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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


Basic based lenguage made by The Games Creator which features easy direct 3d use provided by his functions


To rewrite a piece of code in order to improve structure and/or readability without changing it's external behavior or overall meaning. Refactoring code will often result in simpler code which will potentially be more performant and/or readable than the original version.

Parallax Occlusion Mapping

Employs per-pixel ray-tracing for dynamic lighting of surfaces in real-time on the GPU. The method uses a high precision algorithm for approximating view-dependent surface extrusion for a given height field to simulate motion parallax and perspective-correct depth. Additionally, the method allows generation of soft shadows in real-time for surface occlusions. Alternatively, POM can be coupled with well-known bump mapping algorithms such as normal mapping if physical accuracy can be sacrificed for greater computational efficiency.


A generic term for graphics, sounds, maps, levels, models, and any other resources. Generally assets are compiled into large files. The file formats may be designed for fast loading by matching in-memory formats, or tight compressions for handheld games, or designed to otherwise help in-game use. It is often useful to have an asset tool chain. The original models may be high-density models with R8G8B8A8 images. You may have a model striper and image compresser that reduces the model for LOD, and compresses the texture to a DXT compressed image. These assets may then go through further transformations, and end up in the large resource file.

Perlin Noise

A function, inveted by Ken Perlin, who invented it to generate textures for the movie Tron (1982). One of the first films to use computer graphics extensively, Tron has a distinctive visual style. He won a special Academy Award for Perlin noise in 1997. Perlin noise is widely used in computer graphics for effects like fire, smoke and clouds. It is also frequently used to generate textures when memory is extremely limited, such as in demos.


The means by which an entity interacts with something. In programming, an interface is often used to provide abstraction of functions. The interface defines what methods that a function or class MUST possess. This allows the simple replacement of functions with any other function which also meets the requirments, without requiring any modification elsewhere in the program (particular useful when porting to a different platform, or using an alternate rendering system, etc).

Hash Table

The Hash Table is a data structure which is suited to searching large amounts of information by a key value. Hash tables are most useful with a large number of records are stored, and allow information to easily be located. Hash tables function by processing the key using a function which returns a hash value - this value determines where the the data the particular record will be stored. This same value can then be used to search the hash table, and will point to the same location.


An assembler is basically a low level compiler which translates assembly instructions into object code, which can be read by the processor. See also: Assembly language.


An object-oriented programming language designed in the early days of Xerox PARC. Popular for its powerful English-like syntax and array of features only now coming to other programming languages (such as Java and C#). More information can be found here. It is extremely unpopular in game development, particularly due to the lack of large corporate backing -- it is nonetheless a good environment for learning and playing with the extremely powerful API.


To make a instance of a class. To create a object.


PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML. For more information, visit the official website.


Content Management System: A backend portal system which assists in the management (creation, deletion and modification) of content on web pages. Some examples are PHPNuke or GeekLog.


ActionScript: A ECMAScript-based programming language used for controlling Macromedia Flash movies and applications. More


Ruby is the interpreted scripting language for quick and easy object-oriented programming. It has many features to process text files and to do system management tasks (as in Perl). It is simple, straight-forward, extensible, and portable.


GLFW is a free, open source, portable framework for OpenGL application development. In short, it is a link library that constitutes a powerful API for handling operating system specific tasks, such as opening an OpenGL window and reading keyboard, mouse and joystick input.


A high-level general-purpose programming language. It was created by Guido Van Rossum in early 1990. Python is quite commonly referred to as 'executable psuedocode' in reference to it's incredibly simple syntax. Python.org


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.


High-Level Shading Language. A C-like language developed by Microsoft for DirectX Graphics. Shader programs, such as vertex and pixel shaders, can be written and compiled in HLSL rather than the various hardware shader assembly languages. The resulting compiled can then be loaded onto modern graphics hardware that supports programmable shaders.


Concurrent Versioning System: A system for managing simultaneous development of files. It is in common use in large programming projects, and is also useful to system administrators, technical writers, and anyone who needs to manage files. More info at http://www.cvshome.org/


Artificial Neural Net: A structure based on several weighted nodes used to process inputs. Particularly useful to Artificial Intelligence, because they aren't perfectly precise, and can be "trained" in a more realistic fashion.


"Lua is a powerful light-weight programming language designed for extending applications. Lua is also frequently used as a general-purpose, stand-alone language." http://www.lua.org


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.


OpenAL is a cross-platform 3D audio API appropriate for use with gaming applications and many other types of audio applications. Visit site for more information.


A popular free IDE (Integrated Develpment Environment) for varius C++ compilers. Comes packaged with the MinGW compiler but can be used with almost any command-line compiler.

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