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View Full Version : Misunderstanding Lag? Read This.



Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 10:21 AM
I gotta say this, cause I see it all the time in these forums. The download/upload speed of your internet connection has nothing to do with the quality of your online gaming. The quality of your online gaming is (almost) 100% determined by your ping speed. There are several websites that can test ping speed, try one out and see what you get. Keep in mind that you're proximity to the server you are using to test the speed will determine the ping speed. Ping speed is determined by how long it takes your ISP to send a signal to a server plus how long it takes for that signal to return. When you're playing online, this is what your computer is doing. You input a command via your joystick, the game sends this command over the internet to the server that is hosting the game, the server executes the command, and sends the updated game information to you. In other words, you fire a shotgun, that shot must be communicated to the hosting server, which takes time. The server has to execute the shot in game and send the information back to you. This all happens every time you input a command to the game. Lag occurs because of the time it takes for you to communicate with the server and the amount of time it takes for the server to communicate back to you. Nothing to do with download/upload speeds because you aren't downloading/uploading anything.

Your proximity to the dedicated server will determine much of how you will perform in games, most of the time. If you live in California and are playing on a dedicated server based in California, you will kick a lung out of the poor schmuck who wanders into your room from New Jersey. It's not because you're better than him, it's because he's seeing things 50 to 80 milliseconds after you are. This is important in a game like this. 50 to 80 milliseconds could be the difference in someone being on your screen when you fired and off your screen when you fired. If you want to see how important 50 to 80 milliseconds are, and you have a copy of Guitar Hero III or beyond, experiment with the lag settings and see how hard it is to hit a note.

The matchmaking is supposed to pair people up based on their proximity to a server, thus eliminating as much lag as possible and evening the playing field. Some lag is present at all times, period. There's no way to get around it at the moment. If your internet connection can ping the dedicated server faster than everyone else in the room, then you, in fact, have an advantage in the room. If you have the slowest ping to the server, then you will be the most disadvantaged in the room. This is why it is common to run into a player that you absolutely cannot kill. Anyone who has experienced this knows what I'm talking about.

Dedicated servers are designed to minimize and equalize the distance between players and servers. They are also, typically, able to handle loads of bandwidth. This way they can execute commands and send the information back to all 10 players without creating slow-down or lag in the gameplay. In other words, they must be able to handle the traffic that all 10 players are sending through the server.

The difference in this and a host-dedicated server is that in a host dedicated server, the host has no lag because they are the server. The communication times, or ping time, is minimized for the host. The problem is that everyone else in the room still has to communicate with the host in order to play. A host will always have an advantage in host-based multiplayer...always. This problem is multipled when the host has low bandwidth and can not handle the information appropriately. I may be wrong, but I believe that server overload when hosting is the reason a host will get "kicked" in games like Gears 1 and 2. It happens regularly.

Luckshott
11-09-2011, 10:25 AM
Very good thread. Any links to ping testing sites? I know speedtest but that only does upload/download.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 10:29 AM
www.pingtest.net

Luckshott
11-09-2011, 10:31 AM
Nice one man. I've heard of a phrase called smoothing where while the game is pinging the server it smooths out the data in between, to make your movements etc. smooth instead of stuttery. Is this real? Seems like it could be detrimental to gameplay and result in a lot of people walking somewhere then appearing around a corner.

InnocentRock
11-09-2011, 10:47 AM
http://www.pingtest.net/result/50232387.png

Yep.. My ping is generally around the 20-50ms mark in the east coast..

NFI
11-09-2011, 10:52 AM
Good post. Strangely w dedicated servers upon connecting your ping can fluctuate wildly, the bf3 servers were sending player pings through the roof until they addressed it. Those ping tests are useless because while connected to a server your ping can and will change.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 10:55 AM
I get 21 on the east coast, we should be friends. Oh, and about the jitter...that's awesome. That means you get 21 ms CONSISTENTLY. The Jitter, for those who don't know, will measure how consistently you should expect to get the 21 ms result. Basically, the tester will send several "packets" (usually 250) of data to the server. The ping result you get is the average of how long it takes all 250 "packets" to arrive back to your house. If you end up with a low ping and a high jitter, what this means is that your internet connection is relatively fast, but inconsistently so. The lower the jitter, the better, if you want your guns to do the same thing every time you shoot them.

NFI
11-09-2011, 10:58 AM
I get 21 on the east coast, we should be friends. Oh, and about the jitter...that's awesome. That means you get 21 ms CONSISTENTLY. The Jitter, for those who don't know, will measure how consistently you should expect to get the 21 ms result. Basically, the tester will send several "packets" (usually 250) of data to the server. The ping result you get is the average of how long it takes all 250 "packets" to arrive back to your house. If you end up with a low ping and a high jitter, what this means is that your internet connection is relatively fast, but inconsistently so. The lower the jitter, the better, if you want your guns to do the same thing every time you shoot them.

Question for you-

In regards to my post, why would connecting to some servers cause your ping to spike? Is it distance?

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:01 AM
Good post. Strangely w dedicated servers upon connecting your ping can fluctuate wildly, the bf3 servers were sending player pings through the roof until they addressed it. Those ping tests are useless because while connected to a server your ping can and will change.

Don't know about this. The only thing besides the users own internet connection that should change the ping speed (see above post on Jitter) would be the bandwidth capability of the dedicated server. If the server gets bogged down with more information than it can handle, it will slow the entire network down, thus slowing the entire room down. Otherwise, your connection should be consistently good or bad throughout the match. I'm not sure what the issues were that BF3 was having at launch, but I heard there were some unhappy campers for the first 2 or 3 days post launch because of how poorly the servers were handled. Weren't they even shut down for a day or two?

Stewarto
11-09-2011, 11:02 AM
Cant wait for, "YOU ONLY WIN BECAUSE YOU HAVE SERVER PING ADVANTAGE!!1!!!1!!zz" lol

But seriously, great information; thanks OP.

InnocentRock
11-09-2011, 11:03 AM
Question for you-

In regards to my post, why would connecting to some servers cause your ping to spike? Is it distance?
If you're lagging while in a dedicated server, it's because the distance of the server. If you don't know, it still eliminates most of the lag.

NFI
11-09-2011, 11:03 AM
Don't know about this. The only thing besides the users own internet connection that should change the ping speed (see above post on Jitter) would be the bandwidth capability of the dedicated server. If the server gets bogged down with more information than it can handle, it will slow the entire network down, thus slowing the entire room down. Otherwise, your connection should be consistently good or bad throughout the match. I'm not sure what the issues were that BF3 was having at launch, but I heard there were some unhappy campers for the first 2 or 3 days post launch because of how poorly the servers were handled. Weren't they even shut down for a day or two?

It was bad. Quick search wouldn't work and player pings were skyrocketing, the game was almost unplayable. And it wasnt isolated like the gears 3 server issues, it was awful.

NFI
11-09-2011, 11:05 AM
If you're lagging while in a dedicated server, it's because the distance of the server. If you don't know, it still eliminates most of the lag.

I'm pretty well versed on how they work, but my question wasn't bout lag. My curiosity is in reference to how some w a low ping, can have their ping hit triple digits just from logging into a server.

Thanks though, bud :)

Cory0778
11-09-2011, 11:10 AM
Nice thread. It clarified the situation for me. We are out of the U.S, so I guess we will see this regularly.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:13 AM
I'm pretty well versed on how they work, but my question wasn't bout lag. My curiosity is in reference to how some w a low ping, can have their ping hit triple digits just from logging into a server.

Thanks though, bud :)

A triple digit ping would make a game completely unplayable. Their servers must have gotten bogged down by launch day traffic and slowed everyone down. It makes no difference how fast you can communicate with a server and how fast the server can communicate back if the server is taking 200 ms to handle the traffic that's being sent to it. Remember, ping will measure the time from when the information leaves your living room to the time when it comes back. In this day and age of broadband internet, we expect the servers are going to be able to crunch the incoming information without significantly contributing to lag. If they get bogged down, it will slow everyones ping down as a result, which could have sent the numbers into triple digits. This is a theory on my part, I have no idea what issues BF3 had on Day 1.

AN0NYM0US o0
11-09-2011, 11:14 AM
Nice post OP. I have a question maybe you or someone else can answer. I'm in Chicago, my friend is in North Carolina. If we search matchmaking from his lobby, do we get put on the closest server to him, or a middle ground between us?

ben1bob
11-09-2011, 11:15 AM
you just know though that there'll still be posts saying "how can i lag when i have 100mb internetz?!".

everything you say is true tho TC, nice one.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:17 AM
Ideally, the matchmaking feature will minimize lag for everyone, including you. If you are playing far from a server, it would hopefully match you up with others who are far from the server, just like you. Matchmaking fails when overall game traffic gets low, and there aren't as many games to choose from. Then you wind up forced into a bad connection because there simply aren't any other options. America is not the only country with dedi-servers, either.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:21 AM
Nice post OP. I have a question maybe you or someone else can answer. I'm in Chicago, my friend is in North Carolina. If we search matchmaking from his lobby, do we get put on the closest server to him, or a middle ground between us?

I live in Virginia and my buddy live in California, and we don't play as well when we play together as we do when we play separate. I would hope that it would find a common middle ground, but I'm not 100% sure how it works. Someone else might be able to shed more light on it. To me, it would make sense for the matchmaking to test your ping speed, compare it to the average ping speeds in other rooms, and place you in the room with the closest average to your actual result. I'm not sure if this is what happens or not, though. A worst case scenario, and what I think is actually what happens, is that is will place us in a room in the mid-west with a bunch of Nebrascans and we get our rump handed to us.

NFI
11-09-2011, 11:22 AM
A triple digit ping would make a game completely unplayable. Their servers must have gotten bogged down by launch day traffic and slowed everyone down. It makes no difference how fast you can communicate with a server and how fast the server can communicate back if the server is taking 200 ms to handle the traffic that's being sent to it. Remember, ping will measure the time from when the information leaves your living room to the time when it comes back. In this day and age of broadband internet, we expect the servers are going to be able to crunch the incoming information without significantly contributing to lag. If they get bogged down, it will slow everyones ping down as a result, which could have sent the numbers into triple digits. This is a theory on my part, I have no idea what issues BF3 had on Day 1.

Now they got the servers fixed, the game itself, being bf3, still stinks.


Anyway, nice post.

ImperialGuard39
11-09-2011, 11:30 AM
My connection is balls, I'm 3 floors up from the router and my Xbox is running through NAT on my laptop because it's an old one without a wireless adapter. It's a big part of why I'm not better than I am.

Dimm
11-09-2011, 11:31 AM
Having a higher upload/download WILL give you better throughput resulting in a lower ping. It is mostly reliant on your upload, which is why FIOS has such a low ping usually. You take someone with 10/10 speeds, they will out perform/have lower ping than someone with 10/1.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:37 AM
Having a higher upload/download WILL give you better throughput resulting in a lower ping. It is mostly reliant on your upload, which is why FIOS has such a low ping usually. You take someone with 10/10 speeds, they will out perform/have lower ping than someone with 10/1.

Only when dealing with large amounts of information, like streaming movies. An internet connection with 300 MB up and 1 MB down will handle the information that is required when playing a video game. Theoretically, it would give a better connection, but games require so little information to pass back and forth that is it made moot. I had a terrible connection before the one I currently have that would play games just fine, but would not stream movies from Netflix at all. For most applications, including gaming, your internet speed is overkill.

Oddly Uneven
11-09-2011, 11:38 AM
Having a higher upload/download WILL give you better throughput resulting in a lower ping. It is mostly reliant on your upload, which is why FIOS has such a low ping usually. You take someone with 10/10 speeds, they will out perform/have lower ping than someone with 10/1.

Only when dealing with large amounts of information, like streaming movies. An internet connection with 300 MB up and 1 MB down will handle the information that is required when playing a video game. Theoretically, it would give a better connection, but games require so little information to pass back and forth that is it made moot. I had a terrible connection before the one I currently have that would play games just fine, but would not stream movies from Netflix at all. For most applications, including gaming, your internet speed is overkill.

WHM Daddystu
11-09-2011, 11:54 AM
Finally someone who knows what they are talking about :)

I have fibre optic broadband here in the UK and quite a low ping. It would be lower but unfortunately the connection from the house to the fibre optic network in the street is still copper wire :( Maybe if I ask nicely they'll dig up the road just for me..... then again maybe not.

diggety berries
11-09-2011, 12:30 PM
is 9 ping good?

bogs binny
11-09-2011, 12:35 PM
Would a gaming router such as a D link 4100 help reduce ping time?

artful_dodger
11-09-2011, 01:33 PM
None of you know the IP address of the Epic servers, so posting your ping to some random server doesn't equate to having a low ping to epic. I could ping another computer on my network and say my ping is ~1 ms. lol

Most games are ok lag-wise and it would seem to be so because most games are hosted on a server that is somewhere remotely close to where you are playing.

The point (and the problem) is when Epic forces Americans to play with Mexicans, you're going to lag. (Unless you're magically the host, then they'll all lag badly). When you get in a really laggy game, go check the gamertags of your recent players. You'll likely see they are either in Mexico, South America or in Europe. The distance is a lot greater to send data back and forth to them and causes more delay. It makes no difference if you have a good ping to speedtest.net or wherever you are testing

sWozzAres
11-11-2011, 06:57 AM
PING = latency, the time it takes to send information from one place to

another ie from your XBOX to the server

Since the information travels at (almost) the speed of light, and the speed of

light is (supposedly)constant, latency depends on distance. In the real world

it also depends on number of routers the signal has to go through and the

quality of your ISP. If the ISP network is flooded then your signals will be

sat waiting in one of their routers, adding to your latency. For the same

reason if your downloading p0rn and maxing out your bandwidth, your latency

will also suffer.

On a LAN, latency will be sub 1ms. An Internet connection can be anything over

20ms, usually more like 50-80ms but easily 100ms+. XBL seems to always be over

100ms.

Back in analogue modem days, you was lucky if you got a latency of 150ms.

Enemy players would judder around and you had to lead your shots. In effect

you would have to do lag compensation "in your head".

These days, lag compensation is done by the game itsself so you no longer see

people juddering around. It all appears nice and smooth but this feature comes

at a cost. Lag cannot be removed, but it's artifacts can be moved to another

aspect of the game.

In a client-server game, the server tracks the "gamestate" ie positions of

each player etc. This gamestate is sent out to clients on a regular basis. The

simplest way for a client to work is to simply render this gamestate when it's

received. Since you might only receive 10 updates a second, this will result

in players juddering around - your effectively running at 10fps.

Lag compensation "fixes" this. The client receives the first gamestate update

(U1). Only when it receives the second update (U2) can it start rendering the

game. This is because lag compensation uses interpolation between 2 frames to

smooth out movement. If you know a player was in position A in U1, and

position B in U2 then you can calculate say 60 different positions between

those two points and then render at 60fps.

As you can see, lag compensation actually adds lag. If you getting 10 updates

per second, each one comes in at 100ms. However, you are always rendering one

update behind what you are receiving from the server so what you are seeing is

always 100ms behind what the server is sending you!

Remember the server is what tracks gamestate but it's also the authority when

it comes to deciding if shots have hit. You can't let the client decide this

since it opens the game up for hacking, however having the server do it also

adds lag. Imagine, you press fire on your sniper with it pointed at an enemies

head. Where you are and where your aiming is sent to the server, it checks the

gamestate to see if you hit and then sends the result back to the client. This

would result in a noticeable delay between pressing fire and the gun actually

firing. To "fix" this, client side prediction is used.

Client side prediction in effect renders the game as if there is no server. So

in the example above, you press fire and your client will fire immediately

giving you a responsive game. However, the information is still sent off to

the server and result still applies - remember the server is the authority, so

what your client thought should happen doesn't always happen. For instance,

you shoot and see blood but the enemy suffers no damage. This is due to client

side prediction thinking you hit, but the server disagreeing.

You can see why server advantage is so powerful.

Lag compensation + client side prediction leads to all sorts of artifacts, but

online gaming without them would be rubbish. I think about it this way, get 10

players in a game then freeze time, open up each XBOX and look at the

gamestate and you find them all to be different. No player will be in the same

game at the same time with the same things happening and they all have client

side things going on that never make it to other XBOX's.

When you add up all the factors, it's quite remarkable it works at all.

LAN and online play require different approaches, at least until the internet

works with tachyons...

iIGAMBLEIi
11-11-2011, 07:05 AM
thanks for the link, very helpful

ben1bob
11-11-2011, 07:20 AM
Having a higher upload/download WILL give you better throughput resulting in a lower ping. It is mostly reliant on your upload, which is why FIOS has such a low ping usually. You take someone with 10/10 speeds, they will out perform/have lower ping than someone with 10/1.

this just is not true at all.

someone with a 2mb/2mb connection can have 10ms ping and therefore enjoy a better experience than someone with 1gb/1gb connection but who suffers from 20ms ping to the same server.

ping and connection speeds do NOT go hand in hand. fact!

ben1bob
11-11-2011, 07:38 AM
It makes no difference if you have a good ping to speedtest.net or wherever you are testing

it shows your connection is not the reason for high ping. that's what it shows.

like if you went on pingtest.net and every single server you tried gave you iover 100ms ping then you'd probably be correct to suspect there was something wrong with your connection.

people are trying to be smartarses on here by going against the TC and coming up with other reasons for latency (which there are many, of course) but what TC has said is basically bang on correct.