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Fantasy Name Generator


In 1994, I discovered a small shareware program that generated fantasy names on demand. One had no control over what form the name would take but that idea hadn't occurred to me at the time. I remember sitting at my computer and generating one batch of names right after another, rarely finding one I'd ever want to use, but fascinated nonetheless at what it churned out.

As hilariously amusing as it was, though, I could find no useful application for such names as "Uofbuobe," "F-woco," "Eacvofui," "Csiib'gog," and the classic "D-gouf." And so I kept looking.

I found another name generator shortly afterward whose algorithm seemed to be to pick a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant, then a vowel, and so on for a random number of letters. Its capacity was limited to names like "Hutilop" and "Kewakuni," but once in a while, if you were after its specific type of linguistic feel, it would fare all right.

The problem, as I saw it, was that these name generators seem to operate on individual letters. I'm not sure what algorithm the first had, but it seemed to generate names with no more than two consonants or letters in a row, with the randomizer biased more toward certain letters than to others. The second was clearly letter-based. I wanted to write a name generator that was syllable based. Although 'r', 's', and 'i' might be common letters, no name should ever be generated starting with "rsi." With a syllable-based name generator, where random predefined syllables are selected and joined together, this wouldn't happen; you wouldn't allow "rsi" as a legal syllable. But "per," "en," "and," "kel," and "int" would all be fine. On the other hand, the names you could generate would be much too limited in number if it was purely syllable based, and so I threw letters, weighted by frequency of use, into the mix as well, re-introducing the possibility for nonsense names like "Rsiopuhh" but with diminished probability.

The name generator I came up with, back then in 1994, was called Fnames. It still only generated about one usable name in twenty, but that was a better rate then the other programs managed, and even the unusable names were more plausible. I started seeing names I liked and wrote them down in a list for future use, and the list was growing faster than I could keep up with. And it still generated some delightfully comic names, too, like "Hohaha," "Burper," and "Name."

But it wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to instruct the generator what kind of names to generate. And when I had an idea for a name, I wanted to have the generator generate only variations on that idea. So I added the ability to specify those times of parameters. (On a frivolous side, this option was fun for generating comically long names, like "Rantherariaran," "Quirothostainal," "Warworradwarald," and "Ashburentoria.")

This web-based version has almost exactly the same generation engine as that program I wrote in 1994. I added a few syllables for diversity and some additional customization options (originally there was no equivalent to the Flexible Interface this web-based version has), but that's about it. Version 1.0 of the Fantasy Name Generator debuted on RinkWorks on July 18, 1999.

On March 10, 2000, version 1.1 of the Fantasy Name Generator was released. This new version contained a new "insults" name type in the Flexible Interface, and an 'i' character was added to the Advanced Interface to incorporate insults into generated names.

On January 12, 2002, version 1.2 of the Fantasy Name Generator was released. This version added the new "mushy names" and "mushy insults" name types. The Simple Interface was removed, and the Flexible Interface was reorganized (by making two drop down boxes instead of one and removing the "Remove Triples" box) and renamed to the Simple Interface. Also, the quick reference guide to the advanced interface was added.

On January 21, 2002, version 1.3 of the Fantasy Name Generator was released. This version added the new "idiot names" name types.

On May 4, 2011, version 1.5 of the Fantasy Name Generator was released. This version converted the site to the XHTML 1.0 standard and also collapsed the three different drop-down boxes in the Simple Interface into one.