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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


The term coined for multiplayer games in Doom, usually consisting of all players trying to see who can get the most kills.


1) A resizable array of elements (such as std::vector) 2) A mathematical object, usually in 2D or 3D space containing position elements of the same order. A vector is different than a point of the same magnitude in that it generally assumes movement from the origin of the coordinate system to the specified position.


Business that created OS Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT, 2000. Also creates development SDK called DirectX which is used by most games on Windows OS. (WWW)

Gone Askew

The term refers to a glitch in a game. It's a word used by game programers when they come across a problem which causes the screen to sway from side to side on random moments in a game (like the camera was being shaken). Incorrect camera data positions and faulty code cause this rare glitch. Nick Askew was the person who first came across this while beta testing the game Doom. Ever sense then this 1 in a 1,000 chance of occurrence has been called "Gone Askew" (as a side note: many programmers use it as kind of a joke because it refers to "bad" programming and hours of work for it to be corrected)

Lexicographical Order

Alphabetical or ``dictionary'' order.


Short for modification. Many current games have tools that have been developed by the creators or players which allow the game to be changed by players to create different looking and sometimes playing games. See Total Conversion.


First in, first out. This is opposite of how the stack works, LIFO. This stands for Last In First Out.


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.


One who is extremely familiar with games and gaming terms. Usually knows more about the industry than most, and enjoys niche and import games such as anime and RPG based games. Also, are known for being large fans of import gaming. Usually "live and breath" games.

Load Time

The time it takes for information to transfer from the storage deice, like a CD-ROM or cartridge, to RAM. Long load times from CD-ROMs were initially thought to be a potentioal problem with next-generation systems. Now dynamic loading methods are being developed to lessen or eliminate the load-waiting experience for the player.

Lossy Compression

A Lossy Compression, used in such formats at .MP3, discards what it feels is 'unnecessary' information during encoding. Therefore, after compressing a file with a Lossy format, you are unable to decompress it to the same state in which it was originally. While many times this information truly is unnecessary, proponents of lossless compression would argue that it's a sloppy practice.


Unicode is a standard which describes character encoding, similar to ASCII. However, in contrast to ASCII and other encodings, Unicode tries to encompass all characters ever needed. While ASCII is limited to one-byte units and therefore 256 different characters, Unicode uses three different encoding forms: UTF-8 uses 8-bit units; UTF-16 uses 16-bit units; UTF-32 uses 32-bit units. All three of these forms can make use of all characters covered by the standard; in UTF-8 and UTF-16, a character may however consist of more than one unit. The web site of the Unicode consortium is http://www.unicode.org/

Hash Table

The Hash Table is a data structure which is suited to searching large amounts of information by a key value. Hash tables are most useful with a large number of records are stored, and allow information to easily be located. Hash tables function by processing the key using a function which returns a hash value - this value determines where the the data the particular record will be stored. This same value can then be used to search the hash table, and will point to the same location.

Markov Chain

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


In My Humble Opinion.


The science of matter and energy and their interactions.

Kolmogorov Complexity

The minimum number of bits into which a string can be compressed without losing information. This is defined with respect to a fixed, but universal decompression scheme, given by a universal Turing machine.


The word 'logic' comes from the ancient Greek word for 'Reason' and is primarily about proof and reasoning in arguments. In a computing context, logic implies a precise, reasoned, provable system which can be rigorously tested for accuracy.


An integer is a whole number, positive or negative commonly stored as a group of bytes. The integer size usually is in proportion to the pipelining capabilities of the processor architecture it is implemented in. On modern x86 architectures, integers are normally 32-bits in length.


UML is the Unified Modelling Language. It is a highly structured, object oriented methodology for software engineering. Currently, it is accepted as the defacto standard.


The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology.


A Remake is generally a newly programmed version of an existing (usually quite old) game. Remakes can be true to the original, but most tend to use improved graphics or enhance gameplay with new ideas. There are several websites dedicated to making Remakes.(e.g. http://www.remakes.org)


The abbreviation TANSTAAFL stands for "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" and is quite often used by Michael Abrash when he talks about optimization. It means that whatever you do, there's always a trade-off, be it size, speed, or the developer's nerves.


Programming is the act of developing software.

Fibonacci Numbers

A sequence of numbers such that each number is the sum of the preceding two. The first seven numbers are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 13.