I’ve mentioned before in my blog that I struggle with naming my projects, and STOMP is no exception. I’m still not sure what I feel about STOMP (Super Thrustforce: Orbital Meat Police) as a name. I settled on it because the game needed a name at the time, rather than because I felt it was a particularly amazing thing to call it. Obviously I’d love to have come up with something I thought was perfect for the game, but there came a tipping point where it was more important that the game had a name, than that it had the perfect name. STOMP was good enough.
Here’s how I got there.
I’ve always wanted to make a Thrust-style game, but until getting my paws on Unity I haven’t really had the tools I needed to do the job. (I did pitch a really nice Thrust-like game for Blitz Games Arcade division, but sadly it didn’t get picked up). I also had a stab at making one in XNA, but knew it was probably doomed to failure. The name of this project though was “Thrustforce”; a portmanteau word of the two main influences – “Thrust” on the C64, and Amiga classic “Gravity Force”. As expected I didn’t get far with this in XNA, but the name would return later.
So fast forward to Christmas 2013 and I’d been trying to think of a decent name for the game for a good couple of months on-and-off and failing. The cattle abduction theme had been in place for a little while now, but I was still thinking of maybe having different aliens which abducted different critters, so I needed something general. “Meat” then was the starting point. (I’m not ruling out other critters, but the cows are providing so much great material I don’t think I need them).
So then the idea of “Meat Police” popped into my head – it says what you’re doing in the game and I found the notion amusing. So then we just need to say where the meat policing is happening, and for some reason “Orbital” was the first word that popped into my head. Orbital Meat Police. Whilst I’m not going to say that STOMP as a whole is a great name for a game, I find something inherently pleasing about “Orbital Meat Police” as a phrase. Orbital Meat Police – it trips off the tongue nicely. It’s no “cellar door” perhaps, but there’s something there I like. I later tried replacing the “O” with “Off-World” (which would allow me to set a level in deep space, if I wanted, without being semantically incorrect), but it’s nowhere near as nice. (If I do set a level in deep-space I’ll happily let the name be wrong.)
So, Orbital Meat Police it was. However, the thing I really wanted from the game name was to tell the player what the game was. Orbital Meat Police tells you what the mission is, but not what you actually do. I wanted this specifically for fans of Thrust-style games. I’m one of them, and know I will happily jump on any new Thrust-style game I come across. I know if I read a name that suggests the game is a bit Thrusty (“Thrust”, “Gravity”, “Rocket” maybe…) then I will investigate it*. So that’s a thing that needs to happen, even though it almost certainly necessitates the intervention of a colon.
The first thing that occured to me though is that I’ve now painted myself into a corner. Orbital Meat Police gives me “OMP”. Whatever I add now really has to make the best of that, because you don’t get a free OMP too often, and so wasting it on something meaningless like AOMP, DOMP or VOMP would be unthinkable. So let’s look at the alternatives – POMP, ROMP, WHOMP, STOMP… “Hang about, I’ve already got a T”.
Thrustforce: Orbital Meat Police. Sorted!
The “S” is a no-brainer. I’ll happily stick “Super” on the front of any name – it’s probably harder to get me to leave it off, to be honest. “Super” is a great word. It isn’t trying anywhere near as hard as “Hyper” or “Mega” (I personally would probably only ever use those in parody). It’s enthusiastic without being obnoxiously so. In certain circumstances it can come across as charmingly naive, which is a lovely thing to be (One of my very favourite uses of it is in the shoot-em-up Gundemonium Recollection, where the 2nd level is called “Super Train Robbery”.)
So, STOMP it is. As I said at the top I’m still unsure what I feel about it as a name, but it has a good stab at explaining what you are and what you do and that I’m really happy with. It also gave me “STOMP” which is as good an acronym as I could hope for, but may well also inform some parts of the game (I already have a model of a shiny STOMP badge that could be used to represent this gung-ho squad of militaristic space police should I decide to push that angle).
*I will also be disappointed when said game doesn’t turn out to be Thrusty. /Gives Gravity Rush got a particularly withering Paddington Hard Stare./