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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description


A platform, rpg, or fighting game in which there is a 3-D engine but that features 2-D control or graphics, i.e. Paper Mario, Super Smash Brothers, Parappa the Rappa.

3D Studio Max

A highend package used for both game development, character development and film. Although a high package the price is resonable. ( www.ktx.com )

Adventure Game

A genre of games that typically are graphics, character and story based. The player usually has to solve a series of puzzles while being given a deep story. Examples of this genre would be many of the LucasArts such as Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island series, and many of the Quest series from Sierra Online.


An Archtype is a commonly followed pattern in design. It can apply to any design aspect.

For instance the "Quest" archtype is a common adventure game plot archtype. As part of the "Quest" archtype, character X must save the world from evil by retrieving/ destroying/ the magical object/person/ thing Y. X starts off as an inexperienced person but his quest will bring an new maturity to him.

Character Archtypes are often followed. The "Princess" the "Rogue Warrior", the "kind old wizard" are some examples that can be easily recognised. By using archtypes as part of a story design, a user can instantly gain a feel for the story, and can gain an instant insight into the interactions between characters.

Artificial Emotion

Simulation of moods and personalities in software.

Artificial Life

AL is basically the antithesis of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While AI seeks to simulate real world by following a complex series of rules, AL starts with very simple rules for a system and enables complex behavior to emerge from them.


In Role-Playing Games, attributes are numbers that represents specific aspects in a character's stats. EX: Agility, Intelligence, Luck, Power, etc. are all attributes.


A buzzword used by the Virtual Reality community to mean a "representation of the user".

Bonus Level

A level or stage in a game where the character can obtain special items or additional points that otherwise can not be achieved in regular gameplay. Being aply to play the bonus level usually requires some trick or cheat that can not be easily found in normal gameplay.


Usually an enemy character that will be found at the end of a level which is harder to kill. Originally bosses were given specific patterns you would have to learn to beat them.


The process of creating something by first designing the base elements and then creating the big picture out of them. Opposite of Top-Down.


Codes or tricks that are programmed into a game, which give the player special abilities; like invulnerability or extra weapons. Cheats are often programmed into games to facilitate easy testing, and left in to add depth. Many magazines print game cheats that they have discovered. Today many cheat websites now store thousands of cheats for games across multiple game platforms.


Having qualities of the cinema. Often used to mean dramatic in the sense of being sensational or thrilling.


(1) Games designed or made with special features similar from other local video games. (2) Games that are made to look similar to other popular video games in appearance, gameplay, and so on, but have different titles. EX: There are a few Tetris-like puzzle games displayed out in small computer stores.


In a fighting game, a "combo" is a combination of moves executed in rapid sequence, often following so closely together that the opponent has no time to respond. Combos can do more damage to the other character than the sum of the damage inflicted by the individual moves. Some moves are only available during or after combos.

Computer Game

A simulation created using a relational database and all the client (and, optionally, server-side) software required to interact with it, with the traditional business rules layer replaced by a gameplay rules layer. The database's media content, user interface and gameplay rules are usually specified and defined by a 'game designer'. The database and rules engine programming is created by one or more 'game programmers'. The graphical content of the database is usually created by one or more 'artists'. The audio content is similarly created by one or more musicians and/or audio technicians.


In arcades, when a game is over, one is often presented with the opportunity to continue where one died (instead of starting over at the beginning of the game) by inserting another quarter or token. Most home games also have the continue option, but have a limit of some set number of continues to prevent one from finishing the game the first time it is played.

Critical Path

The necessary route from start to finish in a game. Everything that must be done to complete a game is considered to be within the “critical path”. This holds especially true in linear games, where a player is forced to proceed along a specified path. Often the critical path is shown to the player with “primary objectives” or “main goals” of a level or the game as a whole. Other, smaller objectives or secondary goals that are not required to finish the game are considered “non-critical path”.


An animation that segues between different components of a game, such as providing information or entertainment between levels or missions.


A screen which is removed from the gameplay to segue between different situations, such as levels or different kinds of interfaces.

Design bible

see "design document"

Design Document

A document that the designer creates which contains everything that a game should include. Sometimes referred to as a "design bible", this document should list every piece of art, sound, music, character, all the back story and plot that will be in the game. Basically, if the game is going to have it, it should be thoroughly documented in the design document so that the entire development team understands exactly what needs to be done and has a common point of reference.

Design Spec

Short for design specification; A document that is a technical version of the design document. The design spec is like a "map" for how the game will be constructed. Here the designer must include what the game needs to be put together, including a list of materials, required people, and so on. The design spec is a way to detail the construction of the game.

Design Theory

The underlying and abstract thought behind the simple idea of making games 'fun'. Simple to understand, hard to master. Anybody can write up a design document with countless revolutionary, inventive, and well-documented ideas. It is only a true Design Theorist who can make that design document produce a fun and addictive game.

Design Treatment

A basic summary description of the concept of the game, explaining what the game will be like. Mainly, the design treatment should discuss the game's basic plot, gameplay, general discussion of the target audience(age and gender), the basic presentation of how the game would be constructed, and other features. The treatment is made to be short and simple.