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Used to describe raycasting engines, such as Doom or Duke Nukem. The maps are generally drawn as 2D bitmaps with height properties but when rendered gives the appearance of being 3D.


Used to describe raycasting engines, such as Doom or Duke Nukem. The maps are generally drawn as 2D bitmaps with height properties but when rendered gives the appearance of being 3D.


Refers to the ability to move in the X, Y and Z axis and also rotate around the X, Y, and Z axises.



Axis-aligned Bounding Box (AABB)

A form of a bounding box where the box is aligned to the axis therefore only two points in space are needed to define it. AABB’s are much faster to use, and take up less memory, but are very limited in the sense that they can only be aligned to the axis.


An albedo is a physical measure of a material’s reflectivity, generally across the visible spectrum of light. An albedo texture simulates a surface albedo as opposed to explicitly defining a colour for it.

Alpha Blending

Assigning varying levels of translucency to graphical objects, allowing the creation of
things such as glass, fog, and ghosts. This can be accomplished by using alpha channels.

Alpha Channel

The optional channel of image data in a texture file that can be used as a transparency map, height map, specular map, etc. The format of the alpha channel is usually 8 bits per pixel (256 colors), though certain file formats support different bit depths.

Alpha Testing

A method for creating transparency by checking the alpha value of a given pixel.


An animated storyboard which is used to refine timing, cameras, composition, when a complex shot is needed and static images have trouble making intention clear. When needed, low-resolution animated 3d scenes are used, intermixed with the remaining 2D storyboard panels.

Anisotropic Filtering

A texture filtering method, specifically for non-square filtering, usually of textures shown in radical perspective. Generally speaking, anisotropic improves clarity of images with severely unequal aspect ratios.

Anti-aliasing (AA)

Removes the stair-stepping or jaggies which occur at the edges of polygons or between the texels on the polygons. The way this works is by interpolating the pixels at the edges to make the difference between two color areas less dramatic.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A set of computer instructions or algorithms designed to simulate the actions of an intelligent being to the extent necessary to meet the design requirements of a game.


An acronym for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, which is an encoding method for text, based on the English alphabet.

Aspect Ratio

A number that describes the shape of a rectangle texture, whether it’s tall or wide. To calculate an aspect ratio, either divide the width by the height, or write it out as width:height. 



Back Buffer

A secondary surface where the current frame’s graphics are stored before they are transferred to the primary display surface.

Backface Culling

The process of removing the unseen polygons that face away from the camera in the game. These surfaces are usually not needed (except sometimes for shadow casting). Doing so can dramatically speed up the rendering of a polygonal scene.

Bezier Spline

This type of spline provides the ability to make a curved line using very few points. The two endpoints of the curve are called anchor points. The other points, which define the shape of the curve, are called handles, tangent points, or nodes.


A term commonly used in games to describe a camera-facing plane. This is a polygon with a texture using transparency, that rotates on various axes to always face the player. Billboards are commonly used for particles, trees, grass, clouds, and UI elements.

Bit depth

This value defines the amount of color information an image holds. Typically 1-bit is two colors
(black and white), 2-bit is four colors, 4-bit is sixteen, 8-bit is 256 colors, and 16-bit is 65536 colors.


An image file, such as JPG, TIF, PSD, and BMP.

Binary Space Partition (BSP)

A BSP tree subdivides 3D space with 2D planes to help speed up sorting. In game development, BSP usually means using solid modeling techniques to carve the basic surfaces of a game level.


A post-processing effect which simulates bright light sources overwhelming a camera or the eye,
creating a halo around the brightest parts of a scene.

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