A Game Studio Culture Dictionary
October 6, 2011 Page 3 of 5
The game was just not fun...
Chopping Wood: The feeling one gets when melee combat fails to hold the player's interest due to feeling like a lumberjack mashing buttons in a forest of highly durable trees.
Crazy Quilt: A way to describe a level with too many textures and no unifying theme.
Dead Monkeys: Ideas, particularly design-related, that the champion will not let go of regardless of the evidence that they should not be done. Came from a documentary about monkeys where a mother would carry its dead offspring around for some time before finally acknowledging that it was actually no longer alive.
Design Grenade: When a non-designer identifies a problem and comes up with their own solution to replace the existing design... Oblivious to how their solution will blow up the rest of the game and disrupt any developer within that vicinity.
Know It When I See It: A style of direction where creative vision is developed through expensive trial and error as opposed to being synthesized via mental simulation before implementation.
My Immersion: Freakouts about realism in spite of a ton of other unrealistic things with which they have no problem.
Shelf Moment: A point of frustration or boredom you hit on a game where you decide to put the game down and never return to it.
Ugly Baby: When someone in power has a favorite design or idea that the team doesn't like, and it will be a very uncomfortable conversation to let them know.
Bugs proliferated uncontrollably...
Alien Queen: Named after the queen alien from the Alien series. A nasty bug which spawns countless other bugs as defenses, making it extremely hard to find... and when you do finally find it, it suddenly becomes a real fight.
Bugbombing: The inevitable portion of every final cycle when publisher-side QA testers try to bury the dev team in bugs based on sheer quantity over quality... often with testers vying with each other for the highest defect-reporting totals.
Count Virtula: A bug that happens in C++ when you misspell a virtual function in a subclass and spend a while figuring out why your polymorphism is broken.
Defactoring: applying refactoring methods to make the code less stable, less resilient to bugs, and harder to maintain. Often associated with turning a function into a class so you "don't have to pass all of those parameters around."
Engine Imps and Fairies: When no one touches the engine and something magically breaks overnight, the imps did it. When no one touches anything and something magically gets fixed overnight, the fairies did it.
Friendly Fire: Someone comes along, thinks there's a problem with a particular bit of code, rewrites it to fix that (wildly overblown) problem, and in doing so destroys all sorts of implicit assumptions built into it because they don't have the big picture.
Glory Code: when a programmer implements something that didn't take very long, but visually is very impressive. Sometimes glory code is unstable and not done -- a fact that oftentimes is hard to explain to a an overeager manager who assumes it's done because it looks done.
Kickbombing: A natural defense against bugbombing, it means to kick back bugs en masse to the pub QA lead because they weren't written correctly or they failed to include a screenshot.
Olé: The subtle, fine art of passing a bug along to someone else without doing a damn stitch of work on it. Usually, said passing occurs at 5PM on Friday afternoon.
Showstopper: A bug that prevents the game from going gold. Normally found an hour after delivering a release candidate.
Voodoo Code: Code that magically fixes a bug, but you have absolutely no idea how.
And the build broke often...
BlameBot: a non-automated robotic process of finding out who is responsible for breaking the game using Perforce history. Activation of Blamebot is often announced by the human in robot voice.
Drive By Check In: Synonym for Commit and Run... Often pantomimed/re-enacted with imaginary guns/grenades.
Fat Finger: Breaking an important build by clicking the wrong button. An inherent flaw of build processes with manual steps (verb or noun.)
Franken- : Prefix for any cobbled together collection of pieces never intended to work together. Most often "frankenbuild."
The Voodoo: The processes and incantations that team members follow as the build and tools pipeline change over time, for the worse. Usually the result of sloppy data versioning and/or poorly documented interfaces.
Those responsible for breaking the build were sometimes given a "Token of Shame"...
Shamebrero: Some object of public shame or indignity that you have to wear or keep at your desk for a while after a particularly heinous build-breaking.
Broken Controller Award: Another version of the shamebrero.
The Dance: Performed around/for someone who has broken the build, usually accompanied by body percussion and impromptu singing/lyrics.
Flame Shirt: A XXXL black shirt with a skull, ace playing cards, and flames.
Shame Monkey: A screeching mechanical Shame Monkey that could be passed around with the nice addition that you could touch a switch on the foot and have it screech in an irritating manner for maybe 15 seconds after you really wanted it to stop.
Getting collectively ambushed with NERF weapons (has no official name in this dictionary)
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