Carmack on Q3A High Latency Play

December 29th, 1999 by Crusader

John Carmack of id Software fired off a .plan update this evening concerning his conclusions on high latency Quake 3: Arena play after extensive testing. Carmack also includes advice for modem players for a quality multiplayer experience, and notes that he’s added server switches to limit the ping ranges of allowed players:

I have been playing a lot of Q3 on a 28.8 modem for the last several days.

I finally found a case of the stuck-at-awaiting-gamestate problem thatturned out to be a continuous case of a fragment of the gamestate gettingdropped. I have changed the net code to space out the sending of thefragments based on rate.

Note that there have been a few different things that result in stuckat gamestate or stuck at snapshot problems. We have fixed a few of them,but there may well still be other things that we haven’t found yet.

You can still have a fun game on a 28.8 modem. It is a significantdisadvantage, no question about it, but you can still have a good game ifyou play smart. If there is someone that knows what they are doing on aserver with a ping in the low 100s, there won’t usually be much you cando, but a skilled modem player can still beat up on unskilled T1 players…

Make sure your modem rate is set correctly. If you have it set too high,large amounts of data can get buffered up and you can wind up with multipleseconds of screwed up delays.

Only play on servers with good pings. My connection gives me a couple dozenservers with mid 200 pings. 56k modems often see servers with sub 200 pings.If you ignore the ping and just look for your favorite map, you will probablyhave a crappy game.

If you have a good basic connection to the server, the thing that will messup your game is too much visible activity. This is a characteristic of thenumber of players, the openness of the level, and the weapons in use.

Don’t play on madhouse levels with tons of players. None of the normal Q3maps were really designed for more than eight players, and many were onlydesigned for four.

Don’t play in the wide open maps unless there are only a couple otherplayers. Four very active players in a wide open area are enough to bogdown a modem connection.

I just implemented “sv_minPing” / “sv_maxPing” options so servers can restrictthemselves to only low ping or high ping players. This is done based on theping of the challenge response packet, rather than any in-game pings. Thereare a few issues with that — a LPB may occasionally get into a HPB serverif they happen to get a network hiccup at just the right time, and the numberused as a gate will be closer to the number shown in the server list, ratherthan the number seen in gameplay. I would reccomend “sv_minPing 200″ as areasonable breakpoint.

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