Online gaming has grown exponentially in just the past decade, transforming the once-hidden, whimsical and gritty worlds of geek- and savant-limited gaming to something that anyone can enjoy. Entering a digital world may be available to more people, but the higher echelons of skilled play still require quick reflexes, planning, a decent computer, and a stable internet connection. As you look for new games or plan for new content in current games, take the time to understand how the internet works with your gaming.
How Does Online Gaming Use The Internet?
Online games are servers, just like the machines that host websites. As a public, commercial service that serves thousands or millions of customers, online games have to handle multiple types of requests. Your internet connection is one of those requests, and it needs to be at a minimum level of quality to do the job properly.
The game world exists as a series of files that are constantly updating depends on what players do in the game. More sophisticated games even have activities that happen in the world whether players are involved or not, such as warring non-player characters (NPCs) battling each others to give the game world a feeling of spontaneous activity.
When you interact with the game world, you're sending small instructions across the internet to the server. For example, if a Mage casts the Fireball spell, although you may see swirling lights, indicators, and other visuals, these flourishes are merely cosmetic covers for the simple exchange of information. Here's what it looks like:
- Player Mage casts Fireball at Dragon.
- Fireball information is sent to the game server.
- Game server receives the information.
- Game server verifies that the Fireball spell is coming from a Mage and that the mage has enough Mana or Power to cast the spell.
- Game server generates the amount of damage done depending on the power of the Mage and the defenses of the Dragon.
- The resulting damage, changes in Mana and other related information is sent back to the player.
All of this information is sent in less than a second--in many cases, between 10 and 100ms (milliseconds) depending on the player's internet speed.
When Internet Performance Isn't Up To Par
The speed of the Fireball spell in the previous example is important. The milliseconds represents a certain threshold of time that a player can react with things in the game. Although these actions happen in less than a second, it's understandable that many gamer customers may have different levels of performance. For this reason, the average player fighting against just game-generated entities has a bit more room to play with when it comes to delay.
As that delay increases, you may notice drops in performance. This delay is called lag, which can ruin the gaming experience and make competitive play nearly impossible. That Fireball that should only take one second to cast may take 2 or 3 seconds to cast if the delay is added on top of the normal cast time. The Dragon may seem to be standing still one second, but after your connection catches up with the constantly active world of the game server, your character may be dead after combat continued without you.
Player versus player (PVP) combat becomes more difficult, as a person with a lower delay can theoretically react faster. If you want to stay competitive, contact an internet service provider, such as Solarus, to get an internet connection that fits your gaming needs and reacts to player-side delay as soon as possible.