Disc Golf and Kickstarter Reward Nomenclature

10 August 2020 | 19 Comments

With indoor rock climbing not being an option over the last few months due to the pandemic, I recently turned to disc golf as a reason to get outside. St. Louis has some beautiful, challenging courses (including one where you have to throw over a pond as pictured here), and I’ve had fun playing with fellow game designer Paul (Honey Buzz) and Keyforge podcaster Jake (Sanctumonius).

After a recent outing when I lost 2 of my discs to the aforementioned pond (I’ve played lots of ultimate frisbee, but different techniques are used in dics golf), I ventured to disc manufacturer Innova to buy some more.

On Innova’s website I discovered that nearly of their discs have names like thunderbird, valkyrie, leopard, spider, shark, bullfrog, etc. I’d heard Paul and Jake use these terms, but I didn’t realize just how many discs there were, each with a unique name and purpose.

I think this style of nomenclature is brilliant for a few reasons. First, it makes talking about the discs much easier. Instead of saying, “I think I’m going to use my 11/5/-1/3 disc here,” you say, “I’m going to use my wraith here.”

Second, for people getting into the sport, it makes the decisions of buying discs more accessible. I don’t need to puzzle over a variety of factors when buying discs–instead, I can just buy a driver, mid-range, and putter with fun names.

Third, branching off of the previous point, it lets disc golfers link their personality to the discs they choose. I can see myself saying at some point, “You like the panther? I’m more of a wombat guy.”

This naming technique reminds me of reward nomenclature on Kickstarter. While there’s nothing wrong with using names like standard, deluxe, collector’s, and all-in (and sometimes a straightforward name is clearer than a fun name, and it can still accomplish the goals I’ve mentioned above), I also like when some projects use names like Adventurer, Immortal Knight, etc (examples from Roll Player Adventures).

What do you think about this strategy, whether it’s for discs, rewards, or other types of products? Are there times where you like it and other times you don’t?


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19 Comments on “Disc Golf and Kickstarter Reward Nomenclature

  1. Hi Jamey,

    My sons play ultimate frisbee in college at Pittsburgh. Could you share more about your ultimate frisbee experience?


    1. Rick: I played ultimate for the first time when I was 10 years old, and I played it off and on for years. I was the most involved with it during college as an intramural sport and after college as a pickup sport. I liked the casual-yet-competitive nature of it (I wouldn’t have enjoyed it in a formal environment–I just wanted to play, not practice and run drills). I hope your son is having fun with it!

  2. There’s a balance to be struck between aesthetics and functionality – fun/user-friendly/marketing-approved names are more flavourful and appealing than dry serial numbers, but having a functional element to the name makes it easier to know how different things relate to each other – if you have a choice between Lion and Leopard, you need to delve into the descriptions of each to figure out which you want; if you have a choice between 10.7 and 10.5, that allows you to make a snap judgement which is more likely to be the one you want.

    Mixing fun and functional works well – so “Leopard (10.5)” or “10.7 Lion”.

  3. Working in the tech world, and trying to buy parts for computers, and such, and dealing with totally arbitrary naming schemes has left me with major frustration.

    Use a standardized categorization methodology for your product line. A 1200 should be better than an 1100. A 2000 should be better than a 1000. Use version numbers if you have to, but don’t just give stuff “names”.

  4. You know, Jamey, they do make floating discs…

    I just might sign up to be a Stonemaier Champion if it came with a custom Stonemaier driver. In Innova Champion plastic, of course.

    Welcome to our wonderful sport!

  5. My other hobby is disc golf… well, along with collecting Vaseline/Depression Glass. Anyway it is such a great way for my wife and I to get out and get some light cardio exercise. We go on road trips because we only have one local course but several within a couple hour drive. The discs you prefer will change as your throwing style changes. As you start out you can use a mid range as your driver and you will probably get the same distance but as you learn the technique and you use a driver that is when the distance comes in. Then you work on the accuracy. It is a fun venture.

    1. Also, give MVP and Axiom discs a try. I used to throw Innova and switched over once I tried a few of their discs.

  6. Sport’s come with language unique to them. Try explaining football to a date.
    Watch a YouTube disc golf tournament, just a half hour clip, be ready for “hyzer flip, splash-out, pured, circle-2, and many more. The commentary takes a while to catch up to, but it comes straight from the players on the links, tho we have fancy names for the courses too.

  7. The names thing is actually also brand differentiation–Innova has a lot of animal/creature names (Pig/Roc/Wraith/Eagle etc.), while Dynamic Discs has an “old west” theme, with Sheriff/Judge etc. And then there’s a few companies (Discmania and Prodigy come to mind) that have very descriptive names–Discmania’s names until recently were all just ‘Distance Driver’, ‘Putt/Approach’, etc., but they’ve recently decided to additionally add names to their newer discs, with the Cloud Breaker added to the roster.

  8. Fun post! As for KS pledge levels, I find unique names confusing and definitely prefer: standard, deluxe, etc.

  9. Jamey, it is funny to hear you of all people mention this today, cause just the other day I was having a conversation with someone about Wingspan. Their comment was go for resources every time and you will have a better chance of winning. I responded by saying “I’m more of an egg guy.” I have always preferred games that allow you to identify and at the moment I think Wingspan is my favorite game. But there are many games out there that allow you to identify as “I’m a (fill in the blank) person.” And I think they have huge appeal.
    Anyway, a bit of a tangent but because of the timing of my comment about Wingspan this weekend and your post, I had to comment ;)

  10. There is a board game/disc golf store near me. I thought it was such an odd combo, but met several people who love both!

  11. Glad you’ve found disc golf!
    Personally, I gravitated to Prodigy’s letter-number naming convention because it tells you what kind of disc it is with the letter, and how relatively stable they are with the number (Discmania does this too, with special versions getting more evocative names). When I was new, I found fun names confusing because I couldn’t tell how an Eagle, Firebird or Thunderbird flew compared to each other without looking at the numbers (which aren’t consistent across manufacturers, or even different runs of the same disc mold.

    I also avoid Dynamic Discs because they use a “law and order” naming scheme with stuff like judge, convict and sargeant which doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    As for how that applies to KS rewards, I personally prefer straightforward, descriptive tiers, but that might just be me.

  12. Awesome to see you playing disc golf! My 2 favorite hobbies are board games and disc golf and I own a disc golf pro shop and course in Cibolo TX. Both hobbies are amazing during this crazy time. Enjoy and swing through Out of Bounds and say hi if you’re ever around San Antonio TX area :)

  13. Upon reading this, I immediately thought of KS level names and must say – I have always found the fun names for KS levels to be much more confusing than straight forward ones! (For example, I joined the Starving Artists Second Printing KS a couple years ago and the pledge levels were all artist names. To talk about what came in which pledge level in the comments was SO confusing. There is nothing that ties the names to their contents! That kind of thing can also be confusing for the edition names, especially when needing to talk about them after the campaign ends.

    1. I agree. I would rather have the pledge name be easily understood, and have the pledge description include some flavor like “for the bold adventurer: includes base game and all unkocked stretch goals”

      1. This is great and relevant as I am currently working on my reward structure. I think I’m going to try to find a balance between the two: creative fun names but still clear on what you are getting. Also, I think I want to just have 3 main reward levels and 3 stretch goals to keep it more straight forward. Any thoughts on this approach? Thanks!

        1. Having only 3 levels can make a huge difference there. Try to make the creative names relevant to the content and absolutely (as you plan to do already) be clear about listing what is included is each level

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