Understanding Network Behavior with Online Games

Online gaming can be highly competitive or mellow and cathartic when working properly. Whether you enjoy being immersed in a large game world with other players across the Internet or need to take some stress out on some digital enemies, getting connected to a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game can bring you into a a collaborative world of action or relaxation. Unfortunately, if your connection to the game isn't working well, the game can create even more stress. To avoid lag problems, take the time to understand how you connect to the game and what you can do about lag.

Understanding Game Server Connections

A game server is like any other computer server in that it delivers files on demand and can even accept files. Many servers are able to perform more complex actions, such as accepting the files, performing multiple calculations, and sending them back to the connecting person.

Game servers manage an entire world inside their systems. Details about changes in the game world, such as the creation of monsters, the actions of non-playable characters (NPCs) and the actions of potentially thousands of players, can be processed and sent to different players in virtually an instant.

The process has a lot of complex techniques involved, but it can be summarized in a few steps:

  1. You send a request to the game. It can be logging into the game, casting a spell, firing a gun, or purchasing an item.
  2. The game acknowledges the request.
  3. The game calculates the action.
  4. The game sends an update about this action to all relevant parties. If you're fighting someone, the information is sent to everyone in the area, including you and your opponent (if the opponent is a player). If you're simply interacting with the server by buying an item, the transaction is between you and the server.
  5. You receive the update, showing that the action took place.

Your version of the game is different from what the server manages. The server has a series of files that change to represent the game world, but no graphics. Your version contains graphics and different buttons or ways to control your character. Each button is a signal that can be sent to the game.

Understanding Your Network's Role

When you receive information from the game server, you're downloading information. It isn't a specific download that you have to start, such as downloading a file from a website by clicking the download button. Like websites or any Internet resources, loading up the site or service is an automated download.

Pressing buttons in the game sends information to the server and uses upload resources. One big issue that many residential Internet users have to deal with is that upload is not always the same speed as the download. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) use asynchronous Internet for various reasons, which usually means that the download is slower.

If you're uploading a lot of information, your requests to the server may not make it in time. Uploading is often done through specific actions, such as uploading a video to an Internet video server. Many gamers use communications software that can take up a lot of Internet capacity—known as bandwidth—to the point of slowing down the gameplay.

When information isn't sent or received on time, the slow performance is what many gamers call lag. If you're not sure of your Internet capabilities or what information could be coming and going, get in contact with a computer networking professional, like one from Advanced Business Systems, who can examine your network and suggest necessary changes.