August 20, 2008

What’s in a name?

Another post to say I aten’t dead. One month to go on the PhD write-up, and everything still feels only half done. Still, you’ve got to submit with the thesis you have, not the thesis you’d like to have. I’ll be in crunch mode from now until mid-September. I’ll still be posting now and again on the forums so I have some contact with the outside world, but don’t expect such luxuries as “coherence” in the stuff I type in the next few weeks, m’kay?

The only game related stuff I’ve done in the last month or two has been business planning related. Since I’m the only one who needs the whole plan I’m using a personal wiki on my computer for the planning. It’s great at the moment as it’s very informal, and if an idea pops in my head I can quickly jot it down so I can focus on other things, safe that the idea is recorded. These personal wikis are great for any non-linear document, and I only wish I started using them earlier.

The other business related thing I’ve been doing is more brainstorming of business names. Since I’ll be operating on-line I’ve made it a rule that whatever name I own must also have the dot-com web address available. I’d also prefer it if I didn’t have to tack an extra word like “Games” on the end, like having to register because is already taken. I don’t particular mind having something like “games” or “studios” at the end, but it does make it longer and it also limits me to using the business name in one area; if I decide to branch out to do a bit of consulting on the side I’d probably need a second name.

Unfortunately I’m bad at picking names. I spent ages trying to decide on “Trapper Zoid” for example. A good name needs to be memorable, relatively unique yet identifiable and spellable, represent something about you that you want to project to others. And on top of all that it needs to something you can live with for a while without you hating it.

My current plan is to register half a dozen or so dot-com address (already done) and then sit on them for a couple of months while I finish up my studies and set things up. During this extra time I can mull over the names in my subconscious and try them out on random people until I get a good feeling over which name I like the best. Then I’ll register that one as my business name. I’ll also have a few backups which I think are almost as good in case something goes awry when registering.

I’ve currently got three names that I think would be workable. However an issue has cropped up: while I like all three names and think any of them could be suitable, they all do project a slightly different image. Ideally I’d like to pick the name that projects the image closest to what I want the business to be, however I’m currently quite flexible about that. I don’t particular need on an artistic level to make a specific sort of game; I like nearly all genres and would love to work on any of them. So it’s not as if there’s an obvious choice based on my future vision of where I want to be.

I reckon that something as simple as the choice of name I go with could shape the future direction of the business. The choice of name will shape the logo I make, which will in turn shape the coloration and style of the webpage. And since I’ll be spending a lot of time working with that logo and style, it’s bound to have some effect on my inspiration and creativity. A certain style could suggest playful, cartoonish casual games, or it might skew me towards stylish niche indie games instead.

But then again, it could just be that deep down in my subconscious there’s a particular direction I want to go in that I don’t realise, and that my preference in name will reflect that. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? It’s an interesting question.

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12 Comments on What’s in a name?

August 21, 2008

Chris Scott @ 11:24 am:

I would generally go with avoiding using the same name for a games company to do the consulting stuff. Of course, if you were doing something like multimedia consulting something like ‘Trazoi Mulimedia’ or ‘Trazoi Studios’ could work for both, whereas ‘Trazoi Games’ would seem strange if you were doing analyst work on the side.

I kind of like the ‘Trazoi’ thing that you have going on this site, because it sticks in your head, it’s got an interesing look about it, it has a young, fresh feel about it, and you can add almost anything to it to describe what you do ‘Games’, ‘IT Consulting’, ‘Multimedia’.

In the end, I guess it really comes down to what you want your image to be. So, if you want games, go with something gamey.. if you want constulting.. go with something boring :).

David "Trapper Zoid" @ 12:36 pm:

That’s true, and it’s a plus for “Trazoi” as a name. I also have a little bit of name recognition for that one - not an awful lot, but some.

The downside is that the reason “Trazoi” feels like it can go with anything is because it doesn’t have much of a meaning behind it. If someone mentioned a business named “Trazoi” I don’t think the purpose of the company really presents itself. It’s not quite as bad as all those internet companies with names like “”, but it’s in the same ballpark. Game companies typically have names like “Adjective Noun Games”.

It’d help if I figured out exactly what is I want to do ;). Once my business and marketing plans take shape one of the names I’ve grabbed will catch my attention.

August 22, 2008

Chris Scott @ 9:13 am:

This is true, but it also allows you to make it mean something. After all, would names like ‘Apple’, ‘Microsoft’, and ‘Google’ have made sense in the beginning?

Well, “Microsoft” sounds pretty computery to me. And “Google” does feel like an internet company name. I’ll give you “Apple” though.

Making your name mean something involves marketing effort. It’s something you have to do anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to get a boost from having the right sort of name. I know Microsoft, Google and Apple all started small, but I don’t think I’ll be using a similar business strategy to them; I won’t be having any venture capital to spend on awareness advertising to build up brand awareness.

At the moment though I’ve only got a very vague idea of what my marketing strategy will be, so I’ll need to wait until I’ve got the time to think about it before making a decision. There’s no immediate rush.

Chris Scott @ 9:50 am:

You could always just try the waters. Register a business name, set up a web site and take any work you can get. Then a couple months down the track, take a look at the options again. You should have an idear of where you’re going a bit more and what work people will pay you for.

If the name doesn’t fit, you can change it, or just add a trading name that does fit. If you hold off on making the logo and doing too much work on the website, you wont have wasted a lot in the designs. You can even wait a little on the business plan, because you can really only plan once you have a solid idear of what you are doing. I’d even go so far as saying that you would likely flush the origonal plans and start fresh after you figure out what things are really like out there.

Look up some company ABNs on, and you will see things like Entity Name: Mom & Pop Diners, Trading Names: XYZ Wedding Planners, Solemn Wake venues… There’s nothing stopping you from having another name for consulting and running them as the same business. However, it is probably inadvisable to try and do everything at the same time.

David "Trapper Zoid" @ 10:39 am:

You’re right; there’s nothing stopping me using more than one name. “Trazoi” would work well as a consultancy name, or I could just use my real name, bland though it is. There’s nothing stopping me having multiple businesses in the future if it makes sense.

My idea for a business plan lies somewhere between being a security blanket, a compass and a safety net. I feel more comfortable that it’s there, it helps me stay roughly in the right direction and can help protect me if things go wrong. I expect I’ll need to change it drastically, but that’s another reason why I’m using a wiki. Wiki documents always feel “alive”.

One of the first things I’ll do after sorting out my home office when I move back to Melbourne is to track down the nearest Small Business centre; I think there’s at least one in every state. I’m not entirely sure what they *do* there, but I’m fairly certain they’ll have guides and resources for people just starting up.

I also admit I’m probably babbling about a lot of fancy ideas for what I want to do when I start, but I’m mostly just really excited for this sea change from academia to working for myself. Part of this is me mentally going into every branch of what I think I could do. I won’t have the time to do all of these, but the options are there. I don’t know if I particularly want to do consulting work as a first choice, but I wouldn’t mind doing a bit to pay the bills.

Thanks for the tips though; it’s great to help think these through with someone else. Don’t you do your own IT consultancy work, or are you working in a small business? I can’t remember, sorry.

Chris Scott @ 11:23 am:

I’m currently working from home for another company. It’s not quite what I want to do, but it pays well and is convenient, as we have a 6 month old baby.

I’ve tried both the consulting and game development businesses before without much success.. but I’ve got to say that there is plenty to be learned from failure. I know where I went wrong in both businesses and also know where I went right. I was lucky in that the one thing that I did right was to not go into debt for any of the ventures. When I eventually decided that we weren’t going anywhere, there were no messy financial problems to clean up.

Chris Scott @ 11:33 am:

I’ve always liked the idear that the business plan is a ‘living document’ constantly changing, something that one of my teachers at school said once and kind of stuck.

Small Business Centres can give you documentation on how to do business plans, and sometimes offer you help with meeting people that can help you along with your business. My brother recently went to one of these, and all they did was enroll him in NEIS ( It’s a useful course (and helps with money), but the business enterprise center wasn’t very helpful in explaining anything :).

David "Trapper Zoid" @ 11:38 am:

Staying out of debt is my prime objective too. Solo software business are good in that they aren’t that expensive to set up. You don’t need fancy office space or a shop front to run them. I’ve got enough funds saved up from the last decade to keep me going for a couple of years if I’m frugal. I just have to be careful not to bleed myself dry.

I don’t consider it that much of failure if you’re able to start again in a different direction. It’s a learning experience for your next venture. And the family friendly nature of working from home sounds like a big plus too.

David "Trapper Zoid" @ 11:44 am:

Oh, another post!

I’ve had a teensy bit of business training from my postgrad course. It’s part of the deal with my scholarship that I do some extra education, and the emphasis from my group is for postdocs to go off and form start-ups. It’s more aimed at the traditional idea of a tech start-up where you’d form a team, get someone to give you a briefcase full of dollars with the expectation of five briefcases back in three years time, and so on. The idea is that I should have come up with something wonderful in my PhD work to make the big bucks, but it’s not quite the case with my work ;) Still, it’s useful training to take in a slightly different direction.

I’ll still need places like the Small Business Centre to help with all the legal issues of setting things up, even if it’s to direct me to the right sort of lawyer to help me.

Chris Scott @ 12:00 pm:

I am almost ready to start looking at that next venture myself. Perhaps we can work togeather, pop me an email and we can discuss more :)

David "Trapper Zoid" @ 12:33 pm:

Will do, although it’ll be a couple of months before I’m in the right frame of mind to take up big projects. I’ve got a thesis to write and recover from first :)

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