Sitrep: Is lag really The Great Decider? Can I develop psychic powers?


By on May 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I’m crap at games, but I’m not that crap. Man, if you play shooters for this long, it’s almost impossible not to be kind of OK at them. And yet there I am, getting shot up. Sometimes, yeah, I was eating chips and not giving a care. Sometimes though, I know what’s up because — the firefight I just bafflingly lost? Very obviously the product of lag.

“Lag,” someone said the other night, “is the great decider in modern online FPS games. There is no skill,” they asserted. “Only lag, and not-lag.” If that’s true that sucks for me, because my internet is worse than an itchy butt.

I find this idea of lag being the great decider in online FPS skills even more troubling than the questions my own itchy butt raises. It hadn’t really occurred to me until this nameless internet person insisted on its power. Could it be true? I think back to the number of times I swore I had the jump on that dude, but he aced me first somehow. Then I look over at the girlf breathlessly streaming Vampire Diaries or whatever she’s into and Hmmm, yeah, OK. This whole Illuminlaggy conspiracy might have some triggerlegs.

So I started thinking about how to beat lag at its own game — its own game being to ruin my game. Just short of “moving next door to a telecommunications provider and making friends with them,” I have decided to develop my psychic powers. It seems the only way to slay is to become Jean Grey and avoid the movies of Michael Bay / Hey, my favourite character in Neon Gen is Rei / What’s yours? Don’t bother, I know what you’re gonna say / Asuka FTW, and that’s OK / Redheads, you know, their lovin’ is like Fri-day / I’m sorry Tim.

So as I was saying before I mysteriously rapped to you about underage anime babes, I have begun the practice of reading my opponent’s minds. Now personally I don’t believe psychic powers are possible. You should read this, it’s hilarious. What I do believe is possible is noting behavioural patterns in certain contexts and mentally quantifying them. It is absolutely bizarre how similarly so many FPS players behave in situations common to the genre, and how so many of them will freak out in exactly the same way when confronted with the uncommon antics of a man on a bad lag wire.

It’s why the guy who immediately doubles back and comes charging at you after you get the drop on him more often than not succeeds in his kamikaze madness. Used to succeed, anyway. Interestingly, this sudden guns-to-the-wind approach has become normalised. I see it all the time now where once it was startling, just as I see you, guy with awesome connection, waiting ‘round the bend until after the tell-tale click of my parched killstick has sounded. I will be holding this live grenade tight.

15 comments (Leave your own)

The role latency plays in games depends very much on the game. The source engine is horrible at managing high latency the Natural Selection 2 engine is flawless.


He hey, I like Rei,
Asuka can go away.
Also Friday’s not today.
Lag’s killing you? You might just be…



To win the game predict your opponent’s move, make your opponent believe they can predict your move, but then make a move which counters the move that counters the move they predict you will make.

Ah yes one of the great joys of mutliplayer gaming is watching the mind of the human behind your opposing player fall. I have seen awe, fear, rage and startlement in my opponents without any human language or other communication.


I definitely find an inverse relationship to my performance in online FPS games and my other half’s usage of Netflix…

Also, since getting the NBN last week there has been definite correlative link to increased performance in said games :D


Or just dl an aimbot or something , seems to be the rage these days.


Playing Call of Duty 2 from WA back when the competitive scenes decided to turn off all lag compensation. That was about as bad as you can get.

Really affected the ability to play at the top echelon as you would acutally have to shoot about half a second before you saw the bloke to get the kills. So it became about learning how and when to expect how your opponents would react rather than just pure physical reaction speed.

Probably made me a better FPS player overall however I was never quite good enough to play in the top-top leagues. Had I lived over east, it would have been enough to get me up there.

This day and age with all the lag compensation, the amount of people bitching is just a joke. The games are not hard, you dont have to predict all that much (esp compared to CoD2), and it becomes about who is the better player.


Just play older games, they have way less silly lag. Modern games like Planetside 2 or, the biggest offender to date imo, battlefield 4 just overuse smoothing and dont update frequently enough.

You seriously cannot get a better experience in terms of lag than CS1.6. Quake 3 also felt very responsive but that may be just because its so much faster than modern games so your lag shadow is never stitting still.

In this video some guy did an analysis of bf4 (its the same according to dice in bc2 and 3)


Playing Red Faction, Quake 2 or Team Arena on a Dial-Up connection with 500ms pings. You had to really try and compensate a couple seconds in advance for that.


Croc, something DICE fail to mention is that BC2, BF3 and BF4 run on a 1/10th of a second network timer. That means 100ms of game lag per game “tick” for a MP game. That in turn exacerbates the randomness of the lag shadowing and other issues, hence all the netcode complaints.

Couple that with the inherent issues with the engine and it’s inability to shoot straight at all (graphically accurate is ballistically inaccurate, with the inverse also true) making the game a massive lottery in hitting your target ever 1/10th of a second not accounting for the actual client to server lag.

CoD 2 had some of the cleanest network code for an MP shooter. Great fun and relatively smooth. With the smoothing off you could tell lag between 20ms and 50ms connections without fault and the player (if good enough) could compensate for poor connections. CoD 4 wasn’t too bad as the smoothing wasn’t altered too much, however it started to degrade with WaW onwards. Black Ops had a set 50ms delay built in, which was easily noticeable to the top players, and the less mentioned about the P2P failures the better.

So in conclusion, yes older games are truer to skill and lag representation. Hell if I’m on a 100ms connection and get wasted by someone on a 20ms connection, I don’t have an issue. It’s when I get the jump on a guy with a 200ms connection and I have the damn 30ms connection that I get annoyed as the smoothing makes my bullets miss and theirs hit after server update…


Can we all just go back to CS 1.5 or Crysis Wars? Those were the days.


it’ll be interesting to see what the new UT will have under the hood, especially given it will be open through crowdsourced code.


I have seen awe, fear, rage and startlement in my opponents without any human language or other communication.

Truly, you are a god.


I agree, the Source engine deals with lag fairly bad. But thats both its benefit AND curse, as it also reduces bullshit from lag compensation. But I guess thats in a perfect world, where we still are not using rotting copper for our Internet…

Battlefield 4 is the other extreme, there is so much lag compensation in that game, that no matter how much you play with the interp value, most firefights are just random, and reward pre-aim.

As for the author, I cannot more highly recommend the Gulay guide to Counter-Strike. Written back in 1.3 (or earlier?!?), its an unorthodox method of playing CS that relies on anticipation rather than reflex. I know its certainly held me true thru many years across many competitions.


I remember the Medal of Honor Airborne multiplay system was fantastic with high latency vs low latency.
The system was thrown out due to the unpopularity of the game itself..

Leave a comment

You can use the following bbCode
[i], [b], [img], [quote], [url href=""]Google[/url]

Leave a Reply



Steam Group

Upcoming Games

Community Soapbox

Recent Features logo

Announcement: website closure

Website and forums to shut down on November 30.

Life Is Strange

Life is Strange complete season review: Your move, Telltale Games

The year's most heartwrenching game comes to an emotional conclusion.

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 Guardians review: A boring game and a broken promise

343 Industries are back again with Halo -- but maybe they should have left it alone, says Joab.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is a proper, old-school expansion

From a drunk, possessed Geralt to a battle against an enormous toad, Hearts of Stone delivers.

Streaming Radio
Radio Streams are restricted to iiNet group customers.

GreenManGaming MREC

Facebook Like Box