Monster Hunter: World Executive Director and Art Director Kaname Fujioka and Director Yuya Tokuda recently shared their process on coming up with monster names and how its gets localized in an interview with Dengeki.
Dengeki: I think about this whenever a new game releases, but how do you decide on monster names?
Yuya Tokuda, Director: We look up words from around the world that define a monster’s “behavior” and “physical characteristics,” and from there we put together ones that come together nicely, then make it into a name.
Kaname Fujioka, Executive Director & Art Director: Up until now we had the staff collect base words, and I would decide on the names at the end, but Tokuda had some especially strong feelings for Monster Hunter: World, and he put in good work when it came down to deciding on names.
When you come up with names, are there ever any limitations, such as focusing on base words that originate from the West?
Yuya Tokuda: We don’t arrange limitations for countries or anything in particular. For example, Paolumu’s Pao comes from the Chinese word of “Pao” which means to “wrap” [or to bag something], and Anjanath has the meaning “hidden wings” as a monster named from Arabic words.
Kaname Fujioka: There was a time we had regular meetings for Tokuda to go on saying not like this, not like that, about monster names. During that time, we even put together and exclusive group of staff just for looking up words for monster names.
Staff just for naming monsters!?
Kaname Fujioka: Because we had an enormous number of words to choose from, we practically needed staff just for that.
Did they also come up with names for the overseas version?
Yuya Tokuda: We worked with localization teams to decide on what we can translate to local languages and what gets kept from the original languages. For example, Tobikagachi (the Japanese name of Tobi-Kadachi) comes from the word “Tobu” (to “fly” in Japanese) combined with “Kagachi,” an older way of saying snake.
However, the localization team sent a request saying “-kaga sounds like a vulgar word in Italian, so can you change it to something else?” So when that happened, deciding “let’s change it because that word sounds like trouble” was just one of my tasks.
A Tobi-ka… what?!
How do you decide on title names such as “Horned Wyvern” and “Fierce Jaw Wyvern” that are also used for material names?
Kaname Fujioka: This is also decided on around the same time as the monster’s name. We make those in order to add them to material names, since monster names are long. And as with monster names, we get words that work well together.
What gets decided before the monster names?
Yuya Tokuda: The monsters themselves. In this game, the 蛮顎竜 (Anjanath) took some time to decide on. As previously mentioned, during development we were calling it “新獣竜” (“New Brute Wyvern”) so we ended up trying to put something together using “獣竜” (Brute Wyvern). Nergigante’s title 滅尽龍 (Extinction Dragon) also took a long time to decide.
Kaname Fujioka: Nergigante is a tough monster that can rapidly regenerate. Its concept was “destruction” and “regeneration,” but putting these two elements into just three kanji characters was certainly difficult. Calling it “Regenerating Dragon” felt like it lacked power, and we also thought about titles like “Indestructible Dragon.”
Yuya Tokuda: There was also plans to call it “Immortal Dragon.” However, it’s a monster that you can kill, so it isn’t indestructible or immortal. We constantly went back to the drawing board.
Kaname Fujioka: It would be troublesome if we give a bad name that makes players think that it’s a monster that you can’t kill. The more simple a concept is, the more difficult it is to decide on a name.
Monster Hunter: World is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The PC version launches in Fall 2018.