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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


A small bitmap image, often used in animated games but also sometimes used as a synonym for icon.


Refers to sub-surface scattering

Stencil Buffer

A buffer that holds information about what pixels should be drawn or not. Often used for creating shadows and reflections.

Sub-Surface Scattering

A rendering technique used on objects to determine how much light is allowed through the object. This is a very demanding technique since it calculates the amount of the material is it going through and the denisty of the material. This is most commonly used on skin, plant material, and cloth materials.

Swept Sphere

A swept sphere is a 3D object that can be created by pulling, or sweeping, a sphere along a path, leaving a trace that kind of resembles the shape of toothpaste when it comes out of the tube. While sweeping, the radius of the sphere may be changed, and the path does not need to be a straight line. Quite often, though, swept spheres are used in collision detection as an alternative to bounding boxes. In these cases, most of the time the path is a straight line and the radius stays fixed. The object that is created by sweeping a sphere like that is a cylinder with hemispheres, which have the same radius as the cylinder, attached to both ends. Detecting if a point is within this object is computationally quite simple, often easier than doing this with a bounding box.


Tranformantion and Lighting Recent 3D accelerators now have special features for hardware based transformations, which were traditionally control by the software, as well as hardware.


To divide an object into geometric primtives, such as triangles, for the purpose of simplification. Used either to make rendering or to reduce the complexity of the object.


Short for texture element, a texel is an individual pixel that is part of a texture.


A 2D image which is is used as a kind of wallpaper for the basic polygons used in 3D graphics. Textures are usually images of real-world objects and are often repeated over an entire object in a tiled fashion. Eg: a retouched photograph of a brick wall may used to provide the basic texture for a house's walls.

Texture Filtering

Using a filtering method, such as point sampling, bilinear, trilinear, or anisotrophic filtering, to resolve problems caused by applying a 2D texture to a 3D object.

Texture Generator

A small program that generate textures, mainly for use in 64k demos. The generators often have generate, filter and distortion functions.

Texture Mapping

The process of mapping a 2D image to a polygon. Often the polygon is rotated and a different size so that the texture must be rotated and scaled.


The process of applying a texture to something.


TGA is a graphical format for saving files.


A bitmap that can be placed to create a picture, usually used for background maps.

Transformation Matrix

Any kind of matrix that is used to alter the position and/or orientation of an object.


The act of linearly altering the location of a point.

Translation Matrix

A matrix that moves a point linearly.


Having the property of admitting and diffusing light so that the objects beyond cannot be clearly distinguished : partly transparent. (ie. Alpha-blending two polys together).


When an image is drawn so that images drawn before it can still be seen. This is done through blending the source colors with the destination colors at different percentages.

Also called Blending.


Having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that the bodies lying beyond are entirely visible. (ie. Color keying or transparent sprites - not drawing the mask color).


Converting a polygon into a number of triangles.

Trilinear Filtering

Combines bilinear filtering from 2 Mip levels (See Mip Mapping) to create a smoother version of the textures current size. Doubles the memory useage and can cause bandwidth problems.

Tripple Buffering

A video buffer consists of a memory allocation for the information that is drawn to the screen. The first buffer is what is actually drawn to the screen, a second and third buffer are used to create a workspace to draw to that doesn't require synchronization to the vertical retrace of the monitor.

Tripple buffering allows the advantages of a double buffer, where the program has a buffer to draw on that is not dependent on the retrace, but adds the additional advantage of being able to draw to the third buffer while the second buffer is waiting to flip to the front of the screen.

Tru-Walk Technology

An animation technique used to create the illusion that the characters are engaging in various forms of locomotion.