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Gamers in Hawaii Can't Compete... Because of Latency (theoutline.com) 269

Sometimes it's very important to know that the servers of the web services you're using are situated somewhere in your neighbourhood. And it's not just because of privacy concerns. The Outline has a story this week in which it talks about gamers in Hawaii who're increasingly finding it difficult to compete in global tournaments because the games' servers are almost every time placed overseas. From the article: [...] The game's server is in Chicago. That means if you live in the Midwest, your computer can communicate with it almost instantaneously. If you're in L.A., it can take roughly 60 milliseconds. But if you're in Hawaii, it can take 120 milliseconds, with some players reporting as long as 200 milliseconds. And at the highest echelons of competitive video gaming, milliseconds matter. [...] In League and other eSports games, playing on a high ping is a big disadvantage. The goal of the game is to set up defenses to protect your base while pushing forward to capture the enemy's base, and there are typically lightning bolts and fireballs and slime-spitting dragons shooting across the screen. Playing on a high ping means players may not see all of the action that happens in a game. Latency can really screw things up for a young eSports scene, said Zack Johnson, who runs gg Circuit, a global tournament provider for gaming centers like PC Gamerz. Players on the mainland sometimes say they don't want to compete against Hawaii players, he said, because the high ping throws things off.
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Gamers in Hawaii Can't Compete... Because of Latency

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:43AM (#54298037)

    What's the news here? It's well known that physical constraints make communication over larger distances take longer. If these gamers were serious about avoiding these delays, they'd move to Chicago (or wherever the servers they're communicating with are). Why is this even on Slashdot?!

    • Swap?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:49AM (#54298097)

      Holy fuck.

      Someone is in Hawaii and they elect to stay inside playing games???

      I tell you what...you come here and stay in my suburban home in the states with a high speed connection that will allow you to pwn everyone in the game, and I'll stay in your home in Hawaii, surf, scuba, hike, and lay out on the beach.

      • Holy fuck.

        Someone is in Hawaii and they elect to stay inside playing games???

        I tell you what...you come here and stay in my suburban home in the states with a high speed connection that will allow you to pwn everyone in the game, and I'll stay in your home in Hawaii, surf, scuba, hike, and lay out on the beach.

        What about at night time?

      • Re:Swap?? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @12:09PM (#54298785)

        Hawai'i is a place just like anywhere else. Sometimes it's raining. Sometimes you just don't feel like going anywhere. Sometimes you've had a long week and just don't feel like moving. It happens.

      • I tell you what...you come here and stay in my suburban home in the states

        Residents* are quick to remind you that Hawai'i is also part of the 50 United States. Perhaps you meant "on the mainland"?

        * excluding Hawai'i First-ers

      • Re:Swap?? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @06:03PM (#54301271) Homepage Journal

        devils advocate: If you live in a paradise and have the option of going to the beach every day, i'm sure that eventually, you will get bored with that beach. If these people are bored, even for a few days a year, doesn't make them ungrateful for what they have.

        These gamers could be going to the beach 200 days a year and still have the above problems with latency for the remaining 150. Sure its "paradise problems" for most of us, and easy to ridicule, but i'm sure that wherever you live has activities that you don't do every day (skiing, hiking, going to broadway shows, swimming, etc) that are great for a few days a year, or even a few months, but not all days and all months.

        Everyone needs some downtime, even paradise dwellers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 )
      what id like to know is why they dont institute a lag into the system intentionally, so that everyone has the same lag as the least connected device in competition?
      • by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:01AM (#54298201) Journal

        because people won't go "well that's fair, what a good idea" they will go "man this games responsiveness sucks!"

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          I would suggest to you, that if a game gives an advantage to players with better ping times, it sucks. I understand that yes, ping times do matter, and responsiveness does matter. Don't play if you don't like the conditions.

          • Oddly confrontational, all was saying is exactly that would happen. People would more likely choose to not play because they do not like those conditions.

        • by Falos ( 2905315 )

          (1) I see a grenade flying towards me. (2) I hit the teleport button.

          Had (1) already happened anyway? Because of the artificial delay, the server hears my (2) instruction long after I've been a bloodstain. I don't even know about (1) until it's been in the air for ages.

          • Depends on the software. In many cases, the server trusts the client to determine if a hit happened to mitigate lag issues. This is why in Gears of War you can have double KO with rifle weapons.

      • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
        Certainly it's feasible, but higher latency reduces the quality of the game experience. People with more money also buy expensive gaming rigs and better quality mice/keyboards, but nobody suggests they all play with a basic standard mouse to level the playing field for the poorer gamers. For an actual tournament with significant money on the table, if they need that improved ping they'll simply have to travel to attain it.
        • yeah im not talking about for general gaming but for competitive markets. nothing beats a LAN of course for competitive gaming, was just an idea that popped into my head
          • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
            It might work, but I can just imagine a bunch of twitch streamer personalities playing with an enforced latency of 150 ms and absolutely losing their minds.
            • It would be gamed immediately. By entering a 'bog player' in the tournament and fucking with it's pings, depending on what you are doing. e.g. Somebody jumps you...frame rate suddenly drops, while you run a macro to jump out of the other player's crosshairs.

      • That would inevitably produce a 'max lag' rule that would simply keep the slow connection people out.

        Back in the days of dialup, the first multiplayer games were as you describe. Calls of 'AOLer' on the chat would get players kicked (AOL dialup had notoriously bad pings, to say nothing of the fact they were all clueless morons.)

      • Then the question becomes, how far out will you let the latency be set? 100ms? 200? 300? What if you have a person playing on a crappy dsl line? Do you you want to bring everyone to their level? If not then what do you do with the high latency player?

        This plus a multitude of other questions come into play when trying to start this type of management. Typically you just end up pissing most everyone.

    • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:57AM (#54298173) Homepage

      The current speed of light is clearly racist against indigenous Hawaiians. We need to expand federal net neutrality regulations to require telecommunications companies to use faster light on the cables connecting Hawaii to the mainland. /sarc

      • You mean artificially throttle all communications on the mainland to compensate.
      • If you run your own continuous fiber optic cable directly from Hawaii to Chicago, you should be able to get sub-50ms. pings. It's all those pesky hops and retransmits that get in the way.

    • Or start a stock exchange in Hawaii. That kind of thing tends to drive a strong economic demand for high bandwidth, low latency transit links.

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:44AM (#54298053)

    The game's server is in Chicago. That means if you live in the Midwest, your computer can communicate with it almost instantaneously. If you're in L.A., it can take roughly 60 milliseconds. But if you're in Hawaii, it can take 120 milliseconds

    On the plus side, they don't live in Chicago.

    I would take latency, sandy beaches, perfect weather and bikini clad women over snow and death by homicide.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, life is about trade-offs. If you're already living in one of the 5 most beautiful states (ordering is very subjective), you've got so much more going in your favor than latency in a FPS tournament.

      Here's another idea. If the tournament is that important to you, rent a hotel room and buy some plane tickets (probably not on United).

    • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:59AM (#54298181) Homepage

      I would take latency, sandy beaches, perfect weather and bikini clad women over snow and death by homicide.

      To be fair, Chicago hasn't had that much snow this season.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      death by homicide

      The reality is that Chicago is, by and large, a safe city for most of its residents. The worst violence is highly concentrated in rather small areas. You can see this for yourself [chicagotribune.com] by looking at a map of where the incidents occur.

      What the media often avoids covering, however, is the demographic side of this issue. Nearly all of this violence happens in neighborhoods with large black, and to a lesser extent Hispanic/Latino, populations.

      Most of the killings are blacks killing other blacks, oft

  • Life's unfair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:45AM (#54298057)

    In other sports, runners who live at sea-level are disadvantaged in competition against runners who live high up in the mountains.

    The life of athletes is full of unfairness.
     

    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:46AM (#54298069)

      In other sports, runners who live at sea-level are disadvantaged in competition against runners who live high up in the mountains.

      The life of athletes is full of unfairness.

      That made me chuckle in a conversation about gamers.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      They actually make special masks that simulate the higher altitude for training.

      • Yeah, it's called duct tape.

    • In other sports, runners who live at sea-level are disadvantaged in competition against runners who live high up in the mountains.

      Actually not true. High altitude training is most effective when you aren't at high altitude all the time [wikipedia.org]. It's the people who can train at altitude for periods of time and then return to low altitudes that see the best results.

      The life of athletes is full of unfairness.

      Which has what exactly to do with this conversation? I have mad respect for top gamers but they aren't athletes in any widely accepted use [wikipedia.org] of the word.

    • There doesn't need to be any unfairness here, FWIW. Well, OK, maybe if you want everyone to be part of the exact same MMORPG, but if that's not an issue (simple arena matches), why not have servers... all across the world? Including Hawaii? Each player just connects to the lowest latency server available to them to play with others connected to that server?

      Doesn't that pretty much fix the problem?

  • If I'm living in Hawaii the absolute last thing I'm doing is playing video games. I'd be more concerned about rising ocean levels thanks to global climate change.
    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:59AM (#54298183)

      True, although Hawaii may fare better than most islands and coastal areas. Most of Hawaii is well above even the scariest of sea level rises.

      Just about the entire state of Florida would be under water before 10% of Hawaii is underwater.

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        Even better, the 10% that will be underwater is most of the of the tourist traps.
    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > If I'm living in Hawaii the absolute last thing I'm doing is playing video games. I'd be more concerned about rising ocean levels thanks to global climate change

      You must be a delight on vacations :/

  • And this is one reason why we should not go around Earth, but through it.

    Other reasons for developing the necessary technology would be resources (most of Earths heavy elements have long sunk below the crust) and harvesiting geothermal energy.

    • I have no idea why you'd want a guy named Harve to baby-sit your geothermal energy.

    • You must be a big fan of the latest "Total Recall" movie. The core of the earth is HOT. The movie totally glossed over that. Your cables would melt.
      • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
        You must be a big fan of the latest "Total Recall" movie. The core of the earth is HOT. The movie totally glossed over that. Your cables would melt.

        So install a cooling system. It could double as a geothermal power plant.

        Oh come on, it's just a few thousand kilometers of pipes. We can fly to Mars, but we can't install planet-sized plumbing?

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > And this is one reason why we should not go around Earth, but through it.

      Your max distance savings is about 40%, and that's from two opposite points on the equator.

      New York to LA is considered a bit undesirable for ping times, and it is 2,451 miles flying over the surface of the earth. That's approximately, but less than, the surface distance from LA to Honolulu, which we'll call 2500 miles. We'll round the Earth's radius to 4000 miles. With that I get an angle of about 36 degrees, and something lik

    • Going through the Earth wouldn't make the distance from Hawaii to Chicago that much shorter. Your ping would still be high.

    • Maybe we need low epsilon alternative to fiber for reduced latency? How about games get together and put in some air dielectric coax with repeaters to get some of the ~30% speed loss due to the dielectric constant of glass? How many $M's is it worth to pwn the world?

  • Depends on the game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <megazzt @ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:52AM (#54298123) Homepage

    Any decent game will have lag compensation, so the server allows the player's reaction to (approximately) what they saw on their screen at the time they saw it to apply.

    For example, let's say two players shoot a killing shot at each other at exactly the same time. With a typical game the 200 ping player's action would be delayed enough for a low-ping player to kill before the server receives the "shoot" action from the high ping player. The high ping player fires at the other guy who takes no damage and the game eventually receives the "you died" message (in reality, the high ping player never fired since he died first). With lag compensation, the server can see the player with high ping fired when he was still alive, according to his lag, and can do damage to the low-ping player, resulting in both players killing eac other. In some cases such systems can favor high-ping players, as low-ping players will see side effects such as bullets seeming to bend around corners to hit them (as the high-ping player hit them before they rounded the corner, from their point of view), while low-ping players will see less benefits from lag compensation themselves. But overall things are more fair than without lag compensation I think ,and really weird lag compensation side effects are thankfully rare.

    • Should also add that it's a bit more fair than I made it sound, since the high-lag player can still be hit "around corners" too since the main factor in seeing such lag compensation side effects is the delta ping between two players, rather than direct ping to the server. In general the lag compensation system I described is said to favor attackers because of such side effects, and because the lag compensation itself tends to be applied to attacks.

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:15AM (#54298303)
      Problem is unless they are implemented perfectly, lag compensation systems can be abused (see "lag switching", for example). For a competitive game that could turn into a real issue.
    • by rhazz ( 2853871 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:16AM (#54298309)

      Any decent game will have lag compensation

      Yes, many games compensate for this by kicking players with bad latency because...

      low-ping players will see side effects such as bullets seeming to bend around corners to hit them

      ...that kind of shenanigans ruins the gameplay. This is also why in most twitch shooters, all other things equal, fortune favours the aggressor [google.ca].

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Latency hiding is an 'ok' compromise for two player p2p networked games like fighters (eg 'rollback'), but does not work well for games with multiple players each having different latencies. The best solution there has always been for each player to eat his latency to the server. There's no reason why the whole game should be dictated by the player with the highest latency. Some games dumb down the mechanics to hide it which is also a crappy trade off.

      Overall, I think it's better for hpbs and lpbs to stick

  • Global ping times (Score:5, Informative)

    by PktLoss ( 647983 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @10:53AM (#54298141) Homepage Journal

    If you're looking for a break down of what pings look like globally, we've got the data: http://wondernetwork.com/pings [wondernetwork.com]

    Or for Honolulu specifically: https://wondernetwork.com/ping... [wondernetwork.com] (101ms to Chicago)

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:01AM (#54298193) Homepage Journal

    But you're still in Hawaii and he's still in Detroit.

  • Man, I feel for you, living in Hawaii and suffering though long latency when you play online games. I guess you cannot surf every day of your life and surfing the web is all frustration because it takes too long....Sorry but you cannot break the laws of physics...

    Next you are going to be complaining about the UV exposure rates and the price of gasoline, I know, life is hard and not fair. You have it really bad there...Maybe we can come up with a way to change the value of "c"...

  • I think as you go east in Montana like Bozeman the speeds are worse with Charter, and they throttle, something Hawaii Telecom (Fiber) does not. Soo overall I have lived in Waikiki and Kailua and the speeds are way higher than I have received living in Montana. Maybe not missoula but in Bozeman the internet really sucks.
  • Just do it like the jockeys do it, the lighter ones get some lead to carry.

  • LPB! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:16AM (#54298315) Journal

    Ahhh, the return of the LPB -- the Low Ping Bastard from Quake days.

    There's a solution to this, 1-and-1 home and away contests, which people regularly did for intercontinental matches.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Some games just add lag for everyone, so that a low ping offers no advantage. Street Fighter 5 does that, there is a fixed lag of 8 frames (128ms). You press a button, even in a local match, the character reacts 8 frames later. So pings under about 100ms are all the same and offer no advantage.

      Players just got used to it.

    • There's a solution to this, 1-and-1 home and away contests, which people regularly did for intercontinental matches.

      Shrug. I'm finding it difficult to have sympathy.

      People who live in Saudi Arabia are disadvantaged at downhill skiing compared to those who live in Alaska.
      People who live in Liechtenstein are disadvantaged at surfing compared to those who live in Hawaii.

      Where you were born and where you live influences the hobbies you can partake in, as well as careers you can partake in. Welcome to physical reality.

  • Surfers in Denver can't compete either, and neither can skiers in Phoenix!

    Another place you can't compete as a gamer is *most places in the United States*. In order to compete in a latency-relevant game online, you pretty much need to be in one of several major metropolitan areas. Because those areas are population dense, they serve plenty of people. But it doesn't take anyone a very far car trip to get somewhere that you can end up with no broadband.

    The real reason Hawai'i, with pretty high population p

  • Light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second and Earth has a circumference of 40,075,000 meters. Unfortunately, light is impeded to about 66% it's original speed when traveling through glass [rpi.edu] which includes fiber.

    Assuming you only have to travel a quart of the way to connect to Hawaii (check a map!), that's a 20,037,500 meter round trip.;
    20,037,500 / (299,792,458 * 2/3) = 0.10025685836 seconds

    Add to that the response times of routers and you got yourself a 120ms ping.

    Until we get faster than light communi

    • I guess you can move the server to Hawaii.

    • FTL communications wouldn't help, because people with already low ping times would also use FTL communication, and *STILL* be faster than players in Hawaii.
    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > (check a map!)

      Well, if you check a map, you see that the distance from Hawaii to LA is similar to the distance from LA to New York (and mostly maps to the fiber cables that they already have). A quarter around the earth is like 6300 miles, and Hawaii isn't even close to that far from its direct connects on the west coast (like 2400ish). Even a surface link to New York is less than 5000 miles.

      LA to NY is kind of a crappy ping too, but not as rough as Hawaii has it. So I suspect their issues aren't j

  • Use Geo-sync satellites as the communication path. Everybody gets a level playing field. Like in society where there's imbalance, we always have to dumb down the solution to the lowest common denominator.

  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:26AM (#54298401) Journal
    Answer: Play games in Hawaii that don't require twitch reflexes and latency requirements.
  • It's funny how people confuse internet speed (which is measured in time) vs throughput (measured in bits). I'd FAR rather pay comcrap for QoS of my packets to the border of their network rather than more throughput.
  • by flargleblarg ( 685368 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:32AM (#54298465)
    I'm amazed that a gamer sitting on an island in the Pacific could unilaterally block a tournament.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:40AM (#54298517) Homepage

    Gets worst pings than 120 ms. And it has more to do with the ISP than the speed of light.

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @11:44AM (#54298547) Homepage

    What about gamers who live in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Africa and have to contact US based servers? They also have latency.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > What about gamers who live in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Africa and have to contact US based servers? They also have latency.

      They also have servers in Europe, Asia, and South America to connect to. If there were enough gamers, they would have servers in Africa too. Rarely, Aussies have local servers, but usually they have to make do with Asia (acceptable) or Europe or US (much rougher). Hawaii isn't just pretty far and/or served by higher latency connections, it is also too small to mak

  • competitive video gaming should have local lan play at the very least for big events or some kind of system to make it fair over all pings.

  • I would not move to Hawaii to play video games.

    Get out and surf. Sheesh.

  • why one server (farm) for the usa? the usa is big and has quite a few big pop areas where servers should be.

  • esports union can help fix this and it can give the players some say over what the people running the events do.

  • In related news, people in rural areas can't get cheap/fast internet either. Maybe if fast internet is an important part of your life, you should MOOOOOOVE to an appropriate location. I know people who moved to Arizona then moved back to Wisconsin because it was too hot there. Some people are just that fucking stupid.
  • Seriously? Maybe they should just grow up and find an adult hobby instead of complaining.

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