Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lag and WOW

I have been playing World of WarCraft (WoW) for a little over a year now. This game has taken more of my time than I would ever like to admit. I am so glad that there is not an in game timer that keeps track of how much of your life you have given to this game. I started playing this game from home on my DSL connection. I have a pretty good connection at the house for a DSL line. Then I got deployed to an Army Base out in the middle of no ware for training. They had a commercial wireless connection. Not too bad of a connection but it was not even in the same ball park as my home connection. I started to notice subtle changes in the game as my lag increased. It seemed like everyone was always getting the first shot off on me in PVP. At times it even seemed like they were getting 4 shots for every 3 I was getting off. I noticed that I was now losing more than I was winning. I am not saying that I am very good at PVP. I actually think I am pretty middle of the road for a guy who is leveling and in greens for the most part. But I was still enjoying the game never the less. So then came the time that my training was over. So we hoped the big bird and flew across the ocean to the land of endless sand. I was lucky enough to end up with a room with free internet in it when I got here. I sat there wondering one night how bad would this game be playing on a US server from Iraq. I knew that my connection was not much better than dial up and that the lag may be a problem. This was a huge understatement to say the least. The first couple of times I logged in I just did not want to play with this lag. Let me give you an example. I was starting a new mage. I have never really liked mages all that much but I was curious about the class. My highest level hunter was sitting right at 60 at the time and I was suffering from a little bit of burn out. I am a very slow leveler but that is another story. So here I am with my brand new mage. So my first thought is that I need to go and kill something because that is what selfish self centered Mages always do first. I hit my little fireball spell at max range and nothing happened. The button was going through its normal animation and all but there was not the normal fire ball streaming from my fingertips. I thought this was very strange. I also thought it was very strange that the mob that I was aiming at looked a little bit pissed off and was coming at me full force. Then the fire ball animation went off. I hit the button again and by this time the mob was beating on me. I almost laughed when a lvl 2 mob almost killed me. What is up with this I thought? I played for a little bit longer and finally got fed up with it and just quit for the night. I was thinking that I am going to be overseas for a year and I will not be able to play Wow for a whole year. I know, those of you who do not play think this sounds crazy but I was already having withdraw syndrome. Much worse than when I even quick the tobacco habit for a while. But the call of WoW was back on me the next night. I was hoping that my connection would be a little bit better…No such luck though. I started back on my Mage again and the same thing was happening. This time though I started to count to myself how long it was from the time I pushed the fire ball button to the next time I was able to push it again. This time two fire balls fired off right in a row. So the lag that I was experiencing was video only. The game was seeing my inputs like normal but the video was the one that was having a hard time catching up. Once I made this discovery I was off and running. I was now getting off a couple shots before the mob reached me and then I would just beat on the mob until it was dead. It seems very strange now counting off my shots but it was an adjustment that I had to make if I wanted to play any further over here. Sometimes my character would completely lag out. So at that point I would need to do a force quit on WoW and log back in. This resulted in many deaths to say the least. Because of the lag, my character and game still thought that I was playing even though I could not move or doing anything on the screen. Then I made another discovery one night. There was a bunch of us playing in my room one night. We were running an instance because lag seemed to be a little bit better in these instances…Don’t ask me why because I do not have a clue why that would matter. We were fighting some random trash mobs when the all too often lag out would happen. I happened to glance at my friends computer screen and noticed that my character was still moving and doing things when I was putting in inputs from my keyboard. Now mind you, my screen is locked up but his screen is still showing me running around and casting fireballs. We all thought that was pretty funny but it is hard enough to play on your own monitor let alone someone else’s. But playing off of someone else’s monitor has saved us from a few low level wipes. I know you want this to end if you are still reading so I will try and close this up now. The funny thing about this lag is that it has taught me something about the game that some people may never know. Your inputs are seen by the game quicker than what you may or may not see. Now on a faster connection with a much smaller amount of lag this may not seem that important. But your input appears to always be the first thing that the game sees. I am a very visual person by nature and I tend to do things off of sight. This lag has taught this new person to the game that timing is important and what you see might not actually be the reality of what is going on in the game. I know that someday I will go back home and be on a faster connection and the game will be a whole lot more fun than it is now. But now I will be armed with the knowledge that the input is done before the animation has started. It has also taught me to mentally think about how long each spell takes to cast and when to hit that next button.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Post

I would like to start off by saying that I find it very strange to be writing like this out in the open. I am writing this first blog from Baghdad Iraq right now. I have been in country for about nine months now. I am so ready to come home. This is my fourth deployment since 2002 and to be quite honest I am tired. I find it very strange that I am a Guard Member and yet I have four deployments under my belt. Some of these deployments have been rewarding and others have been a test of endurance to make it to the end. This deployment fits into the latter. Don’t get me wrong. As far as living conditions go this is the best deployment ever. I have air conditioning, TV, bed and a great place to eat dinner each and every night. I am not out on the roads getting shot at and life for the most part is safe. There was a time in this deployment that we received a lot of rocket fire from our not so friendly neighbors. This is the first time in my military career that I felt like the prey instead of the hunter. I must admit that I do not like being the prey very much. The funny thing about deployments is that you go through a lot of mood swings. Sometimes you are really up and happy and then other times you feel like you are just getting by. You try and not think about home too much. If you think about home too much then you will realize how much of your wife’s, kids and friends lives you are missing out on. There are the birthdays of your spouse, kids and friends that you would normally be a part of that you missed out on. There are those special times when you have friends over for fellowship that have been missed forever. You missed seeing your son play his first football game. Not everything that you miss is a good thing either. You learn how some people depend upon you. It could be something as simple as your aging mother having a broke dishwasher that you could have replaced or fixed if you were there. It could also be your wife having trouble starting the weed eater to edge the yard. I have found that deployments tend to take both the good and bad from your life. It is these things that tend to define a lot of who or what you are. Without these things it leaves a piece of you that is empty. You will always have your fellow service members to work, play and laugh with. You will almost always build lasting friendships when you are deployed to a war zone. These new friends that you have made will know a piece of you that no other person will know about. Deployments tend to bring out your very best and worst qualities that you have to offer. Things that not even your closest friend in life may know about you. This sounds very cliché, but you do develop a brotherhood with people you deploy with. We all are missing out on some of the things I listed above. We are all broke in the aspect that we are not whole people when we are not around our loved ones. Many of us feel pain in the same way but how we deal with that pain can be very different from person to person. Those of us who are older I think have a better grasp on things. I turned 40 in this country…But there have been some that just hit 19, 20 or 21 since they have been here. I wonder what it would be like to miss out on those youthful milestones in your life by being stuck over here. Yes, I think us old guys who are getting close to the 20 year mark of service have it much easier. Well, I think this is quiet enough for my first blog. I will try and make the next one much more happy.