In the year 2012, software developers should not even be considering creating user interfaces that don’t allow for the utmost level of control from us, the user. The most painful and taboo of this sin is the fullscreen application. For those of us who consider ourselves to be productive (or ADD), being forced to run a Windows program in fullscreen mode is a complete cramp on our style.
Most glaringly, this occurs in PC games. I’m sure many games look their absolute best when viewed at a fullscreen resolution, but it shouldn’t be on anyone but the user to determine what sort of experience they want to get from the game. If you want to casually play a game in a windowed mode where you can watch other things and talk to friends through email or IMs, you should be able to. Certain games (most often, ones made years ago) won’t allow us to do that.
I’ll try to fix that problem for you and open you up to two different ways that you can manipulate your games (and other programs) into allowing you to run them windowed.
DXWnd simply allows you to run DirectX applications, that don’t support a windowed mode through their interface, in windowed mode. DirectX and OpenGL are the two major engines you’re going to run into when playing a PC game, and DirectX is the more common of the two.
Upon downloading and unzipping the archive, you’ll already notice a default entry set up. Apparently, Michael enjoys MapleStory. That second entry (Final Fantasy VIII) is one I’ve set up on my own. All you’ve got to do is go into the Edit menu and click Add.
There’s a lot that you can configure here, but none of it is required (or recommended). If you know the application runs in 256 colors, just enable that option. If you are aware that DirectInput is hooked, tick that box. I’d recommend allowing DXWnd to automatically detect the version of DirectX to hook. It does a good job.
From there, you can just double click the path of the application back in the main window, or go to Edit then Execute. If all went well, your color scheme may change a bit or your screen might flicker, as DirectX adjusts, and then your application should launch.
Not only am I finally able to play FF8 in a window on the PC, but the smaller resolution of the window actually makes the game look a whole lot better.
D3DWindower, originally the DXWnd alternative native to Japan, has been translated to the English language. It differs very sparingly from DXWnd, and I only recommend trying D3DWindower if DXWnd didn’t work for you.
The process is really the exact same. You’ll want to click the plus sign, which will bring up a prompt to browse for the EXE you want to emulate through D3DWindower. Navigate to it, select it, and it’ll be added to the list. From there, just select the application in the window and hit the start button.
The settings in D3DWinodwer are a little deeper than DXWnd, but you won’t need to bother with most of them.
The translations aren’t perfect in this program, but there’s enough English so that you’ll be able to navigate around without going crazy.
Know of a tool that will allow us to run OpenGL applications as windowed? Share that with us in the comments! If you need any assistance with these two programs or have anything else to ask or contribute, drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.