No Man’s Sky Naming Convention

I have a number of personal requirements when it comes to naming things in No Man’s Sky:

  1. the names are derived from characteristics of the thing I’m naming;
  2. the names aren’t too dry – they have a theme, of some sort, and are interesting to unpick;
  3. I can produce a name quickly from readily-available information;
  4. the names are unique;
  5. the names are consistent within my personal universe of discovery, all linked and sensible within their collective context;
  6. I’d be able to recognise one of the discoveries as belonging to me from the name alone.

My optimal No Man’s Sky naming convention would pull all of these requirements together, though it’s likely to be a balancing act between them.

Odin’s Convention has a number of hierarchical rules, like any good naming convention, which we’ll follow from top to bottom.

Galaxies

There are 256 unique galaxies in No Man’s Sky. More exist beyond this limit but are visual copies of the final (256th) galaxy with a different name. The original voyage to all 256 galaxies was undertaken by /u/sHuRuLuNi; see the record of this journey on Reddit, which utilised a game bug to quickly hop from galaxy to galaxy.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Hilbert Dimension galaxy
Hilbert Dimension is the second galaxy the player can reach.

Players can’t name galaxies. The starting galaxy, which contains by far the greatest proportion of player discoveries and structures, is called Euclid.

If Euclid is representative of galaxies in No Man’s Sky, then galaxies here are colossal. The Milky Way, in which we humans reside, is a large galaxy at 100,000 light years in diameter and 3000 light years thick. Most galaxies in the universe are smaller than the Milky Way. Euclid, by comparison, is, at its greatest extent, some 2.3 million light years in diameter and 51,000 light years thick, which puts it in competition with some of the largest galaxies in our own universe.

Regions

Each galaxy is comprised of many regions, with each region containing somewhere in the region of 540 systems and occupying a volume of about 64 million cubic light years (400 ly a side). The Forgotten Colonies roleplay group – now known as the Outer Rim – pioneered a method for estimating region size by searching for the highest possible system ID in a portal sequence.

Regions can’t be named by players but take a random name along with a region suffix or prefix, such as “Adjunct”, “Expanse”, or “Shallows”.

Systems

Systems are the first tier of the hierarchy that can be named by players.

The first requirement of Odin’s Convention is that names are derived from characteristics of the thing being named. Preferably this refers to objective characteristics that don’t require a judgement call on the part of the player – this can lead to inconsistency, violating the fifth requirement.

Let’s first consider the visual characteristics of systems in No Man’s Sky:

  • the number of stars;
  • the colour of the stars;
  • the sizes of the stars;
  • the number of planets.

More objective, though, is the information that’s readily presented on the galaxy map (satisfying requirement 3 of Odin’s Convention):

  • spectral class;
  • distance from the galactic core;
  • dominant lifeform;
  • economy;
  • conflict level.

I chose to focus on the spectral class for Odin’s Convention.

Spectral Class

Astronomers use something called the stellar classification to categorise stars based on their spectral characteristics which, in turn, are largely determined by their temperature and, correspondingly, colour. (Stars of different temperatures are different colours.)

Most stars are currently classified under what’s known as the Morgan-Keenan system; this originally used the letters OBAFGK, and M for hottest (O type) to coolest (M type). Within each letter class are 10 further subdivisions, from 0 (hottest) to 9 (coolest). So O0 would be the hottest type and M9 would be the coolest.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram is a scatter plot of stars incorporating stellar classifications, temperatures, absolute magnitudes, and often colours.

The real-world classification system has been extended and goes on, but occasionally diverges from the spectral class in No Man’s Sky. The spectral class in No Man’s Sky is presented as follows:

  1. An upper-case letter corresponding to the “class”: OBAFGKMLTYE.
  2. A number corresponding to the relative temperature within the class, between 0 and 9.
  3. A lower-case letter indicating any oddities in the star’s (or stars’) spectrum (or spectra): efhkmnpqsvw.
  4. (Potentially more lower-case letters.)

For example, my starting system had the spectral class F3pf.

Deities and Colours

As a Norse deity themed blog, it seemed appropriate to use deities as the inspiration for the system naming convention. Use of mythologies – particularly Norse mythology – is a consistent theme of this No Man’s Sky naming convention.

For anyone interested in Norse mythology, by the by, the Sunday Times and New York Times number 1 bestseller Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a great primer.

As I mentioned earlier, each stellar class comprises a particular temperature range and has a particular colour. Deities are often associated with particular colours in tradition. Odin’s Convention proceeds as follows to select the system name root:

  1. Choose from one of five pantheons (Norse, Celtic, Greek, Hindu, and Egyptian) depending on the relative temperature within the stellar class.
  2. Choose a particular deity dependent on the stellar class, where the deity is associated with the colour of stars of that class. (In some cases, no deity was associated with that colour in that pantheon, so I was a little creative with assignments.)

What we have is a selection table like this:

Stellar ClassColour0-1 (Egyptian)2-3 (Hindu)4-5 (Greek)6-7 (Celtic)8-9 (Norse)
OblueHorusVishnuHeraLirNjord
Bblue-whiteHathorShivaAthenaBoannFrigg
AwhitePtahSaraswatiApolloEponaHeimdall
Fyellow-whiteKhonsKrishnaHermesCernunnosBaldur
GyellowRaGaneshaAphroditeLughMimir
KorangeBastAgniHephaestusTeutatesTyr
MredSekhmetDurgaHestiaAodhThor
Lred-brownThothNakulAresMorriganSigyn
TbrownAmonParvatiPoseidonDruantiaNerthus
Ydark brownSethKaliZeusAnuAudhumla
EgreenIsisMatangiDemeterCe-aehdSif
No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Egyptian god Seth
Seth, Egyptian god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners. Associated with the colour black, which I’ve chosen to pair with “dark brown” Y-class stars in No Man’s Sky.

Now that I have a name root, I’ll create a portmanteau with the randomly-generated region name to get us most of the way to a fully-fledged system name.

Using the F3pf spectral class, we have an associated deity of Krishna. This exists in the Toswati Instability. I create a portmanteau of Krishna and Toswati to get Krishnawati, the system name root. Now I just need to take into account the oddities.

Prefixes and Suffixes

In the case of one oddity, I’ll simply append some two-letter, monosyllabic suffix. In the case of two, I’ll prepend one and append another. I use the following affixes:

Oddity CodeAffix
eei
fef
hah
kak
mim
nin
pop
qoq
sus
vyv
wuw

In the case of F3pf, this yields two affixes: op and ef. I combine this with the root Krishnawati to get the final system name: Op-Krishnawati-Ef.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Op-Krishnawati-Ef on the galactic map

Reflection

I toyed with the idea of adjusting the portmanteau with the affixes, but decided I liked the hyphenated naming style which, across a large number of systems, starts to resemble what is almost a language, with each name representing a mini-sentence to describe the system.

The idea of introducing the portmanteaus allows me to maintain requirement 4 of Odin’s Convention where, in the event that I identify a system with exactly the same spectral class (or simply similar, as F2pf would have yielded the same root) as a previously-named system in the same region, I can construct a different portmanteau. (The online tool Portmanteaur gives me 58 examples for Krishna and Toswati, for example.)

If I had the predilection, I might introduce five additional pantheons!


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