The Name Game

Quartex is NOT the name of the big game I’ve been working on since July/August.  And it is NOT the name of my first iOS/Android puzzle game of 2014, though it was until very recently.  I don’t know when Quartex (I’ll keep calling it that for today) will be out, but the gameplay has been proven to be solid, and the soundtrack has been written.

While finishing up the large project’s main release (announcement pushed back ’til next week, sorry), I’ve started working on quick prototypes for the puzzle game concepts.  Of my four planned ideas for 2014’s puzzle games, I’ve prototyped 2 so far.  But those 2 prototypes turned into 3 games.  One of the two prototypes wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be using my original design.  Instead I flailed around with a few variants, and two of those variant worked out.  It was like a solo puzzle-game-jam of sorts, with the extra bonus of figuring out what I want to do for Slydris 2 as well.

The idea for Quartex was one of the two new ideas born from the not-so-fun prototype.  As far as puzzle games go, it’s around the same originality as Slydris, which I believe to be a very good thing (familiar and fresh).  While Slydris was inspired in part by Tetris, the main interaction mechanic for Quartex was inspired by Threes (the hit iOS puzzle game).  That partial similarity to Threes actually made me reluctant to even do the prototype, but once I got it working Quartex was obviously in the Slydris-to-Tetris range of “inspired-ness”.

I was going to describe the game in more detail and ask for suggestions for a better name, since Quartex is also a brand of watch and not quite a perfect fit for the game, but my wife saved me from that by coming up with an awesome one as I was writing this post.  The moment she said it I knew I had to make sure I reserved the name on iTunes, even if it meant using a Y instead of an I for one of the letters (which I probably would have done anyway, because of Slydris and the puzzle game after Quartex having a Y-for-I name, and the reasons below).

Finding a usable name on the AppStore is becoming more and more difficult, especially given that I prefer short game names, and that’s before dealing with trademarks.  Trademarks make some sense, but they are not a great fit for games, and they’re also ripe for abuse (as in the case of Candy Swipe), or at the very least a problem for two well-intentioned companies (do a Google search for “ballistic game”) once lawyers get involved.  I don’t know the solution, but I’m becoming more of the opinion that game names should be treated more like song names (which cannot be trademarked) or book titles (which are limited in trademark-ability), particularly for single words or obvious short word combinations.  There are tens of thousands of video games, with thousands more arriving every year.  We’re just going to run out of short names soon, even with lots of Y-for-I-like letter swaps.

Next time I mention Quartex, it’ll be to reveal the final name and set a release date (release date will be anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks from now).

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