Game screen goes black with a flickering mouse when changing volume or interacting with Windows or other applications outside the game (refusing to reduce itself to icon)

Game Version:

  • Build ((101.101.39515.0))
    (end of July hotfix)


When inside the game (in any part of the game: the main menu, the multiplayer and skirmish submenus, during a single player campaign, a single player skirmish match or a multiplayer match), upon attempting to interact with the system in any other way outside the game itself the screen will suddenly turn black. This includes trying to change the system’s volume (on a laptop via the Fn keyboard shortcuts), alt-tabbing out of the game or pressing the windows button, and opening the task manager. The game’s sound will remain playing while the screen is black, and the mouse remains visible in a flickering way (appearing and disappearing at a rapid pace).

I can interact with the mouse with my system as I can move it and click it around, but I can’t see what I am doing. Sometimes the mouse will change from Windows’ pointer to AoE2DE’s pointer, and sometimes by clicking when the pointer is the games’ one I’ll be able to bring the game up again. Other times, I won’t be able to do it and I’ll be forced to Alt-F4 in order to get it to close and actually regain control of the system.

Reproduction Steps:

  1. Start up the game and reach the main menu (or any other part of the game, such as a skirmish or a multiplayer match).
  2. Change volume by using FN laptop keys OR
    Press the Windows button, attempt to Alt-Tab out of the game, or try to open task manager.
  3. Screen will go black, with only the mouse visible in a flickering manner. I can still hear the game’s sounds.
  4. Mouse will change from the AoE2DE pointer to the Windows pointer. When pressing it on areas where it changes to the AoE2DE pointer, the screen might return to the game. When pressing it on areas where it changes to the Windows pointer, nothing will happen.

Other Notes

This issue has come out with the latest hotfix version. I can confirm that in the previous version this issue wasn’t present.

I’ve also tested doing similar actions with different games to see if it’s a problem on my end/the OS. I’ve tested alt-tabbing out of the game and changing the volume with five other videogames on my PC and I was able to change volume or return to the desktop without issues (as it had always been the case). One of the games tested is AoE2HD (AKA 2013 version)

On the display/graphics settings of AOE2DE, I’ve noticed that on Windowed mode this issue is not present. The problem on the other hand shows up for the other two options (Full Desktop and Full Screen). My screen’s resolution is 1366x768.

EDIT: I did some testing and found the following two facts.

  1. The issue also happens when windows notifications pop-up, including the pop-up of Xbox achievements (I am playing the Steam version but are logged into Xbox Live, so when I unlock a Steam achievement I also get the Xbox counterpart).

  2. Temporary workaround: the issue happens when I am forcing the game to use my integrated graphics card on my laptop (I do it for overheating problems on my machine, and/or when I don’t have access to my cooling pad). When changing Windows’ graphics option in order to make the OS force the game to use my dedicated graphics card, the issue disappears.
    As far as I know, this issue was not present in previous versions of the game when using the integrated graphics card on my machine.