the thing, you know? It should be the people with no imagination who have to go to the trouble of that extra click, not me. Not those who want to think for them-elves.
I know where I came from. But where did all you zombies come from?

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