Meet bufferbloat, the worst enemy a gamer never heard of
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2011 - 11:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: lag, buffer, bloat, input lag, gaming, online
Packet loss, network latency and input lag are often blamed for the reason your character is now a corpse and why your opponent is doing a happy dance on your naughty bits but there is another target to blame for your lousy online gaming skills, buffer bloat. It seems that larger storage space is not always a good thing as TCP/IP needs dropped packets to tell it to slow down and when a network sports a buffer that can hold 10 seconds or so of data in its buffer before dropping a packet and informing the connection that there is a problem. If you've ever played a game which slows down and then does a quick speed up for a few seconds you have probably met buffer bloat. Slashdot doesn't have a solution but they do have more information for you.
"Gamers often find 'input lag' annoying, but over the years, delay has crept into many other gadgets with equally painful results. Something as simple as mobile communication or changing TV channels can suffer. Software too is far from innocent (Java or Visual Studio 2010 anyone?), and even the desktop itself is riddled with 'invisible' latencies which can frustrate users (take the new Launcher bar in Ubuntu 11 for example). More worryingly, Bufferbloat is a problem that plagues the internet, but has only recently hit the news. Half of the problem is that it's often difficult to pin down unless you look out for it. As Mick West pointed out: 'Players, and sometimes even designers, cannot always put into words what they feel is wrong with a particular game's controls ... Or they might not be able to tell you anything, and simply say the game sucked, without really understanding why it sucked.'"
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