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Game Development Dictionary


Hardware


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  Term Name Description

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.

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.

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.

PlayStation

A game console made by Sony.

Joystick

An input device which consists of a stick that comes up from a platform which can be hand-held or mounted onto a surface. Usually used for giving directional information and comes with buttons for action input.

IHV

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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).

LCD

LCD - Liquid Crystal Display. LCD screens are used widely among electronic devices. Probably the most common application of LCD screens, is in Digital Watches. How it works is as follows: Two sheets of clear plastic are pancaked together with a think lair of a substance called Liquid Crystal. When a voltage is applyed, it causes the liquid crystal to turn opaq.

PSX

Sony Playstation.

Joypad

An input device which consists of a button like surface which can usually move in 4 distinct directions and 4 more combinations and is almost exclusively hand-held. Usually used for giving directional information and comes with buttons for action input.

XGA

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

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.

XBox

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

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

Vertical Retrace

In a CRT, this is the time during which the electron gun is repositioning itself from the lower right to the upper left. It is during this time that proper page flipping is done, so that smooth, tear free animation can be done.

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.

PIT

Programmable Interval Timer. A timer present in all PCs with a frequency of 1.193MHz (2^32/3600) with 3 outputs, channel 0 causing IRQ 0 (int 8), channel 1 for memory refresh and channel 2 for the PC Speaker.

MMX

An advancement to Intel microprocessors which added 57 new instructions which are designed to handle video, audio, and graphical data more efficiently.

SNES

Super Nintendo. (NES, Nintendo Entertainment System). Successor to the NES, this system was 16-bit and the reigning champion for its time period in consoles. (WWW)


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