FAQ: On name, avatar, and [other] Yal

A dinosaur surrounded by question marks.

A collection of answers on identity subjects.

Originally published in 2019, updated in 2022.


Reportedly originating from French, my first name in Cyrillic script is Вадим.

That's Vadim by Russian transliteration rules and usually Vadym by Ukrainian transliteration rules.

Things get muddier for my last name - the transliteration is usually Dyachenko by Russian rules and Diachenko by Ukrainian rules, but effectively letters appear and disappear at random as numerous variations of this last name exist (letters, soft signs, apostrophes - everything goes). I even have official documents that spell my last name differently!

After 2018 or so I started gradually updating everything to use Vadym Diachenko as that's what your bank will want to see if you're paying me and makes it harder to pronounce it completely wrong.

I don't really mind which transliteration you'll refer to me with, but I urge you to resist the temptation to type my name from memory - we'll get to this shortly.


While I had semi-stable internet access from early 2008 or so, my current nickname hadn't been in use before mid-2009.

During that period, my strategy on picking nicknames was to use my first name and then slam random letters/digits after it until finding an available combination.

In doing so I found that:

  • People are really good at misspelling both my first and last name.
    In that time I've been called Vlad, Vladim, Vladislav, Vadimir, Vadmin, and so on.
    My last name had it worse, but I wasn't overly concerned as there wasn't any consistency to begin with (see above).
  • Some people didn't realize that my name is a real name at all.
    Time to time people would contact me about GameMaker examples/tutorials made by other Vad[i/y]ms. Sometimes I would proceed to look at the thing to answer their question without correcting them. Sometimes people would later contact me, thanking again and apolizing for asking the wrong person. Sometimes they wouldn't.

So I thought to change up the name with criteria being around:

  • Must be unique (0 exact match search results)
  • Must consist of [semi-]common English words so that it's harder to misspell.
  • Must be slightly abstract/mysterious 'cause I was going to get my name known for making abstract games.

After some considerations I settled on "YellowAfterlife", which seemed memorable enough and didn't seem to be in use by anyone ever, all with a minor (later discovered) humorous caveat being that, if a game/app/service caps display name length at 8 characters, I am suddenly known as YellowAf (and you might already know what AF usually stands for).

Also, you might be wondering where are those abstract games that I was going to make.

You see, I got really distracted with writing netcode and tools and such.
And then I graduated from university, so I had to prioritize making things that made it more likely for me to make a living. So, as of 2022, the list of my "abstract" games is around:

  • One and Light (2011)
    The originally intended kind of "abstract" - it is a small game, but had bits of dialogue, interesting levels, and gameplay mechanics. I'm meaning to revisit this idea sometime.
  • Polygravity (2011)
    I was able to get a nice art style going on, but, ultimately, the game is just a quirky platformer.
  • Stories at the dawn (2015)
    I find that over time my games tend to lean towards more light-hearted themes, and this short game is a good example.
  • A little portal-platformer (2021)
    There's something very captivating about the concept of a door to another place, though the technical implementation remains problematic in most game engines.
    Light on interactions, the game is mostly a celebration of me having managed to make portals at least somewhat work in Godot over a weekend.

There'll be a few more notes about naming after a small interruption,


Common assumptions for what my avatar depicts include dinosaurs and birds.

The avatar originates from a random doodle I did during some university lecture in 2014:

"occasionally" is a pretty weird word, if you consider

If you were to ask me what this is supposed to mean, I would have no answer, but I do recall the teacher walking by me, looking at my notes (which had a column reserved for doodles), and asking if anything I draw makes any sense, to which I replied with a soft "no".

I had quickly established that the general shape of the dinosaur looked pleasant (1), but proportions made approximately no sense - it could very well have been a horse or a dragon.
With any kind of accuracy out the window anyway, I decided to try drawing some kind of hand with a friendly gesture.
After briefly trying to sketch out a wing (2), it became apparent that I had no idea how to draw one without additional detail, let alone convince a gesture with claws on the end of it.
Then I tried to do a Rayman-styled floating hand (3), only to realize that I have no idea as to how this is supposed to work look pointy fingers.
Then I came with the current pointy hand idea (4), which doesn't seem to make any sense in terms of proportions, but looks good, so I settled with that.

Over time this pointy thumbs-up had grown to be a common emoticon for Slack/Discord chats that I visit, and later a de-facto logo of mine.

I time to time consider whether to switch up avatars, but this one is pretty recognizable by now, and a portion of it (a thumb-up peeking out of a circle) had become a logo of sorts.

YAL and Yal

My name abbreviates to YAL (or, if you are feeling pedantic, YA), but, did you know that there's also a person that goes by Yal? In fact, we have a visible overlap in our activities:

  • We both make games
    (well, Yal makes games, while I mostly work on games instead of making my own)
  • We both use GameMaker as one of primary tools for projects
  • We both make GM assets
    (I mostly make extensions while Yal makes engines for core mechanics)

People time to time ask me if we are aware of each other.

Yal certainly predates me in use of name, and it's fair to say that we've been vaguely aware of each other for a while (as we both frequented the official GameMaker forums).

But, things only really got confusing when both of us were appointed as forum moderators at once - people had already taken up calling me "YAL" or just "yal" by then, and suddenly a realization that there are two "yal"s.

Rest assured, for a little while people would tell me that they've seen my engines (while they in fact meant Yal's) and thank Yal for my tutorials. Nowadays things are calmer in this regard.

That is all.

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6 thoughts on “FAQ: On name, avatar, and [other] Yal

  1. I just found this article after discussing with the other Yal how I used to get you and her mixed up – showed it to her and she had a bit of a laugh as well.

  2. I will have you know that I never me either of you (you and Yal) for each other!

    Super awesome to get to know a little bit behind the genius. I love how you got your avatar.

  3. Greatly enjoyed this! I genuinely thought you and /the other Yal/ were the same person before this, and I’ve been following your blog for quite some time.

    Nice to finally see an update ;)

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