• Overlay •

Overview:

Updated: 11/16/08

Hardware Overlay is a technique by which a program can display information on the computer screen but does not require access to the normal desktop nor does it require interaction with or modification of any full screen application like a video game. The following quote from the Microsoft Developer Network describes it best.

An overlay surface is analogous to a clear piece of plastic that you draw on and place in front of the monitor. When the overlay is in front of the monitor, you can see both the overlay and the contents of the primary surface together, but when you remove it, the primary surface's contents are unchanged. In fact, the mechanics of overlays work much like the clear plastic analogy. When you display an overlay surface, you're telling the device driver where and how you want it to be visible. While the display device paints scan lines to the monitor, it checks the location of each pixel in the primary surface to see if an overlay should be visible there instead. If so, the display device substitutes data from the overlay surface for the corresponding pixel.

However, there are some caveats to this mechanism.

1) Vista support. Click here for more details.
2) Not all video cards support it properly. See the following list.
3) Some games will not allow it to work. See the following list.

The following hardware and game lists will be expanded on a regular basis as more information and test results become available from other sources.


Hardware issues:

nVidia Quadro FX 3400:

This video card will support the Overlay but there seems to be a small CPU pause each time the program tries to update the Overlay display information. Current belief is that it is either simulated, rather then being hardware based, or there is a driver issue related with this particular video card. A future driver update could resolve the issue. The problem was detected while playing WoW in full screen mode.

Driver = 163.71
Tester = Prog-Rocker

ATI 9700 All-in-Wonder:

The overlay works but tends to flicker each time the program tries to update the Overlays display information. This most likely could be resolved with a driver optimization. It might also happen on other ATI video cards if they use a common driver subset.

Driver = Catalyst 6.11
Tester = Flagship


Games that work:

The following sampling of games have been tested on various configurations and have proven to be friendly towards the hardware overlay support. Some of them require special considerations in order to work properly. We have listed driver versions and game versions where appropriate to show a minimum requirement.

If your game is not listed here then please try the standard trick of matching your game resolution with your desktop resolution. For DirectX based games this will usually fix any compatibility problems. OpenGL based games usually don't have this problem, but if they do then please try the resolution matching trick as well.

World of Warcraft (WoW)

Game Version = 2.2.3 (7359)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship, Prog-Rocker

DirectX: Game resolution must match desktop resolution.
OpenGL: Game resolution does not need to match desktop resolution.

Quake 2 (Q2)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

No issues found.

Quake 3 (Q3)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

No issues found.

Doom 3 (D3)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

No issues found.

Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2004)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

Requires desktop resolution to match game resolution.

Team Fortress 2 (TF2)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship, Jay

No issues found.

Half Life 2 Multiplayer (HL2)

Video = nVidia 8600 GTS
Driver = 169.04
Tester = Jay

Might require desktop resolution matching.

Portals

Video = nVidia 8600 GTS
Driver = 169.04
Tester = Jay

Might require desktop resolution matching.

Unreal Tournament 3 (UT3)

Video = nVidia 8600 GTS
Driver = 169.04
Tester = Jay

Might require desktop resolution matching.

World in Conflict Demo (WiC Demo)

Video = nVidia 6800GT Ultra GO.
Driver = 78.51 for Dell XPS Gen2 Laptop
Tester = Flagship

Requires desktop resolution to match game resolution.

Halo 1

Game Versions = 1.00 and 1.07

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

Works if game resolution matches desktop resolution but requires the following command line switches:

-novideo -vidmode 1600,1200,60

Where videomode is the Width,Height,RefreshRate of your desktop.

Call of Duty (CoD)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Call of Duty:United Offensive (CoD:UO)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Call of Duty 2 (CoD2)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Call of Duty 4 (CoD4)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Medal of Honor Allied Assault (MoH:AA)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Medal of Honor Spearhead (MoHS)

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

Medal of Honor Breakthrough

Video = nVidia 7950GT
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Caleb

No issues found.

 


Games that have known issues:

If you have information to show how any of these games can be made to work or if it works on a video card / driver not listed here then please let us know.

Battle Field 2 (BF2)

Video = nVidia 7600GT.
Driver = 163.71
Tester = Flagship

Works only if desktop and game resolutions are configured for 800x600.

We have contacted DICE, the makers of the Battle Field series, and have informed them of the needed changes in order to support the Overlay in other resolutions. We hope they will take it under consideration but that decision is up to them.

Battle Field 2142 (BF2142)

Same problem as BF2 above.

Need for Speed Carbon (NFS Carbon)

Video = nVidia 8600 GTS
Driver = 169.04
Tester = Jay

Did not appear to work.

Gears of War (GoW)

Video = nVidia 8600 GTS
Driver = 169.04
Tester = Jay

Did not appear to work.

 


Vista Support:

The latest version of the Windows client has Overlay support built in for Vista and does not require manual tweaking of the Operating System. However, there is one tweak in the Setup-Overlay window that you may need to enable which is called the "Vista on nVidia tweak to force display of overlay". This feature may be required if you are running Vista with an nVidia video card. Click the Help button from the Setup window for more details.

It should also be noted that some games that worked fine with Overlay on XP don't always work properly with Overlay on Vista. Such as Quake 2, Quake 3. However, games like UT3 worked fine. Do not rely on any published list of games when checking for support with your platform. Always try it out and be sure to read the section above Games that Work about tricks you can play to resolve Overlay issues.

 

 

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