Diagnosing Lag

From TalonRO Wiki

Acknowledgements: references provided from Xanti's Tracert Guide and by GM Sushi. Additional details taken from the Installation and Troubleshooting Guide. Cross-references from Darren Kiltor's guide to lag and rubberbanding. Further server details and insights from GM Boreas and GM Seiren. Guide written by GM Howl.


Diagnosing Lag: How to Identify the Source of Your Lag and Potential Fixes

Encountering lag can be one of the most frustrating experiences in playing any MMO game. While many people will experience lag one time or another, a lot of players are unable to accurately locate the source of their lag issues. Some lag issues can actually be fixed quite easily right from your own connection! Other issues require more diagnostic testing to determine the source of the issue. What's important to remember is this: not all lag is the same, nor is it always caused by one single source issue.

This guide is intended to help you better understand what happens when you do lag and how to determine the nature of your lag problem. Finally, this guide will include a few active steps you can take that may result in curing your lag! Every single MMO game and server in existence encounters lag issues, but understanding the nature of your lag can help you determine if the problem lies with your connection, your route to the server, your computer's performance, or other sources.


Basic Definitions

For those who are unfamiliar with the more formal definitions of lag, the beginning part of this guide will establish some common terminology, which we'll refer to throughout this guide:

Latency

This is a direct measurement of how long it takes to send/receive data. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms). The lower the value, the better your speed is. Conversely, the higher the latency value, the longer it takes for you to access the server. Generally speaking, people who have a high latency experience what is known as Lag. Think of this like standing in line at the Post Office - you definitely don't want to be there all day!

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is essentially how fast your internet connection is, and this measured in Kilobytes per second (KB/sec). You want these values to be high; the higher the value, the faster the speed. Here, we'll think of this like sending a bunch of mail at once at the Post Office - it both relates to how much stuff you can send in the mail and how fast that mail goes.

CPU Performance

This is how well your own personal computer operates, including things like RAM performance, processing, and so forth. This can relate to lag in that a slow CPU performance can sometimes be the cause of your lag. In keeping with the above metaphors, we'll call CPU Performance the postal worker at the Post Office who handles your mail; if they are slow, this could be why your mail isn't getting out!

Route

The route is simply the pathway that your connection takes to reach the server. All connections pass through a series of other areas before reaching the server. Sometimes, this can be tens of places before reaching the destination. Think of the route just like a mail route; when you deliver your letter, it must be carried all the way to its destination with little stops along the way.


Applying these Definitions to Lag

Your computer is connected through many other computers to reach TalonRO's server - this is your Route. Continuing to use our postal service metaphor, your packets of information (just like mail) need to pass through several places (just like local and regional sorting centers). Sometimes a problem can be with:

  • An individual user
  • With the server
  • With one of these computers that connects you to the server

So, how do we find out where the problem is? Just because all lag problems appear to look the same doesn't mean that everyone is experiencing the same lag problem. This is also true for some lag issues that seem to affect multiple players at once. Luckily, diagnosing your lag isn't an impossible task! In fact, there are many things that you can do to isolate the source of the problem, along with potential steps to fix it.

Four Types of Lag and Diagnostics

Lag can come in many different shapes and sizes, as we've covered. But more often than not, your lag will fall into one of these four buckets:

Routing.JPG


Computer Performance Issues

Your computer can be using a number of bandwidth resources at one time, and these days it is very easy to be using a tremendous amount of resources quite easily. Your computer can be downloading and sending things in the background all while you play TalonRO, consuming limited bandwidth and leading to performance issues on your end. Always try and keep other background applications to a minimum if you are experiencing significant lag. This includes doing the following:

  • Turning off all P2P applications, and turning off any torrent programs that might be consuming bandwidth
  • Close other background applications and keep concurrent downloads to a minimum.
  • Check to see that you meet all of the basic requirements to play Ragnarok Online as not meeting those requirements might lead to additional performance lag.

By allowing TalonRO to better use your available internet bandwidth, you will likely significantly reduce any latency you may be experiencing, while also allowing your computer to better use its resources for gameplay.


Routing Issues

As we covered above, sometimes the source of your lag can be related to the route your computer takes to reach the server. We can identify this route by analyzing something called your ping to the server. Ping is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host (in this case, reaching the TalonRO server) and to measure the round-trip time it takes for that information to be sent to TalonRO and then back to you.

While our game host does not allow you to ping the server to test your route, which is usually called a Tracert, you can do a tracert on our web host. A Tracert can help you determine where on your route to the server something went wrong. What is important to know is that lag can be caused if some section of this route is down. That could be due to a power outage, a failure somewhere far away from you (but on your connection route), or other issue along the route to the server.

To start a tracert, hit Windowskey+R. In there, type: cmd. Hit Enter and a new window will open. Once in there, type the following: tracert talonro.com This will start running the tracert. Now just give it some time to finish. Do this only when you are getting continuous connection issues, otherwise this does not show much. Once it's finished, simply make a screenshot or copy paste the result and post it on the forums. This will help us determine where an issue might be coming from.


Personal Connection Issues (ISP)

In many cases, lag can be the result of your connection's integrity and speed. In many cases, lag issues are the result of your own internet service slowing down, encountering some issues, or just being slow in general. You can however test to see if this is the case, and you can also take a few steps to fix this on your end if this occurs. If you're encountering issues that may be related to your own personal ISP, you can try the steps below to see if they aid in your connection.

Potential Fixes

On occasion, you might be able to solve issues related to your ISP by renewing your IP address. In the Post Office metaphor, this would be like going to the post office and having your address updated in their system and having your mail delivered to this new address. Here how to do it:

  • Go to Start Menu in Windows
  • Search for cmd
  • Right-click and "Run as Administrator"
  • Type the following: ipconfig /release
  • Hit Enter
  • Now, type ipconfig /renew
  • Hit Enter

This is the same procedure that some people go through when they try unplugging and rebooting their router or modem, but it can be done from your own computer.

Another potential fix is to ensure that TalonRO is running at what's called "High Priority" on your computer. This is to make sure that available resources are channeled through to TalonRO for the best possible experience. By default, TalonRO runs at low priority on most configurations. You may be able to experience some lag relief by making the TalonRO.exe run at a higher priority level.

To do this [1]

  • While TalonRO is running, open your Task Manager (ctrl + shift + esc)
  • Find talonexe.exe in the list of running programs
  • Right-click and look in the menu for "Set Priority."
  • Select the priority level for TalonRO. You can set it to Normal, High, or Realtime. TalonRO will always start at low priority, but switching the priority level may help!

Hosting Issues

Finally, some lag issues are not the result of any of the above. Even when Tracerts, Nettests, and other checks all come back clear, you might be experiencing some lag because of a problem with the host. The host is the company that professionally manages and maintains TalonRO's server. They are presently located on the West Coast of the United States. On occasion, a power outage, host maintenance, or other backups might cause some momentary issues. Such lag issues are, however, often very temporary in nature. They may be the result of some issues on the host's end, but they are almost always promptly resolved. While the majority of lag issues are not the result of the host, they can occur on occasion and do serve as a reasonable explanation for lag when it does not fall into any of the three previously mentioned buckets.

What your lag is NOT the result of

While some issues can crop up with the host, note that these incidents are extremely rare and, in 99% of lag cases, are not the result of the following:

  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks - these are not only extraordinarily rare, but our host provides superior protection against such attacks. Even if someone is attempting it, it is unlikely you will ever feel interruption given the protection we have in place, therefore rendering such attacks useless.
  • Too Many People on the Server - the server presently uses a very slim fraction of its total resources (less than 25%) even with more than 1,000 players online. TalonRO's server runs on very advanced equipment, and so the presence of many players on the server is negligible.
  • Too Many Events, Scripts, GMs Running an Event, etc. - these things are only capable of producing visual latency and not true server lag. For example, hosting an event would not contribute to server-wide lag for all players, as these things take up a small fraction of available resources to run, often no more so than fighting mobs or leveling or being in a party would.
  • Issues with Server Software - Some server lag or outages can be the result of poorly configured server software, bad scripts, or errors in setting up things on the server side of the game. Fortunately, TalonRO's staff of expert programmers and scripters have thoroughly tested everything before it goes live into the server, making sure that the gameplay runs smoothly and optimally.
  • Backing up the Server - TalonRO is committed to making sure that your data stays completely safe and 100% intact. To do this, we run backups of the server several times a day. Some players may notice a very brief period of lag during these backups, but they are usually very short and often not even noticeable.


Reducing Lag

A few impeccable advices on the subject of altering the latency.

  • Add the process talonroexe.exe to your Antivirus Real-Time Protection Web Shield Exceptions list.
Note: When using with tunneling service active, MSMQ service should be enabled and MSMQ Triggers — disabled. Perform services.msc in command line, set the first one to auto or manual, and the second to manual or disable it.
  • Get a Traffic Shaping Software. (NetBalancer, cFosSpeed, use_search_engine.)
  • Do tracert talonro.com in CMD, look for the losses below the fifth line. (Those strange long addresses, that's where your packets spend their working time off.)
  • Use a Tunneling Service if needed. (Pingzapper, WTFast, BattlePing, LowerPing, etc. Choose one that works for you.)
  • Make some System Services/Running Applications management.

In Summary

Lag is no fun for anyone! However, we also want to be of as much help as possible when understanding the source of your lag. In many cases, lag is the result of some factors beyond the control of the GM Team, while in other cases having access to data and diagnostics about your lag issues can aid in our troubleshooting. Please don't hesitate to contact a GM directly if you do experience lag while playing and we will be happy to try and work with you to problem solve. Happy gaming

  1. Mithril Knight [1]