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Card Production and True Type Fonts

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Carlos
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Joined: 08/01/2009

Hey folks, I am by no means an experienced game designer, but I am experimenting with something that I think other people might find helpful for creating cards for prototyping.

There is a fairly current thread on these boards about using image databases to automatically populate cards with images -- kinda like an image mail merge. Here's an alternative I haven't seen posted yet: using the images available in creative True Type fonts.

There are a TON of free fonts out there that are image-based--that is, specialized dingbats and web dings. My game has a decidedly medieval feel to it, and so I was able to find a font of illustrated medieval "inhabited letters" (basically letters with allegorical characters playing all over them) that fit my game very well and was available for free.

Benefits of using True Type images:

* Exceedingly easy to place, move and resize
* Very easy to change colors
* Some pretty great quality out there, especially if line drawing or symbols are sufficient for your purposes
* I think (haven't had time to test yet, but am pretty sure) will prove very easy to mail merge, thereby exponentially speeding up card creation process.

The only drawback I can think of is that, if you're going the mail-merge route, then I think you're stuck using a word processor for making cards. For playtesting, though, that should be fine.

So I hope this maybe gives you one more alternative to try out in your prototyping. Happy gaming!

VeritasGames
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Re: Card Production and True Type Fonts

Carlos wrote:
using the images available in creative True Type fonts.

I suggest people check out my brief warnings and links in my article at:

http://www.veritasgames.net/cgi-bin/load_page.cgi?content_page=cgi-bin/a...

DEFINITELY get the ORIGINAL (and not copies) of supposedly free fonts to check out their licenses and/or read me documents. Almost all require you to seek special permission and/or pay licensing fees for any kind of "for profit" project that uses the font.

Quote:
Benefits of using True Type images:
* Very easy to change colors

Sort of. Except that normally, except for maybe a drop shadow or stroke color, these fonts don't work well for creating two-color or full-color symbols. They are quite functional for monochromatic symbols or symbols with a gradient fill.

They also take up MUCH less memory space than other means to reproduce lots of full color symbols.

Quote:
The only drawback I can think of is that, if you're going the mail-merge route, then I think you're stuck using a word processor for making cards.

Not true. As I note in my article at:

http://www.veritasgames.net/cgi-bin/load_page.cgi?content_page=cgi-bin/a...

Serif Page Plus 10 or 11 both have photo + mail merge operations, allowing you to use a robust page layout program that can also dynamically lay out different images as well as text. The only bummer on Page Plus is a 255 character limit which slams me on longer cards.

Carlos
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Joined: 08/01/2009
Re: Card Production and True Type Fonts

As usual, Lee, you make great points. Two things, though:

VeritasGames wrote:

I suggest people check out my brief warnings and links in my article at:

http://www.veritasgames.net/cgi-bin/load_page.cgi?content_page=cgi-bin/a...

DEFINITELY get the ORIGINAL (and not copies) of supposedly free fonts to check out their licenses and/or read me documents. Almost all require you to seek special permission and/or pay licensing fees for any kind of "for profit" project that uses the font.

Just to be clear here: if you were producing/publishing your own game for profit, then of course you would need to contact the creator of the font and get/buy permission. But for either playtesting or submitting a prototype to a company, you most likely wouldn't, unless in the 2nd case the game company was so completely smitten by the font that they decided to use it in the actual game they produced (chance of that happening: .00000017%). Right?

Also:

Quote:
Serif Page Plus 10 or 11 both have photo + mail merge operations, allowing you to use a robust page layout program that can also dynamically lay out different images as well as text. The only bummer on Page Plus is a 255 character limit which slams me on longer cards.

I forgot to mention one other possible benefit of using TTFs: you probably won't have to buy a new, snazzy software package to use them. :) Though based on the previous thread on this discussion, Serif Page Plus may prove to be a worthwhile investment for some people.

VeritasGames
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Card Production and True Type Fonts

Oh, don't get me wrong. I totally agree with you that this is a great idea that not enough people are clued in on. Kudos to you if you are using the method, because it's a really great way to get a prototype up and running.

My current game, Powerstorm, was done with free dingbat fonts to begin with, but I'm now having a professional graphic designer produce trade dress that I can own. However, I can tell you one thing, it was nice to playtest with some dingbat fonts to see if the trade dress worked, Carlos. It's a huge advantage for playtesting, and also is useful for giving the graphic designer some vague idea of how you want the card to look.

I'm hardly criticizing your idea here. I recommend the same thing on my website.

And, yeah, if you are on a tight budget, a mail merge with a freeware word processor is totally the way to go. That's something I didn't list on my site, and it is a very good idea.

And you are right, sometimes you do license a dingbat font. I've already contacted Dan at Iconian Fonts for info on some of his fonts. I may make a site donation to use a couple of individual characters from his Sound FX fonts to give my game rules something extra (I'm doing a superhero CCG).

If you have some extra cash ($200-$500), it's useful to get a custom font made that combines your favorite text font with the 10 or 20 symbols you may need for game mechanics, that way you don't have to constantly change fonts and forth. It also makes the resultant PDFs smaller since you don't have to embed 6 fonts, just one.

Definitely good advice you are giving, Carlos.

Have fun and have a great day.

VeritasGames
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Card Production and True Type Fonts

Font experts may correct me here if I'm wrong (since I'm out on a limb), but I think that vector-based fonts, like vector graphics, scale well, and so they are limited in resolution largely only by the resolution of your printer.

If you want a 1200 dpi font symbol on a 1200 dpi printer, you just include the font symbol for minimal memory. With an image, a 1200 dpi image can be absolutely enormous in many image storing formats.

The best way to get a sample of this effect it to type the word "Sample" in your graphics program and save it as an uncompressed image format (like an uncompressed TIFF) at 300 dpi. Now go to your word processing software, import that word, and type "Sample" again below it, at the same size, but this time as a font. Export it as a PDF. Start blowing up the PDF to 1000%. The 300 dpi image starts looking "jaggy" while the font still has clean curves.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Card Production and True Type Fonts

Since we are speaking about fonts, I have a question.

I have bought around 10 years ago 2 CD of fonts which cost around 8$ CAD each. Each CD contained a series of approximately 1000 fonts each. The CD came also with a couple of font software to view or audit them.

Now my question is :

Can I use the fonts on theses CD in a commercial product?

If they were able to sell me the CD, I think that they somewhat had the right to distribute the fonts. Personally, I think that they compiled all the free fonts and placed it on a CD because I don't think it would have been possible to make a CD with non-free fonts unless these fonts are shareware.

(I have not found any copyright notice about the fonts on the CD yet .)

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Card Production and True Type Fonts

VeritasGames wrote:
Font experts may correct me here if I'm wrong (since I'm out on a limb), but I think that vector-based fonts, like vector graphics, scale well, and so they are limited in resolution largely only by the resolution of your printer.

If you want a 1200 dpi font symbol on a 1200 dpi printer, you just include the font symbol for minimal memory. With an image, a 1200 dpi image can be absolutely enormous in many image storing formats.
This is all basically true but (there's always a 'but', isn't it?) if your dingbats font is too complex you might get into trouble, which you could avoid using a vector graphic (read: EPS if you plan to produce your game with a commertial printer). So for relativelly simple graphics, the font option works fine, for more complex images EPS is a safer bet.

Fonts also come in many different quality degrees, and low quality fonts might also led to trouble in the final stages. Not all free fonts are low quality, nor all commercial fonts are good, though. And through the years the high-end machines have improved a lot, so this sort of trouble are becoming extinct (but some still survive).

Fonts become specially usefull when the same image is going to be used repeatedly. Then is when the saveings in file size are best, as your file will basically describe one image and asign it to a character, then just state the color, size and position of said character, without the need to define the image again and again.

Seo

VeritasGames
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Card Production and True Type Fonts

Larienna wrote:

Can I use the fonts on theses CD in a commercial product?

Contact the font manufacturer if they are still in business.

Lacking a license, a good rule of thumb, is that if you bought a font you can probably use it in print publications, but you may not be able to embed it in PDFs to sell PDF products with.

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