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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description

Cel Shading

A technique which causes rendered objects to look as though they are hand-drawn, cartoon images.


XGA is a Monitor Graphics Type which contains 15-inch units with a native resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

Specular Highlighting

A graphics technique which creates the illusion of light reflected on a surface. A specular highlight is the brightest point on an object.

Cube Mapping

An alternative to sphere mapping used in environment mapping, cube mapping gets a 'screenshot' looking in 6 different directions and arranges them in a rolled out cube. When applied, the object appears to reflect the environment around it. A 'cheap' alternative to raytracing reflections, cube mapping is fast enough for realtime.


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.


The process of applying a texture to something.

Texture Generator

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

ACT File

.ACT files are the actor files for Genesis3D - also referred to as models.


Commonly referred to a standard way to see if a network connection is available - a packet is sent to a destination, which returns the packet or additional information. The gamers definition usually refers to the time it takes for a message to get to and back from a server or another gamer. Usually going through the game's network processing (i.e. the ping is handled by the game and not computer's network hardware or operating system) The original acronym is from Packet INternet Groper.


'Genre-lizing' (or non-US 'Genre-lising') is the act of defining a game to be within a specific genre. This has mainly pertained to the RPG genre, but is not limited to it. Genre-lizing, from a development point of view, is limiting to a designer in that they are forced to include attributes of a game that are associated with that genre and to not include those attributes that are not associated with that genre.

2 1/2 D Graphics

Slang. Refers to games with 3D polygon sprites and backgrounds, yet which have gameplay restricted to a 2D style. Examples are Super Smash Brothers, Einhander and Kirby 64.


gMAX is a powerful subset of the game industry-standard 3D content creation tool – 3d studio max – that will be provided to game players for no charge on the web. gMAX is narrowly targeted at the interactive computer & video games market, and will be based on the next major release of 3d studio max. It is designed to serve as a highly extensible and customizable content creation platform for both professional and consumer use.

Mortal Kombat

A series of popular fighting games created by Midway. Mortal Kombat was one of the first console games to show blood. Thus, it has always been a target, for the "Violence in video games" issue.

Coordinate system

(see also: Matrix) An orthogonal grid in which elements are placed. For displays, each point in the coord system is a pixel. Note: On a computer monitor, x-coords increase from left to right, but y-coords indrease from top to bottom (contrary to traditional math).


SDK used orginaly in SGI workstations, currently the 3D render of choice by most developers.

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.


The process of creating simulated motion or activity.

Frame Skipping

When a computer cannot process the frame graphics, or the game engine fast enough, a solution is to compensate the frame rate with "skipping". Each time the game loses performance, it skips some calculations and think ahead for compensating the time, without the heavy processing.


A processed scene that consists of a static view of the game moment, it includes all objects, sprites and textures. Along with a set of frames, its possible to create an animation.


A method of outputting sprites by only showing non-transparent colors, without any checking during run time. This is done by precompiling a bmp into a piece of code that contains a set of screen memory writes that only include non-trasparent colors.


Any time that a 3D object isn't smooth and you can see the polygons that make the object up. The object then looks too polygonal, for example, the 3D object of a man. On his face, his nose comes to a sharp point, his ears look like decagons.

Tru-Walk Technology

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


"Spacial line" is a linear pattern that has a tri-coordinate system (x,y,z) rather than the planar system which forms a line(x,y).

Depth Cueing

A scene effect to make objects that are farther away from the camera are rendered with a lighter color so that they are given the illusion of distance


Frames Per Second. A measure of animation display rate. Not to be confused with First Person Shooter.