Setting Terminology in Stories

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Youkos
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Setting Terminology in Stories

#1 Post by Youkos » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:23 am

Hey everyone, this is my first post here, please be kind to me.

Either way, moving on.

While I was nearing the end of my pre-production stage for my visual novel, I came across a rather interesting question, how should I approach terminology in my game?

First some context.

My game is set in a sci-fi fantasy world (yes with magic) where magic and technology are one and the same. Although the setting my name game is not directly connected the real life world we live in, some of the original founders were from the real world. Since that was the case I thought it would make sense to use standard terminology we use today like "human" instead of something overly fancy like some other series out there (if any of you have played Elona, you know humans have many different names dependent on where they came from).

An example of this would be like in the Final Fantasy MMO where elves are called "Elezan" and humans are called "Hyur".

However, the problem I've come to face is that the original founders of my world have been long dead for over 1000 years and they wouldn't have been there to name anything after they died. Language as evolved in the last 1000 years as well meaning that it would also make sense for the names of things to not be the recognizable english we all know today.

In the way my game is presented, in a way the language in the game is translated into normal modern day english for the reader to read meaning I could also easily "translate" the complicated names into normal english as well.


So in the end it really just comes down to preference.

So what do you enjoy?

Fancy terminology or well-known terminology? If you could offer why, that would be awesome.

Thanks everyone.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#2 Post by SusanTheCat » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:05 pm

I'm on the "well-known" Terminology side.

My thinking is: Why would you go to the trouble of translating everything else, then skip out on the names?

Now if "humans" had been genetically split into "Gyuars" and "Popplies", then it makes sense to keep the fancy name.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#3 Post by Youkos » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:26 pm

SusanTheCat wrote:I'm on the "well-known" Terminology side.

My thinking is: Why would you go to the trouble of translating everything else, then skip out on the names?

Now if "humans" had been genetically split into "Gyuars" and "Popplies", then it makes sense to keep the fancy name.

Susan
Well if you're asking why not translate the names, it's like if you translate stuff from japanese to english. Most people still keep the suffixes and official names for organizations or groups of people.
Though I do get your point; thanks for the input.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#4 Post by bunnyhug » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:36 pm

I think it depends a bit on the execution!! Fantasy names can really help the immersion hit home - they can convey the feeling of being in another world really well. The downside is that sometimes the terminology can be more than the reader can take in, and sometimes authors just do massive infodumps with these names which, a lot of the time, go completely unread or are forgotten about quickly.
I think you should use fantasy/fancy names, but maybe include a glossary or a dictionary that the reader can access from the pause menu or maybe in a text document in the readme file or something, that explains some of the terms, incase the reader forgets.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#5 Post by Greeny » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:50 pm

It can add a lot of flavour, but make sure to 'ease into' the terminology. Try to situate your early scenes to make sure that the very first time a word is mentioned, the context makes it readily apparent what the meaning is.
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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#6 Post by Youkos » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:58 pm

I was planning to have some sort of lore section that the player could stop and look into as they encounter the words. Thanks for the advice guys~ :v

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#7 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:20 pm

A lot of people who attempt to use fancy terminology for everything end up making a bunch of gibberish people don't like to sit through. I like that kind of terminology, but you have to do it right. Introduce it gradually, not all at once.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#8 Post by Youkos » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:42 pm

Now the main problem is how hard it is to do it right. Exposition dump is never really fun to flip through, but at the same time having to stop and look up something is annoying .-....

Though, a lot of people do seem to enjoy the fantastic terminology, though I want to hear a few more opinions before I decide anything =w=...

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#9 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:34 pm

I don't know if it's be suitable for your VN, but in mine, I have hyperlinked words sometimes, that are a slightly different colour from regular text.
If the player clicks on these, their character will ask about that topic for more information. They may not ask right away, as that would break the flow of conversation, but there is a visual and auditory signal to show the link way clicked correctly, and that question will be asked in a more suitable part in the conversation.
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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#10 Post by dramspringfeald » Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:51 am

Actually it comes down to the Expo Dump, Believe this or not but there are plenty of people that will have no idea what you just said and WILL have to Google Terminology. Keeping this in mind, you will have to take both options when using terms people might find a little hard to remember or understand. in story have the "what" character and Small dictionary. Links to a WIKI or something explaining it is also a good move.

The "what character" simply asks "what/who does that mean/do/work" and someone replies with your definition. This is usually the "Kid," "the new guy" and "the Worrier" but don't be afraid to mix it up. NEXT Keep a Dictionary with the game Either in the Book/PDF that comes with the game explaining core concepts of your game and that goes into depth to fill plot wholes if you find any. This would include a WIKI for your game. They're free and kind of easy to set up. This'll serve the same purpose as the PDF but won't require Downloads and stuff.

but yeah, A Book, Expo dump and a Web source are your best methods. Just be careful "A Wizard/The Force Did it: can be over used.
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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#11 Post by SHiNKiROU » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:06 pm

Remember names is a barrier of understanding so I would prefer humans. If you want a fantasy terminology for humans, try to create an in-universe justification.

Calling something common a weird name is called "calling a rabbit smeerp" (Google this term), and I'm having the same problem in my universe Half Earth, not in humans, but made-up physics.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#12 Post by Gear » Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:20 am

It'll be tough to do without an audience surrogate, I'm sure. A technique I saw in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance used normal terms for the two species (Human and Sub-Human) as being common, until a scholar corrects the main character, informing him that their technical names are Beorc and Laguz, respectively. But again, that uses an audience surrogate, and if you don't have one in your story, that probably won't work.
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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#13 Post by Kami » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:52 am

It is excellent point! However, as a game programmer I learned that there is no need to invent a wheel all over again. People don't like changes, they tend to stay in their comfort zone. So, it would be logical to keep all terminology widely used in our daily life.

Even when we play a new game and a game introduces new species when we talk about them we tend to say "those with cat ears" rather than Furry or w/e the game creator names them.

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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#14 Post by dramspringfeald » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:48 pm

Kami wrote:It is excellent point! However, as a game programmer I learned that there is no need to invent a wheel all over again. People don't like changes, they tend to stay in their comfort zone. So, it would be logical to keep all terminology widely used in our daily life.

Even when we play a new game and a game introduces new species when we talk about them we tend to say "those with cat ears" rather than Furry or w/e the game creator names them.
My issue tends to be the other way... Much like The Mass Effect cores on ME they are based on a quantum theory we are working on right now. The problem for most players is they have no clue what the hell Quantum nor Theory means so you have to feed them some of the more basic data so they have a clue whats going on.

Which is my issue, These aren't new Wheels I'm inventing just a new concept of them that people have probably never head of. so how would someone go about filling in that kind of info without burning their mind.
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Re: Setting Terminology in Stories

#15 Post by Youkos » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:07 pm

You've all got pretty good points and suggestions.

The way things are now, I'll probably set up a dictionary that the player can easily access ingame and look up words if they need to.

I'm thinking of underlining games that appear in the dictionary the first time they come up so it's clear what you can look up vs. what you can't look up.

Also, as far as introducing words go, there's certain things the main character knows about and these things are often mentioned in conversations she has with the people around her. While they don't out right explain everything, I'm fairly confident that the reader can figure it out themselves (I have faith!).

As for exposition dumps, I'm trying to stay away from it as much as possible, but if anything I'll try to make it say something about the characters or at least make it interesting.

Thanks for the help guys. I always welcome new suggestions of anyone's got any.

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