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Community Spotlight: Stop Making Up New Words For Things!

Posted by MikeB Thursday February 10 2011 at 4:34PM
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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.

Annwyn writes:

At first reading the entry's name, I thought it was about the various terms being created like "owned", "pwned", or whatever jargon is being used today in MMOs to describe damage, class, actions, etc. Players tends to come up with new ones on a nearly daily basis, and it does get annoying.

Bastionix in this case seems, misinformed. most of the words raised by Bastionix, have been used since MUDs or MMORPG like UO, and even tabletop DnD in some cases. Nothing has actually changed.

As for Game Developers trying to redefine their games under new categories, I think it has to do with the fact that the market is filled with MMOs and they are simply looking to word it in a different way to attract players. The word "MMORPG" has lost a bit of it's meaning throughout the years, becoming increasingly more negative in the eyes of gamers who grow tired of being served the same bread and butter over and over again.

Thu Feb 10 2011 4:55PM Report
haratu writes:

Should this be the time to mention WAR's trademark of the term "Realm vs Realm"?

Thu Feb 10 2011 4:59PM Report
reillan writes:

There's another, more important reason why games do this: To avoid copyright infringement.

Thu Feb 10 2011 10:02PM Report
Stormbow writes:

That would be "Mythic's" trademark of the phrase "Realm vs Realm", which originated in Dark Age of Camelot, not Wowhammer Online.

Fri Feb 11 2011 12:04AM Report
shava writes: A second to most of these terms being older than the games cited. In particular, "shard" means more than server, specifically a set of servers (usually) that provide a fully duplicative platform of persistant content to a population of users separated for community or performance reasons. Eve Online has many servers, seamlessly one shard. Any game ofany size has many shards that the players may *call* servers, but are generally running on a complex of servers. Fri Feb 11 2011 2:25PM Report
MMOExposed writes:

Realm vs Realm is the same as Faction vs Faction. same thing

Fri Feb 11 2011 3:27PM Report
Luczifer writes:

To use new terms isn't a problem - often it is just needed for RP and game world like kinship in LOTRO, corporation in EVE.

Bad thing is when devs take old and very known thing and then try to show that as their new and never-seen-before discovery.

Fri Feb 11 2011 4:42PM Report
Zexc writes:

Personally learning new terminology in games is the last thing I ever have issues with. In fact, I prefer it when a game tends to take their own spin on things, however, using the same old terminology makes no real difference to me.

If learning new terminology for a game is difficult, I'd hate to see how someone like that deals with the lore of the game.

Fri Feb 11 2011 4:49PM Report
Irus writes:

I don't see how it's an issue. Games should use terms that fit into their world the best. Whether those terms are the same or different from those in other MMO's is irrelevant. Is it really that difficult to use a different term? Seriously?

Fri Feb 11 2011 10:46PM Report
nolf writes:

ah so THATS why my flame of the OP got a was becomming a spotlight!  I stand by my original statements.

Sat Feb 12 2011 4:21AM Report
MurasakiRiyu writes:

I rather enjoy the different spin each game takes on common terminology, to me it means the developers have placed a bit more effort into really creating their world (especially from a writing perspective) and allowing the player to submerge themselves in their world more fully. After all I play games to escape into a different world, and every small little addition into helping me believe in their world is appreciated.

As to moer general terms like MMORPG, MMORTS etc, I don't reallly see what the problem is, no-one has complained about using the generic terms of FPS, RTS etc (they are still in common use) Occasionaly, for marketing reasons, they might further qualify it as a realistic FPS or a WW2 FPS but that seems to be as far as it goes. Coudn't online do the same, use the standard categories then just add further qualifiers onto that? In fact as far as I know thise has been the general process so far with many games explained as a fantasy MMORPG as opposed to a space MMORPG etc etc

Sun Feb 13 2011 2:33AM Report
megagame writes:

I have nothing againgst using names that fit the lore or setting, but some times it feels like their are just making new names just to be differnt.

like current it is in to use the term "next gen" even when you game is the same as last years games.

Sun Feb 13 2011 2:56AM Report writes:
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