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I'm working on a sci-fi video game project that involves starships and simulation of life on board. I'm wondering what the correct term would be for an abstracted overview for the player of what is on board. For example the starship may have one or more of the following:

  • Ordnance
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Medicine
  • Crew
  • etc

The issue is that some of these can be grouped into other subgroups such as "Supplies" for Food and Medicine but I need to group all of these elements into a GUI window that needs a title, so I need an appropriate term to group all contents so that so that it translates over to the player as "everything the starship is carrying".

Would "manifest" be the most appropriate, since it'll also apply to crew and in general all contents on board? I've looked into a lot of nautical terms but haven't found anything more appropriate.

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  • 2
    Manifest's perfect. – Tushar Raj Jun 27 '15 at 19:02
  • Payload, manifest, cargo, et al. Though the "cargo" is not generally considered to include fuel and crew. – Hot Licks Jun 28 '15 at 19:22
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The common game term here would be "inventory", although that word tends to be used for inanimate objects in that context.

Manifest seems like a fine word, I wouldn't object to that at all. It has plenty of historical usage in exactly that sort of scenario: a ship's manifest is a list of all things on board.

It's worth noting though, that one of the fun things about science fiction is the freedom to write your own ticket. It's entirely yours to say what the word of the future should be here, based on your imagined future history. There are any number of words that could be made to fit, like: store, haul, register, book, stock, supply, index or roll.

If you envision a particularly diverse future, you might even look at new loan words. Latin has "censeo", which sounds pretty neat (that's a 'ch' at the beginning there). Or maybe there's a big Slavic influence in early space flight and you go with the pleasingly laser-like Polish "zappas".

  • Thank you, that has given me a few ideas regarding exploring other languages as well, I'm doing part of the design (my main job is programming) so thinking about the use of language in context of designing or shaping an experience is something new to me. – user156589 Jun 28 '15 at 8:40
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"Manifest" would serve well. It is usually used to describe a list created to be shown to someone for an official or commercial purpose. Merriam-Webster's definition of this sense of the word is "a list of passengers or an invoice of cargo for a vehicle (as a ship or plane)." Perhaps for this reason, "manifest" has, to my (native speaker's) ear has a formal, official connotation that seems appropriate to a starship.

Another choice would be "inventory," defined by Merriam-Webster as "a complete list of the things that are in a place" or "a supply of goods that are stored in a place."

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The noun "load" - as in "the ship's load" can be used to describe living and inanimate objects. It is a somewhat more general term than "inventory" in that it can describe anything at all, but is also more specific in that it relates only to being carried by or loaded into something else (such as a ship).

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