One benefit of getting to know Ken Rolston was that I finally got to ask someone how they came up with the thousands of fantasy names in Morrowind. I had always pictured that there was one guy sitting at a desk for months on end putting together evocative cognomena, and this sounded like an ideal job. But my suspicion was that they had a procedural solution. According to Ken, “I created custom name seed sets for many of the races, and then edited the name-forming rules to generate a better quality dump, and THEN had to be a little choosy about what we used. But this is a delightful tool to play with.”
And indeed it is: The Everchanging Book of Names.
At last week’s Game Developers Conference, I was invited to join a panel with Richard Rouse, Ken Rolston and Steve Meretzky, to discuss the state of storytelling in games. Now, from my background in science fiction conventions, a typical panel simply requires you to show up with your ego. This one required homework, preparation, Powerpoint, teleconferences, and several rehearsals. In spite of that, it was fun. Richard has posted the slides at his website.
I was pleased to learn, here (at the website of John Joseph Adams, assistant to Gordon Van Gelder), that I’ve sold a couple more Gorlen Vizenfirthe stories to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Last spring I wrote three of these in a row: “Childrun” (which Gordon bought a few months back), followed by “Quickstone” and “Songwood.”
Gorlen is that staple of generic fantasy, a bard. He’s distinguished only by his gargoyle hand, which he uses to evoke a slide-guitar sort of effect on his eduldamer. Two previous Gorlen stories appeared in F&SF many years back, namely “Dankden” and “Catamounts.” It’ll be nice to have them all appearing under the same roof.