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Really small font with clear outlining

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When using outline fonts, how would you go about increasing the quality of the edges of the letters when the font becomes small (size 12 and smaller)? I'm having a hard time making the font clearly readable. Here's what I mean (in the image, the text size is 15):
The aliasing is most likely caused by really small polygons (yes, I'm drawing text in polygon mode - in line mode, the results are far worse) not lining up perfectly. I've been pondering on this for some time now and I can't think of a way to smooth it. What I'd like, ideally, is single-line precision when font sizes become very small to get the clarity you'd expect to see when setting font size to something like 8 in Word. Basically - how do you draw text like the one you're most likely reading this post in?

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I don't want to get into all the meticulous aligning of characters and creation of bitmap fonts - I'd much rather use something simpler. Outline fonts suit me well, but I'd still like some greater detail.

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This is a hinting issue. You need to access the hinting information in the fonts you are using. Are you using your own code to read fonts from file? Maybe you can look at freetype.org for some hints on the subject (boring pun intended).

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Rendering to a texture in a bigger size and scaling it down should do the job.
However, I would spend the time for a decent font rendering engine once, wiping out all the trouble that you'll always have by rendering polygon based fonts. Not to mention the performance.

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If you are using screen space polygons to render your fonts with 3D acceleration, you have to offset the screen coordinates (not the texture coordinates) of your the vertices by 0.5 on both the x and y axis to hit each pixel's center. An explanation as to why this is required can be found in the DX SDK docs for example.

From what I see on your image, the distortions vary, even on the same letter rendered at different location, which would be a typical issue of even screen coordinates.

-Markus-

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Okay. How about the quick chat font in Unreal Tournament? Are you suggesting that they're using bitmap fonts? Or perhaps GDI (although I seriously doubt that)?

Just to make it clear: I don't want to use some library and writing a font renderer isn't really something I'm looking forward to with there being so much else to do that is far more important...

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