When we started work on our Jane Austen-inspired literary dating sim, we needed something to call it. It was tedious and uninspiring to call it “the new game” or “the second project.” So we put a stake in the ground and tentatively titled it “The Eyre Apparent.” Now, that placeholder title did its job — it gave us a handle for thinking about the project, and it gave the project the illusion of substance when it was still just vapor and good intentions. But as the actual release title, it has problems: the inheritance reference is off the mark and then there’s the Bronte problem (Jane Eyre wasn’t written by Jane Austen).
With development of the new Austen game heating up, we figured the time had come to determine the official release name. We started with a broad brainstorming process, with the requisite large number of terrible options cropping up. Lots of puns. Lots of unwieldy and unattractive word combinations. From there, we winnowed out the non-starters and ended up with about twenty-four intial choices.
Multiple expressions of the same idea — like “Marriage & Matrimony” and “Dowagers & Dowries” both riffs on Austen’s penchant for alliteration and ampersands — were evaluated and the strongest examples of each made it to the short list. We also had a lot of “matchmaking” references in the brainstorm dump, like “Matchbreaker” and “Playing with Matches” but these felt a little non-specific to our game world and promptly fell out.
From the short list of about ten, we evaluated the options on appropriateness (did the prospective title give an accuarate impression of what gameplay would be like) distinction (did it sound like other games in the market) mouthfeel (how did it feel to say the name out loud) and hook (was there an irony, contradiction or tension in the wording that would make the name memorable).
An internal focus group was polled on their top five favorite options from the short-list. We made an attempt to soften the social pressure on voting by using paper balloting. Results were weighted and tallied. No two voters had landed on the same option for their first choice, but one option had made it to everyone’s list. And the more we talked about that choice, with it’s lovely connections on multiple levels, the more excited the group became.
The official name for Worthing & Moncrieff’s upcoming literary strategy game will be — a drumroll please — “Austen Translation.” The name captures the aim of porting Austen’s literary tone and themes over to an interactive format, as well as softer and deeper ideas about the opacity of romantic love (see upcoming blog post on this topic). It also puts the genre, literary focus and time period of the game right up front. Plus it’s a terrible pun, and we’re suckers for terrible puns.
We’ll be taking a very short break from “Austen Translation” to bring “A Matter of Murder” to the Google Play Indie Game Festival at the end of September. Worthing & Moncrieff is proud to be one of thirty “up-and-coming” indie studios invited to work with Google to raise the profile of indie gaming. We hope to see you in San Francisco on the 24th for the big event!
But stay tuned for the next dev blog installment for “Austen Translation,” as our dev process gears up. Exciting stuff is in the works.