2014-11-17

My first Android App: FantaGen

UPDATE: FantaGen has added many more generators since its first release. Some fun, some serious and all very expressive.

I made FantaGen - a fantasy name generator to experiment with exploring cultural spaces with random generation. There are other generators so I aim for FantaGen to stand apart from the competition by being more comprehensive and more expressive.

You can get FantaGen from the Play Store

These types of generators are good for a bit of harmless fun but they do have a serious side to them. You can use the generator to help break some writer's block.

There are two cultures that have strange names: Simptee and Star Spirits. These were based on a simpler generative name system from a now abandoned interactive fiction project. It made sense in that story to have characters with names that weren't always the same. I thought the names were kinda cool so into FantaGen they go. Code recycling is good.

There are tons of fun image-based generators doing the rounds at the moment. These usually take the form of having the reader build up a name by looking up alternatives based on letters in their own name or their birth month. While these are fun for a single lookup, they don't give much variety for doing 10 random names at a time. My own feeling of these is that 26x26 alternatives is simply not rich enough when the user can see ten items at a time and refresh every half second. Significant extension to the generator is needed to add enough variety to be interesting.

I'm particularly proud of Fairy Names and Star Spirits. Fairy names uses both vocabulary words and syntax variety to create fun diversity. When I can picture the character that goes with the name then I think the effect is good. The Star Spirits mix both words and syllable combinations to represent their angelic like culture. The syllabary is fairly restricted to match how I image their angelic language to be so the word-based titles help to create the variety.

The Roman name generator combines a syllabary with some real Roman names based on research. The syllable based names are most likely anachronistic nonsense. Though it would take much more work to do a historically accurate Roman name generator given how complex their naming patterns are. In particularly I don't handle the gender very well at all: Claudius / Claudia, Julius / Julia. I would like to do more name generators based on real cultures since that ties into my semantic web interests.

Speaking of interests; this project also represents an interest I have in generative creativity. I want to be doing actual research into generative graphic design tools once my PhD is complete.

FantaGen is free and always will be. I have plans to continue extending FantaGen. As the list of generators grows I can see some ripe experimentation in how to navigate that space to keep things fun. I'm open to suggestions for new generators too.