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Thread: Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game

  1. #1
    fabien Guest

    Default Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game


    I'm a developping a network multiplayer game in Direct3D fullscreen and DirectPlay.
    Unfortunately, when the ZA window to allow access to internet for the game appears, this cause the game and computer to freeze (any standard keyboard combination like alt tab, has no use, we also cannot access the task manager to kill processes). The only way is to reboot the computer or maybe to hit the correct shortcut for the button "allow" of the ZA popup.
    In fact, the ZA popup seems to take the focus on the application, and because the application is run in exclusive mode (or less maybe, i use in my case the default cooperative level of D3D) and won't let it alt tab. Note that my game supports the alt tab feature of course !

    This is a common pb in many other commercial games, with ZA, as i saw on some forums.

    As a developper, i can do 3 options to avoid this matter :

    - Ask for the user to manually register the game in ZA, in the documentation. But this is quite troublesome for the user, which will think the game doesn't work if it crashes.

    - Try to run my application while installing, with no fullscreen mode (but the same exe as the normal game executable) and connect to internet, to let the ZA popup appear and let the user configure it. The drawback is if the user install ZA after installing the game, the problem will appear anyway, and we are not sure the user will check the "remember this rule".

    - To ask ZA team what are the particular precaution to take to avoid this lock. I might think that maybe ZA suspend the main thread (or an other ?) of the game, which is needed to allow alt tab fonctionnality to work. Maybe to do all connection on a separate thread will be the solution ? But this is quite boring to do, so I ask first

    I would like some answer on my last option, if anyone knows.

    Note 1 : Maybe my question is not on the good forum, where should I put it ? Is there a developper support forum ? ^^
    Note 2 : Excuse my poor english

    Operating System:Windows XP Pro
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm (Free)
    Software Version:6.1

  2. #2
    unhappy_viewer Guest

    Default Re: Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game

    Yours is not the only game to have such a problem. Any games which does not allow Alt-tab and forces full-screen will have problem when ZA prompts. Here is some of my suggestions:

    1) ZL is currently testing the next version of ZA (ZA 6.5). ZA 6.5 has a new feature called Gamer's Mode:
    New! Gamer s Mode gives gamers one-click control to prevent firewall action from stealing focus away from game play while still maintaining firewall protection to the PC.

    You can inform the user to upgrade to ZA 6.5 once its out (not sure if the free version will have this feature though).

    2) Build a code that allows your game to automatically alt-tab out when another Windows application alerts your user. You can try your code with different applications such as ZA, messaging programs that tries to grab attention when people receives messages etc. Use a few known games that can automatically alt-tab out as examples such as Warcraft III , Valve games such as Counterstrike etc. These games also use D3D.

    3) Flash a warning to users say during the installation process to configure their firewall to allow your game permission to the internet before playing.

    Message Edited by unhappy_viewer on 05-18-200610:06 PM

  3. #3
    fabien Guest

    Default Re: Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game

    Thanks for this answer unhappy_viewer,
    Just note that my game support alt tab, but ZA seems to block the game by stopping its process, or maybe just the thread accessing to the network. In normal times, an application taking the focus automatically alt tab my game, so it seems ZA do it a different way
    I may now inspect games like you said, to see if the connection is done from a separate thread (but how to see it ?), maybe this will be the solution to avoid the lock.
    Also, I strongly recommend ZA developpers to include the "Gamer's mode" in their free version, else this may detriment the image of their product if it stays
    incompatible with certain games

  4. #4
    jabadu_fred Guest

    Default Re: Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game

    I got the same Problem.
    The computer doesn`t accept alt+tab anymore.
    Only pressing the start button for 5 sec. helps.
    But you can stop Zonealarm ,then start the Game and alt+tab.
    Then start zonealarm again and configure the program for network-access.
    The next time starting the Game it should work.

  5. #5
    fabien Guest

    Default Re: Computer Lock with Direct3D FullScreen Network Game

    Another solution is to press a shortcut like "alt+a" (i don't remember the real shortcut), which is the shortcut of the "Accept" button of the ZoneAlarm popup window. This works only if the window is "on top", but we can't see it, so don't click anywhere when it freeze, to be sure that the popup window has the focus.

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