King of Dragon Pass has a lot of text, so it’s important that text be very legible. Back in 1997, we didn’t have the font rendering technology that we now take for granted. All fonts were bitmaps — just black or empty pixels. Still, it was possible to find fonts that looked decent on screen. Many of them were TrueType or PostScript fonts that came with a specially tuned bitmap version. Those that came with the operating system weren’t good choices for a game, however. Palatino had a decent screen version, but it was just too formal. (And it was only distributed with Mac OS, not Windows.) So we needed to include our own font.
|Dynamic Erasmus (bitmap)|
We had a second font used for titles and buttons, since a single font can get a little boring. When iOS 4.0 came out and allowed font embedding, I used our Erasmus TrueType font. You can see this in earlier screen shots. But it was always a little thin (if I recall correctly, Brian did some Photoshop tricks when creating captions using Erasmus). There was only one weight in the book, and it was Light (which is essentially a step away from bold).
As it happens, since King of Dragon Pass came out, one of the large font makers came out with a version of the Erasmus font. In multiple weights, so we could get a less thin version. Except that the licensing terms were still prohibitive. Basically, it was not available to include with a game.
Somehow hoping to find a decent free version, I kept searching the web. It turns out that Erasmus was created by S. H. de Roos, and he also created an almost identical font, Hollandse Mediaeval. A version of this, Dutch Mediaeval, was available from Canada Type with extremely reasonable licensing. So we could basically use the same font, only better!
|Dutch Mediaeval (TrueType)|
(By the way, it looks even better on the Retina Display of this year’s iPhone and iPod touch models.)
I’m happy to have what’s essentially the same font as the original game, both for continuity but also because it’s still legible, distinctive, and playful. And really pleased to recommend Canada Type to anyone interested in embedding quality fonts in a game.