Tuesday, October 4, 2011


No, I haven't decided to start typing in cryptograms; DxWnd is a program that can be quite useful to fans of retro games or even gamers with new rigs and games that are having issues with their graphics cards or drivers.

I run a rig that I assembled myself. It runs Windows 7x64 with ATI Radeon graphics drivers and has a 16:9 monitor. At the time that I assembled the rig that all seemed like a good idea, but apparently I managed to combine all the elements necessary to create a very specific bug that plagues several of my games.

When I run certain games in full-screen mode, my cursor is invisible. I think this has a lot to do with certain game engines because the games where the inviso-cursor bug manifests itself all appear to use similar engines; The Witcher, Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights, for example. I've searched high and low on the web for a solution to this recurring problem which makes playing such games in full-screen mode nigh impossible, but so far the only foolproof solution I've found is simply to run these games in windowed mode where my cursor becomes visible and I can then actually play the games.

However, not all games include an easy way to switch to windowed mode; with some it's necessary to manually edit their configuration files. Others apparently simply have no windowed mode at all, and this is where DxWnd becomes quite useful. It can force an executable to run in windowed mode, usually without any major side-effects.

For example, I recently got a game called Armored Princess which exhibits the inviso-cursor bug and has no options or configurations for windowed mode that I could find. This is when I discovered DxWnd. Through a simple GUI I can target the game's executable and force it to launch in windowed mode, which so far appears to be the only way I could ever hope to run this game on my rig.

This can also be useful where resolutions are concerned. I have a widescreen monitor yet I play several older games that were created before those aspect ratios and such high resolutions were ever conceived. In many cases I've been fortunate that someone has developed OpenGL sourceports for these games that remedy such issues, but in others no such utilities are available and the games themselves have no options for windowed mode, leaving me with a very distorted image while playing. Once again, DxWnd to the rescue!

Though in my search for solutions to these issues I found that they are not common, these bugs are not unheard of or isolated to just my rig. Hopefully this info will be helpful to readers who have experienced these frustrating, game-crippling problems as well. If anybody else has any info or advice on these issues, please feel free to share.

Special thanks to Nynaeve for sharing with us such a useful application!

Until next time, game on...


  1. Interesting bit of information Herculine. I haven't yet encountered a similar problem, but then again, my system isn't running windows 7, nor is it using a wide screen monitor. The monitor will most likely change before the OS gets changed to something newer.

    I have to ask though, with your mentioning of NWN, are you referring to the original and its expansions, or NWN2? Just curious, as I have both and thought I should ask as to which one I should be possibly keeping an eye on.

    Thanks for sharing. I never know when this stuff will come in handy :)

  2. @DRUULER:

    I'm generally fairly accurate when it comes to including Cardinal Numbers where needed (or even Roman Numerals if that be the case), but I'm also not afraid to admit that I'm not perfect so I don't mind clarifying.

    In the instances where I mentioned The Witcher, Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights I was referring to the first installments of each series. However, I suppose I should have mentioned that I also possess the sequels of each of those games and in each case I experience the same "inviso-cursor" bug with said sequels as well when attempting to play them in full-screen mode. Hence I make the assumption that the problem has something to do with how those game engines work with my particular setup.

    For what it's worth, I also have the same issue with Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic.

    Thanks for keeping me on my P's and Q's.

  3. I sort of figured you were referring to the first installment, but thought I should ask, as we know how assumptions can go ;) Not that I would know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that the issue you are having may be related to the use of a widescreen set up. If you still had a working full screen monitor around, hooking that up for playing the affected games might work, but, of course, it might be more hassle than it is worth, especially if there is a significant loss of image resolution that you don't want to put up with. On the other hand, it might not work either.

  4. @DRUULER:

    This is likely a sign of just how scatterbrained I can be sometimes: I have a 4:3 monitor on my old Dell, but not once has it occurred to me to connect it to the newer computer...

  5. I've heard that ATI cards can be a problem for older games since they don't tend to keep older functions around in their drivers.

    The only I know about for sure is Dungeon Keeper 2 not working properly due to ATI dropping z-buffer support though. No idea if that's affecting your games.

  6. Probably not helpful in the least, but I should note that both NWNs, both DAs (and both MEs as far as I know) are all variants of the same engine. The various iterations of Aurora aren't as close as the iterations of Gamebryo that we're used to, but they're still the same.

    Don't know about the Witcher. I only modded it once, and I don't recall it being Aurora-like.

    For what it's worth, I've got a similar problem with the first NWN: the movies won't play right, and when it starts up the cursor never appears at the main menu. Some random clicking around, hitting various keys, and swearing profusely generally makes it appear, though.

    No issues of that sort with DA or the Witcher; so I chalked it up to a legacy DX issue -- as Microsoft is full of shit and DirectX doesn't actually do support for old games worth a damn in most cases.

    I have a Gforce for the record, so it's not a solely ATI issue.

  7. Well, it is nice to know that the issue isn't solely with ATI cards. If it was, I would start getting nervous, as my new card is an ATI.

  8. Thanks all for the input. I'm still clinging to the theory that it's a convergence of several different elements, perhaps not the least of which being that I let someone talk me into getting the 64-bit version of Windows 7 rather than the 32-bit version because it's supposed to be so much better. You can likely imagine how many times that decision has come back to bite me when trying to install and run programs and games.

  9. Curiously enough, The Witcher also uses a heavily modified Aurora engine. Dragon Age uses something called the Eclipse engine which might be built on it though I can't find much info there, so that may be it. (ME uses the Unreal3 engine)

    BTW, if you have more than 4GB of memory, I believe you require a 64 bit OS to use it.

  10. @Kirtai:

    I've got the 64-bit OS and the 8 GB of RAM (1 GB of which gets devoured by the OS itself).

    I'm beginning to think that I need a different video card. In both of the two computers I own now I have Radeon cards; perhaps it's time for a change?

  11. I don't have personal experience with ATI cards but from what I've heard it's just that they don't keep quite as much backwards compatibility as NVidia do.

    It only affects certain older games that use specific features. It shouldn't be a real problem except for a handful of games that don't have new engines or some kind of fix (e.g. Dungeon Keeper 2 is one that's affected but there's supposedly a patch)

    I wouldn't worry much :)

  12. That is, I wouldn't worry to much about newer games. Older ones... hmm.

    I wouldn't change cards but I'd check for this sort of thing very carefully if I was buying a new one.

    (sorry about the double comment, falling asleep here)

  13. I've always considered 64bit OS's to be more trouble than they're worth. Since day one they've been a colossal pain in the ass from one end to the other with constant compatibility problems across the board.

    That's one of the few times I've been glad they cheap out so much on eMachines -- even though I have a 64bit processor, the cheap-asses installed a 32bit version of Windows Vista. It's nice still being able to run most stuff, and it's not like I have enough RAM to have to worry about it.

    Can't give any advice on video cards. I haven't bought one in years; but generally buy Nvidia just because I don't know anything about ATI beyond they have shitty driver support.

  14. This may be an old post but im hoping it's still watched by the OP.

    I have 2 issues.

    NWN1 crashes on startup with Win7HP using DXWnd.

    Dungeon Siege 2 using the succubus mod manager on 1080p custom resolution settings starts up extremely pixelated and when the cursor shows up it's fixed and when I disable "Correct cursor position" the windows cursor shows up on the side of the window and is fixed while the game cursor does not appear.

  15. Oh right and it seems Diablo 2 ignores DXWnd altogether.