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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:09 am 
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So I've been playing Bad Company 2, and this morning I played some CS: S. Both of these games have even worse lag compensation than I remember from CoD4, which I quit playing because of it's lag compensation. They both suffer from banana shots (dying after moving behind cover) and being instantly killed by someone that actually shot you 5 times.

It would take pages and pages of writing to explain how lag compensation works and why most engines use it and why some people (such as the Red Orchestra 2 devs) think it hurts more than it helps. Instead I want to talk about how it effects us as players and whether or not it's good from the player's perspective. The most important thing to know is that without lag compensation you are getting as close to real time as possible (assuming you have low ping), while lag compensation effectively shows you what was happening about .2 seconds ago.

The main argument FOR using lag compensation is that Shooters without lag compensation make you have to lead your target (even with hitscan weapons), and the amount you have to lead him is related to your ping. People complain that this makes it too "unpredictable". I say go play CS:S for a couple hours like I just did and you won't be able to use the word "predictable" to describe it.

So all this time I've been thinking that the Source engine was somehow above all the other modern engines for real-time games (specifically shooters). It turns out that really what I was remembering was the original Counter-strike 1.3, which I played the hell out of, and it didn't have any lag compensation. Unfortunately CS 1.6 now has lag compensation as well, and I haven't been able to get onto any servers to determine whether it's as bad as CS:S.

So I was very depressed about this because there is this mentality that certain games have really bad hit registration (lag compensation's main task is determining whether you hit or not), and it turns out even the competitive king Counter-Strike has it. But then I remembered I'd played Monday Night Combat for a while last winter and had a lot of reactive fights (lag compensation prevents you from being able to react to enemy actions because you don't SEE what your enemy is doing until after it's too late to react), and I thought that MNC allowed split-second reaction times that lag compensation should have made impossible. Well, it turns out the Unreal 3 engine, which MNC uses, doesn't have lag compensation. I can't promise that this is true for all unreal engine games of course, but it definitely seems like the case. Either that or it somehow handles lag in a different (better) way than other engines.

Here's a video of an Unreal 3 game with no lag compensation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J3-YbXbPh8). Ironically it's pretty commonly agreed that lag compensation makes it strangely difficult to hit someone at such close range anyway.

Now admittedly this can be annoying for people with high ping that don't realize they have to lead their shots, but if you understand lag compensation (and the lack thereof), it shouldn't be a problem. Lag compensation essentially makes it easier to shoot someone at the expense of being able to react to what they do. It makes it much harder to try to dodge their shots or even know that they're shooting at you before you die. On the other hand it makes it so that if you put your crosshair on them and shoot, then you will hit... even when you really shouldn't. Basically, it makes it easier to attack, and nearly impossible to defend, highly favoring the person with higher ping due to the way it's coded.

At the end of the day, lag compensation helps people with high ping and hurts people with low ping (go look at all the videos for MW3 where artificially increasing latency made combat a lot easier for people), and lack of lag compensation is good for people with low ping (note that a lot of engines with lag comp turn it off when the game is run in LAN) but make people with high ping have to lead their shots. In addition to this, lag compensation isn't perfect, so players with high ping still suffer an unpleasant play experience (making lag compensation not even do what it's supposed to do).

This means that I'm looking forward to Tribes: Ascend even more, and hopefully Blacklight: Retribution didn't implement lag compensation either. Unfortunately it seems like Tribes will remain a niche market and BL:R will suffer the same fate of Section 8: Prejudice (people won't play it because it's a sequel to a bad game).

TLDR; Most games use lag compensation. Most Unreal Engine games don't. Support games with no lag compensation! Don't ever play games with lag compensation against people with over 50 ping, unless you want to have to shoot them in the back to win.

If you want to read a bit more:
I'm not 100% sure why it favors people with high ping, but I can take a crack at it. Theoretically it should put everyone on a level playing field, but you can see by playing these games that someone having even 100ms ping higher than you has an advantage. I think what it comes down to is that people with low ping are told that "the enemy is just standing there" while the server waits for information from the high ping player.

Note that because of the way lag compensation works (using interpolation between 2 states/packets and then showing you the transition between the 2 states/packets), the server needs to send you a second packet before your screen will show you the information from 1 packet, so that means it takes double your enemy's ping to send the server his "i am shooting" message twice, and then the server has to send you that second message before you see that he's shooting. With a ping of 250ms, that means your computer only learns that he's firing half a second after he starts! (250ms x 2 = .5 seconds)

So pretty much a high ping player gets nice constant updates about what you're doing, because you are dutifully telling the server and because he is playing farther back in time than you due to his ping (see the valve wiki), in his experience he gets perfect information about what you did "interp time + his ping" ago because the server already told his computer what you did, and the computer gives him time to react to it, while you only learn what he did after he did it because you are only playing at "interp time + your ping" ago. Thats why you can have a situation where you come around a corner and start shooting at an enemy, and suddenly die and look at the console (in CS:S) and it says he hit you 4 times.

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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:24 pm 
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Here's a MW3 Lag Comp video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... JOpFCCnv0E

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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:50 pm 
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I would have thought the hit boxes on MW3 would be a bigger point of contention than lagcomp.

In BC2 you already have to lead your target to compensate for bullet ballistics, if I had to compensate for lag on top of that it would probably drive me insane if I wanted to play US servers.

From memory, I can recall that trying to play COD4 on US servers was much harder than BC2. When playing local servers the opposite was true.

Ideally, both players should be able to point and shoot at what they're looking at without worrying about ping (within reason). Until they invent tachyons the problem won't really go away. Find a server that kicks anyone with >150 ping?

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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:17 pm 
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Just came here to post that it seems Tribes: Ascend does have some form of lag compensation, but I hadn't noticed it so it's probably not too bad (ie more like CoD4 less like BFBC2).

Was playing CS:S this morning and ONE person on the server had about 140 ping and it was noticeable whenever I fought him as opposed to anyone else. It was really annoying. Ideally everyone should be <50 ping in an FPS. And I don't see much reason to use projectiles+lag comp rather than hitscan+uncomped. The only time it even makes a difference in BFBC2 is on sniper rifles, the rest of the guns could be hitscan and it wouldn't change gameplay. And having bullet-drop on sniper rifles isn't that cool. Global Agenda had sniping at similar range in AvA battles that was hitscan with no lag comp and it was fine.

Imo Aussies should have plenty of local servers to play on and should have to live with poor performance if they want to play on American servers. High ping players shouldn't be rewarded at the expense of low ping players. For an MMO where server locations are purely up to the developer that's one thing, but in an FPS there is no reason not to have local servers anywhere there are players.

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 Post Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:46 pm 
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All i know is I used to be a god at cs. Then it updated and i sucked, i had ~20 ping. never knew why. NOW I KNOW!

I actually read all of your TLDR, good info, never really knew why MW3 sucked so much balls. I need to lag my internet conx apparently.


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 Post Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:30 pm 
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Funnily enough it seems some people actually complain if there isn't lag compensation because they think leading people is too hard :(

How can leading people be harder than FORCING YOUR COMPUTER TO TRAVEL BACK IN TIME???

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:27 am 
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That's why all of these Modern Warfare and Battlefield games are garbage..... people think they are playing something realistic when one of the most realistic things about shooting a gun is missing.

Plus, pre-garbage CS was one of the best FPS for its time. Also, it was pretty easy who the pros and wanna-bes were (aka back when I was semi-pro). Sniping and long-distance battles were a skill and not just random mashing in the hopes that you guessed where the other player was gonna lag or not lag into. And the really skilled people were the ones that could manage headshots with knives on people that were running.

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:06 am 
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This also vindicates me for thinking UT > Quake III :D

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