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Video Game Physics

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Chronicled herein are all the little things that cause objects in videogames to work differently from, say, objects in your backyard, for the purpose of being awesome.

See Artistic License – Physics.

  • Air-Aided Acrobatics
    Using fans or wind to jump to normally-unreachable places.
  • Air-Dashing
    Bounding off the air to gain lateral momentum.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points
    Rather than protecting bodily areas, body armor just gives you bonus Hit Points.
  • Boom, Headshot!
    It's always better to go for the head instead of the torso or other larger target.
  • Cobweb Trampoline
    A spiderweb is always used as a trampoline.
  • Collision Damage
    Just touching an enemy will damage or kill the player.
  • Convection, Schmonvection
    Lava and other superheated objects are completely harmless unless made direct contact with.
  • Depth Perplexion
    In video games, foreground and background aren't always as separated as they appear to be.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms
    Platforms that are solid from certain sides only (most notably, above).
  • Edge Gravity
    Where the edge of a platform actively resists the player's motion over it.
  • Floating Platforms
    Because it's much easier than building proper structural supports.
  • Frictionless Ice
    A place or puzzle where every step on an ice patch makes you continue in that direction, unable to move or stop.
  • Gravity Screw
    A Gimmick Level which messes around with gravity in some way.
  • Ground Pound
    The player jumps, ducks or crouches in the air, and comes down powerfully onto the ground.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing
    Characters who can land with such an impact that it can break the ground beneath them
  • Hit the Ground Harder
    Characters who can speed up to beyond fatal falling velocity to completely or partially negate fall damage.
  • Homing Projectile
    A projectile that constantly curves toward its target.
  • Instant 180-Degree Turn
    A character or an object the player is controlling, can turn 180 (different number in 3D games) degrees in an instant.
  • Invisible Grid
    A mainly 3D game mechanic that limits where you can move, jump, and/or land so that you are always on an invisible grid.
  • Jiggle Physics
    That amazing programming breakthrough that gives breasts (amongst other things) realistic bouncing animation.
  • Jump Physics
    It's very different in a Platform Game than it is in real life.
    • Double Jump
      You jump, then you jump again. No, it shouldn't be possible, but it's fun.
    • Wall Jump
      You know when your parents said you were driving them up the wall? Here's how you actually do it.
  • Knockback
    Taking damage results in being knocked aside, whether the attack in question would reasonably be expected to do that or not.
    • Knockback Evasion
      Frequently, a method is provided to completely avoid knockback, even for attacks that should reasonable be expected to knock you aside.
  • Ladder Physics
    Ladders in games act strangely, like letting you climb them while having both arms free.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid
    Lava is portrayed as way less dense than it should be.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…
    One must impact the ground to get killed.
    • Falling Damage
      When impacting the ground merely hurts you rather than outright killing you.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile
    Bullets, arrows, or sundry other super-fast shooty things will move slowly enough to defend or dodge.
  • Parasol Parachute
    An umbrella or parasol used as a parachute. Plus it keeps the rain off!
  • Projectile Platforms
    Game physics so abstracted from reality that a character can ride what is ostensibly a projectile without changing its trajectory.
  • Ragdoll Physics
    Games that use increasingly realistic physics for all objects, especially dead enemies.
  • Recoil Boost
    Firing rapidly in a direction opposite of where you want to go will give you a good push sideways or even upward.
  • Reflecting Laser
    Lasers that can reflect off of any flat surface.
  • Road Runner PC
    You are always one of the fastest things in the game world.
  • Rocket Jump
    Using explosives to propel the player to normally unreachable places.
  • Selective Gravity
    Gravity is only applied to some things; others are totally immune.
  • Set Swords to "Stun"
    A weapon's lethality is directly proportional to its user's desire to kill. Bladed weapons can cause nonlethal damage.
  • Shockwave Stomp
    Where a boss or character can smash on the ground and send out a wave of energy that causes damage.
  • Spring Jump
    An ability in video games that sends your character rocketing straight upwards, and is much more powerful than ordinary Jump Physics.
  • Springy Spores
    You can use Mushrooms as trampolines.
  • Sticky Shoes
    Footwear that sticks to sheer surfaces.
  • Tele-Frag
    Trying to teleport somewhere that's already occupied. Leaves a mess.
  • Tremor Trampoline
    When an earthquake or violent impact causes characters to bounce about.
  • Vent Physics
    Conveniently placed air vents give you the boost you need.
  • Very High Velocity Rounds
    You've slowed down time, and while enemy bullets will crawl like molasses, yours go at normal speed.
  • Video Game Dashing
    From a complete standstill, you burst forward for a short distance as though you were strapped to a jet booster.
  • Video Game Flight
    Video games that actually let your character fly freely about the world.
  • Video Game Sliding
    You can pull off a full-on baseball slide from a complete standstill, with enough force to break down a wall. Oh, and you're most likely invulnerable to bullets while doing so.
  • Walk, Don't Swim
    Your character can't swim when underwater, just walk around and jump higher, or lower.
  • Wall Crawl
    The ability to scale vertical surfaces.
  • Wreaking Havok
    Where the coolness of the physics engine conspicuously draws attention to itself rather than meshing with the rest of the gaming experience.