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Various Screen Resolution Issues


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Hi.  I've had various screen resolution issues when launching, playing, or exiting the game.  I don't know whether they are due to Windows bugs, graphics driver issues, City of Heroes bugs or some combination of the three, so I thought I'd put them out here and see if anyone knows of any resolutions or possible game changes that could address them.


First, here is what I am running on:

  • I'm running the latest version of Windows 10 on a desktop computer.
  • I have an AMD Radeon R9 200 Series graphics card
  • My main monitor is 3840x2160
  • I have a second monitor at 2560x1440


The highest resolution that I can run the game at in fullscreen mode is 2560x1440.  When I start the game it changes the main monitor's resolution to 2560x1440.  I have tried changing the resolution to 3840x2160 in-game.  I click Apply Now, it thinks about it, but it stays at 2560x1440 with the Apply Now button still flashing.  The interesting thing is that I managed to get the game to run at close to 3840x2160 in Windowed mode (through a series of steps described below).  So, it seems that it is possible to run at that resolution, but something about Desktop mode prevents it from doing so.  This isn't a big issue for me; I don't need to run the game at 3840x2160.  However, Windows is very quirky when you have multiple monitors and a game changes the resolution of the main monitor, so if I could run it at the monitor's native resolution, it would make some things easier.


For instance, when the game is running and I attempt to switch to another application, I frequently find that the application window has been moved and/or resized when the game was started.  Sometimes, the only way to get the other application window to display is to right-click on the application's icon in the task bar and select Maximize.  It then maximizes on the main monitor and I can drag it to unmaximize it.  Recently, I've noticed that these windows have been resized to the height of the title bar.  It's possible that, other than the resizing issue, the window was simply below the City of Heroes window (although some windows are in fact moved to the other monitor or even beyond the bounds of either monitor).  The problem is that City of Heroes insists on being on top.  That makes sense given that it's running in desktop mode.  *However*, the Tequila window, and only the Tequila window, will always display over the City of Heroes window when I Alt-Tab to it.  This is useful when I need to start another application from the task bar or select the sound icon to adjust the sound.


Sometimes, I want to run a second instance of the game, such as when I want to transfer some enhancements from a character on my account to one on my husband's account.  I have no problem bringing up a the second instance on the primary monitor, and I can switch between the two windows easily.  When I exit the second game instance, however, the screen flashes a bit, and I am left with the first game instance running in a small part (about 1/3 screen size) of the primary screen in the lower left part of the screen.  It is not a full representation of the game, however, as some things are not visible, like for instance, the main menu.  The only way I can fix it is to use Alt-Enter to switch to Windowed mode and then back.  At that point several things are not where they were before and I have to readjust.   


Recently, I had the idea to switch to Windowed mode before starting the new game instance and move the window to the second screen.  When I started the new instance it came up on the primary monitor, also in Windowed mode at 3816x2054 resolution.   Other than things being hard to read (and not wanting to take the time to adjust the UI  scale), this worked fine.  After I was done, I closed the second game instance, moved the first instance back to the main monitor, and switch back to desktop mode.  After a while, I exited the game entirely.  What was interesting is that when  I started the game later in the day, it attempted to bring it up at 3816x2054 resolution in desktop mode.  This is not supported and it displayed an error that that effect.  It then exhibited a very long-standing issue that City of Heroes had for years, which is when any unsupported window configuration is encountered it defaults to 800x600 resolution.  The only thing that can be done at that point is to kill the City of Heroes process.  The alternative (letting it come up at 800x600) is not pretty.  I then have to go into the registry and manually change the ScreenX and ScreenY values back to 2560 and 1440 before restarting the game.  If you can do nothing else for any of these issues, please, please change the default resolution to something rational like 1920x1080.


This is all I can think of for now, and I apologize for the length of this post.  These things have kind of bothering me for a while and I finally had some time to write about them.

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There is no fix for the Desktop Fullscreen Resolution being 2560x1440.  Windowed is the only way to get City of Heroes to play on modern monitors with High DPI, 4K Resolutions, or multiple monitor setups exceeding that size if you're using a program to synchronize all displays as one screen.  When the game shutdown (and when your video card was released, as Radeon R9 was in 2013), HD was the state of the art, 4K was overkill, and no one was discussing 8K or 10K yet.  That's not the case today: 4K is the norm, 8K is state of the art, and 10K is overkill.  HD monitors that hold 720 or 1080 videos are going to leave the consumer market very soon. 


The screen flashing is usually tell-tale that there isn't sufficient video memory for the total desktop size.  I get this at my work plugging two 4K displays into my Surface Pro 4 through the Surface Dock.  I'm surprised they even work, but it chugs along.  It barely works for productivity with 2D graphics... maybe one YouTube video, but playback on 4K Video, or 3D gaming... forget it.  It becomes a flipbook. 


Especially Windows 10: when you rearrange monitors in a multi-monitor setup, the total map is considered one large encompassing square to your video card.  You can tighten the layout up so corners match up to reduce the memory used:


In an arrangement like the above, Monitor 1's top pixel to Monitor 3's bottom pixel is the total vertical resolution of the multiple monitor setup.  Monitor 2 is wider than both 1 and three.  To your video card, there's no difference, it's all one big screen with rectangles cut out for 1 and 3 since they're not as wide as 2. 


So if you have something like this...


...understandably, your video card is sweating a bit.  The fix in the above layout isn't necessarily going down to two monitors: unplugging the outside two displays reduces the graphic card workload considerably.  But I would be surprised if that laptop pictured is powering those displays (and not a tower beneath the desk.)


As a temporary measure, if you detach one monitor while playing and most of the gameplay quirks stop happening, you have your answer.  The video card might need to be upgraded, or you might need to use one display or the other.

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Before I forget, a coworker of mine bought three high DPI 4K monitors for his workplace rig.  Had a GeForce GTX680 for all three displays, and ran into the same problem: the video card could drive two of the 4K monitors fine, but on the third, there were considerable problems.  He saved two monitors for full resolution and the third monitor he put at 1080 equivalent resolution.




While this isn't 'living large' it did two things: one, the three monitors fell under the graphic card's max resolution limit, so the flashing and bad 3D performance stopped.  Two, as apps were resistant to high DPI compatibility during the 2010s, the third display became his "magnifying glass" dragging non-compliant apps there to see them properly. 


So, that's another possibility: keep all the monitors around, but sacrifice one to a lower resolution for the greater good. 🙂

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