Anybody know how to permanently change the text color in DOS?

I’m taking another stab at Zork on my old DOS box, but unfortunately I have a color CRT so the text is white on black instead of the more Zork-y feeling green on black. I’ve tried ANSI escape sequences to change the color of the DOS prompt and any text delivered by a DOS command, but when Zork runs it changes the color back to white and it returns to green after I drop back to DOS.

Does anybody know of a way to tell DOS to display all text in a particular color, regardless of what programs want to display? I’m beginning to doubt that DOS itself can do this, but little ol’ Zork will certainly leave enough memory for a TSR to do it, if such a thing exists.

Thanks. Oh, and I’m sitting next to a lantern, so no grue jokes. :slight_smile:

Other than hacking the Zork code I don’t see a way around you viewing white text. The DOS text color is being overridden when Zork runs. I can get green text for one screen and then it’s back to white using a window in XP.

I tried adjusting the RGB color on my LCD display but the green isn’t really like what you want. You may however have luck doing that if you have a CRT display, adjust green only to be on and try darkening the screen.

I leave this to you from here on.

No, DOS can’t do that. The program can ALWAYS override any autoexec.bat setting. I use one of my old green-screen monitors. Of course I also use one of my old DOS boxes, too. Harmonious Discord’s suggestion is all I can think of, unless you want to do it the crude and dirty way of putting a piece of green cellophane over your screen.

I may have to… my CRT doesn’t let me adjust individual colors. It’s very old.

You could also cut the red and blue pins in the VGA cable (or better, tie them to ground). They are pins 1 and 3.

Cut is better. Tying them to ground might fry some video cards. That’s actually a better idea than my green cellophane one.

If you run the program in DOSBox on a newer computer, I believe it can be configured to emulate in ‘Hercules’ mode, which should be monochrome (this alone might not make the text the right colour, but it should ignore the changes made by the program - then maybe DOSBox configuration will prevail)

Before you go and irreparably alter your hardware, there’s a much better way. Use a different Z-machine interpreter that allows you to change the color scheme.

It sounds like you really want to play it on your old DOS computer, so you’ll need a DOS Z-machine interpreter. I chose to work with Frotz, since I’m familiar with it. It requires at least a 386, though.

Since you were already asking about a program, I assume you already have a way to get the file to your DOS computer. Make sure you unzip both the installer file and the ZIP file inside it. (You may not need the latter, but it doesn’t hurt.)
If you have more than one text based game, I’d put all the files in C:\FROTZ. If ZORK is the only one you plan to play, I’d just make a FROTZ sub-directory wherever ZORK is installed. Either way, I’d find the ZORK1.DAT* file and put it in the FROTZ directory.

After doing all that, the correct command would be

FROTZ -r 3 -f 2 -e 2 -b 0 -F 0 -B 2 ZORK1.DAT

If I were you, I’d copy that and put it in a batch file. maybe called ZORK1.BAT. Remember to start it with an @ sign so you won’t see the command.

Since I’ve already been working with it, I’d be happy to send you a ZIP file that contains everything already setup. PM me if you want that.

*I’m assuming the name from the version I have. It should be the largest file in Zork’s directory, and will most likely end with .DAT.

Holy solution!

I will try this as soon as I get home from work tonight. Thank you very much!

No prob.

Warning: your old save file may not work. Hopefully that’s not too big an imposition to have to start from the beginning.

And note that the .DAT file I told you to find is not your save file. I didn’t realize that Zork 1 save files ended in .DAT, and they are actually larger than the .DAT file I wanted you to get. In my version, the file I told you to copy out is in the DATA subdirectory.

One more thing. I may have picked the wrong green. There’s also a light green, which you can try by using the following:

FROTZ -r 3 -f 10 -e 10 -b 0 -F 0 -B 10 ZORK1.DAT

I may make one more post showing the colors. I’d go ahead and put it in this post, but I might timeout before I get it finished.

Okay, so here they are. They’re the default EGA colors. I went ahead and picked the color closest to them. (I had to manually figure out dark yellow.) Since I can’t change the background color, I didn’t show white, which is slightly brighter than the background of this page.

** 0 black                  8 dark gray
 1 Navy blue              9 bright blue
 2 dark green            10 bright green
 3 teal                  11 cyan
 4 brick red             12 bright red
 5 purple (“magenta”)    13 Pink (“bright magenta”)
 6 dark yellow (“Brown”) 14 Yellow
 7 light gray (“white”)  15 **“bright” white

Wow, above and beyond. I’ma do both greens and see which one I like. Thanks!

Be sure to come back and report how you got on, even if it’s just to say “Yeah, that worked.”

Anyways, it wasn’t any trouble. Making interactive fiction games used to be my hobby (not that I ever finished one :(), and it was fun to take a look at it again.

Can we say something about you being in a thread of twisty little answers, all different?

You just did. Is it out of your system? :slight_smile:

BigT, thanks for all your help… it works beautifully. The lighter green is much more intense so I think I’ll stick with that. I can feel the tumors forming in my brain, just like old times.