20 March, 2006

Dear Square-Enix...

Dear Square-Enix,

Please get better servers, fix the memory leaks in your coding, or change the coding to minimize the effects of the three-letter word that is the bane of all solo players out there:


I'm sooooo frustrated right now, I don't even know where to begin. To summarize, I've died three times in the past three hours, two more times in an ENM (which ended up costing me the ENM, btw), all because of lag.

I understand that lag is an inevitable part of an MMORPG, since there needs to be some established communications between the server and the client. However, knowing this, could you at least program things such that battles aren't decided by one's latency?

For example, in the Brothers ENM:

Notice how I was interrupted without taking any damage. This isn't spell interruption due to physical damage taken by myself. This is spell interruption caused by moving as the spell is being cast.

The problem? I was standing still at the time.

Similarly, this case just a few seconds afterwards:

I had just Manafonted. There is no way physical damage will interrupt my spells now. I run away from the Eldertaur (who's out to kill me), get a fair distance away from him, STOP, and cast Thundaga III....only to see it get interrupted.

Again, spell interruption induced by the system thinking I'm still moving, even though at the time of casting, I was stationary.

I can understand how the effects of Lag are dampened in a party situation. After all, you might miss a Magic Burst, or a closing weaponskill. Those can always be adjusted. However, there are certain applications where a success and defeat are determined by Lag, and such instances should be eliminated if at all possible.

People playing solo in delicate situations, like the above case, rest their success upon being able to execute a fine-tuned strategy, and throwing in random monkey wrenches due to latency is a surefire way to kill them.

Ninjas trying to put up an Utsusemi, or Paladins trying to fire off that life-saving Cure IV both need low latency in order to just do their job. Fortunately, Ninjas and Paladins generally don't move while tanking in an xp party, so at least their spells aren't interrupted by lagging movement, but it's a right pain when you're trying to put up shadows and there's a 2-3 second in between when you execute the command, and when it actually goes off.

For the record, I was trying to solo the Brothers ENM. It is not easy, and I had a strategy planned out based off watching Avesta's successful attempt at it. The plan was all set. I walked up to the top of the Uleguerand Range, and got my key item.

On the way back up, I caught Brontotaur aggro, and would've easily dispatched it, except, well, I tried Stunning the Brontotaur, and it was a full 3 seconds before I even started casting Stun, which was then interrupted because the Brontotaur had been pounding on me during that period. Of course, I died thereafter, being at just 14 hp after my life-saving Stun was interrupted. Had it gone off, I could've Slept, Cured, and then went on to kill the Brontotaur.

I decided to solo some King Buffalo on the top of the mountain while waiting for the weather to clear so I could make my way through to Bearclaw Pinnacle. It went good for a while, until after a rather long pause in between Sleeps waiting for my Aspir to reset, the King Buffalo woke up. I tried to Stun and Sleep, except, well, the Stun didn't go off in a timely manner, and I once again found my hit points plummeting as I desperately tried to fire off the Sleep that would never resolve because of all the intermediate hits I was taking in the 2-3 seconds between when I mashed my Sleep macro, and when I'd actually start casting Sleep.

Never mind, I Reraised, rested, and went back to killing more King Buffalo. I open the fight with a Thunder IV, and Sleep the incoming Buffalo.

The Sleep is resisted.

I try to fire off a Sleep II to save myself, but guess what? The Sleep II never resolved. In the time it took the King Buffalo to run up to me, pummel through my Stoneskin, Blink, and Phalanx, I was mashing my Sleep II macro and never cast it. Well, not successfully at least. I only started casting it after my Stoneskin was gone, and I was crossing my fingers in the hopes that when the Sleep II actually started firing off, the timing would be such that I wouldn't get hit while casting. Of course, that didn't happen.

I was now 3k from capped xp, and decided to try the ENM out anyway, since if I won, I'd return to capped BLM xp. First attempt, I try Binding the Eldertaur, except that the Bind was interrupted by latent movement (even though I had been only inching towards the two taurus), and before the intermediate period where you can start recasting an interrupted spell was over, I had two very angry Taurus ganging up on me and I died.

I reraised and tried again. This time, I got the opening Bind to stick, as well as the Elemental Seal'ed Sleep II on the Mindertaur and a Gravity on the Eldertaur! Things were actually looking promising for once! Then came the task of nuking the Eldertaur.

Thundaga III. Resolved.

Firaga III. Interrupted to latent movement (first screenshot).

Blizzaga III. Resolved.


Thundaga III Interrupted to latent movement (second screenshot).

I died thereafter because I had to obviously stand still while casting, but the spell I was casting was interrupted anyway, so I basically gave the Eldertaur free time to catch up to me, not to mention lost time on the Gravity.

So there you have it. Five deaths, none due to player ability. All due to lag.

Lag is a disease in any online game. Especially dying to it. It's not like you made a mistake, or weren't skilled enough. You just died because of external conditions, kinda like the game just saying "You need to die." It's incredibly frustrating, and I lost a good three hours and 3k xp because of lag alone. That's just one person- me. Imagine how much trouble's caused out among all the servers because of latency problems.

I'm not even going to say "do this" and sign off without leaving so much as a suggestion or two to help.

The simplest solution would be to upgrade the hardware. I'm on a T3 connection, with an up-to-date system so I'm very sure the equipment over on my end meets the requirements. On the other hand, the servers on the other side might need some upgrading to process the massive amount of data transfers needed to run an MMORPG.

Alternatively, if you can't fix the hardware, fix the software. Make it so that it is harder to interrupt spells through movement, since that is directly connected to lag issues. Alternatively, have the system process things with a certain error window in mind. For example, if I cast Bind, have the system assume I cast Bind with a one second error margin in any direction. If in anywhere in that two second window, my Bind could resolve, let it resolve for real. That would get around certain latency issues.

(An /angry taru)


wyred said...

Having a fast connection doesn't mean it will be a low latency connection.

In Singapore, SCV gives more bandwidth than my Singnet ADSL but my ADSL has lower latency.

Is your connection shared? Is someone you shared it with, downloading huge amounts of stuff, choking the bandwidth?

Also, I've been noticing a little bit of lag, perhaps 1/2 of a second, for the past few days so it could be a problem not caused by your ISP or SE.

Anyways, hope your situation gets better, I know how frustrating it is to have an unreliable internet connection.

Jynx said...

The only time I've ever had lag issue with FFXI on my cable is in dynamis....*maxed people runs* or when I am running bittorent.

Otherwise my conection is usually strong unless I'm sharing it with someone else.

Sara said...

As Wyred said, I have noticed a bit of lag the past few days, more so then usual.
It may have something to do with servers, because the other day there was a rather-large DC fest in Kuftal Tunnel (3/6 of the party disconnected)...

sara..again^^ said...

Tuuf - I have tried to find your e-mail address but haven't been able to find it so far.
Could you please get in contact with me?
sara@new-tomorrow.net :email
daftaikou :AIM

SeraphPDH said...

Yeah, lag sucks bigtime. Look at it this way, with the game being team-based, often times you have tanks to deal with the latency while mages and melees can adapt to the lag with minimal mob interference, but on a soloing thing such as this, you really do get boned. Better luck next time.