Friday, September 26, 2008

The Slide Show

I am still enjoying WAR, but, as with all great things there is always an issue with some of the bad things.

Question for game developers?

So, you build a game which is going to have tons of players interacting with one another on a regular bases because your content is player driven. Now, add to this chaos all the spell effects and other animation that might take place, starting to get a mental picture of all this?

What happens? Major game lag.

So, if you know this is going to happen, because by happen stance this sort of thing has happened in EQ2 and WoW, which if your any kind of game developer working on an MMO, you have to have at least tried those games once, why don't you prepare for it?

It being the ridiculous amount of stuttering that a character goes through when moving from one over populated area to another?

I mean, if you know that you're game will have open RvR zones where say, teams of up to 40 vs 40 will be battling over the same small keep, why can't you make the graphical lag better so that systems which meet or exceed the games hardware requirements aren't getting a small slide show of the action? I left LOTRO because of the way the trees moved every time they got rendered as you approached them in the game and it actually drove me freakin crazy, now I have to deal with a stutter every time I play WAR?

Be prepared I say. It works for game developers and boy scouts. If it has happened before in other MMO games, like gold farming and video lag due to many players being in one area at the same time, why can't you have a plan ready to implement when the time arises? I mean, we crashed a zone when we started gathering our CoW forces to take a keep, how silly is that?

And you thought this was going to be a nausating recap of all the fun I've had in WAR? BAH!

Download video drivers they say. Adjust your in game video settings they preach. We'll I've done that and I have to say, it ain't me. So, I have done a few things that might make a difference. I've adjusted my in game Vram or Video Ram to a larger number and this seems to have helped, my video card has 512mb of memory so that should be ok for now. I have also purchased some 2 more gigs of memory from Newegg. Apparently, memory is really cheap these days and it should be arriving sometime next week, if the Gods premit. I've not had the best luck with Newegg in the past with shipping dates.

Well, that about it. I will give an update as soon as I can on any possible improvements. The issue isn't on my end, game developers must have known this was going to be an issue. It's like not knowing it will snow in Canada in the winter, that bears have claws or that baseball is really boring.

They just didn't seem prepared.

Someone please advance the slide.



  1. They saw it coming but didn't care cuz fancy effects help people feel warm and fuzzy inside and that in turn sells their subs.

    My "older" pc's also have chop issues so your not alone this time, only they ran wow and lotro and war doesn't have that amazing of graphics so I think its just inefficiently programmed is all.

  2. You do prepare, but there is only so much you can "prepare" for. For instance, we know that Mythic knows the exact number of players allowed on any server, therefore the logical preparation would be to create a game that runs perfectly when every person on the server stands inside a certain keep. Of course, realistically that's entirely impossible, would drive your per character poly count through the ground and it still wouldn't fix it.

    So you compromise, a bunch of spell effects for a couple warbands in a keep on a high end computer, okay. But now lets define that high end computer... Dual Core 2.0ghz, Dual Core 2.4gz? Dual Core 3.0ghz? Quad Core? AMD? Intel? nVidia chipset? Intel chipset? Asus motherboard? Generic motherboard? Nvidia 9600? Nvidia 8800? Nvidia 8600? Latest Radeon? Older Radeon? DirectX 10? DirectX 9? Pixel 2.0? Pixel 3.0? Soundblaster Audigy? Soundblaster Live? Latest drivers on all? mostly latest drivers? Standard Mouse and Keyboard? Z-Board? 5-button Logitech?

    Okay so now how do we render our particle effects? Do we focus so that they all take more cpu, but it ramps up slower, or so that they all take less time when taken alone but stack poorly? What about our normals mapping? Shaders? Did every artist use the exact right numbers of polygons? Is every integer in the particle code perfectly aligned to make the maximum performance particle effects? Do we have a stackless architecture that runs large groups in parallel okay but has problems with accuracy or do we run things through a stack? Is the octree designed as best you can get it, or are you subdividing too little? Too much?

    Is the code understandable and maintainable across the size of your team? Could the efficiency be improved at the cost of maintainability? Does changing this integer in the character creation module break all your questing code for no apparent reason? Did all your scripters write their scripts to maximum efficiency?

    Great, so now that we have that all worked out, all we need to do is make it work on every hardware/software/operating system combination possible within the Windows paradigm. And on every level of broadband and wifi internet in all areas of the nation through all ISPs. Of course, you also have to remember to check for and correct packet loss that can happen at any point in the process.

    So yeah, it's just like keeping a pocket knife with you and learning how to tie knots. ~.^

  3. @Sara - I would completely agree with you that they can't predict every possible hardware combination with the exception of say BETA TESTING.

    I was under the impression that Beta testing was to "Test" different hardware configs, which is why that is what is submitted to become a tester. That is why they had closed beta, Preview weekend, 2nd Preview weekend + open bet, to do load tests, fix software issues and they could check wider variety of differently configed systems to check the games stability on those systems, to get feedback and fix issues.

    I'm not asking for them to know everything, no body is that smart, but if you put recommended system requirements on your box, then it should work at full video settings with those specs, otherwise why not put on the box, "these are the recommended system requirements, but you have to turn all the effects in the game off to get 30fps". They don't do that because the number one concern is selling units and to say you have to scale your video down to achieve a decent frame rate would be like shooting yourself in the foot with a rather large ballista.

    I'm saying, if they had open beta, why not grab everyone on the server and put 40 vs 40 people in one area to test load to see what that would be like for different systems, so they could make the video even more scalable to prevent video lag. I've turned all the effects off and set it to best frame rate and I still have problems when there are lots of people on the screen, which is one of the selling points of the game, large scale RvR. If I can't move while taking a Keep with 40 of my closes friends, what is the point of even playing?

    If you want to see if the pool leaks, you put water in it, if you want to see what it looks like when tons of people are taking a keep, you put tons of people in that zone and see what their feedback is and try to fix it. In preview weekend and open beta you couldn't even get that far and they had more people in the game than they did through the closed beta, so it would have been a good idea to test that some.

    I'm just getting the impression that they didn't fully test this during beta. Especially when we crashed a zone the minute 25 of us arrived there. I'm sure that could have been tested in beta.

    Even doing the sewers with a group of 6 is becoming a problem if there is a waterfall in the area. It causes really bad lag for everyone, even high and low spec systems. How did this happen if they tested the game fully? Did they break it with a patch maybe? Didn't they learn from the patch that broke pathing in the Preview weekend?

    I mean the game is awesome, no mistaking it, but little bugs like taking 10 minutes to move 5 feet in the game could be a deal breaker in my book, especially when I can play every other graphical heavy MMO out there and didn't have one problem. As bad as AoC was, I could run it on High settings and still didn't have anywhere near the stuttering that I have in WAR. I remember having similar lag in some of the big cities in EQ2, but that was when tons of people were in there

    When people talk about next gen MMO's maybe this is something they should work on, getting tons of people in one area without so much as a hiccup. I don't have any issue in Wow, but then again, its all cartoony looking so that might be part of it.

    But this is just me ranting about the only thing I found wrong with WAR, not me condemning the developers of WAR to a fiery death in a high flying plane or being a hater for it. I just wanted to express my fustration with the lag, which is preventing me from giving the game an "A+" in my book.

    I do enjoy the game tons, I would just enjoy it more if there wasn't any lag and I don't understand with all the testing they did why a system that exceeds system requirements is having issues like mine.

    God that was a long rant. Sorry, lol