What Is Lag?

“I’ve got lag!” We all hate it, we all hate to say it – but do we understand it?

Maverick indie MMO designer Eric at Elder Game has been hearing that phrase from his players a lot lately – so this week, he’s put together a fascinating Field Guide To The Lag Monster. It’s aimed at his own game, obviously, but much of it’s equally applicable to any other MMO.

From CDN Lag to Graphics Lag to Chat Lag, if you ever wanted to know more about the beast that ruins your MMOs from time to time – or just wanted another peek inside the complexity of running and MMO – read on!

Monster Lag

Symptoms: You can pick stuff up off the ground just fine, and talk to NPCs, but when you try to fight a monster, they react sluggishly — possibly taking two or three hits to the face before they fight back. Your knockback attacks may also take a second before the monster starts flying backwards.

Cause: This happens because the physics sub-server gets bogged down. Each “zone” of the world has a program that makes the monsters fight and makes NPCs move around. If they get bogged down, things can’t move or fight well.

This is happening more than I like right now because I don’t have enough computers to run all the physics sub-servers, so they can get starved for CPU. I’ve ordered new hardware to fix this soon.”*

Read the rest of What Is Lag