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Game Development Dictionary


Design


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  Term Name Description

Refactor

To rewrite a piece of code in order to improve structure and/or readability without changing it's external behavior or overall meaning. Refactoring code will often result in simpler code which will potentially be more performant and/or readable than the original version.

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).

World

World - Usually a series of similar levels that are grouped together into a mega-level.

Storyline

Provides a rationale for the gameplay. Game storylines vary from the very simplistic (e.g. rescue the princess) to exceptionally complex and involved storylines (as found in RPGs such as the Final Fantasy series).

Palette Swap

A technique in which a videogame uses the same basic character, with a different color scheme, to make that character look like a different character. Used often in may RPGs.

One-up

In early two-player simultaneous games, this message would flash on-screen when the first player received an extra life. Two-up would appear when the second player received an extra life. Since then, it has come to be shorthand for getting an extra life, usually not by accumulating a certain number of points, or collectables, but by finding a special icon. This icon is often referred to as a "one-up."

Moves

Anything a character can do in a game. While early games, like Galaga, may have had only three moves (move left, move right, and shoot), newer games, particularly fighting games, may have hundreds (low punch, block, mid-kick, high block, etc). Often, in fighting games many of the moves are hidden, and not revealed in the documentation.

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.

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).

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.

Continue

In arcades, when a game is over, one is often presented with the opportunity to continue where one died (instead of starting over at the beginning of the game) by inserting another quarter or token. Most home games also have the continue option, but have a limit of some set number of continues to prevent one from finishing the game the first time it is played.

Combo

In a fighting game, a "combo" is a combination of moves executed in rapid sequence, often following so closely together that the opponent has no time to respond. Combos can do more damage to the other character than the sum of the damage inflicted by the individual moves. Some moves are only available during or after combos.

Cheats

Codes or tricks that are programmed into a game, which give the player special abilities; like invulnerability or extra weapons. Cheats are often programmed into games to facilitate easy testing, and left in to add depth. Many magazines print game cheats that they have discovered. Today many cheat websites now store thousands of cheats for games across multiple game platforms.

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.

Bonus Level

A level or stage in a game where the character can obtain special items or additional points that otherwise can not be achieved in regular gameplay. Being aply to play the bonus level usually requires some trick or cheat that can not be easily found in normal gameplay.

Artificial Life

AL is basically the antithesis of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While AI seeks to simulate real world by following a complex series of rules, AL starts with very simple rules for a system and enables complex behavior to emerge from them.

ren'ai

A ren'ai game, also known as a dating sim, is a popular genre of game in Japan but hasn't made it to western gaming very much. In this game the player plays one main character, (usually) male, and the game objective is to court and impress one or more (usually) female NPCs. Gameplay usually relies heavily on dialogue choices and may contain sim or adventure elements. There is not usually any combat. Perhaps the clearest western examples of this genre would be the Leisure Suit Larry games. There are also X-rated versions of these games known as hentai games, h games, or ecchi games.

Design Theory

The underlying and abstract thought behind the simple idea of making games 'fun'. Simple to understand, hard to master. Anybody can write up a design document with countless revolutionary, inventive, and well-documented ideas. It is only a true Design Theorist who can make that design document produce a fun and addictive game.

MMO

Massively Multiplayer Online. Games built with MMO support have the ability to connect hundreds or thousands of players throughout the world into a single and continuous gameplay. The most popular genre that support MMO is what people commonly refer as RPG, where people interact to each other either by regular social interactions such as talking, hunting together, or killing each other.

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).

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.

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.

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.

Flowchart

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

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.



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