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Game Development Dictionary


Hardware


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  Term Name Description

Sega Saturn

Sega's home console, the successor to the Sega Megadrive. It failed due to a lack of developer interest due to the unnecessary complexity of the system; a small but dedicated development scene exists surrounding it much like that surrounding the Megadrive.

Dreamcast

The Sega Dreamcast is the last console of Sega Enterprises, which was released in 1998 in Japan and 1999 in North-America and Europe. Since 2000 various freeware games are available thanks to the open source and free development kit KallistiOS. The Dreamcast is the one and only videogame console which makes it possible due the free development libraries like SDL to create software legal without using any Sega libraries. Three commercial games without Sega licence were released 2003 and 2004 this way. Still, there are publishers like www.dreamcast-scene.com or www.goatstore.com who even help out single programmers to release their software commercially on CD.

Xbox360

The successor to the Microsoft Xbox, this console uses new ATI graphics chips as well as multi-core IBM PowerPC CPUs capable of running six simultaneous threads in hardware.

Noise Gate

The noise gate is a piece of studio equipment used to control the volume of an audio signal. The original intended purpose of this is to clean up unwanted noise from a recording, but some nice effects can also be achieved using a noise gate. Used simply, the noise gate only allows an audio signal above a certain threshold to play. This can be used to clean up unwanted noise by setting the threshold above the level of the noise. A typical use of the noise gate as an audio effect is to have it controlled by an additional track - for example, a beat supplied by a drum machine. In this case, the gate can be applied over the top of an audio track such as a synth pad, or perhaps vocal 'oohs'. By 'opening' and 'closing' the gate based on the rhythm supplied by another track (which may or may not be audible itself), the track in question is effectively cut up into a nice rythm. This is often used in electronic music, especially Trance. Software noise gates are also available.

Modem

A shorter term for "modulator/demodulator". This is a device which takes data from a computer and turns it into a series of audio pulses which can be sent over a telephone line; on the receiving end, these pulses are "demodulated" into a copy of the original data. Modern internet devices like ADSL and cable no longer use this exact type of technology, but the term "modem" has been expanded to include these devices.

Cable Modem

An internet service which transmits data through a thick cable to the consumer; naturally, this means that a lot of data can be transmitted quickly. Though the technology itself has no self-imposed limits -- other than the maximum speed possible for transmission -- cable companies often place maximum speeds on the internet connections, since people generally don't need much upload speed. This is in the best interest of the consumer, because it allows everyone to have fair access to the total amount of speed available to the company.

IHV

Independent Hardware Vendor. A hardware manufacturer that specializes in manufacturing a single type of hardware rather than manufacturing full computer systems.

Interlacing

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.

Playstation 2

Playstation 2 is Sony's latest consoleas of 2002. It was the first of the next generation consoles to be released, and gains much of its popularity from thew Final Fantasy series of games it runs. THe PS2 now has online capabilities, and along with Final Fantasy XI, hard drives can be purchased as an expansion for the PS2. The PS2 is powered by a 250MHz Sony/Toshiba CPU, dubbed the "Emotion Machine." You may develop on PS2 using Sony's PS2 SDK for Linux. PS3 is planned to be released in the near future.

PowerPC

A RISC microprocessor designed by IBM and Motorola and Apple. Most well known for its presence inside Macintoshes, although it is quite popular in IBM's server lineup. The most powerful model at the time of this writing is the POWER4 (Server, 64-bit). It has been modified to produce the PPC970 (G5, Desktop, 64-bit) for desktop machines.

EGA

EGA - Enhanced Graphics Array IBM defined graphic card. Followup to CGA. Provides up to 16 colors out of a palette of 64.

CGA

CGA - Color Graphics Array IBM defined graphic card. Created to provide color graphic (4 colored modes 320x200, 'hacked' 16 colored mode 160x100).

GPF

General Protection Fault - CPU error which can be intercepted by the OS to perform different tasks or generate an error. Can be caused by: - a process who violated its assigned resources and tried to access a resource which it was not granted (often unavailable memory due to pointer errors). - a process who tried to acces memory in a lower ring (higher priority, usually kernel memory) The GPF can also be used for memory swapping - the OS catches the GPF involved in reading a memory page which is in the swap file so it loads it into RAM and then resumes execution. Usually a GPF results in a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) in Windows

VGA

Video Graphics Array: Analog graphics standard introduced with the IBM PS/2 series. Backwards compatible with EGA at the BIOS level, but provides higher resolutions. Supports a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels in 16 colors (mode 0x12) out of a palette of 262,144 colors. Mode switching can be done using int 0x10, func 0x00

Interrupt

1. aka Hardware Interrupts: A request for attention from the processor. When the processor receives an interrupt, it suspends its current operations, saves the status of its work, and transfers control to a special routine known as an interrupt handler, which contains the instructions for dealing with the particular situation that caused the interrupt. ex: int 0x09 - keyboard interrupt 2. aka Software interrupts: functions stored in memory by the operating system to be used by programs to facilitate different tasks (aka system calls). ex: int 0x21 in MS-DOS

IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) Cable

Not to be confused with, "Integrated Development Environment," this cable connects varius drives to the motherboard allowing data to quickly get from one to the other. It is generally shaped like a ribbon, though round IDE cables do exist.

PCI BUS

The Periferal Componet Interconnect BUS is used for all types of hardware components, including (non-AGP) video cards, sound cards, extra ports, and others. The slots (generally 3 to 5) are located in the lower left portion of the motherboard (under the AGP BUS) and are white or gray.

Sega Genesis

Sega Genesis (AKA: Mega Drive in many parts of the world): A 16-bit videogame system that was made by Sega. Released in the US on the 1st of September in 1989. A second smaller scaled down version was released in 1993 called the Genesis Mark II; as well a company called Majesco released a third system in 1998 called the Mark III. There was also a couple attachments released for the system as well, including a CD ROM drive called the Sega CD (AKA: Mega CD) and a 32 bit adapter named the 32x. Other variations of the Genesis console include a portable hand-held version with a LCD screen called the Sega Nomad and a combination Sega Genesis/Sega CD system named the Sega CDx (Or Multi Mega).

XBox

A videogame console created by Microsoft. Released in November 2001.

DVD

DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) DVD storage capacity is: 17 Gbyte DVD delivers the data at a higher rate than CD-ROM. This technology could replace the Video Cassett tape due to the high quality of the sound and video. Unlike video cassett tapes, DVDs do not degrade in picture quality over time.

GameCube

A videogame system created by Nintendo. Released in November 2001.

Gameboy

A handheld game console created by Nintendo. A second, smaller version was later released. This was the Gameboy Pocket. A third model was called the Gameboy Color. Recently another, more powerful version called the Gameboy Advance was released.

BIOS

Basic Input/Output System The part of a PC that manages communications between CPU and peripherals. The BIOS is, in most cases, embedded in a EEPROM (rewritable memory ROM). The BIOS manage the first reads on the disk drive, to boot, for instance.

FPU

Floating Point Unit. The unit that compute all floating point types. For Intel Processors series, until the 80486 (1992), the FPU was dissociated from the main Processor (x87 series).

MCA Bus

IBM's PS/2 32-bit expansion bus. In 1987, IBM created the PS/2, with a 32-bit expansion bus, to replace the original PC's ISA 8 bit (and later 16 bit) buses. The MCA bus was patented, so other brands than IBM couldn't use them. That has lead a consortium to create EISA bus. Very few cards are in MCA bus nowadays.


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