Why lag sucks in online games

Bennett Foddy, creator of QWOP and Sportsfriends, explains why many recent indie games eschew online features in favor of old-fashioned local multiplayer. These twitchy, pixel-perfect retro game formulas just can't coexist with lag. [Polygon]

Notable Replies

  1. Try BDW.

    We have days of lag.

  2. This seems a bit like an article in 1930 explaining why automobiles are horrible. Sure, you can support that argument but

    1) There have been people making online "fast-twitch" multiplayer games that are good enough for almost 20 years now (since Quake, at least). And

    2) Releasing a screed about how online fast-twitch games are not good is a bit off-putting for those of us who prefer to play with our online friends, and have been doing so for many years with many different titles.

    That said, it's their decision. I'm not interested in buying a game like this without online multiplayer, and apparently they're so uninterested in selling it to me that they're willing to call me wrong-headed in an interview.

  3. Yes, and the article mentions first-person shooters and why lag compensation works reasonably well for them.

    This isn't actually about how online fast-twitch games aren't good, but that in order to be good they should be built with online in mind, and not all mechanics are as suitable for adding it. I thought it made a much better point than you give credit.

  4. You're missing the point. In games like Quake, with individual 3D viewpoints, things are a lot more subjective. If my computer says my bullet hit you, and your computer says it didn't, we go with what my computer says. because I can clearly see that my crosshairs are centered on your chest, but you probably can't see that my gun is pointed half a degree to your left. Nobody sees anything unexpected, so everyone is happy.

    With a 2D game like Towerfall, it's different. Everyone should be seeing exactly the same information, from a Godlike outsider's viewpoint, at all times, so it's painfully obvious when things don't match. If you can clearly see that my arrow missed you by two pixels, you're going to be pretty unhappy when it registers as a hit. If we go the opposite way, then I'm unhappy when I saw my arrow hit you but the game says it didn't.

    Good netcode and purposeful game design can hide lag, but they can't fix it. The laws of physics and of networking hardware mean that there is always going to be a detectable ping delay between two sites a few hundred miles apart, no matter how good the connection.

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