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I am currently making a game that has the option for being run in windowed mode rather than fullscreen, and while developing, I have come across this issue which is fairly specific to my setup:

When I press run from my code window, the game opens on my other monitor, which is not what I want, so I implemented a feature that stores the current position, and starts it again here next time.

However this got me wondering, is this good practice from a UX point of view? Do users expect the window to open in the same position, even across multiple monitors?

Another issue I thought of is if the user changes their screen configuration and the game opens somewhere they can no longer get to, but I may be overthinking it at this point.

  • Always keep continuity in mind. Features shouldn't automatically change things without the user choosing it to or at least notifying them of the change. – sclarke May 8 at 10:13
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It's been a while since I've played games on devices other than phone or tablet. However, I do have a transient multi-monitor setup. Most programs seem to do the following:

  1. Have options that are flexible enough to handle whatever the user might want. Here are the options from GIMP.

    • (checkbox) Save window positions on exit.
    • (checkbox) Open windows on the same monitor they were on before.
    • (button) Save Window Positions Now.
    • (button) Reset Saved Window Positions to Default Values.
  2. Attempt to open with the specified size and position. If it is not possible (screen is not available), use standard defaults.

If there is only one screen available, the application should open on that screen. It's not only unnecessary, but potentially harmful, to display any messages. Users don't need to be notified because they can plainly see for themselves, and showing unnecessary alerts trains them to ignore important ones. (This is not to say that the event shouldn't be noted in a log file somewhere for later review.)

Depending on operating system, more nuanced behaviors may be configurable through the window manager. On some systems, the window manager may attempt to put windows where there's "space" to avoid overlapping windows. If suitable options are not built into your OS, there may be an app to control window placement more to your liking.

On my computer, everything opens on the primary screen, and I move them with a keyboard shortcut, which is much less tedious than dragging windows around.

  • Thank you very much, you made some interesting points I hadn't thought of. One of my main frustrations since getting a second monitor is programs opening on the wrong one, so I don't relly want to leave it down to the user to move it across. Otherwise, I'll definitely take this on board! – user4888828 May 11 at 21:06
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Gamer here. Standard in some games and indies is having the options of monitor (where you can select wich monitor you want to use) and resolution. But this kind of options begs for some persistence. If I select I want to use monitor 1, I'd prefer that options saves and remember the next time. It's tiring having to configure screen settings everytime you want to play.

If the place is no longer reachable (because monitor 1 brokes, for example), I think the best approach is giving the options by default but, like sclarke said, notfying the change ("Hey, we notice monitor 1 dissapear. Options change by default. Check it out!" for example)

About having the game windowed, experience tell me the general approach is having the window in the position by default. I can't remember if the windows changes the location, but I think if you want to play windowed, you can resize or move to the place you want.

I hope this helps and good luck with the game!

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    Thank you very much! I completely agree with the idea of telling users that something has gone back to default – user4888828 May 8 at 14:03
  • If I have a program set to open on screen 2, I would find it annoying to be asked if I want it to open on screen 1 when screen 2 is absent and screen 1 is the only screen available. Also, which screen should be used to display the dialog that asks me which screen to use? – 習約塔 May 9 at 11:02
  • @xiota Thats a good point, but my interpretation was that in that scenario it would just open on screen 1, and a subtle message is shown – user4888828 May 10 at 17:16

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