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How do you name a project at the beginning?

corjohnson profile image Corey Johnson ・1 min read

I've noticed that one of the hardest parts for me at the beginning of a project is picking a name. Even a project name. Mainly because I want something fun, but also something that feels kinda relevant for what I'm working on. What do y'all do to come up with names (temporary or permanent)? 😄

Discussion

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First things first, be okay with your project name not matching your permanent (or game) name. If you try to find the perfect name before you start, it will hinder your creative process. Plus sometimes building the thing is a great way to discover the name.

For the project (temporary) name I would spent a maximum of 5 minutes thinking about it. What ever sounds best go with it and don't look back.

As far as permanent name goes, I like to run with a name for a few days and use that name in passing when talking about it with friends and team members. Don't be hesitant or reluctant when using it either. Say it with confidence almost as though you've made up your mind. Most names sound stupid at first, but eventually you will find that a name starts to embody the work.

I remember the Psyonix team saying Rocket League sounded like a silly name to them at first, but after a few months they discovered it was perfect.

The rule I live by is: If it doesn't feel right after a week, ditch it and try a new name. My experience has been that after 4 or 5 iterations of this you end up with a great name (like LetsBuild.gg) :) I wont mention the hideous names we tried out for a few weeks either <3

 

I will attest to some of the name that shall not be discussed... lol

 

One piece of advice I've heard about temporary names: Don't pick something that could become the permanent name, because there's a good chance it could stick.

Pick something totally stupid, like call it Steve and move on. The closer it is to viable, the more likely it is you just stick with something subpar.

 

A mini mental process I've been doing that helps is to define what the main mechanic, character, or art style is of the game that makes it unique compared to other games. From there, come up with a fun word related to that mechanic/character/style, then just pop it after "Project" to make it sound super official 😂

Some random examples:
An action game that somehow utilizes mirrors - Project Reflection
A game that uses the players shadow - Project Umbrella
A game where you lead small hedgehogs home - Project Pinecone
A story driven visual novel set in high school - Project Homeroom
A game that is all chalk style - Project Sidewalk

Some sound better than others, but I find comfort in having a "system" to back up the naming decision!

 

I know I've started my share of projects to help organize my thoughts.

I follow a similar idea like you. I have my concept I just give it that name. Sometimes it's what inspired the idea or a mechanic I'm playing with.

I'm a fan of adding Project to make it official though. 😁