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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) is an application platform for mobile devices developed by QUALCOMM. Compared to J2ME, applications designed to run on phones with BREW platform are developed in C programming language.


J2ME stands for Java 2 Platform Micro Edition, a Java platform for mobile devices.


Pertaining to a Graphical User Interface (GUI).


A group of operating systems produced and published by Microsoft. Windows is currently one of the most popular computer platforms. Microsoft has created numerous versions of Windows. The oldest, Windows 1.0, was released in 1985.

Versions include:

*-Windows 1.0

*-Windows 2.0

*-Windows 3.0

*-Windows 3.1 // 1.0 - 3.1 are not really an OSs but more of a GUI for DOS

*-Windows 3.11 // 3.1 on steroids; made for networking

*-Windows 95 // introduces the current Windows look of today

*-Windows 98 // upgrade of 95, with more features. Introduced the Explorer look

*-Windows 98SE // second edition of 98. This version featured many bug fixes.

*-Windows NT // the first non-DOS based Windows, used primarily for networking and other business-related uses. NT stands for "New Technology"

*-Windows 2000 // aka NT5; The workstation/server OS)

*-Windows ME // the upgraded version of Windows 98, which contains a few additional features; Generally not considered a successful OS release

*-Windows XP // XP = eXPerience; Win2k on steroids; The DESKTOP look has also been updated to a more slim-line look

*-Windows XPe // Windows XP slimmed down for thin clients.

*-Windows CE // CE = Compact Edition; the operating system used for mobile devices. This OS runs popular devices such as "Pocket PC", and "Hand-Held PC".

*-PocketPC 2002 // WinCE 3.0 Fine tuned for Palm-like devices

For more info see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows


The program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The name of the shell is derived from the fact that it is an outer layer of interface between users and the inner-workings of the operating systems. Shells are generally classified as either graphical, or command line (text based). As an example, the default shell for Microsoft Windows is called explorer, and some of the functionality it includes is the taskbar and system tray, as well as desktop icons.


An RTOS popular for embedded machines. Has a reputation for being rock solid (rumours place it at the centre of some nuclear power plants' computer system). WWW


A multiuser operating system originally designed in Bell Labs. Not as popular nowadays, but its spirit lives on in the popular GNU/Linux system, administered by the GNU (GNU's Not UNIX) project.

Virtual Memory

Virtual memory is a space in secondary memory (usually the hard drive) used to extend the "apparent" size of main memory (RAM). When all the RAM is currently in use, and more is needed, non-imperitve, low-priority, and/or suspended processes are paged out to virtual memory. Their process information is written to the harddisk, and the process image is deleted from the main memory, allowing a new process to begin. Low levels of main memory on high power systems require almost the constant use of virtual memory, which can lead to thrashing.


Symmetric MultiProcessing. A feature of many modern operating systems, SMP utilizes multiple processors in order to increase system performance. With SMP, processes can be running simultaneously. This is a distinction from multi-tasking single processor systems that run processes "concurrently," giving the illusion of simultaneous execution.


The codename of the next generation Microsoft Windows operating system due for release in 2005, which will implement tighter security features over current Windows versions.

Hungarian Notation

A list of suggested prefixes to variable and function names created by Charles Simonyi. There are different versions for both Visual Basic and Visual C++. VC++: b - boolean operator by - byte (unsigned char) c - char cx / cy - size stored in a short dw - DWORD; double word, unsigned long fn - function h - handle i - integer l - long n - short int p - pointer s - string sz - ASCIIZ string terminated with a zero (null-terminated) w - WORD (unsigned int) x, y - short used as coordinates These can be combined in many cases. For instance, lpsz - long pointer to a null-terminated ASCII string. Visual Basic (almost all Visual Basic notations are three letters long): bln - Boolean chk - Check box cbo - Combo box cmd - Command button cur - Currency dtm - Date/Time (variant) dlg - Dialog Box (also used for common dialog control) dbl - Double (double-precision float) frm - Form fra - Frame hsb - Horizontal scroll bar img - Image box int - Integer lbl - Label lst - List box lng - Long mnu - Menu opt - Option (radio) button pic - Picture box shp - Shape or Line sng - Single str - String txt - Text box vnt - Variant vsb - Vertical scroll bar


Protected Mode Engine. This was used to switch the machine to protected mode.


A windowed operating system that can be booted an run entirely from a floppy disk. It is possible to run this operating system with no hard drive at all by saving to the ram "disk." It comes with an HTTP server, assembler, note pad-like application, and 3D maze game, along with other things, all fitting on the floppy along with the entire operating system. (WWW)


1) Any graphical user interfaces 2) A group of operating systems published by Microsoft. Windows is currently one of the most popular computer platforms. Microsoft has created numerous versions of Windows, which include: * -Windows 1.0 * -Windows 2.0 * -Windows 3.0 * -Windows 3.1 (1.0 - 3.1 are not really an OSs but more of a GUI for DOS) * -Windows 3.11 (3.1 on steroids; made for networking) Note: Windows 95 - Me use DOS 7.0 as the underpinnings for the OS * -Windows 95 (introduces the current Windows look of today) * -Windows 98 (upgrade of 95, with more features. Intruduced the Explorer look) * -Windows 98SE (second edition of 98. This version featured many bug fixes.) * -Windows NT (the first non-DOS based Windows, used primarily for networking and other business-related uses. NT stands for "Networking Technology") * -Windows 2000 (aka NT5; The workstation/server OS) * -Windows ME (the upgraded version of Windows 98, which contains a few additional features; Generally not considered and OS) * -Windows XP (XP = eXPeriance; Win2k on steroids; The DESKTOP look has also been updated to a more slim-line look) * -Windows CE (CE = Compact Edition; the operating system used for mobile devices . This OS runs popular devices such as "Pocket PC", and "Hand-Held PC". ) * -PPC2002 (WinCE 3.0 Fine tuned for Palm-like devices)

Amiga OS

The Amiga OS (Workbench 1.0) was the first pre-emptive multitasking operating system released for a home computer. The OS was built on top of the Motorola 7.14 MHz MC 68000 processor. It gained an early foothold in television and movie video editing thanks to the custom A/V chips inside the Amiga, as well as the "Video Toaster" expansion card and software. The operating system uses Amiga-specific hardware extensively to increase performance. To this day, (AmigaOS4) the operating system is still pre-emptively multitasked and lacks memory protection, and the customized hardware has been mostly replaced by standard G3/G4 motherboards (similar to those used in Power Macintoshes). It retains a die-hard fan base, mostly due to the fact that it provided gaming and multimedia environments far outshining the IBM/PC (and console) software of the early 90s. Amiga is also the Spanish word for girlfriend. It is thus a (very) positive name.

OS / 2

OS/2 is an Object Oriented preemptive multitasking, Operating System. Developed for the ix86 processor-family by IBM. OS/2 was designed with scalability in mind. It is able to run on minimum a computer with an i386 processor, 8Mb of memory and 150-200Mb og space on the harddrive. Of course you are able to run OS/2 (16-bit and 32-bit) applications. But you are also able to run 95% of all Win16 and DOS programs and games. Also many of the most popular UNIX applications have been ported to OS/2. There are thousands of quality native OS/2 programs available for user who want to take advantage of the power of OS/2. The system, not the applications control how much processor time the individual application get, thus eliminating "resourse hogs". Also the user is able to control the priority of the application and thereby controlling excatly how much processor time each program gets. Each program is protected in it own "virtual machine". This gives you the ability to run misbehaving applications without having to worry about system crashes or other programs. In the case of a system crash, chances are that you will be able to save some, if not all, of your data. The file system of OS/2 ic called HPFS. It uses the disk space more efficiently than FAT16 (DOS file system), and supports long filenames (256 characters). It drastically reducses the need for defragmentation of your partitions. Oh i forgot, OS/2 Of cause fully supports FAT16. OS/2 has support for all industry standard networking protocols, it allows unlimited connections to other systems in a peer network, perfect for the home or small office. It comes with a full line of networking management tools and applications, such as WebExplorer, Java, FTP, Telnet3270, Ultimail (Email), and Newsreader/2 (Usenet). And of cause you can run your favorite Win16 and DOS networking applications. The Workplace Shell or WPS for short. Is the primary shell (like the XServer in UNIX). This adds the Object-Orientation to OS/2. The Presentation Manager Shell or PMShell for short is the secondary shell (like the Window Managers in UNIX), this one adds the Graphical User Interface to the OS/2. It is very intuitive, which means a short adaptation time. When you have gotten used to the WPS/PMShell combination, most other GUI's will seem inferior. Also the Object Orientation results in more efficient work, no more need to perform gymnastics with the mouse just to copy a file. Just drag & drop.


Acronym short for "Blue Screen Of Death", commonly displayed after a major system error under numerous versions of Microsoft Windows. Seeing a BSOD generally means a reboot is soon to follow.


Disk Operating System. A text-based operating system that is a descendant of CP/M (another text-based OS). Many companies created their own distributions of DOS, but the original two were PC-DOS (IBM), and MS-DOS (Microsoft). MS-DOS is the foundation of Microsoft Windows ME and earlier versions of Windows. i.e. Windows can't run without DOS.


A fast and highly-efficient RISC based operating system. Boots in under 10 seconds due to being ROM-based as opposed to disc-based like most other OS's.

Originally developed by Acorn, a British hardware manufacturer who had previously been responsible for the BBC microcomputer.

The OS is now actively developed by RISC OS Ltd. and is property of Pace, another British hardware manufacturer, this time specialising in set-top boxes.


The kernel is the core that provides basic services for all other parts of the operating system. A kernel also can be defined as the outermost part of an operating system that interacts with user commands.

Typically, a kernel includes an interrupt handler that works with all requests or completed I/O operations that compete for the kernel's services, a scheduler that determines which programs share the kernel's processing time in what order, and a supervisor that actually gives use of the computer to each process when it is scheduled. A kernel may also include a manager of the operating system's address spaces in memory or storage, sharing these among all components and other users of the kernel's services.

Because the code that makes up the kernel is needed continuously, it is usually loaded into computer storage in an area that is protected so that it will not be overlaid with other less frequently used parts of the operating system.


Real Time Operating Systems, the OS used when deterministic system behaviour is necessary even in boundary operatinal conditions.

Protected Mode

A mode of operation on 32-bit x86 architecture processors that enables the OS utilize the entire bank of memory up to 4GB and also allows for rules to be set regarding what programs can access certain ranges of memory and code.


Linux is a free Unix-like operating system available for x86, PowerPC, ARM, Alpha, Sparc, MIPS, and several other platforms. Its strengths are its open source and rapid development, in addition to the traditional strengths of Unix (stability, Internet, networked graphics, scripting).

MacOS (Macintosh)

A fast RISC-based OS with a good user interface and fast graphics.

Cache / Caching

A cache is a relatively small location to store frequently needed items. In the context of OSes, a disk cache is a place in main memory where commonly accessed disk blocks are stored. There are two aspects of disk cache that help improve performance: read caching and write caching. When a program attempts to read a block from disk, the OS first checks the cache; if the block is in the cache, the OS returns that block instead of reading from disk. When a program attempts to write a block to disk, the OS first puts it into the cache; the write can be combined with other writes to the same block, and only later (when the disk is idle) does the OS write the block to disk. In the context of processors, a cache is a place on the CPU (level 1 cache) or near the CPU (level 2 cache) that parts of memory. When the CPU requests that memory be transferred into a register, it checks the cache first. When the CPU writes registers to memory, it writes first to the cache. Applications (including games) can have their own caching to keep frequently needed data in memory or on disk to avoid going to disk or network.


Thrashing can occur in any type of search environment, such as reading/writing to RAM or a hard-drive. It is when searches have to jump to different locations to reading instead of being able to proceed sequentially.