Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Game Development Dictionary


  • You cannot add terms

  Term Name Description


Hidden Surface Removal The CPU removes hidden surfaces before sending meshes to the videocard. Because the CPU can remove entire meshes at a time, this can save a lot of time when checking individual triangles.


Heads-Up-Display. This means status information which are always visible like health or ammo information.

Indexed Color

When color information is stored in a look up table that contains the colors red, green and blue information.


Indot refers to non-quad and non-tri polygons. For instance a pentegon without triangulation or quads. (This is only appreant during modeling in a 3d application that supports this feature.)


Because the electron guns that draw pictures on TV screens were initially too slow to draw the screen in one pass, the first lines at the top of the screen would be fading by the time the last lines were drawn, pictures on TVs were drawn using what is known as interlacing. First the odd lines down are drawn (line 1, 3, 5, etc.). Then the even lines are drawn (line 2, 4, 6, etc.). The image shown by one pass is known as a field, and the complete image drawn by two passes is known as a frame. Standard TV broadcasts run at 30 frames per second (fps). In an effort to boost hype for a product, sometimes ads or press releases would state that their game was "60 fields per second", instead of 30 fps. Most computer monitors are non-interlaced as well as many arcade screens.


Using a ratio to step gradually a variable from one value to another.


An approximation between two known values. In graphics, this is a process in which the software increases the resolution of an image by first filling the image with blank pixels and then coloring the blank ones based on the color values of its surrounding pixels.

Inverse Kinematics (IK)

The process of creating realistic positioning of a complex object, such as an arm, based on the positioning of a lower-level node in the skeletal heirarchy, such as the twisting of a hand. This process works in the reverse of forward kinematics.

Isometric Tiles

One way of drawing 2D tiles so that it appears that they look 3D as they are layered with depth. In computer games this is usually a misnomer as isometric means a 1-1-1 perspective. Normally in games the depth ratio is less so that the tiles do not seem as wide.


This is an ISO standard by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEGs work with color resolutions of up to millions of colors (also called 24 bit color). When you save an image as a JPEG, it gets compressed, making the file smaller. However, JPEG compression is lossy, so each time you save a JPEG, you lose some data and reduce image quality. When saving a JPEG, you can choose a compression level from low to high. Low compression gives you better quality but a larger file size. High compression gives you a smaller file - but less quality.

Lambert Shading

A shading model where the light intensity is calculated at one point along the polygon and is used to shade the entire face. Also commonly refered to as flat shading.

Left Handed Coordinates

A version of the Cartesian coordinate system where positive X points right of the origin, positive Y points up from the origin, and positive Z points beyond the origin.

Lens Flare

A refraction that appears in a camera lens normally when it is directed at the sun. A favorite added effect by many computer artists.

Light Map

A special type of image map that, when applied, effects the intensity of the texture of an object.


Usually refers to a line segment -- i.e., a one dimensional span of space between two points.


Level of Detail. Often pertaining to the complexity of 3D models, such as having less or more polygons when the model is closer or farther from the camera.


A coordinate that represents a point in a light map.


Scripted (non-interactive) 3D animation comprised of pre-set camera motion, character motion and environment changes. Mostly used for cutscenes within a game in place of pre-rendered CGI animation or film. Typically uses a game's real-time 3D engine to depict a portion of the game story in a non-interactive cinematic representation. Gamasutra Article


A premium modelling program produced by Alias, it is used by several companies in the games industry as their primary modelling tool. A free version is available at alias.com


A 3d modelling term that refers to a model as a series of polygons.

Milkshape 3D

A popular 3D modelling package. It was originally made for modding games, and can export and import a wide variety of popular game formats. It supports textures and texture coordinate mapping very well, and has a nice SDK. The registered version is currently $25. http://www.swissquake.ch/chumbalum-soft/

Mip Mapping

This process takes a texture and breaks it down into smaller pieces such as 1/2 the size, then 1/2 the size of that, and so on, so that different textures can be used at different distances from the texture. This helps the texture retain what its overall image should look like at different distances.

Mode X

A tweaked VGA card graphics resolution that displayed graphics at 320x240 which created a square pixel resolution. The term Mode X was coined by Michael Abrash.


Usually referring to an object that is created out of a number of polygons, splines or NURBS which to create an object in 3D.


A 3d engine developed in the late 1990s based on DirectX. Now known as 3d State. It has generated a large following of programmers and is praised for it's ease of use and compatability with many programming languages and compilers such as Microsoft Visual C++, Borland C++, Delphi, and Visual Basics. More information can be found at thier website at www.3dState.com.