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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


A feature on a mixer where a number of channels can have their settings modified together.


Voltage Controlled Oscillator. In analog synthesizers, a device that generates various waveforms, whose frequency is determined by a control voltage.


An effect where the original signal is repeated after a small delay.


In modulation, "phantom frequencies" that are created when the modulator's frequency enters the audible range.


MOD is a trackerbased music format well used and spread on bbs.


Boosting the power of a signal.

Ring modulation

A ring modulator is used in analogue synthesis. A ring modulator takes two different tones, and plays the sum, and difference frequences of them both. Example: if you run a 500 Hz sine wave and a 600 Hz sine wave through a ring modulator, it produces two sine waves with the frequencies 100 Hz (600 - 500 Hz) and 900 Hz (600 + 500 Hz). With such simple ingredients it is not very useful, but using more complex tones, it generates more interesting results. Nowadays it is rather simple to produce digitally, but back in the old days when everything was analogue, it was a bit more complicated. The most common way to do it involves a ring of four diodes, hence the name, Ring Modulator.


Voltage Controlled Filter. A filter in analog synthesizers controlled by voltage.


A representation of the dynamics of a single note.


The duration a note is held before it decays away.


A music sequencing program, in which the interface is primarily numeric. The interface of a tracker allows the user to arrange sound-samples on a timeline across several monophonic channels. Trackers generally save songs to disk incorporating both sequencing data and samples. This can give a relatively small file size, while still providing a generally better quality of sound that MIDI often produces.

VOC File

Creative Labs' sound format made popular with the Sound Blaster.

Digital Modelling Amplifier

An amplifier that emulates the characteristics of other amplifiers, allowing for near authentic tone with much more versatility and a vastly lower price.


A type of distortion that intentionally adds noise to the signal.

Noise Gate

The noise gate is a piece of studio equipment used to control the volume of an audio signal. The original intended purpose of this is to clean up unwanted noise from a recording, but some nice effects can also be achieved using a noise gate. Used simply, the noise gate only allows an audio signal above a certain threshold to play. This can be used to clean up unwanted noise by setting the threshold above the level of the noise. A typical use of the noise gate as an audio effect is to have it controlled by an additional track - for example, a beat supplied by a drum machine. In this case, the gate can be applied over the top of an audio track such as a synth pad, or perhaps vocal 'oohs'. By 'opening' and 'closing' the gate based on the rhythm supplied by another track (which may or may not be audible itself), the track in question is effectively cut up into a nice rythm. This is often used in electronic music, especially Trance. Software noise gates are also available.


The manual shaping of various frequency ranges.


More formally called timbre modulation. It is your standard "wah-wah" effect that Jimi Hendrix and so many other guitarists hackneyed.


a format for audio compression, MP3 uses psychoacoustics to eliminate/reduce redundancy.


An effect where the amplitude of a signal is modulated by a sine wave. In the guitar world, the "whammy bar" is mistakenly called a tremolo -- it is used, in fact, to produce vibrato (modulation of frequency).


The MPEG-3 format. An audio format with CD quality music. It is usually created by converting a WAV file to the format via an MP3 Converter.


A compressed file format, similar to mp3. Features slightly better quality at the same compression rate. See http://www.vorbis.com for library and sources. Free, open source. Very liberal license. Can be used commercially without paying royalties.

Square Wave

A fundamental waveform whose shape is the same as a wave. Spectrum-wise, it's the same as a sawtooth, sans the even even harmonics.

Digital Synthesizer

Synthesizers where sound is generated much like it is with analog synthesizers, though all processing and filtering is done digitally. Usually capable of much more realistic reproduction of natural instruments, though this is not always desirable. A common complaint is that digital synthesizers sound colder than their analog counterparts.


Any alteration of a signal -- can be desirable, with controlled distortion through effects boxes, overdrive, etc., or unwanted, such as with noticable distortion in hi-fi equipment caused by poor components.


Downloadable Sounds. A standard that encorporates custom samples into MIDI sequences. DLS samples are distributed in conjunction with a SMF and are played back as part of the sequence. DLS ensures that a sequence played back on one system sounds the same as the original.