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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


Short for binary digit. the smallest unit of data a computer can represent -either ON or OFF


Electronic machine, operating under the control of instructions stored in its own memory, that can accept data, manipulate the data according to specified rules, produce results, and store the results for furture use.


The hexadecimal number system is a base 16 number system. This number system uses values 0-9 and A-F to represent values.


The binary number system is a base 2 number system. This system uses combination of 1's and 0's to represent data.


Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Primarily used on mainframe computers, EBCDIC is used to represent data.

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.


An error in a game or computer program. The word originated with mainframes; Insects would crawl inside the machines seeking warmth and destroy delicate wiring. "Bug" now means any error or undesired effect in a game or program.


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.


Pirated software distributed over the Internet.


This refers to the value of bits which comprise a number. Binary numbers are made up of 1s and 0s. A typical eight bit binary number looks like this: 1000 0101

Using a little endian system, the leftmost bit represents a high value, while the rightmost bit represents a small value. A 1 in the rightmost position (0000 0001) represents the number 1. A 1 in the leftmost position (1000 0000) represents 128. Using eight bits, any number from 0 to 255 may be represented.

A big endian system orders the bits in the other direction. In this case, a 1 in the rightmost bit (0000 0001) has the value of 128, while a 1 in the leftmost bit (1000 0000) has the value of 1.

Generally, PCs use a little endian system, while Macs use a big endian system.

Visit the site below for more information and a history of the problem. http://www.mackido.com/General/endian.html


Acronym short for "Blue Screen Of Death", commonly displayed after a major system error under numerous versions of Microsoft Windows. Seeing a BSOD generally means a reboot is soon to follow.


A standard for representing characters as numeric values.

Whereas the ASCII standard uses single bytes, and is therefore limited to 256 characters, Unicode uses two bytes to represent each character. This allows Unicode to represent up to 65,536 characters.

At present, Unicode only contains about 30,000 meaningful characters. But that is enough to represent virtually every major written language in the world. Unicode includes, for example, the entire character sets for Chinese and Japanese.

Because Unicode can easily represent characters from so many languages, its use is standard to the Java programming language. This is yet another feature which helps to make Java such a portable language.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

This is a standard for representing characters. In addition to text characters, other control characters are used. (Control characters include CARRIAGE RETURN, BACKSPACE, DELETE, etc.

Collision Detection

Collision detection is a means of determining whether two objects have come into contact with one another. In games, this is necessary in order to make decisions. For example, in a Fighting game, it is important to know whether a character's punch has hit or missed an opponent.

If the two objects intersect, meaning that they are in the same place at the same time, they are assumed to have made contact. In the Fighting game, if one character's fist and the other character's face are in the same place at the same time, someone has a bloody nose!


The kernel is the core that provides basic services for all other parts of the operating system. A kernel also can be defined as the outermost part of an operating system that interacts with user commands.

Typically, a kernel includes an interrupt handler that works with all requests or completed I/O operations that compete for the kernel's services, a scheduler that determines which programs share the kernel's processing time in what order, and a supervisor that actually gives use of the computer to each process when it is scheduled. A kernel may also include a manager of the operating system's address spaces in memory or storage, sharing these among all components and other users of the kernel's services.

Because the code that makes up the kernel is needed continuously, it is usually loaded into computer storage in an area that is protected so that it will not be overlaid with other less frequently used parts of the operating system.


Read The Fu****g Manual. Usually said to people who keep bugging others with their questions BECAUSE they didn't RTFM. :-)

Parallax Scrolling

Kind of scrolling in which you have several (usualy) 2D bitmap/tiled layers that scroll at different speeds giving a Different Depth Sense to the viewer. It is usualy used in arcade games as the background world maps e.g. Jazz Jack Rabbit or Mortal Kombat series.

Skeletal Animation

The process of animationg by deforming a mesh over a series of contollable "bones" (seen in Half-Life)


The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Model of Computation

A formal, abstract definition of a computer. Using a model one can more easily analyze the intrinsic execution time or memory space of an algorithm while ignoring many implementation issues. There are many models of computation which differ in computing power (that is, some models can perform computations impossible for other models) and the cost of various operations.


The value which has an equal number of values greater and less than it. For an even number of values, it is the mean of the two middle values.

Matched Vertex

A vertex on an matched edge in a matching, or, one which has been matched.

Markov Chain

A weighted graph in which all weights are nonnegative and the total weight of outgoing edges is positive.

Lexicographical Order

Alphabetical or ``dictionary'' order.


A point lattice generated by taking integer linear combinations of a set of basis vectors.