What’s in a Name?

September 16, 2016

I’ve been working on the next Sleuthhounds adventure, A Halloween themed game, since March of this year. In all of the time since then, I’ve struggled to come up with a title for the game. Past blogs have simply referred to it as the Sleuthhounds Halloween adventure, which, while descriptive, hardly has any “draw” power to it.

This week, I finally put some concerted effort into devising a title for the game and have hit upon one that I like. However, I did have to burn through quite a number of reject titles first.

When thinking about titles for the Sleuthhounds games, I’ve always searched for something in that sort of pulp genre of titles. The kinds of titles you’d find gracing a Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie. In addition to that, I knew that I wanted the title of this particular game to have something recognizably Halloweeny about it. After all, it’s no good creating a Halloween themed game if people don’t realize it’s a Halloween themed game.

With those requirements in mind, I cast about for a title. One problem I ran into is that the word Halloween isn’t particularly strong sounding in and of itself. Some words are stronger than others based on the types of sounds they contain. Words with hard R and K sounds, for example, tend to be stronger than words with soft S sounds in them. Halloween doesn’t really have any hard sounds in it.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of using the term Hallows’ Eve instead of Halloween. The V sound seemed a bit stronger to me; however, Hallows’ Eve doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as Halloween. Setting the debate of Halloween versus Hallows’ Eve aside, I tried to find another word or words that would complement the Halloween title.

I like for the titles of my games to relate to their content in some way. The first Sleuthhounds game was The Unlocked Room, which described the first room you encountered in the game. A room that wasn’t locked, but where the exit was physically raised and beyond reach. The second game was The Cursed Cannon, which fit the presence of a large cannon in the game and a series of accidents that plagued one of the main characters. The third game was The Valentine’s Vendetta, with the Vendetta part describing the villain’s intentions towards one of the other characters.

The Halloween game concerns a group of novelty goods manufacturers who are being targeted by a mysterious assailant for perceived wrongs against said assailant. After some thinking, the word “Vengeance” came to mind, leading to a possible title of the Hallows’ Eve Vengeance. I like the matching of the V sounds, but the title didn’t quite seem to fit.

Other titles followed such as the Halloween Caper and the Hallows’ Eve Intrigue. The former sounded more like a heist story and the latter sounded more like a political/romance/blackmail type of plot. Neither title really fit. Nor did the Halloween Revenge, the Hallows’ Eve Menace, the Halloween Saboteur, or the Halloween Hijinks.

I was about to consign myself to the Hallows’ Eve Vengeance as the best I could find when another word popped into my head: Deception. The Halloween Deception.

Here was a title that felt like it fit. There is the obvious connection to Halloween of people wearing costumes and masks to disguise themselves, of course. However, beyond that there are several other specific deceptions that take place in the game that really make it fit. Many of the suspects in the game are hiding things or misrepresenting themselves in some way. Several of the puzzle solutions involve creating fake versions of real items. Many of the suspects don’t believe that Pureluck Homes or Jane Ampson are who they say they are, which leads to the detecting duo having to trick people into thinking they’re someone else even more prestigious.

Even though The Halloween Deception doesn’t contain any hard sounds in it, there was something that sounded aesthetically pleasing to it. Combined with the meaning that it has for various deceptions within the game, it really feels, to me anyway, like I’ve discovered the name the game had all along.

[Sleuthhounds - The Halloween Deception]

You too will be able to discover Sleuthhounds – The Halloween Deception when the game releases October 31st, 2016. Trick or treat!