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Cart [#38614#] | Copy | Code | 2017-03-23 | Link

Heavily inspired by Aaron Bell's blog post.

No, the Pico 8 doesn't really have any secret colors, but by changing a pixel between two colors very fast, we can trick the eye into thinking that it is seeing another color.

Here is an approximation of how the effect should look on your screen:

Of course a lot of the colors wouldn't work, because of flicker.

Technical Info:
This requires 60 fps mode and works best when not run in a browser. Additionally, since (i suspect) the frame timing varies a little, the effect may appear to stutter from time to time on 60hz monitors. Additionally additionally, only some color combinations work (the luminance of the two colors have to be close to each other) and even then the color can vary a little between monitors. Not to mention that you would need to label your games with a seizure warning.

tech demo color
P#38615 2017-03-23 11:08


thanks for making my eyes bleed ;)
seriouly, the whole palette is terrible to look at, but there might be a few usable color mixes (the two ends of the diagonal?)

relevant threads:
60fps interlace color test
60Hz self portrait

(edit) made a mod of your cart to single out color mixes:

Cart [#38642#] | Copy | Code | 2017-03-23 | Link

P#38621 2017-03-23 12:41


I literally just wanted to make that application, after reading on 'Commodore 64 secret colours' :)

P#38645 2017-03-23 15:16


Starting January did some experiments with that but sadly is not practical to be used on a game or anything. It shouldn't be used in nothing more than a tech demo.

Dither and TV PAL doesn't combine at all, it only looks good on a PC Monitor.

It gets worse when Pico-8 windows goes out of focus and drops the framerate severely, making the effect painful noticeable.

Here's the demo, it has colors sorting and you can use the mouse to colorpick the "HiColor" value:

Cart [#38649#] | Copy | Code | 2017-03-23 | Link

Using the "HiColor" is quite easy, basically is just 2 4bpp values together for odd and even frame.

P#38650 2017-03-23 17:39


Nerd me: This is really fucking cool.

Practical me: Are we literally retreading the 1980s now? I mean... if the extra colors (and other things we're hacking together) are THAT RELEVANT, we could just make it a feature request and be done with it. For that matter, we're doing the same with code compression, map tiles... maybe all we need is a slight, acceptable upscale to PICO-8's project scope without going all balls-out. Even my idea to create an extra layer of recursion for maps isn't to maximize the map space; but really just because so many of my project ideas favor a "10 screens wide, 8 screens tall" format.

Nerd me: But what if "hacking it" is the entire POINT of PICO-8?

Practical me: ... grumbles

Practical me: ...there's also the whole "seizure warning" thing. ~.~

P#38702 2017-03-25 00:57


Regardless it still a cool experiment and apparently some people already did a few cool things with it (only noticed ultrabrite links now), why the Forum don't use underscore for links!?

The seizure can only be a problem if the framerate can't keep up the 60Hz and the viewer is focusing on a large area while it's flickering badly. That's easy to do if you just let your PICO-8 emulator go out of focus and watching 128x128 at fullscreen in a huge widescreen.
At most you'll probably get is a headache or eyes hurting depending of the quality of your monitor/television.

Finally, some colors are more stable than others... picking the right colors can actually reduce the flickering of the final picture (sadly the most stable colors are very similar to the original 16 colors).

P#38742 2017-03-26 03:50


That is ingenious! I read about this trick done with real consoles, but I did not get the idea of mixing the colors this way!

P#38842 2017-03-29 10:07


I remember being blown away by this effect on 'Creatures II' on the Commodore 64 :)

P#38923 2017-03-31 16:53


Hi Xderial, it's Aaron Bell here. I absolutely love what you've done here, thanks for the shout out. I'm a big pico8 nerd (without enough time to actually write code for it). You're da real MVP!

P#39042 2017-04-03 12:22

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