Font Wars: Episode XXI

Published on Sunday, September 9, 2012 By Brad Wardell In FE Sneak Peeks

If you’ve been following my blogs on this topic for awhile, you know how I feel about the way DirectX 9 handles TrueType fonts. Terribly.

If we had to do it over again, we would have just hand made each character.  But we didn’t. And the battles to make fonts look good has made use choose font styles that we might not otherwise have used.

Luckily, we may have a solution – thanks to the ingenuity of the lead developer of WindowBlinds and Start8. He also wrote the overlay code and gave me a DLL this morning that may solve a lot of our problems.

The first thing to understand about the magic of Stardock’s non-games business is that they know how to get into other people’s processes and add features without source code.  That’s how WindowBlinds works – it takes over the drawing of every window on the OS to one that is better, faster, and cooler.

So seeing our font issues in Fallen Enchantress, he wrote a DLL that redirects the DirectX calls to one of his own making.

So here’s what a typical screen looks like in the current build. It helps to load this up and zoom in.  If you’re in the beta, you are familiar with the limitations of D3DXFont calls.


And below is the result after his fix:



Zoom in on the various parts.

This opens the door to us being able to eventually be able to do a lot more interesting things with fonts since they’ll not be blocky, artifacty messes.

It’s still being tweaked but it’ll be interesting to see how many people notice when Beta 5 hits (which is why I’m not posting this in the journals section, fewer viewers).

Now, before someone comments, please remember, the fonts we chose for the game were based on what fonts looked best on D3DXFont which tended to be Arial and that kind of thing.

I can’t promise that we’ll be changing the fonts this late in the game. But what I can say is that the existing fonts will look a lot better and it opens things up for future updates to have interesting fonts that look good.