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Game Development Dictionary


Design


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  Term Name Description

Difficulty ramping

Like music or theatre, video games often have a pattern of action that starts low, then steadily rises through the game, and climaxes near the end. This means that the challenges faced by the player are not equal in difficulty as the game progresses. Games tend to start with simple challenges and build to a higher difficulty level as the game nears completion.

Obtaining a desired difficulty ramp is one of the reasons developers make video games linear. As a linear game has fewer variables to consider, it is much easier to apply an even ramp to than to a non-linear game.

Easter Egg

Something in a game that has nothing to do with the main game or is an unnecessary bonus. For example, some games have hidden pictures of their developers that can be viewed by pressing special key combinations.

Entity

The base unit of a design. This is anything that can react with anything else in any way: For instance in an adventure game, every inventory object, every item that the player can interact with, every NPC and the player themselves are all entities. In a FPS, any missile that an NPC fires is an entity, as is an exploding section of wall or an exploding dustbin. As a game has more entities, the ways that they can react together increases geometrically. Thus entity relationship management becomes necessary.

Entity Relationship Management

Managing the relationship of game design entities (see Entity). As the number of entity types in a game increases, the relationships between them increases geometrically, so for instance in a game with 3 entity types there are 3 possible relationships. For a game with 4 entity types there are 12 and so on. For games such as large adventure games where there may be many different entities, it will become necessary to manage this in some way, by creating standard interactions, or reducing the number of entities available in any one scene.

Experience Points

Often used in Role Playing Games (RPGs), experience points are a way of measuring how much the player has experienced to grant them additional benefits often in the form of increased statistics or skills.

Fatality

A special move that can be executed in some fighting games, notably the Mortal Kombat series, after a match is over, which results in the graphic death of the losing character. Variations include; "animalities", where the character is turned into an animal before killing it’s opponent, "babalities", where the loser turns into a baby, and "friendship" moves where the character does something goofy, like signs an autograph for the loser.

First Person

A perspective in which a player's character is not represented on the screen, but rather the view is such that the player "sees" what he or she would if they were actually performing the actions found in the game (looking through the window of a cockpit, for example).

Flowchart

Design tool that graphically shows the logic in an algorithim, using symbols that represent various operations in a program's logic.

FMV

Full Motion Video. Video streams such as AVIs and MPEGs are examples of FMV. Games that used FMV extensively, both real actors and computer created, were often classified as FMV games.

Foozle

A foozle is an object which a player must acquire and give to an NPC or use in a certain area to advance the plot.

FPS

First Person Shooter

Game

An interactive, self-contained system of rules containing a challenge and a victory condition that defines a focused reality for the purpose of entertainment.

Game Entity

A entity is a abstract class of an object that can be moved and drawn over a game map

Game Mechanic

A game mechanic is a rule which defines how a game proceeds. For instance, in Chess, a bishop may move only along the boards diagonals. In the Mario Bros. games, Mario may squish his enemies by stomping upon them. In football, a team loses posession of the ball after failing to advance 10 yards in 4 downs. Each of these rules is a game mechanic.

Game Progression

The way a game moves from beginning towards a (possibly undefined) end. The most common game progression is linear, however many other game progression structures exist.

Game+

Game+ is a game feature that allows a character who has beaten the game to play again, retaining some advantage that zie has earned, or allowing the player to start at a plot-branch point and travel the "road not taken". The first game with this feature that I know of was Chrono Trigger.

Gameplay

The key element in any game, the fact of the game itself, what the player actually does. Examples: Pong - the act of bouncing the dot, which represents the ball, off the line that represents the paddle. Super Mario Bros - moving the plumber around, jumping on heads of enemies, breaking blocks, when trying to rescue the princess.

Gameplay

Meaningful interactions during a game.

Genre

A class of games. Common genres would be the shooter, First Person Shooter (FPS), Role Playing Game (RPG), simulation, Real Time Strategy (RTS)

Heads Up Display

This is a technique for imparting vital information to the player during gameplay, without requiring him to access a separate menu. The relevant information is simply overlaid on the game screen. This makes the information instantly available, without destroying the flow of the game itself. Typical examples of the Heads Up Display include the health bars common to Fighting games,and speedometers found in Racing games. While the Heads Up Display can help to support the game's pacing, it may also detract from the mood of a game. So it is important to make the Heads Up Display blend with the rest of the game as seemlessly as possible.

Hit Points

Used in most games to reference the amount of times a player can be damaged before their character passes out or dies.

Hybrid Camera System

The most common types of cameras used in games today are OTS (Over the Shoulder; Tomb Raider series) and FP (First Person; Quake series) along with some others such as isometric etc. A hybrid camera system is a camera system that combines two or more camera types in a single game. One example is Morrowind an RPG which uses both OTS (so the player can see his character's equiped items and the combat more closely) and FPS (to give the player a sense of immersion in Morrowinds rich enviorments).

Interface

The means by which an entity interacts with something. In programming, an interface is often used to provide abstraction of functions. The interface defines what methods that a function or class MUST possess. This allows the simple replacement of functions with any other function which also meets the requirments, without requiring any modification elsewhere in the program (particular useful when porting to a different platform, or using an alternate rendering system, etc).

Level

1) A character level: This is a measurement of a game character's strength, ability, etc. In many games, especially RPGs, the characters which the player controls may grow and become more powerful or more skilled throughout the course of the game. The character's level provides an indication of how capable the character currently is.

2) A monster level:

The relative strength and skill of monsters and NPCs may also be indicated by level. For example, a 1st level monster is very weak. But a 23rd level monster is a much more formidable opponent.

3) A difficulty level: In some games, the player is able to control how easy or difficult it will be to play the game. For instance, playing the game on the "easy" or "please don't hurt me" setting makes the game easier, while playing the "difficult" or "I'm completely insane" version will be much different.

4) A game level: A section of the game. Most modern games require the computer to process a tremendous amount of information. These data cannot all be stored in the computer's main memory at the same time. (Sound files in particular take up a lot of space.) So the game is broken up into sections, or levels.

When a game level is to be played, the computer loads only the information which is required for that section of the game. When that portion of the game is finished, the computer loads the information for the next game level. (Because this usually means that the player must wait before continuing to play the game, some developers have chosen to implement "streaming", in which portions of the game are alwaysbeing loaded.)

5) To gain a character level: Some allow the player's character to increase in level. When the character attains the next level, the character is said to have "leveled up". It is not uncommon for players to refuse to stop playing an RPG until a character has reached the next level.

Life

Many videogames give you multiple chances at gameplay, which are commonly called lives. Failing in a videogame results in your character getting 'killed' or otherwise terminated. When all the lives are lost, the game is over. Almost always, there is a way to acquire more lives, by reaching a certain goal or objective in the game.


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