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Game Development Dictionary


Design


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  Term Name Description

Critical Path

The necessary route from start to finish in a game. Everything that must be done to complete a game is considered to be within the “critical path”. This holds especially true in linear games, where a player is forced to proceed along a specified path. Often the critical path is shown to the player with “primary objectives” or “main goals” of a level or the game as a whole. Other, smaller objectives or secondary goals that are not required to finish the game are considered “non-critical path”.

RTS

Real-time (not turn-based) Strategy.

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.

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.

Tree of Death, The

The term used for an overabundance of branching pathways in game design. When the number of possible outcomes governed by player choice becomes unmanagable, it is said you have planted "The Tree of Death".

Game Entity

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

Paper doll

An image of a character in a inventory that can be dressed or equipped by dropping clothes or items onto it. Is mostly used in CRPGs.

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.

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).

Murder Based Experience

An advancement system in which points are only rewarded once an opposing creature is killed. This is a specialized form of Combat based experience that doesn't reward the player for defeating the enemy unless death has occurred.

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.

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.

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.

Role Playing Game

Role Playing Games have been a popular paper game system since Dungeons & Dragons and before. This genre has enjoyed a good amount of attention in software form as well, with some of the original titles being Ultima, Wizardry and Bards Tale. Software Role Playing Games usually give the player more than one character which they can build into a powerful fighting force by slaying monsters and gaining experience points and then levels.

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.

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.

Genre

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

Power-Up

An incremental reward for items or a characters stats. For example, mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers that would make Mario larger.

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.

NPC

Non-Player Characters

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."

Real-Time Strategy

A game usually based on controlling many units in real-time (as opposed to turn-based). Often the perspective is an overhead view to give a better overall view of the playing field.

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.

Puzzle

A problem created for testing ingenuity

Online Game

A game which is meant to be played while connected to the Interner, or network, with one or more other people over the network.