TFAStudios Introduction to Lag



Ping, Lag, Latency.


Why did my ability not go off?


Upon the shores of Aotearoa, the barbarous hordes are waiting. Legions of hands nervously twitching in anticipation of the war to come. Deadly weapons of choice held in sheaths of Cheeto crusts. Reee siren sounds play out in the distance. The bearded ones called to battle once more.


24 hours later.


An oily drip from the follicles of your greasy hair drops down onto your face, bringing you back into focus. Your body aches and your backs are spent. The remaining monster energy you once had is empty. The challenge still hasn’t ended. People, watching from back home are wondering about your condition. One more fight to go is all you need to win. You grip your weapon’s haft in a tight hold. You are ready.

The opposing enemy, eerily like you, charges. You have no time to run, dodge or juke. You stand ready. In your mind, you have queued up what you want to do, ready to unleash it instantly for an easy win. 10 meters away now. It’s time. You cast the most badass ultimate ability you’ve ever gained in your life. No one can survive it.


But the enemy did.

In a moment of panic, you quickly stare down at your hands for an explanation. In place of where your hands once were, are two polygonal stumps, dripping block red onto the ground. You hear a snicker as the enemy says ggwp behind you. You lose consciousness as the rest of your body is slowly deleted from existence.

If you haven’t experienced ‘lag’ before then you’re either blessed by some miracle, or you don’t play online games. Latency, ms, lag, toaster, delay. All these things lead to the dark side bubbling up now and then. So while we have some spare time in-between disconnections and server queues. Let’s have a look at the thing that causes players so much frustration.


According to Wikipedia:

“Lag is a noticeable delay between the action of players and the reaction of the server supporting the video game. A strategy game or a turn-based game with a low pace may have a high threshold or even be mostly unaffected by high delays. Whereas a twitch movement-based game, such as a first-person shooter with a higher pace may need a much lower delay to be able to provide satisfying gameplay.”


“Ping refers to the network latency between a player’s client and the game server. As measured with the ping utility or other tools. Ping is reported quantitatively as an average time in milliseconds (ms). The lower one’s ping is, the lower the latency is and the less lag the player will experience. High ping and low ping are commonly used terms in online gaming. Where high ping refers to a ping that causes a severe amount of lag; while any level of ping may cause lag, severe lag is usually caused by a ping of over 100 ms.”


For the sake of this article. We will be focusing on the gaming term ‘Lag’. When you think about it. That’s a crazy fast ability to transfer information from where you are, to some server on the other end of the world. Update it then have the changes reflect upon your screen. It carries across on wires near the speed of light. And it’s only going to get better.


Being from New Zealand. Where we are usually the furthest away from the server as possible. It sometimes means we are restricted in our online games. We must compete against everyone else on the same servers while having a slower connection. In some cases, with MMOs, the games are almost unplayable online, especially in the player vs player aspect. Our high ping is never able to complete with people with a low ping in response time in certain games. Playing a melee character where players will be teleporting around you half the time as you swear at your screen that you were next to him. It’s a little harrowing, to say the least.


One of our only answers is to have more local oceanic servers. That itself is another problem to find an answer for. Developers usually don’t open oceanic servers due to lower populations and having to hire outside companies to maintain the servers. There are also a few other reasonable issues without even talking about the costs. We also won’t be able to beat players from other geographic regions in their servers either. As servers are usually tied to regions in one form or another.


A popular MMORPG. World of Warcraft. Is one of the few MMORPGs with oceanic servers. For such a huge company, as Blizzard was and still is. Even with their money and sway, getting oceanic servers to a place like Australia still took a while. By the time they came out, I had already fallen to meet my end many times. The delay in casting feather fall while facing Archimonde in Mt Hyjal was funny for the first few deaths.


I don’t have the answer yet to how we connect everyone worldwide together to enjoy games. There’s so much more innovations and tech that we have yet to discover that could help us in that regard. But for now, some of us across the globe must continue using our latency handicap to prevail. After all. Beating someone with 10ms while you have 300 is always a great feeling.