Saturday, October 24, 2009
Connection Testing On A Friday Night
There are two factors here, one is connection quality, and the second is connection speed. Quality, which is represented in the top image, has to do with your line stability and ping, which is the time that it takes a signal travels to a remote server and back. In my case, I got an "A" grade. The lower your ping, the better. In PC gaming, where we usually browse a list of dedicated servers before choosing which to join, we always go for a (populated) server with the lowest ping; anything under 50ms is great, although up to 100ms or so is playable for FPS games (RTS games can go even higher), but beyond that the game becomes laggy. Lag can be caused by either a server or peer to peer host who has a poor quality connection (high ping), or slow connection speed (quantity) which isnt sufficient to process the amount of data flowing in and out.
Without going too deep into the technical details, the packets that the host sends to each game client in a peer to peer hosted game like Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, or Gears of War 2 on the Xbox 360 are roughly 6-7Kb/s each in size. What this means is that if you have 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload type connection, you should be fine to host a 24+ person match. However, if you have a 512Kbps connection like much of rural America does, your game may start lagging beyond a 3vs3 or 4vs4 match. This explains why smaller gametypes (4vs4 modes in Halo 3 and Gears 1, Horde in Gears 2, Team Tactical in CoD4) seem to run much better on average than the larger gametypes featured in those games, although I think we can all agree Bungee and Infinity Ward set up their matchmaking and network code a whole lot better than Epic does.
On a scale of 1-5, Ive got a 3.8 for raw speed, which is actually pretty decent. What Im most pleased about is the 5Mb/s+ upload speed, which means my connection is solid for hosting (in theory) 48 person games, not that I would ever try it. 9Mb/s isnt amazing for download speed, but for gaming its far more than enough. While its nothing like having a fiber optic FIOS or T1 connection, its pretty good for just $50 a month. I truly wish I could see the stats of some of the other players who often get host in Gears of War 2, and what my ping to them is. Its amazing to me how often I will get connected to someone who either has a slow 512Kbps connection or lives in some remote area where their ping looks like this: