Put simply, when something spawns, it appears into the world and can then be interacted with. NPCs, mobs, items and objects (e.g crates, chests) are all things that spawn. Technically, anything in the game world can be "spawned", but you're unlikely to see things like environmental props (trees, buildings etc) and terrain spawn.
The majority of spawns are controlled via timers. These timers are invisible and must be manually tracked by players. Once the timer elapses, the spawn occurs. This is the most common method of spawning. An example of this would be to say there is A Bandit. Once killed, it begins a 7 minute timer. Once 7 minutes elapses, A Bandit will respawn at its spawn point.
Sometimes the timer isn't a set value, but rather a window. For example, let's say that A Bandit has a standard timer which is 7 minutes. Now, lets say that The Bandit King has a spawn window, which is between 20 minutes and 1 hour. In this case, once the spawn conditions for The Bandit King have been met, after a minimum of 20 minutes and up to one hour after the conditions were, The Bandit King has a chance to spawn.
Generally when it comes to Spawn Windows, so long as the conditions are met, the NPC/mob/item/object will spawn within its given window.
Sometimes a spawn can be triggered. The trigger conditions can be any range of things, from killing a specific mob, turning in an item, environmental states like time of day or weather conditions, completing a quest, having a certain item equipped/unequipped or even standing in a certain location.
- Despawning is when something that has spawned disappears from the game world without being killed/collected by players. The most common condition that leads to despawning is the npc/mob/item is left idle for too long.
- Ground Spawn
- This is when an item/object is found spawned in the world rather than crafted or looted.
- The act of spawning again or returning to your bind point or "spawn point". (E.g upon dying, you respawn.)
- Spawn Point
- The location that something spawns. For players, this can also be referred to as your bind point.