Captain’s Log #17: Fonts

This is an archived Kickstarter update, originally only available to Nelly’s Backers:

Fonts are hard. Damn you, Gutenberg!

Getting legible fonts to appear over Nelly’s head has been more challenging than you might imagine. Let’s look back at 2007, when I released the freeware Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! It was very well received, but one of the areas that attracted criticism was the *ahem* unique font I created for it.

As you can see from the first image below, it could be hard to read in front of busy backgrounds. It also prevented translations because it lacked accents & umlauts.

Spoonbeaks Ahoy Fonts

Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! Original and revised fonts.

So for later releases I replaced it with the font Goodfish, using the same pink colour and black outline. This made translations possible, but it hardly improved readability. I was constrained by AGS’s text rendering which did not allow a bolder outline for the speech text.

When working on The Fowl Fleet, I wanted to make the text more legible. I landed on the idea of speech bubbles, which would help separate the text from the background, but I stuck with the same font and outline style.

The old Tech Demo released during this Kickstarter Campaign.

The old Tech Demo released during this Kickstarter Campaign.

I thought I’d sorted it, and was lounging on a deck chair waiting for the praise to roll in. But, once again, the font came in for specific criticism. People still found it hard to read.

Coming up to the present day, our programming team have painstakingly rebuilt Nelly’s speech bubbles in Unity, and this is our opportunity to choose a better way of presenting text.


Below are three types of speech bubble.

  • A: The original Tech-Demo outlined font (Goodfish)
  • B: A plain sans serif font (PT Sans)
  • C: An antique serif font (IM Fell DW Pica)

Speech Bubbles

I would like to know which (if any) you find legible and in keeping with the game. Please comment below if you have anything to contribute!

Note: This is an archived Kickstarter update which recieved 100+ replies, the majority of which favoured style C.

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