fonts of the old west

pixel sundays!

i created these four fonts for calamity annie. they appear at four times their original resolution in the game, like all of the other sprites.

the real challenge was the three-by-five pixel font, which was the absolute largest font i could create and still fit all the text i needed in the game window. even at this resolution, though, it still has a shape to it: note the upper right and lower left corners are sharp, while the upper left and lower right corners are curved. you can also see the original N, which was later changed to a lowercase because one of my playtesters was having trouble distinguishing it from the M.

by the way, if annie runs slowly for you or has given you other memory issues, try downloading the game again. i can’t guarantee that this update will run any faster for you, but it can’t hurt.

5 thoughts on “fonts of the old west”

  1. Each terrific. They’re evocative and understated.

    Funny how, in addition to your careful attention to the specific aspects of gameplay, pacing, and the overall utilization of iconic imagery – you’re still able to squeeze a ton of character into these bitonal, tiny font styles.

    Please don’t ever stop making games. Let’s hear it for CRAFTS(wo)MANSHIP.

  2. Dess, I’ve got a question about fonts in Game Maker: how do you include them with the game? Do you just include them as a Font as you would to a sprite or background? Does that work?

    Also, what program or special procedure do you go through to make fonts? I’d like to wrangle up my own sometime too.

    Also, your 3×5 font is pretty classy! 3 pixels is a good size for fonts and I like how you handled the N and Q too. Clever!

  3. i usually use graphicsgale to do pixel work, but supposedly photoshop works just as well if you turn off all the aliasing.

    bitmap fonts in game maker are a small headache. basically, you want a sprite that contains all the characters in the font as sub-images, in the order they show up in character map (which comes with windows).

    you’ll probably want to draw them as a strip (a single image containing every character). you’ll want the actual letters to be white (the color is picked when the text is actually drawn), you’ll want a transparent color around them (you might want an extra line of just this color on the bottom, since game maker reads the color in the bottom-left corner as transparent), and you’ll want some vertical spacing in between each character, for the sake of readability. the characters all have to have the same height and width, even if some rows and columns are totally transparent.

    geez, i’ll email you one of mine as an example.

    after you import the strip as a sprite, there’s a line of code that you can use to initialize it as a font. the actual command escapes me; just search for “font” in the documentation.

  4. Man, what a mess! Thanks for the detailed write up, Dess. I’ll try it out and see how it all wrangles together!

  5. There’s a Windows application called Fony ( which you can use it create bitmap fonts. It can export them to strips similar to what Dessgeega describes, though I don’t know if these would be ready to use in GM without editing.

    On the subject of GM games running slowly, I’ve found it necessary on certain PCs to turn down hardware acceleration to get some of them to run at the correct speed. (Go to Display Properties -> Settings tab -> Advanced -> Troubleshoot tab, and adjust the slider. I usually turn it off completely.) The problem with doing this is that you’ll need to turn it up again for other games, but I don’t know any better solution.

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