Whether you’re playing a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, or a shooter, lag can make a game nearly unplayable. It’s frustrating to be beaten by a lesser player just because their internet connection is superior. Every skill-based action you perform is more difficult under high-lag situations, and can be frustrating enough to make you want to quit a game that you may normally love. Understanding lag will help you make sense of what you do have control over, and what you don’t.
Latency refers to the delay from an input to a system to the time it takes for the requested action to take place. It describes the wait time for a signal to travel through a series of communication equipment, systems, or over geographical distance. Internet latency is affected by the required number of hops over equipment and the number of servers. Latency can cause your game to feel slower or less reactive, hindering your ability to compete or hit shots with which you normally have no problem.
The amount of time it takes for packets of information to travel from the player’s computer to the server and back is called a “ping”. With a high ping time, the action on your screen will be behind, and your experience of what other players see will be delayed. A lower ping time is an advantage in all games, but perhaps most noticeably with shooters. The player with lowest ping will likely have their hits register first and more consistently.
If your character appears to jump from one place, then back to another in a jerking motion, chances are you’re experiencing rubber banding – a side effect of latency. This is also known as “teleporting.” You may see yourself rubber banding as you sprint down a road toward a target, but to another player, it may appear as if your character were standing still or is frozen. Rubber banding is caused by a player’s high ping, or an overloaded server. It is an indication that the server is struggling to locate the player based on the high latency data it’s receiving.
Most players want and expect smooth online gameplay. While some connection issues can be handled using a hardwired versus wireless connection, other issues are not so easily remedied. Tick rate is out of the control of the player, and is part of the online game’s netcode.
Player or client input is sent to the server, which determines what is “true” as compared to the intersection points of other players. The data that the server accepts as true is sent back to the connected players’ clients. Tick rate measures, in hertz, how many times a server is updated per second. The more ticks, the more responsive the game feels. A 64-tick server is preferable, particularly in faster-paced games. Although 128-tick servers exist, they are not easy to maintain, and the effects may only be noticeable on a LAN or incredibly low latency environment.
Lag compensation is a server function, a way of bridging what is currently happening and what should be happening at that moment. Your computer senses a delayed in the gameplay, not what is happening in the current moment, so lag comp attempts to reduce that client delay perception. Even though you hit another player with a shot or ability on your screen, you may be nowhere near them on their screen. Lag compensation attempts to remedy this issue by predicting shots that seem fair to both clients, or by using a “favor the shooter” logic system. This system chooses the client of the player who fired the shot over the client of the player being shot. This improves hit registration and general game responsiveness.
Solutions and Server Providers
You can address lag and latency by upgrading your hardware and ensuring your network is stable and fast. Companies that house servers can accelerate online gaming and optimize users’ gaming experiences through global acceleration solutions offered by companies like CDNetworks. Online gamers continually monitor and evaluate their performance and progress in a game, and are quick to notice slow or delayed responses. They are keen observers of web performance and react hastily when their experience is below par. This translates to a loss of players on your site, and a loss of revenue.
Learn more about how you can eliminate unwanted lag time, engage and attract new players, and provide the ultimate gaming experience. Visit our website for more information.