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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description

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.

Standard Template Library

The STL is a set of template classes included as part of the C++ standard library. They provide support for standard containers (such as linked lists, hash tables, and dynamic arrays) and algorithms (such as sorting and searching).



The name for a group of more than one characters stored as a single unit. Often stored in classes or as an array of characters in memory ending with a "null terminating" character.

Technical Design Document

A specification for all of the programming algorithms, data, and the interfaces between the data and the algorithms.

Ternary Operator

An set of operators that take three operands. In C, the ternary operators are ? and :, and the syntax for their use is ? : .


From the Greek root "Tribos" which means 'to rub'. Tribology is the science or study of rubbing. Used in physical simulations to determine friction of two objects, such as tires on a road for a driving game.

This discipline includes the study of two interacting (sliding)surfaces, the materials that make-up the surfaces, the space between the surfaces and lubricants used to reduce friction between the surfaces. Tribology is used in many industries including Automotive, Research, Manufacturing, and High Tech.


Terminate but Stay Resident: TSR is when a program terminates, but remains resident in memory.


For game programming turoials of all type go to the: GameDev.net Programming Reference section.

Unary Operator

Operators that take only one operand, like Not, the minus sign, and the plus sign.


A place in the computer's main memory in which a certain piece of information is stored. Each variable is composed of four parts:

The memory location in which the information is stored
The type of information which will be stored in that location
The information which is stored in that location
An identifier (The name of the variable) When the programmer declares a variable, he is telling the computer to set aside a certain amount of space in memory. The computer needs to know how much space to set aside, and the programmer gives this information by declaring what type of information will be stored. (Some types of data require more space in memory than others.)

The programmer must also have some way of keeping track of which information is stored in which location. Modern computer games require tremendous amounts of information. Keeping track of the exact memory location of each piece of information would be tedious. So the programmer assigns the variable an identifier. This is the name by which the programmer will refer to the variable.

Suppose a programmer needs to retrieve the hit points of a character named Toadbottom. If the programmer needed to refer to this as "the information stored at 00FF 92CA" it would be a nightmare. But by using an identifier, the programmer could refer to this information as "Toadbottom.hitPoints", or something equally nice.


In most programming languages, there are areas of memory abstracted to contain certain values. Since most languages higher than C, do not worry about Registers and Memory Addresses, Variables are an abstract concept for those higher languages to store values that are not constant. In most languages, constants are not much use, as you may be required to gather user input, or change various states of the program. Constants generally include anything not put into variables. Just for further knowledge: [code] six = 4 + 2; # In this fictional example, six is a variable, while 4 and 2 are constants (or atleast as far as the interpretor/compiler is concerned). [/code] Generally the interpretor has the job of alloting various areas of memory for the variables to be put into and referenced from. In some languages (mostly compiled ones) variables may also be put into Registers--however that should be done with utmost caution.


Visual Basic. An extension of BASIC made by Microsoft, often used to create Windows applications quickly.


1) A resizable array of elements (such as std::vector) 2) A mathematical object, usually in 2D or 3D space containing position elements of the same order. A vector is different than a point of the same magnitude in that it generally assumes movement from the origin of the coordinate system to the specified position.

Visual C++

An Integrated Development Environment used to create C++ programs.


WDL stands for "World Definition Language". WDL scripting is used to make interaction in 3D game programming. WDL is used with the powerful "Acknex" game creation system created by Conitec at conitec.com.


A set of code that creates an interface for another set of code. For instance there are many kinds of wrapper for DirectX which simplify initialization and other processes.


A true compiler for the BASIC language by Max Reason. www.xbasic.org