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Community Spotlight: Stop Making Up New Words For Things!

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 10 2011 at 5:34PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Stop making new words!" by bastionix. Bastionix is frustrated by the lack of uniformity for common terms or commands across the MMOG genre:

I don't like when developers invent silly new words for the same thing.

A /tell became a /whisper in WoW.

A group became a party in WoW.

A guild became a linkshell in FFXI and FFXIV.

server is a shard in Rift, a realm in WoW.

Stop making up new words that mean the exact same thing please, it's just confusing.

Kyleran offers the counter-argument:

Every developer adds their own flavor to their games and UI, /tell might not have been descriptive enough, /whisper makes more sense.

Guilds fit one lore, but in other games there's been clans, tribes, corporation, warbands and linkshells, the concepts the same, no reason to maintain the same name thorughout though.

A server tends to be one single box, as opposed to a realm or shard which represents an entire game universe, regardless how many hardware elements there are. From a RPing perspective I prefer the more elegant terms.

Variety is the spice of life, and language has already been reduced down too much, I prefer things to be more interesting.

Meowhead takes issue with some of the specific examples such as /tell and /whisper, noting the commands' history in MUDs, which predate MMOGs:

... man, back 18 years ago I was playing games that used both 'tell' and 'whisper' as commands (Tell being a long distance version of whisper, basically)

MUDs, MUCKs and MUSHes have had all sorts of variant of those commands.  This seems like a particularly weird complaint to me, because using various terminology for private communication predates graphical MMORPGs.

I'm sure it may be even older, from online shared chat programs, I'm not sure.

VengeSunsoar notes that this sort of thing isn't really limited to MMOGs, but occurs in just about every industry:

Making up new words for the same thing happens in every industry.

I still remember feeling irritated way way back in school when I released that Anaeobic Alactic, the phosphagen system, ATP-CP system, and probably a few other names I've forgotten were all different names for the exact same energy system.

A bit irritating and confusing until you figure that out.


A somewhat related subject came up today between myself and a former colleague, but it had more to do with what developers or publishers often do to re-categorize their games and how that can be quite annoying. For example, the new Neverwinter game coming from Cryptic Studios is being referred to as an "OMG" (Online Multiplayer Game) or Vogster's classification of CrimeCraft as a "PWNS". Let's get some uniformity here, CrimeCraft is basically an MMOFPS and the Neverwinter game is a CORPG (Cooperative Online RPG). Basically, if it fits into MMORPG, MMORTS, MMOFPS, etc, use it. Let's not come up with new terms just for the sake of it.

Of course, in the end, this is all simply a pet peeve of mine and not exactly a serious complaint, but yes, it can be annoying as it only ends up confusing people who aren't incredibly familiar with the genre.