strategy   fighting lag   Minimize lag for fun and profit.    

Fight lag in all its forms.

Lag happens when messages from th' server to a client, or vice versa, don't get through as fast as they should. Some lag is normal when yer playin' over a normal modem connection. Ya may notice some'a yer shots take a moment ta draw a cry of pain from an opponent. If that's th' extent of th' problem yer pretty lucky. Bad lag can result in yer shots not hittin' at all, yer opponents seemin' ta freeze up or teleport (or to be in two places at once, as in this illustration) an' in the worst case yer crashin' outta th' game. Bad lag can take all th' fun an' skill out've a game.

Don't try to respawn immediately in laggy games!

You'll be in lots of games with a good deal of lag; it's pretty unavoidable. Outlaws kin handle lag very well but after a certain point th' game becomes unplayable. However, unplayable lag IS generally avoidable. Th' best way to keep lag from gettin' outta control is to wait a few seconds before tryin' to respawn after you die.

If ya don't have a 3dfx card you'll probably hafta setcher resolution down pretty low.

I know that every pore of you is screaming to get back in there an' extract bloody vengeance from yer enemy's dastardly hide, but hittin' th' respawn key (usually SPACE or ENTER) right after you die may actually take LONGER than waiting a few seconds (2 to 4 should suffice im most cases) before trying to respawn.

Why? Because really bad lag is frequently a result of just too much data comin' in fer yer modem ta keep up with. Or rather, your modem WOULD be able to keep up with it, if you weren't moving and thus sending data OUT at the same time. When you're running and shooting, especially in matches with lots of players, sometimes all the data can't fit through th' modem at once. It starts to accumulate, sort of piling up on both sides of the connection. As this continues you get farther and farther behind the dataflow, and your lag gets worse and worse.

Now, if you stopped moving and did nothing, your modem wouldn't hafta upload and would be able to focus all it's bandwidth on catching up on the incoming data stream. Of course doing nothing will get you killed surprisingly quickly in Outlaws. But if you're ALREADY DEAD, they can't kill ya, can they?

You may have noticed in laggy games that after you hit the button to respawn, the game seems to freeze up for a while, longer in games with more lag -- I've counted respawn lags of 10 seconds or more. During this time you can sometimes hear sounds from the area around you, but your screen remains frozen.

What's happening? Basically your modem fell behind while you were alive and uploading/downloading simultaneously. When you die, data upload stops -- th' other players aren't updated on yer position or facing, because, well, yer dead. Now yer modem has a chance ta catch up with th' dataflow. BUT if you try to come back in BEFORE yer modem catches up, you start uploading again, the dataflow lags again, and it takes time fer yer signals ta get through ta th' host ta let you restart.

Then once you do restart, yer laggin' worse than ever. Data continues to pile up on both sides of yer modem bottleneck, and yer lag gets worse and worse until the game becomes unplayable.

So the simple solution is just to wait a few seconds after dying before trying to respawn. This gives your modem time to catch up with the dataflow so that when you restart you won't have any accumulated lag. How long you need to wait depends on how laggy the game is to begin with -- you'll know you didn't wait long enough if the screen freezes up for a significant period after hitting the respawn button. Next time you die, wait a little longer.

Also, if you simply MUST say something when you're dead (and I often can't resist the temptation to make some kind of remark to lessen the humiliation of my death, something especially witty like "ow") be sure to wait for a while after sending the message. This is because the message has to upload, thus interrupting your modem's catch-up process momentarily.

Other Lag-Fightin' Tips

There are many other things ya kin try ta minimize lag in Outlaws games. Avoid playin' on a host with a slow internet connection or a slow computer, an' even avoid joinin' a game which you know has members with bad lag. Often lag can be minimized by playin' on a server close to you geographically, as transmission time will be lower than with a server far away. That benefit will be lost though if there are other players in th' game that aren't so close by.

Windows Sockets tcp/ip games are a lot less laggy than DirectPlay tcp/ip games. Ya should try ta use Winsock whenever possible. See my DirectDraw vs Winsock page fer a discussion of th' two different game types. On my 56.6k modem I can usually host five or six players in a Winsock game without real bad lag; in DirectPlay I start to see lag even with only two other players.

Too many players will slow a game down 'cause more information hasta be passed between the players an' the host. Th' number of players a game can support without incurring great lag varies with the speed of the host computer (processor and internet connection) an' the lag times of each of the players. Games with six or more players often tend to have very noticeable lag effects.

You should close all other programs when playin' multiplayer, especially internet programs, so as ta decrease th' lag you'll cause fer th' host. Be sure ta run Outlaws in a screen resolution an' detail level that lets gives you over 30 frames per second (fps) most of the time. You can check how many fps yer gettin' by typin' in "olfps" (without th' quotes) during gameplay. If ya don't have a 3dfx card you'll probably hafta setcher resolution down pretty low. Do it fer th' greater good. You should also try out th' MGL video drivers which almost tripled my framerate over DirectDraw; see th' MGL page fer details. If we all work together we can keep lag at bay!

Th' most direct way ta combat lag is ta optimize yer Windows 95 dialup networking settings. See th' Dial-Up Optimization page fer settings have yielded wonderful results fer me.


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 strategy   fighting lag   Minimize lag for fun and profit.