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Thread: Console Gaming: The Lag Factor (Eurogamer)

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Console Gaming: The Lag Factor (Eurogamer)

    September 5th, 2009

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    The game is unresponsive. It's laggy. The joypad acts in a merely advisory manner. The control is rubbish. Game reviewers and players alike can be quick to put the boot into any given release - and rightly so, if it deserves it - but at the very least there should be a way of quantifying what has come to be known as controller latency. Human perception is something of an imprecise instrument, and similar to the wayward estimations of frame-rate that sometimes creep into reviews, a more scientific approach needs to be taken to get to the heart of the issue.

    If cold, hard figures can be attached to specific gameplay experiences, comparisons can be made and deeper understandings can be reached. If a proven methodology can be put into place, games reviewers can better inform their readers, but more importantly developers can benefit in helping to eliminate unwanted lag from their code. The end result? Players get better, smoother, more responsive games.

    "Our mantra of '60FPS 60FPS 60FPS!' would all be for nothing if we had horrible input lag," says Infinity Ward's Drew McCoy. "It is extremely helpful being able to see the physical, measurable, result of what is going on in our game - especially if things change or if someone in the office complains that things 'don’t feel right'. If anyone cares about the end user experience of their game, they should be heavily invested in their input latency."

    Criterion senior engineer Alex Fry concurred in our expansive Burnout tech interview. "We try to get the latency down to the lowest possible, because it's just a better experience. It's one of the reasons Burnout runs at 60FPS."

    In basic terms, controller latency is very easy to define. It's the time, usually measured in frames or milliseconds, between pressing the button on your controller and the appropriate action kicking in on-screen during gameplay. The longer the delay, the less responsive the controls, and the more unsatisfying the game can feel.
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    In the end of the day I don't think it makes that much of a difference that we should start boycotting wireless controllers, but it's something worth knowing.

  2. #2

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    To the First Person Shooters, it makes a huge difference when the enemy is aiming at you, and you have a 250 millisecond space to shoot at them or dodge before you get shot at. And that 250 millisecond could be used up from your wireless keyboard or mouse . Unreal Tournament 2004 does that to you.

  3. #3

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    This article does a good job in pointing out the obvious. If your frame rate sucks so does your games response time.

    Just a note, the author is not writing about wireless controller latency, that is a separate issue. He is writing about the delayed response issues caused by the lower framerates on console games (<=30 FPS).

    The interesting point he makes though, is that people seem to have accepted this as the norm, or gotten used to it and no longer notice it. I myself, switching between PC and Xbox 360 frequently depending on exclusivity, do notice it, but for the most part, it is acceptable for the average gamer in a single player experience. If your playing a competitive shooter, then yes, it is a big problem because chances are it is causing you to die/lose frags (whether you notice it or not).

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