Font of Knowledge

We here at 59 Volts pride ourselves on the accuracy of our art assets. Every part of our game is painstakingly created from scratch, using the original game as reference – and we don’t stop tweaking our art until it is spot-on.

While this is probably obvious for the models and textures we’ve shown in the past, it extends beyond them, too. Today, we’d like to direct your attention to another aspect of our attention to detail – the handwriting fonts used in the journals throughout the game.

This is a more complicated task than it might initially seem. We aim to support more languages than the original Riven did (more on that soon!), meaning we need full glyph support in our fonts. The original, English version of the game does not cover all letters (accented characters, in particular, are totally absent), so we’ve had to go on the hunt for other localizations. We’ve drawn from the French and German versions of the game, to name a few, plus a number of promotional images from outside of the game itself. On top of that, we’ve had to deal with low-resolution images, font inconsistencies, and all of the other issues that we usually encounter when re-creating Riven assets.

That said, we’re happy to announce that our Atrus font is nearing completion! Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ve come up with so far:

Well, it hasn't!

Because this is a vector-based font, it can be scaled to huge sizes, with no loss of quality. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our font, with a page from the original game (click to enlarge):

Side by Side

It’s worth noting that the page pictured here is simply a mock-up, that this is not a final texture, nor has it been applied to an in-game model yet. This is simply the easiest way to display the font.

Now that the Atrus font is nearly complete, work has begun on a font for Gehn, which is proving to be an even more difficult task.

Stay tuned for further updates as these in-game fonts are developed. The ending has not yet been, heh, written.


28 Responses to “Font of Knowledge”.

Team members' usernames are in red.
  • AHB Says:

    “work has begun on a font for Gehn, which is proving to be an even more difficult task.”

    Oh yeah, I bet. Especially with the wobbly font in his journal on Age 233 (Gehn had a hard life ;_;7)

  • StefanosK27 Says:

    The font seems great. What needs to be changed in my opinion, is the paper to look more “worn out” and the writing more blurred and less black because what I see is something “computer-perfect” but the beauty of Riven was /is that everything looks “old”.

    I’m sure you already had this in my mind, so… just saying.

    Furthermore, I have already made some 30-40% I guess of greek translations on the GULP website, but I admit I’ve given up on these for more than 2 years now. I WILL keep on translating them IF there is any interest for greek language at all. But unfortunately, I haven’t found anyone yet to comment positevely on my translations, and I’ve searched a lot.

    • Philip Says:

      We do intend to add some “bleed” to the font to make it look less crisp.

      Also, sent you an email about the GULP situation.

    • Misos Says:

      I am interested in helping with the Greek translation too, but I do not know how! I like the font, it is a very difficult task to do, much more difficult than it seems. It is not perfect but it doesn’t have to be from the start, seeing your commitment I am sure you will nail it!

  • Jack Says:

    I’m not worried about how you’re going to handle Gehn’s handwriting – I’m curious how you’ll manage CATHERINE’s notebook. That thing was nearly impossible to read!

    Is that even “font”able, or is it genuine handwriting?

  • Nintendo Maniac 64 Says:

    Here’s something interesting, if you downscale the new high-res font to 50% and then upscale it again to 200%, it looks even MORE similar to the original font.

  • Trekluver Says:

    Awesome work, you guys! That’s as close to dead on as you can get.

  • Imonobor Says:

    Great job so far guys!
    I just wanted to say about these fonts, whatever you do, please don’t make them so unreadable as in the original (I had to read Catherine’s journal from the wiki, it was that bad!). Even if it doesn’t look exactly like it, it would be better if it is readable.

    Also, to all the artists in your team, i would like to say, you’re doing an amazing job on recreating and replicating, since i myself am an artist who knows what a pain in the backside a recreation can be. Keep going guys, i hope that encourages you! :)

  • Stykera Says:

    Precious work guys, it looks fantastic! I was under the impression though, that you said the CYAN people backed up your project and helped you with some stuff. Surely they can’t ditch their current work to start rebuilding Riven with you (which is too bad), but they can at least spare you the trouble of recreating existing stuff. I can’t imagine how much time and effort it took you to mimic these fonts when they are sitting & collecting dust (metaphorically speaking) at some harddrive somewhere at CYAN…

    • zib_redlektab Says:

      While we are not currently in a position to discuss Cyan’s level of involvement with the project, they continue to be very supportive of the project (as we are of Obduction). Suffice to say that even given that support, many elements from the original game need to be re-created from scratch, for one reason or another. Keep in mind that those assets were developed in a different era of computer games, and directly bringing them into the 21st century is simply not feasible.

  • tacit Says:

    I recently heard about this: http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~graves/
    Have you considered (will you consider) doing anything like this? So not using real fonts but using actual generated cursive writing in a similar style? I realize this may be asking for too much but I think it could add tremendously to the atmosphere.

    Anyway, you did a great job with the font, I’m sure that after you add the bleeding it’ll be near identical to the original.

    • zib_redlektab Says:

      While it would certainly be cool to have the handwriting be dynamically generated, we would prefer to have more direct control over how the fonts look. As in all things, we’re aiming for absolute accuracy to the original, or as close as we can get. Generating fonts that are accurate seems like it will end up being more work than simply re-creating the fonts by hand.

      That said, we are looking to vary our fonts a bit, for realism’s sake – to this end, we have a couple variants of a number of characters in each font, so you’re not staring at the same letters over and over again.

  • Godofdrakes Says:

    Any chance of this becoming a font I can install on my computer?

  • Matt Giuca Says:

    Excellent work, guys. It looks amazing. But I’m confused why this was necessary, at least for Atrus. Both Uru and realMyst: Masterpiece Edition have vector fonts for Atrus’s handwriting. Why couldn’t you just use that?

    The latter also has a font for Catherine (in Rime) which looks quite different to her writing in Riven, but perhaps you could use that instead of replicating the Riven font. I second the concerns raised here about the readability of her writing in Riven.

    • zib_redlektab Says:

      The fonts in Uru and realMyst both proved unsuitable for one reason or another, but the fonts in the Myst games beyond Riven served as very useful reference – the Atrus font was the easiest for us to recreate because it’s featured in so many other Myst games.

      As for the Catherine font, we are looking into how to improve readability without straying too far from the original look of the journal.

  • Trip Says:

    It would be best if you copy the journal entries by hand, then scan the actual pages into the game

    • zib_redlektab Says:

      While this method would undoubtedly produce the best-looking results, it would be extremely difficult to support a multi-language game like this. We’d have to manually write out every page of every journal in every language!

  • Graham Says:

    If anyone is interested in downloading a pre-made D’ni font…

    http://ufonts.com/fonts/dni.html

  • Vincent Says:

    Excellent job guys, you are really amazing !

  • Boinciel Says:

    Would it be possible to supply masks for the different types/ages of paper and have the engine generate ink bleed into the pulp/fabric on the fly? For example, to simulate ink bleed onto a woven fabric you could overlay an invisible grid and have the ink stray along the warp and weft of that grid semi-randomly. Alternatively, various wood pulp maps could be included (and if you’re really crazy you could also simulate ink bleed onto the other side of the page in thin spots).

  • Stykrus Says:

    I love the font generated for the journal: extremely realistic and very sharp as well. I am wondering if when the player starts to read from the journal, will we hear a narrative’s voice, similar to those found within Myst Revelations where we get to hear the voice of those who created the journals such as Sirius, Achernar, Catherine etc?
    Also how are the fonts going? Particularly, Gehn’s journal?
    Cheers

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