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Changing The Text Color in SGDK
SGDK makes it easy to put text on screen, using functions such as
VDP_drawText(). By default this text is always rendered in white, but there is an easy (but also a bit tricky) way to change the text color in your Mega Drive game!
The Mega Drive uses a total of 64 colors which are spread across 4 palettes (
PAL3). Each of these palettes therefore stores 16 colors, spanning across indexes
15 (because the colors are stored in an array, which start at index
0). Each visual asset you add to your game uses the colors from one of these 4 palettes… and text is no different! In fact, each character of a font is basically just a tile, meaning it follows the same rules as tiles you import yourself.
But where does text get the white color? The answer: By default, text in SGDK uses the last color of a palette, so the color at index
15. Change that color and you’ll change the color of your text!
Also by default, text uses
PAL0. However, you can change that to a different palette by using
VDP_setTextPalette(u16 palette). Keep in mind however that the overall index then would not be
15, but change depending on what palette you end up using! For example, if you use
PAL1, the index used for text would become
31 (because you have to factor in the 16 colors in
To change the color in index 15 you can either simply load a palette from an image where the color is already set to what you want, or you can use functions like
VDP_setPaletteColor. Check out my post on Color Swapping for a more detailed explanation on how that works!
So for example, to draw a string in red on the screen, you could do:
VDP_setPaletteColor(15,RGB24_TO_VDPCOLOR(0xff0000)); VDP_drawText("Hello World", 8, 8);
So while changing the text color in SGDK is easy to do, you still have to keep in mind the palette limitations of the Mega Drive. It’s a good idea to decide early on what color you’ll be using for your text and in what palette it should be stored, so that you can reserve that index!
If you have any questions, comments or criticism, post them in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter @ohsat_games! Special thanks to Stephane Dallongeville for creating SGDK and everyone in the SGDK Discord for their help and keeping the dream alive!
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A few years ago, Yuzo Koshiro posted a pile of old game design documents for Bare Knuckle 2 aka Streets of Rage 2 on the Ancient blog to commemorate the release of Streets of Rage 2 3D on the Nintendo 3DS. These documents gave a deep insight into the game’s inner workings, technical aspects, designs and even some cut content. They were an awesome resource for one of the most awesome games ever created.