I am edging my way towards getting hardware proportional fonts working.
To recap progress to date, text mode can be switched to 16-bit mode, where two screen RAM bytes and two colour RAM bytes describe each character instead of one of each. Some of those extra bits can be used to specify the width of a character, between 1 and 8 pixels wide. Thus proportional fonts can be constructed using some full-width characters and some narrowed characters.
I have now written a little programme that takes a true-type font, and produces a font file composed of 8x8 character blocks. It isn't perfect, but it does create a simple file with a list of unicode points, tile maps that say which tiles go to make each glyph, and then the array of 8x8 tiles, 64 bytes each. You can see the source at:
It doesn't do any compression of the 64-byte blocks, so the fonts are quite a bit bigger than they need to be. However, it should be very easy to write some 6502 assembler that given a 16-bit unicode string, can setup a 16-bit text mode screen to display the text.
Simultaneously, I have been working on the anti-alias renderer for 8x8 tiles. It isn't done yet, but the alpha blender is in the design now. Assuming that it works, it shouldn't be too hard to plumb it in, and start displaying alpha-blended 8x8 character tiles.