Picking a strong name for a new game project is a soaring joy for our creative selves — and a potential minefield for our business selves. There are so many seemingly competing interests in the process! And with boundless choices, the temptation is often to stay at the table long past the time to make a choice has come and gone.
I’m sure some studios approach this process differently, but this is how we look at it: we look for names which are memorable, distinct, and informative. For our new hybrid story/puzzle game — whose goal is to harness the power of the bureaucracy to save your space ship’s hapless crew from their own worst impulses — we had a lot of excellent options. In the end, we sat down with "HRO: Adventures of a Humanoid Resources Officer" and here’s why.
This choice clearly illustrates the core conflict of the game — that the small-in-stature player-protagonist (identified by an institutional-sounding acronym "the HRO") is actually the one who makes all the difference to the story (the H(e)RO). We also love that when you say the acronym aloud you can hear the word “hero” which get us both of these elements in one elegant, acoustic swoop.
When it’s paired with its subtitle, as in "HRO: Adventures of a Humanoid Resources Officer," we also get the contrasting sound of a paper-pusher job description paired with the unexpected word “Adventure.” This is then further transformed by the use of the word “Humanoid” to get us to a sci-fi head space. The strong contrasts are not only contextually and inherently exciting (memorable), they also set this name and this game off from the bulk of sci-fi-themed adventure games (distinct) and cue the player to expect humor and irreverence (informative).
Plus, it can be shortened to the poppy in-the-know shorthand of “HRO” once the audience knows the premise of the game, which gives us editorial and marketing flexibility.
We're looking forward to sharing more of our process with you as the project develops. Next time we'll take a look at the design of the Endeavor, the vessel on which the player character serves. We’ve got an exciting ride in store. We hope you'll join us!
Worthing and Moncrieff, LLC is an independent developer of video game stories founded in 2015.