In 2008, the hit life simulation computer game Spore was published by Electronic Arts Video Games. Spore is a multi-genre single-player god game, divided into 5 phases, from cell to space stage that allows the player to create a whole new species from its very beginnings as a microscopic organism all the way to a highly developed space traveling civilisation. Since its release, a series of spin-offs emerged, such as Spore Origins for mobile devices.
The typeface is one of the pillars of spore's branding strategy
Cinco Design, was hired by Electronic Arts to develop an integrated identity system for Spore. As part of this project a new custom typeface was commissioned. TypeTogether partnered with Pete McCracken (The Portland Type Company) on the development of a three-weight tailored type family.
The exclusive fonts have been used for all communication material linked to Spore including the extensive game manual, and marketing campaign announcing the game. The branding typeface was conceived to be one of the pillars of Spore’s strategy, functioning in body text as well as in display situations. It was not intended for actual screen use within the game.
typeforms based on the logo
The brief dictated that Spore had no specific target age-group. Therefore the appearance of the fonts should be inviting and provide an overall friendly warm feeling. The seminal design inspiration and mechanics of the type design stemmed from the Spore logotype, designed by Cinco. The logo has disproportionate über-rounded shapes, knocked out counters and a stylized universe in the ‘O’ which operates as an integrated mark.
Three main characteristics the fonts were defined in the brief:
1. Circular geometry
2. Rounded ends
The resulting shapes are a bit quirky and rather inspired by handwriting than printing, eg ‘M, N, W, X, Y’. Although apparently geometric, letters had to be optically adjusted for them to work harmoniously in text and to avoid unpleasant dark spots.
Counters were slightly squashed to make them appear round and to keep a consistent thickness of the strokes, and all connections were made thinner to avoid blobbing. Another detail driven by legibility is the little outstroke on lowercase ‘a’, which as repeated in ‘q’. It helps to distinguish the ‘a’ from the ‘o’ in text setting and it gives the ‘q’ a bit of idiosyncrasy. One of most difficult letters to control were upper- and lowercase ‘k’. It is a complex shape with three strokes and counters that needed to feel geometric without becoming ridiculous and to be balanced with each other.
Three weights were required, Light, Regular and Bold with a standard character set, that was later extended to support Eastern-European languages using the Latin script.
Contrary to usual practice of starting with the Regular, Multiple Master technology was used instead to create the Regular as an interpolation between Light and Bold. Although this process does save time, the resulting font always has to be fine-tuned and spacing and kerning adjusted. This approach guarantees the possibility to easily add more weights at a later date.
The creation of a custom typeface allowed Spore to have an overall unique branding approach and comprehensive look not generally seen in the gaming industry. In use for several years running, the typeface has proven its versatility within the expansive collateral, marketing and advertising galaxy of Spore.
TypeTogether is an indie type foundry committed to excellence in type design with a focus on editorial use. Additionally, TypeTogether creates custom type design for corporate use. We invite you to browse our library of retail fonts or contact us to discuss custom type design projects.