Planets

Planets in No Man’s Sky present the following data – amongst other info, such as resources present – to the player:

  • weather,
  • sentinels,
  • flora,
  • fauna.

Odin’s Convention brings these data, as well as the system name root, into the planet name. Data is brought into the planet name by using Icelandic translations for associated descriptors for the planet data (Icelandic being the closest modern language to Old Norse). Somewhat arbitrarily, Odin’s Convention produces a portmanteau of the system name root (Krishnawati in the example above) and an Icelandic word associated with the weather type. An example would be the “refreshing breeze” weather type; the Icelandic word for breeze is gola.

A planet in the Op-Krishnawati-Ef system whose weather type is “refreshing breeze” would thus have a planet name root of e.g. Golahna. (There are a lot of ways one might combine these words, which allows room to continue giving unique names to things.)

Odin’s Convention then uses the final three data types – sentinels, flora, and fauna – by taking the first syllable of an Icelandic word associated with the data descriptor. For example, for the same planet being described above, the data are:

Data TypeDescriptorEnglish WordIcelandic WordFirst Syllable
SentinelsRelaxedrelaxedslaka áslak
FloraBountifulbountyfjársjóðurfjar
FaunaModeratemoderatehóflegurhof

The full planet name is thus Golahna-Slafjarhof, though there could be many variations around this. On first sight, such a name is relatively meaningless, but to someone who has access to the information presented in this post – or perhaps to some xenolinguist/xenoarchaeologist – the planet characteristics could be determined from the name alone.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Roolishna-Takteefjar
View from a beach on Roolishna-Takteefjar, in the Kryuchans-Op system. Using information in this post, you’d know that this system is either an F2p or F3p. If I revealed the full set of planet data descriptors, you might also be able to determine more information about the planet. My own list is a work-in-progress, and I’d like to avoid releasing incomplete information for now.

Fauna

The heart of naming, arguably, is in the fauna of No Man’s Sky.

Binomial Nomenclature

In the real world, species are named according to a formal system called binomial nomenclature. A species name is formed of two parts, both using Latin grammatical forms, with the first part corresponding to the species’ genus, and the second part the species’ specific name. These both fall within a more extensive biological classification with eight major taxonomic ranks. For example, humans have the binomial name Homo sapiens i.e. we as a species belong to the Homo genus with a specific name of sapiens. Strictly binomial nomenclature was invented by Carl Linnaeus and described in his 1753 Species Plantarum.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Tree of Life diagram
A reduced view of the Phylogenetic Tree of Life.

No Man’s Sky gives species default names that mimic binomial nomenclature, but don’t match exactly. It, too, uses a two part name, but it doesn’t align in the same manner as the real-world binomial name. As far as I can tell, the names are random and, if you were to collect them, you wouldn’t be able to construct a tree of life as one can for Earth-based species.

Genera

However, there is a concept of genus in No Man’s Sky, which is hidden in the game code. There are 23 genera in No Man’s Sky, which correspond to the morphological features of the species. For example, the common “antelope-like” creatures belong to the Tetraceris genus; the rare “diplos” belong to the genus Rangifae. These genera are documented online, but they are expressed only through a species’ morphological features in-game i.e. there’s no data that indicates what genus a species belongs to.

It’s unfortunate that the genus doesn’t appear in-game, but it seems to be a good candidate for Odin’s Convention. The different genera are pretty easy to distinguish.

Specific name

Next, Odin’s Convention needs a way to produce specific names so that the name, as a whole, uniquely identifies the species.

It makes sense to me to incorporate the planet name into the species name. There is already a great deal of “uniqueness” in the planet name. Still, there could be multiple species of the same genus on a planet, so more is required.

When you look at species data in No Man’s Sky, you’re given the following information:

  • gender,
  • temperament,
  • diet,
  • weight,
  • height.

One could build all of these characteristics into the species name but, as for the system name and spectral class, one of these will likely be sufficient. I chose to use temperament.

To satisfy requirement number 6, I produced a simple one-to-one correspondence of Norse deities to temperaments:

TemperamentNorse Deity
activeull
ambulatoryfreyja
aggressivemani
amenablesaga
anxiousmimir
boldmeili
calmbil
cautioussol
cruelfulla
dangeroushretha
defensiveeir
distinctivemagni
docileirpa
erraticlofn
fearfulnarvi
hibernatoridun
hostilezisa
hunterodin
migratoryrig
passiveday
predatorvor
preyvar
sedatesaxnot
shyhod
skittishfreyr
stalkingthor
submissiveod
timidbalder
unconcernedsyn
unintelligentdellingr
unpredictableloki
viscioushel
violentrindr
volatileaegir

Pulling it Together

Take this species, for example:

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Anastomus narvi rakishna-laarharven
Anastomus narvi rakishna-laarharven – titans of the Kryuchans-Op system.

No Man's Sky Naming Convention - Species Data

So we have: <genus>-<temperament deity>-<planet name>. In other words, this is a trinomial naming system, rather than the binominal naming system we’ve been using as an example.

The species names are honestly a bit longer than I’d really like. I toyed with the idea of using only the planet name root – Rakishna, in this example – but decided that this didn’t do enough to guarantee uniqueness.

I haven’t actually performed significant analysis on any of the rules in Odin’s Convention to see what level of “uniqueness” is guaranteed, instead relying on the fuzziness of the portmanteaus to provide some flexibility. In the case of fauna, these rules occasionally aren’t enough to produce unique species names, in which case I adjust the temperament deity section with a simple suffix, such as a or y.


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