Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cave Namer

I've been working on a cave naming engine.

The engine works by first generating a "template" for a name, which determines a lexical structure for the name, and then it generates the individual nouns, adjectives, etc., to put into the slots of that structure.

But it's not enough to just grab a dictionary off the shelf and point the namer at it.  I explicitly crafted the dictionaries that the engine pulls from so that they would yield names worthy of their intent.  Limestone caves, with their stunning formations and alien architectures, tend to inspire fanciful and poetic names by those who discover them, so I wanted to try to capture that in the cave naming engine.  That meant reflecting that sort of aesthetic in the dictionaries I created.

For instance, one of the dictionaries is a list of proper names.  Although there are a few "common" names in the dictionary, meant to convey that cavers may have named certain caves after personal friends, it is mostly comprised of mythical and near-mythical names like Agamemnon, Hercules, Cortez, Lindberg, Picasso, and so on.  Similarly, the list of nouns contain only "interesting" nouns, like scorpion, eden, octopus, and templar.

When combined, these words make for evocative cave names.  Here are some example cave names that have been generated:
  • The Pavilion of Ajax
  • Gnome's Canyon
  • Peril of Acrobats
  • Sacagawea's Easel
  • The Royal Stairway
  • The Forgotten Passage
  • Danger Chimney
  • Saint's Parapet
  • Tomb of the Painter
    I'm fairly happy with the outcomes.  These names reflect the sorts of fantastic vistas and discoveries that you find in caves, as well as giving the places named a sense of grandeur and importance.  That's the goal!

    Currently, the game can generate well over 125,000 unique names.  As I add more words to the dictionaries, that will grow.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment