It turns out that the fonts in Psychonauts 2 were custom made, and accessibility was a key part of the design process.
Psychonauts 2 released late last month to critical acclaim. We praised its delightful design approach to 3D platforming and undoubtedly charming and witty writing. Especially around games as quirky as Psychonauts, it’s always interesting to peer behind the curtain at the design process. A new report has been published by Lettermatic which outlines how it approached designing some of the fonts for Double Fine’s Psychonauts 2.
Riley Cran writes a fantastically detailed account of how Psychonauts 2 found its font design. They talk about how the writing in Raz’s notebook had to ‘feel like [it] was drawn by someone’ while also having heart at the same time. That led the team to land on a decidedly wonky looking font where no letter ever perfectly aligned horizontally or vertically.
How is the font different?
Cran talks with great passion about the font’s design philosophy. It’s interesting to hear how the team approached accessibility while creating an aesthetically pleasing font. Having a font that looks cool to some people is all well and good. However, it can cause problems when that design decision locks others out from being able to read it.
‘Accessibility is something that Lettermatic and Double Fine both take seriously, and so Psychonauts 2 includes an accessibility setting that switches to a ‘low wonk’ version of these custom fonts, improving legibility for captioning and elsewhere by making the letters less lean-y, less bounce-y, and less taper-y,’ Cran says. ‘Rather than switching to a different typeface entirely, and suggesting that accessibility should come at the cost of aesthetics, this solution allows the game to provide more accessible visuals, while keeping the typography aesthetically styled.’
Rightfully so, Cran explains that the approach to accessibility is something that he’s very proud of. It was certainly great to see such thought put into the Psychonauts accessibility feature set as a whole. I was impressed that the game boots up with a robust accessibility menu from the start. The invincibility mode was something that I was also extremely thankful for. When the combat became a little too troubling for my tired eyes, the accessibility options were a life saver.
We’re starting to see a trend of developers taking accessibility much more seriously. It’s something that we hope to see continue in the future.
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[Featured Image Credit: Double Fine Productions]