Today I wanted to write about the name of the game. The old question “What’s in a name?”, and the regular reply of “Everything!” really ring true. This is especially true in game development. We are in an industry where the name of a product matters. Even though it may seem a silly or little thing, many studios spend a lot of time and money trying to get the right name. For mobile games, the general rule-of-thumb is “What it is. What it does.” If you can come up with a name that captures the game’s function and its essence, then you have something. Because of that, our first attempt at naming Leaky Dimensions actually led to a different title. It was first called Fight!, and was short, sweet, and to the point.
This name of course came after many, many explorations and iterations. Anything 16-bit, or 8-bit (even the punny, 2-bit variations) was off the table because of the numerous other titles that existed. Infinite Fighter wouldn’t work. Neither would most of the other explorations we did. Fight! was the winner. There was a small problem with getting the website URL because fight.com would be too expensive to procure. So, we went the route of fightthegame.com as a viable backup.
At least, we thought Fight! was the winner. When looking to define the trademark, and get the game name secured on Apple, we found that the legal battle to try and get a single word title like Fight! trademarked was not going to be worth the effort.
This led to another brainstorming session. There was an obvious next choice though. Since we already had the URL fightthegame.com, why not just use the extension. Thus the new title Fight! The Game was born.
This new title was much better. There was even a double meaning. It was Fight! The Game, but could also be “fight the game”.
We could use the same website, the art update in the game would only have minor changes, and it was easier to make the trademark argument since it was now more unique. The idea was that once it gained in popularity, we could drop the second line “The Game” and then be back to the original title and have a good case for trademark at that point. We also were able to lock in the name on the apple store, and so we were set.
A new winner!
…at least until we started going through the process of securing the social media names. Fightthegame, and multiple variants, were taking over everything.
Alright, back to the idea board. It could be about the character and so we could come up with some pun for a name. None of those variants felt right as we still hadn’t decided if we were going to name the character or not. It could be another variant of fighting. We tried smash, punch, attack, foe (FoeSmash was already taken on social media among many others), and etc. None of those did any better than fight. Then I looked to the narratives. In 90’s games the problems were rarely small. You would be instantly thrown into cases were you were tasked with saving the world or universe. This game was going to be similar. You were going to be fighting with a purpose. You have to save everything. So, I started with the idea of powers. Maybe we could go into talking about stones. Many 90’s games have a magical stone, or a crystal at the foundational base of the powers or the structure of the world. Ashen Crystal, crystalline, onyx, Topaz Gate, and all of the other variations weren’t working either.
The next step to trying to find a name was to move on to the narrative “call to action”. For those that are unfamiliar with it, in traditional storytelling the “call to action” is the point at the beginning of the story where something changes for the character that causes them to begin their journey. In this case, the main character has been getting dreams warning him of impending disaster. Multiple dimensions are opening around his hometown. Narratively, this gives us the excuse to have all of the different levels that will have graphically different encounters, and various different enemies that were part of the original concept of this spoofing and playing with many of the genres and games of the early 90’s (and possibly pulling from earlier and later as we choose).
This new direction led to exploring various names around portals, fractures, rips, and dimensions. You would be amazed at how many there are. Nothing felt right, and none of them fit what we were looking for. Most of them already existed in one form or another.
I went to bed thinking through these. Now, my shower had been slowly getting worse over the previous week. It had started with a drop or two coming out, but by the end of the week it was in constant drip mode. Part of my Saturday morning plans the next day were to get a new shower stem and install it to stop the flow. I went to sleep thinking about the work I needed to do the next morning, as well as the name that was still eluding us.
By the time I woke up, it had clicked. Leaky Dimensions. I started by checking the website URL. It was available. I checked for similar product names. Nothing. My wife started scouring social media. Nothing. Everything we checked showed that it was do-able. This also had the feeling we were going for. Leaky is a playful kind of word. It has an element of humor in it, and the title is silly enough to fit with our theming.
After getting my shower repaired, my next step was to create a logo mock-up. It went through some variations, but we found a good logo, tried various colors, and then added some details to bring it to life. Below is a sheet with some color variations, as well as the final in the bottom right corner.
With a logo that worked, we set about to secure the URL, the social media sites, and everything else necessary to have the title be ours. That is how the game came to be called what it is called. What’s in a name? Well, for us, it is the mood, the narrative, and the direction of our newest project.