Important Game Development, Production, Publishing & Business terms to remember

Production

Free to play models(F2P/FTP)

Give players access to a significant portion of their content without paying(often not entirely free). There are several kinds of free-to-play games, but the most common is based on the freemium software model: users are granted access to a fully functional game but must pay microtransactions to access additional content.

The model was first popularly used in early massively multiplayer online games targeted towards casual gamers, before finding wider adoption among games released by major video game publishers to combat video game piracy and high system requirements. Without upfront payment, publishers may charge money for in-game items or integrate advertisements into the game.  Free-to-play games are free to install and play, but once the player enters the game, the player is able to purchase content such as items, maps, and expanded customization options.

Pre-production
This is the part of the process where a game is being “discovered.” In order to move on to the next phase, at least historically a game must be then “green lit” in order to move on to production. Many games never make it past this process in the AAA game industry.

Production
These are games that have been deemed worthy of investing the kind of time, money and human effort to move forward. For large game titles, this means that the team size will begin to rapidly ramp up as people creating design data and art assets are added to the team. Engineering will flush out the details of systems that may have only been prototyped initially. Historically, at some point a “Golden Master” disk was made, which was then sent to a production facility for manufacturing. Even now, however, for console games, a game continues to be “shipped” and sent through the quality control or “lock check” process.

Shipped
The idea that a game “ships” and is finished, while on the decline, still matters. These are games that have been made available. Put simply, if a game doesn’t ship, it doesn’t matter.

 

Publishing

A/B Testing
Testing two versions of a game build, master document, CTA, etc. to see which one performs better.

Acquisition

This is the procedure by which publishers obtain product and development teams gain the necessary funding to complete games. Typically, the developer will produce a concept document, often supported by a demo of the game. The publisher will evaluate the product, judging its commercial viability etc. If the publisher feels the product has sufficient originality and quality, they will provide funding for the completion of the game. The publisher usually has a specific person for the job.

Beta Test
When a game is in its beta phase of development, the developer will assign the game to be tested either by members of the team or by outside participants who then try to uncover problems in the level design, game-play, controls, and so forth. This involves repeatedly playing the same areas of the game, combing every inch of the game to make sure there aren’t any elusive bugs. While this sounds like an appealing job to the average gamer, it can be quite tedious. See alpha, beta, and release candidate.

Build
A snapshot of a game’s development at a certain point in time. The latest build of a game is the most current version and refers to the last time the game was “built” (the code was compiled and source art was included). Example: The demo discs on magazines are an early build of the game.

Design Document

The complete “script” for a game, it contains every piece of information needed by programmers and artists to create a game.

Developer

Refers to the company that actually creates the game versus the company that publishes it (duplicating the discs, printing the boxes, working out distribution, etc.). Often, the developer is given a brief initial specification sheet by the publisher.

Development System
A high-end workstation that facilitates the development of a game. A dev system contains hardware and software specifically tailored to suit a particular game system. Often it uses hardware that emulates the game system itself so a developer can see how a particular program will perform on the targeted system.

DLC

DLC(Downloadable content) is additional content created for a released video game. It is distributed through the Internet by the game’s official publisher. Downloadable content can be of several types, ranging from aesthetic outfit changes to a new, extensive storyline, similar to an expansion pack. As such, DLC may add new game modes, objects, levels, challenges, or other features to a complete, already-released game. It is a form of video game monetization, enabling a publisher to gain additional revenue from a title after it has been purchased by offering DLC at low costs, frequently using a type of microtransaction system for payment.

Early access
Think in terms of games on Steam or games like Minecraft that encourage players to get involved early in the process of development.

Encryption

To prevent unauthorised use, many consoles require that their cartridges or CDs have specially encrypted code on them before they will work in the console. This encryption can only be placed by the console manufacturer, which allows them some measure of control over who produces games for the system. Most encryption routines can be bypassed, some more easily than others. The PlayStation, notably, has an almost criminally easy way to bypass encryption.

FIGS

This term refers to the four main European languages that make up the localised versions of games in Europe and US: French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Game Engine
A game’s engine is the main program that controls all of the game’s functions, from calculating collision, physics, and the position of onscreen objects, to receiving input from the player and outputting sounds at the right volume. The engine ties everything in the game together and causes it all to happen. It contains an enormous amount of code and is the main programmer’s primary responsibility in a game.

Gold
Usually used in the phrase “gone gold,” this means a game has been declared finished by the development team and is being sent to the disc-pressing factory for subsequent manufacture. Gold status sometimes precedes a game’s release by as little as a week or two, though for most SEGA games the target is three weeks.

Libraries
Libraries are pieces of code provided by a console company (Sony, Microsoft) that let developers implement functions or graphical and sound effects in their games without having to program them all from scratch. In the PlayStation’s case, for instance, Sony prefers that developers not access all the systems hardware directly, but instead use the provided libraries to gain functionality. Think of the libraries as a layer that sits between the physical hardware and the upper levels of the game’s code – kind of an interface between the two.

Milestones

Milestones form agreed review points for the publisher (in these cases SEGA) and developer to sit down and assess the progress of a project. The publisher will usually tie payments to the developer on acceptance of the agreed milestones. See 1st Playable, Alpha, Beta, Release Candidate, Submission and Master below.

1st Playable

At this stage, the games technology, key features and gameplay are viewable in at least one section of the game. The remaining milestone dates and objectives need to be agreed.

Alpha

The product should be playable from start to finish; the AI and controls also need to be fully functional. Some placeholder elements, e.g. FMV are allowed, QA testing will begin, they need to ensure a test plan has been started, 1st compatibility run has occurred. The 1st TCR/TRC checks have occurred and that manual functionality has occurred.

Beta

The game at this stage needs to be fully functional and content complete, this includes the levels, AI and FMV. It needs to be completely playable in each difficulty setting.

Release Candidate

This build should have no major issues, with both the standards and gameplay issues thoroughly checked. Any known issues that could not be fixed for whatever reason should be either “closed fixed” or “closed waived”. The “closed waived” bugs being passed onto the customer services department.

Submission

The product has been approved by all stakeholders and then passed onto 3rd party the appropriate hardware manufacturer.

Master to Operations

This is the final milestone and at this stage QA and any 3rd party format or license holder have approved the product.

Motion Capture
A process that captures the movement of a live or at least articulate model and applies it to a 3D model. Sensors are attached to various points on the (usually human) model and record motion data as the model moves. The data can then be used to animate a model in the computer, resulting in very lifelike movement. Motion-captured animation generally requires a degree of retouching to clean up the movements. See model, 3D, and polygon in the Graphics section. EA’s FIFA football games are a very good example of this technique.

Producer

Although the roles of producers differ at different companies, generally, the producer co-ordinates the activities of the designer, programmers and artists on a game.

PSX

A pre-launch name for the Sony PlayStation, the “PS-X” evolved out of the name of the original, unreleased PlayStation, which was to be a CD-ROM add-on for Super NES. This unit, the “PlayStation X” evolved into the system that was released by Sony on Sept 9, 1995, the PS-X, or, more formally, PlayStation.

Publisher

A company, which produces discs, boxes and manuals, handles getting software boxes into, stores as well as marketing and advertising. Publishers may develop their own games or they may contract all their games out to independent developers, or they way do some of both.

Release Candidate
A “final beta” stage of a game’s development. A release candidate, as the name implies, is, in the developer’s opinion, in a final and polished state, worthy of being released to retail outlets. Problems may still manifest at this point, however, so testing continues until the developer is satisfied. However, no significant features are being added at this point, as the game is nearly done. See alpha, beta, and beta test.

Submission

Hardware manufactures such as Nintendo, Sony and Sega all have set quality control procedures to stop the market from being flooded with sub standard software. The publisher is required to submit the software along with all the marketing support for final approval by the hardware manufacturer in question. The publisher will either get the thumbs up, or the thumbs down.

Third Party

A company, which publishes software for a console that it, doesn’t produce. Almost all software publishers are thus third parties. Getting the support of independent third parties is considered essential for a platform’s (or first party’s) success.

Tools
A suite of programs supplied by a console company, such as Sony, or written by the development team’s programmers themselves, the tools are used to create content for a game. Tools may include art-editing programs, 3D model-creation utilities, or level editors.

Wire-frame
A wire-frame is a version of a 3D model without any kind of texture mapping or shading applied. It is a model at its most basic. Lines represent the edges of each polygon in the model, but the actual face of the polygon is transparent, thus the model appears to be constructed by wires, hence the name. A wire-frame model almost never appears in the game itself; it is mainly useful to the developer when constructing the model. See model in this section and 3D and polygon in the Graphics section.

Graphics

A/B/C Level Model

A level models(hero models) have the highest in poly detail and quality. although it depends on the object, most assets will fall in the 3000 to 10000 poly range on average. characters obviously make up the higher end of that range, some game studios may allow momdelers to reach as high as 20000 polys for a character. an experienced modeler can create just about anything of high quality detail within that range.

On the lower end are C Level models. These tend to have the absolute minimum number of polys required to create an object effectively. A C-level model may have around 200 to 300 polys or triangles depending on the studio’s standards and is usually reserved for props and objects that populate an environment.

Alpha Blending

A graphics processing technique that simulates transparency/translucency for objects in a 3D scene to create visual effects like smoke, glass or water. Pixels in the frame buffer of a graphics system include 3 colour components(Red, Green and Blue) and sometimes an alpha channel component. The alpha channel data stores the degree of transparency, ranging from opaque to completely clear.

Aspect ratio

The ratio of the width of the image to its height, expressed as width:height. Most feature films have a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. A standard US TV screen or computer monitor has a 4:3(pronounced “four by three”) aspect ratio.

Aliasing

A digital phenomenon, in the realm of graphics, when trying to display an image on a portion of the screen where the resolution is too low to display its details correctly, aliasing can occur. Edges look jagged instead of smooth, moiré patterns develop in fine parallel lines and the image quality is degraded overall. The problem is most prevalent in diagonal lines.

Anti-aliasing
When diagonal lines are drawn onscreen, they appear jagged due to the pixels that produce the images on the screen, sort of like a stair-stepping effect. This jaggedness is called aliasing. The anti-aliasing process blends colours around such edges with background colours to soften the jagged effect and make it appear smoother. See pixel.

Box Modelling

A modelling technique incorporating the extrusion of faces and edges from a simple box into a complex shaped model.

Bump mapping

A shading technique using multiple textures and lighting effects to simulate wrinkled or bumped surfaces. Bump mapping is useful because it gives a 3D surface the appearance of roughness and other surface detail such as dimples on a gold ball, without increasing the geometric complexity.

some common types of bump mapping are: emboss bump mapping, Dot3 bump mapping, environment mapped bump mapping(EMBM) and true, reflective bump mapping. Dot3 bump mapping is the most effective technique of the three.

Clipping
A process that occurs in 3D graphics. If an object in 3D space cannot be viewed, the computer does not draw it. If it can be seen, it is drawn. If only part of the object can be seen, it is “clipped” and the visible portions are drawn. Computing the portions, which are visible, takes many more processor cycles than simply drawing an object or not drawing it. Sloppy programming can result in improper clipping, so that when the view is very close to the edge of an object, it may not be drawn when it is supposed to be.

Colour Depth
Colours depth is the number of unique colours that can be displayed onscreen at one time. The SNES’ maximum colour depth is 256 simultaneous colours (called 8-bit colour); the Dreamcast can do 16.7 million (24-bit colour) at one time. The human eye can only perceive so many colours at once, so colour depth is not likely to improve much more in the future.

DirectX

A hardware abstraction layer API from Microsoft that is integral to the Windows OS. The DirectX standard includes Direct3D, DirectSound, DirectDraw, DirectVideo, DirectPlay and DirectInput. Microsoft continues to revise DirectX to make it the industry standard consumer graphics API.

Double Buffering

A programming technique that uses 2 frame buffers so the GPU can be working on one frame while the previous frame is being sent to the computer display. This prevents conflicts between the display refresh function and the graphics rendering function. See frame buffer.

Frame Buffer

Memory that is dedicated to the graphics processor and used to store rendered pixels before they are displayed on the monitor.

Flat Shading
A shading technique that lights a polygon with a single value of light based on a line perpendicular to the face of the polygon. Flat shading is very inaccurate and looks entirely false. See light source and Gouraud shading

FMV (Full Motion Video)
While the cartridge format’s limited storage capacity left no room for video, the advent of CD-based game systems gave developers virtually endless room to play with. The first and most overused way that games used this space was with full-motion video. In fact, some of the first CD games were barely more than poor-quality video files strung together in the name of interactivity. FMV still tends to be gratuitous these days; however, games like Final Fantasy VIII and Metal Gear Solid 2 actually use it to a great dramatic effect, and in many cases, it does advance the story and make a game seem more cohesive.

Fill Rate

The rate at which the graphics card can render pixels – usually measured in millions of pixels per second(megapixels / sec). GPUs with higher fill rates can display higher resolutions and more colours at higher frame rates than other chips with lower fill rates.

FPS (Frames Per Second)

The rate at which the graphics processor renders new frames or full screens of pixels. FPS is a measure of how many frames are being drawn on the screen in one second. 60 is considered optimal; 30 is the minimum to maintain fluid motion. Anything lower will appear choppy.

The system generates still frames and draws them to the screen quickly enough that the human mind perceives them as moving. The more complex the graphics in a game, the more work the system must do to calculate each frame, thus frames of complicated scenes are produced more slowly than frames of simple ones. Benchmarks and games use this metric as a measurement of a GPU’s performance. a faster GPU will render more frames per second, making the application more fluid and responsive to user input.

IBMR(Image Based Modelling and Rendering)

Techniques which allows modelling and rendering from images / photographs to achieve exacting standards in 3D.

Gouraud Shading
Gouraud shading is a technique slightly more advanced than flat shading. Where flat shading lights the entire polygon with one light value, gouraud shading gives each vertex (or corner) of the polygon its own light value and smoothly averages between each corner across the face of the polygon. This provides more even lighting across a 3D object. See light source and flat shading.

Jaggies

a slang term to describe the stair-step effect along curves and edges in text or bitmapped graphics. Antialiasing can smooth out jaggies.

Light Source
A light source is any object (visible or not) in a 3D world that emits “light,” represented by numerical values that correspond to attributes like intensity and colour. This kind of light can then be applied to any polygons in the area using a number of techniques, a couple of which are described here. See flat shading and Gouraud shading.

LOD(Level of Detail)

Determines the amount of modelling complexity required for a specific game asset according to importance and distance from player interaction. LODs are usually determined by classes, as in ABC class level assets.

Mip-Mapping
When a player approaches a texture-mapped surface, the texture becomes increasingly blocky as the texels become more visible. Mip-mapping is a process that involves using multiple resolutions of the same texture map to lessen this effect; as a player draws closer to the surface, texture maps with increasingly higher resolutions are substituted so the appearance of the surface remains detailed. See texture map and texel.

Mip-mapping is a very useful technique to improve graphics performance by generating and storing multiple versions of the original texture image, each with different LOD. The graphics processor chooses a different mipmap based on how large the object is on the screen so that low-detail textures can be used on objects that contain only a few pixels and high detail textures can be used on larger objects where the user will actually see the difference. this technique saves memory bandwidth and enhances performance.

Motion JPEG
The FMV format used by the PlayStation. JPEG is an image-compression format for still pictures, and motion JPEG simply uses this compression on the frames in a particular video stream.

Multi-texturing
A texture map is a single picture layer projected onto a polygon. The process of multi-texturing lets a game make further passes over the polygon to add more effects. Possible effects could be a reflection, a coloured light, or scorch marks from an explosion. Multi-texturing consumes more computing power, of course. See polygon and texture map.

Normal Mapping

Advanced texturing technique which allows better results than bump mapping. since the camera views the height in multiple axis directions.

NTSC

One of the three major international television/display standards (the other two being PAL and SECAM). The NTSC standard has a frame rate of 29.97 frames per second and a field rate of 59.94 fields per second. It supports up to 525 scan lines and a carrier frequency of 3.58 MHz. Jokingly, it also stands for Never Twice the Same Colour as most NTSC televisions have problems properly calibrating the colours in the popular test pattern you usually see when a US television station signs off for the night.

OpenGL

A graphics API that was originally developed by silicon graphics inc(SGI) for use on professional graphics workstations. OpenGL subsequently grew to be the standard API for CAD and scientific applications and today is popular for consumer applications such as PC games.

PAL (Phase Altering Line)

PAL uses amplitude modulation for the video information, and frequency modulation for the audio information. The phase of the colour subcarrier is reversed on alternate lines, which (together with the use of a delay line) allow the receiver to cancel any phase errors introduced in the path between the studio and the end-user’s receiver. Such phase errors are quite common and would cause the displayed colours to shift in hue.

Per-pixel shading

The ability to calculate lighting effects at pixel level, greatly increasing the precision and realism of the scene. Starting with NVIDIA’s GeForce 3 GPU, game developers can program custom per-pixel effects.

Pixel

The word is derived from “picture element.” A television or monitor screen is made up of thousands of tiny pixels; put your face close up to the television and you can see them, each made up of red, green, and blue stripes. Images are produced onscreen by varying the number of these colours to produce new colours entirely.

Polygon
A polygon is a multisided geometric figure, such as a triangle, square, or hexagon, and is the building block of most 3D video games. By far the most common polygon found in 3D games is the triangle, because a three-sided shape is much easier for a game system to calculate than more complex shapes. You will sometimes see game characters referred to as being polygonal or full of polygons.

Pop-Up

A real-time 3D world takes memory store, and memory is a finite commodity in a video game system, thus the game world must have visible boundaries. Often, at the visible horizon in a game, players will notice that the world ceases to exist. As they move forward, more of the polygons in the world will “pop” into existence, and as they move backward, the polygons will disappear again. This effect is especially common in racing games. Many designers use creative level arrangement or a fogging effect to hide pop-up the another term commonly used is “Draw Distance”. See real time and 3D.

Pre-Rendered

Pre-rendered graphics are calculated for game scenes that are too complex for the game system to handle in real time. The scenes are constructed on far more powerful computers and then are saved in a format the game system can use. Although they may look better than the best graphics the system is capable of producing on the fly, the looks are at the expense of freedom. Final Fantasy VIII’s town and dungeon backgrounds are pre-rendered; they look nice but can only be viewed as the designers rendered them. See real time.

Rendering

The process of taking info from a 3D application and displaying it as a final image.

RGB

Red, Green and Blue, refers to the way monitors and TVs create colour images. Creating colours on a screen is an additive process, in which the primary colours are red, green, and blue (in the reflected colour model, the primary colours are magenta, yellow, and cyan – often misconstrued as red, yellow, and blue). Each pixel on a screen is made up of three sub-elements, one red, one green, and one blue. When each sub-element is excited by the electron gun in the back of the tube, it glows. Depending on the intensity with which it glows, it can have a state somewhere between black (not glowing) and fully red, green, and blue. When all three sub-elements are fully glowing, the eye as glowing perceives the pixel white. By varying the intensity at which the various sub-elements of the pixel glow, different colours are created. Computers and consoles can cause the sub-elements to glow at a certain finite number of intensities. If the system can generate 8-bit colour, it can make each sub-element glow at 8 different intensities (one per bit), which results in 256 different colours. The number of colours that can be displayed is equal to 2x, where X is the number of bits assigned to colour.

Real Time
When a game is referred to as being in “real time,” the system is calculating everything in the game world piece by piece, as it happens. The term is especially applicable to graphics. When the graphics are being produced in real time, the player can move around them with complete control. Any game that allows 3D freedom of movement is calculated in real time; Super Mario 64 is a fine example. See pre-rendered.

Resolution
Resolution refers to the number of pixels used in an image onscreen. The higher the number of pixels, the smaller they are, and therefore high-resolution images appear more finely detailed than low-resolution images do. Higher resolutions are limited by memory and processing power, however. See pixel.

Shell

A connection of UVs forming one unwrapped shell surface.

Side Scrolling

A side-scrolling game (Aladdin, Megadrive) is a 2D game that scrolls from left to right, either automatically or as the player walks through the level. Side-scrolling games are a dying breed now that 3D is an established standard.

Sprite

A sprite is a flat 2D object in a video game. A sprite can be a single frame of animation, or it can contain hundreds of frames. Sprites can be manipulated onscreen to perform any function, such as representing a character or power-up.

Transparency
An opaque object is one that entirely blocks light coming from its far side, relative to the player’s position. A transparent object is not entirely opaque; it can be seen, but things directly behind it are also visible. Fog in a 3D game is a good example of a transparent effect.

Texel
The smallest unit of a texture maps, similar to pixels being the smallest unit of a rendered image. A texture map is a 2D image made up of pixels, and when a player moves close to a textured polygon in a 3D game, these pixels, called texels in a 3D world, become very large and blocky. Techniques exist to smooth out the blockiness. See polygon, texture map, and mip-mapping.

Texture Map
A texture map is a 2D image that can be applied to a polygon to give it a textured appearance. For instance, a flat image of wood grain could be projected onto a 3D table made up of polygons, and the table would look like it was made of wood. The term can also be used as a verb, as in, “The wood image was texture-mapped onto the polygon.” See polygon.

Texture Mapping is the process of applying a texture to the surface of 3D models to simulat walls, sky, etc. Texture mapping enables developers to add more realism to models.

VGA
Video Graphics Array. The successor to the CGA (colour graphics adapter) and EGA (extended graphics adapter) video standards for personal computers, VGA allowed what were (in the early 1990s) impressive amounts of onscreen colours (256 unique ones) and resolutions (640×480 pixels). VGA has since been extended into Super VGA, an ever-improving standard that sports 16.7 million colours and vertical and horizontal resolutions that number in the thousands of pixels. See colour depth and pixel.

Vertex Snapping

A method of snapping vertices to the same 3D point in space or along the same axis distance.

Voxels
A voxel is a “volume pixel,” a cubic unit (one that has height, width, and depth) of space in a 3D world. Just as pixels are uniformly sized flat units that make up a screen, voxels are cubic pixels that can be arranged to create a 3D world. Very few games take advantage of voxels right now, as use of the technology is limited by processing and memory capacities. The PC game Outcast, also scheduled for the Dreamcast, uses a voxel engine. See pixel.

Z-Buffer

The area of the graphics memory used to store the Z / depth information about rendered objects. The Z-Buffer value of a pixel is used to determine if it’s behind or in front of another pixel. Z calculations prevent background objects from overwriting foreground objects in the frame buffer.

The management of image depth coordinates in 3D graphics(usually done in hardware, sometimes in software). It is one solution to the visibility problem of deciding which elements of a rendered scene are visible and which are hidden. When a game system translates a 3D scene into 2D frames that can be drawn on a television screen, a lot of polygonal toes get stepped on, and the positions of objects can get scrambled. Z-buffering is a technique that uses a memory buffer to gauge the “depth” of each pixel onscreen that makes up a 3D scene, so that objects overlap like they should and results in a properly ordered scene.

The granularity of a z-buffer has a great influence on the scene quality: a 16-bit z-buffer can result in artifacts (“z-fighting” or stitching) when two objects are very close to each other. A 24-bit or 32-bit z-buffer behaves much better, although the problem cannot be entirely eliminated without additional algorithms. An 8-bit z-buffer is almost never used since it has too little precision.

Audio

Digital sound
A digital sound is audio that has been recorded into a computer; the audio is digitised or converted into ones and zeroes, so any other computer can play it back. Most sound effects in video games are digital.

Red-book Audio Warning
This is the digital audio format recognized as tracks and playable in standard CD players. Many games use the standard for music because it can contain any kind of audio, even music played by an orchestra. Redbook audio’s drawbacks include large storage requirements and the player’s inability to load other data from a CD while the audio is playing. This was used on ALL Dreamcast games, it told the user specific things of what to and what not to do with the disc.

Sample
A single digital sound recorded from a real-world sound. Samples are often used in synthesized music to imitate real instrument sounds. See synthesized music.

Streaming Audio
Music or voice can be streamed, or played directly as it is read, from a CD-based game. This kind of audio precludes the access of other data and is therefore used mainly during parts of a game where no other data is needed, such as during cut-scenes.

Synthesized Music
Synthesized music is a little bit like a player piano – the composer writes the music as he normally would, and the computer plays it out automatically, like a piano. The difference here is that a variety of instruments can be represented by samples of their real counterparts. See sample.

Gameplay

The heart and soul of a video game is the way the game plays. Games have evolved over the years into some set patterns and many share a lot of common features.

AI
Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is a set of programmed routines designed to give lifelike behaviour to computer-controlled enemies. The effectiveness of such routines varies from game to game – some games focus more heavily on AI than others, resulting in more realistic opponents.

Boss
A boss is the enemy at the end of a level that a player must defeat to continue to the next stage. Typically, bosses are more graphically elaborate and difficult to defeat than other level enemies.

Bot
A bot is a computer-controlled player that is designed to behave like a human player. A good example of this is in games such as Halo, Unreal Tournament and Quake. Bots use AI routines to simulate human actions, but they generally lack in the strategy department. See artificial intelligence.

Collision Detection
A technique that determines an object’s physical boundaries within a game’s world. When two game objects collide, it is collision detection that keeps them from passing through each other. The same concept applies to walls and other obstacles. In a 3D world, collision is not detected around the actual 3D model, but rather off of a “bounding box” that is a size relative to the model. Imagine an invisible flat-sided box around yourself that is a close approximation of your height, width, and depth – that would be your bounding box inside a game.

Cut-scenes
Cut-scenes are periods of dramatic development that intersect the action sequences in a game. They are rendered in still pictures or video and are usually accompanied by some type of dialogue. In most action games, cut-scenes serve as the only form of plot progression.

Latency
In online multiplayer games, latency (or lag as commonly known) describes the amount of time it takes data to be sent from the player’s machine to the server and back again. Measured in milliseconds, latency is typically the amount of delay the player will encounter between the press of a button and the resulting action onscreen. For instance, if a player’s latency is 100 milliseconds, and the player fires a weapon, the weapon won’t register as having been fired in the game world until one tenth of a second after the button has been pressed. Latency has traditionally been an issue for only PC players to deal with, but as consoles move into the age of the Internet, it will become an increasing problem on that side as well.

Perspective
The position of the camera relative to the player’s character. First-person perspective denotes a view from the character’s own eyes, while third-person perspective refers to a camera position somewhere outside the character, usually floating behind the character.

Ping
The amount of time it takes a packet of data to be sent from a gamer’s machine, to an online server he or she is playing on, and back. This time contributes to the player’s lag. With console systems heading into the online realm, this will soon be an issue for video gamers as well as PC gamers. See latency and lag.

Physics
In a gaming context, physics represent the rules implemented in a game world that govern how objects behave. For instance, if a character jumps, the arbitrary amount of gravity in the game will determine how high he can jump and how fast he will fall back down. Some recent games have provided very realistic physics modelling in their game worlds; a character might throw a stone to knock a tin can off a table, and both objects will fall the same way they would in the real world. Sony is seeking to make this type of realism standard in PlayStation2 games, as both the system and software Sony is providing to developers make realistic physics easier for game creators to use.

Split Screen

Split screen refers to a mode exclusive to multiplayer games wherein all players play on the same screen. It splits the screen evenly among the number of players currently playing the game. Split-screen mode is notorious for making a game more difficult, as it reduces the visible area of the game and sometimes warps the players’ surroundings. You can usually split the screen horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. See multiplayer.

Genres

Games, like movies, can be pretty easily broken up into categories based on their format and content. Although some games successfully blend two or more genres, and that occasional visionary game manages to create its own new type of genre, the list compiled here is a gaming mainstay.

Action
Action games are generally centred on just that – action. The player’s character is equipped with a staggering number of weapons and ammunition and is faced with endless hordes of enemies whose bullets never seem to move quite as fast as they should. Many variations on this theme exist but the gist of the game play is running, jumping, and some method of attacking enemies. Occasional puzzle-solving elements exist in action games but the focus always remains on expansive levels and action. See plat-former for a partial overlap.

Adventure

A relative of the action game, the adventure game contains action and puzzle solving in more balanced proportions. Where an action game centres on destroying everything in sight, an adventure game rewards exploration and interaction with non-player characters (often referred to in gaming vernacular as NPCs). Adventure games usually give the player an inventory system of some kind and may include money for purchasing additional items or, in contrast to an action game where ammo is unlimited, a system of loading and managing ammunition. Adventure games include the Legend of Zelda series and Metal Gear Solid.

Fighting

A fighting game is a title in which two characters square off, each commanding an arsenal of physical attacks and special moves. Fighting games involve a time limit, an energy bar for each character, and a sometimes overwhelming number of fighting moves, usually accomplished by some secret joystick gyration. Well-designed fighting games allow attacks to not only be blocked, but also parried or countered, and skilful players will learn how to string multiple attacks together in an unstoppable combination. Popular examples of fighting games are the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series, and the recent Soul Calibur, on the Dreamcast.

First-Person Shooter

The genre was originated by id Software’s PC game Wolfenstein 3D in the early ’90s. A first-person shooter (FPS) is, as the name implies, viewed from your character’s perspective. The character’s hands and weapon of choice are always displayed in the foreground” Some first-person shooters have successfully integrated complex storylines and adventure like elements. Many let multiple individuals compete in frag fests that have come to be known as “deathmatches.” First-person shooters are a traditionally PC-centric genre, and the majority that exist on consoles are PC ports. In the last few years, many original first-person shooters have begun to appear on consoles, such as Medal of Honor on the PlayStation and the upcoming Maken X for the Dreamcast. See frag and deathmatch in the Gameplay section.

Rhythm (Music/Dancing)

The rhythm action genre is a recent addition to gaming and goes back to the PlayStation’s Parappa the Rapper. These games require the player to have a good sense of rhythm; in fact, simply hitting the right button combinations to the beats of a song plays most rhythm games. The player’s onscreen persona then sings, raps, or dances appropriately with the music. Despite their shallow appearance, games like “Parappa”, “Bust a Groove”, “Mad Maestro” and “Dance, Dance Revolution” have found an audience both in Japan, the United States and Europe.

Platform

A close relative of the action game, the platformer’s roots are in early systems like the NES. A 2D platformer is generally viewed from the side of the action, and the game scrolls from left to right. The player’s character navigates a course of pits and platforms (thus the name), collecting items, fighting enemies, and attempting to reach the level’s goal. With the emergence of 3D as being commonplace, however, the platformer’s definition is growing to include games in which you do have more freedom of movement, such as Rayman 2: The Great Escape on the N64.

Puzzle

Beginning with Tetris, undoubtedly the most prolific video game in history, the puzzle genre spread like wildfire to every imaginable platform. Many puzzle games attempt to vary the Tetris formula, dropping pieces from the top of the screen toward some objective at the bottom. Some venture further from this formula, but all are easy to pick up and play for gamers of all ages and skill levels. Tetris, of course, Magical Drop, Puzzle Bobble and Dreamcast’s Chu-Chu Rocket are a few well- (or soon-to-be-well-) known puzzle games.

Driving/Racing/Flying
In racing, flying, and driving games, a player drives a vehicle around a track to win a race or flies a plane through a series of missions or manoeuvres. Vehicles range from cars and planes to go-karts (Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing), boats and hovercraft (Hydro Thunder, WipeOut), and in the case of wave Race, Jet Skis. There is a lot of room for technique in racing games, and some techniques involve the use of weapons to give the player the upper hand.

Real-time Strategy

Like first-person shooters, real-time strategy games found their beginnings on PCs, with games like Dune 2 and Warcraft. Real-time strategy games are played from an overhead perspective with the player controlling a small encampment of troops. Through gathered resources and researched technology, more advanced buildings, defences, and troops can be built. The object is generally to obliterate another player’s base, whether the opponent is computer controlled or human. RTS games are also similar to first-person shooters in that they offer multiplayer environments in which several players can compete. Command & Conquer and the Warcraft series are probably the most well-known real-time strategy games.

Role-playing Games

The name originally referred to pen-and-paper games like Dungeons & Dragons, which became popular in the 1970s. The NES games Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy then brought the idea to the video game era. Role-playing games, or RPGs, feature one character or a group of characters that embark on a quest, generally culminating in their world’s salvation. RPGs involve an abnormally large amount of statistics and number crunching; everything from a character’s health to weapon and armor strength is represented numerically. Role-playing games usually contain the deepest and most complex storylines of any game – Final Fantasy VIII’s story moved more than a few players to tears. Popular RPGs include the Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star series.

Shooters

A dying breed that has recently experienced resurgence, the shooter is like an action game in that it asks the player to mindlessly pursue the destruction of wave after wave of enemy. In a traditional shooter, the player controls a flying vehicle of some kind rather than controlling a character on foot. More recent shooters involve mechs and characters toting guns from a third-person perspective. Shooters also feature numerous power-ups and elaborate bosses, not to mention some of the fastest action in gaming. Classic shooters include the R-Type and Gradius franchises.

Simulation

A simulation is a game that tries to accurately re-create a particular situation in the real world. This can be done on a small scale, such as a flight or tank simulation, or on a large scale, such as managing a hospital, amusement park, or an entire city. In the latter cases, of course, most of the realism is lost in favour of retaining the fun of the game.

Sports

A sports game re-creates the rules and playing conditions of a real sport inside a video game world. Nearly every sport popular in the United States, Japan, or Europe has had several games devoted to it; among the sports are football, soccer, baseball, and track and field. Diverse sports such as snowboarding and skateboarding and, much to many players’ chagrin, deer hunting have recently been represented. Some popular sports games include the Madden series of football games and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

 

Business

Analytics
Tracking data and creating meaningful patterns from it that inform future marketing endeavors. The data can come from website traffic, conversions, social media, etc.

Bounce Rate
The number of people who land on a page of your website and leave without clicking on anything before moving on to another page on your site.

Buyer Persona
A summary of your ideal buyer, based on market research, data and hypothesis. The representation helps marketers define their ideal audience and it helps salespeople determine lead quality.

Business-to-Business (B2B)
Describing a business that markets – or sells – to other businesses.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
Describing a business that markets and sells to consumers (think Apple).

ClickThrough Rate (CTR)
This number shows the people that move through your website or marketing campaigns. It’s actually the “clicks” or actions prospects take, divided by the total number of actions people could take. Hence, the name “clickthrough rate.”

Comparative Advertising
The type of advertising in which a company makes a direct comparison to another brand, firm or organization.

Content Management System (CMS)
A program that manages all of the aspects of creating content. These may include editing, indexing, navigational elements, etc.

Conversion Path
The path, or course of actions, a prospect will go through to eventually become a lead. These events can include a call to action, lead form, thank you page, downloadable content, etc.

Conversion Rate
Percentage of people who take a desired action, such as filling out a form, registering, signing up for a newsletter, or any activity other than just browsing a web page.

Corporate Identity
All symbols, colors, logos, etc., that make up the public image of an organization.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Software that helps you organize all of your marketing and sales activities, including storing contact information, tracking emails, storing deals, and more.

Cost Per lead (CPL)
The total cost marketing pays to acquire a lead. It is an important metric to keep track of and it influences your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).

Cost-Based Pricing
A strategic form of pricing intended to cover the expenses of running your business.

Customer Acquisition Cost
A measurement that allows you to assess the cost of scaling up your business.
It can be calculated by dividing the time and money spent on customer acquisition for a specific period of time by the number of new customers gained.
(Money + Time Spent)/Number of New Customers

Customer Loyalty
When a consumer is a repeat buyer of a product, service or brand.

Direct Mail
A means of advertising communication that reaches a consumer where they live or their place of business, through the mail, often based on demographics and/or geographical location.

Direct Marketing
Dealing Directly with the ‘end user’ rather than a third party or a middle man. Also can be seen as directly communicating with your primary target audience. Can come in the form of advertising, marketing or communications.

Engagement Rate
A measurement of likes, shares, comments or other interaction a particular piece of content receives.

Evergreen Content
Content that is valuable to a reader today, in 5 years and in 10 years. This “evergreen” content is timeless, offers the highest-quality information and offers huge SEO benefits.

Friction
Any aspect of your website that is hard to understand, distracting or causes visitors to move on from your page.

Geographic Segmentation
Segmenting a group of audiences based on where they live or where they are located.

Inbound Marketing
Advertising your company via content marketing, podcasts, video, eBooks, email broadcast, SEO, Social Marketing, etc., rather than paid advertising.

Internal Marketing
Efforts to offer a marketing plan to individuals and executives within your own firm to gain their approval and/or support.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
A means to measure the performance of various factors, from employee functions to marketing tactics. Tracking KPIs will help your organization achieve its goals.

Landing Page
A page on your website that houses a form that prospects will fill out and exchange their personal information for a lead magnet or free offer (such as an ebook, demo or consultation).
Lead
An individual or a company that has show interest in one of your products or services. Could be either a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) or an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead).

Lifetime Customer Value
A prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.

Margin
The profit gained from a product or service after all expenses for selling that product or service are covered.

Marketing Automation
This is the tool that lets you “automate” your marketing campaigns. Through lead nurturing, behavior-based strategies and more, you can use marketing automation to send the right marketing messages to the right people at the right time.

Marketing Qualified Lead
A lead that is ready to be handed over to the sales team. An MQL has had some sort of positive interaction with the company such as a discussion, downloading marketing products, etc., that deems them worthy to move to the next level of the sales funnel.

Market-Based Pricing
Similar to competitive based pricing in the sense that this type of pricing is based off of the streamlined/current pricing for a specific product or service within the same industry.

Market Development
The act of taking an existing product or service to a new market.

Market Penetration
A strategy used to sell more of an existing product within the current markets it is being sold.

Marketing
The process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements in a profitable way.

Monthly Recurring Revenue
The amount of income produced each month from subscriptions to your products or services.

Niche Market/Business
A very specific segment of a market in which you are trying to meet the needs of that market.

Offer
This is an asset that you’ll offer prospects on a landing page. The offer is designed to help you generate leads, and they can include everything from a demo, wallpapers, video, ebook and more.

Pay Per Click (PPC)
A method of advertising on the internet where you only pay when someone “clicks” on your ad.

Personal Development Plan
Developed for individuals who are looking to evaluate their S.W.O.T. analysis to plan their future achievement and success.

PR(Public Relations)
A series of media releases, conferences, social images, etc., that make up and maintain the reputation of an organization and its brands.

Qualified Lead
A lead that is qualified meets your company’s criteria, or buyer persona attributes, and is more likely to buy. A marketing qualified lead meets marketing objectives, while a sales qualified lead meets sales objectives.

R&D(Research and Development)
The process of discovering and developing new products and services.

Referral
A prospect or lead generated from someone who may be interested in what the salesperson is selling.

Relationship Marketing
Establishing relationships with the intent of developing a long term association with a prospect or potential customer. This strategy is much less expensive than gaining new customers.

ROI(Return On Investment)

A way to measure the profitability of the investment in marketing, sales, etc. If the ROI on an investment is negative, it generally means you’re losing money on that endeavor. Measuring the ROI on marketing efforts is a way to ensure you’re putting your money into the strategies that bring results.

Smarketing
The integration of sales and marketing. It improves the skill sets and knowledge of both teams.

S.W.O.T. Analysis
An internal study often used by organizations to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

User Experience
The experience a user has with your brand or product, from the moment they discover you, through the purchase and beyond.

Viral Marketing
A method of product promotion that relies on getting customers to market an idea, product or service on their own.

Workflow
A series of emails designed to nurture leads. A powerful marketing asset, you can use workflows to engage leads, learn more about prospects, segment lists and much more.

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