Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lag compensation in MW3

Ever since the term "lag compensation" became a hot topic within the Call of Duty community, I've noticed that a lot of people have been throwing the phrase around on Youtube, Twitter and other various gaming forums on the Internet where angry Call of Duty players like to congregate and grab one another by the throat. What frustrates me is the fact that most of the people that I've witnessed using the term "lag compensation" have made it perfectly clear that they don't actually understand what the hell it is.

I've often heard people making stupid statements such as "Lag compensation should be removed from MW3!" and "Lag compensation is only there to help out people with crappy connections!" I'll be honest - those people are idiots. Not because they said something that was incorrect or outlandish, but because they haven't taken the time to educate themselves about the thing that they're complaining about.

So let's clear a few things up:

  1. Lag compensation is NOT a new feature. It has been present in MW3, Black Ops, MW2, World at War and even Call of Duty 4.
  2. Taking lag compensation out of a P2P game (host to host) would make it unbearable to play.
  3. Lag compensation is a vital part of modern multiplayer games. It exists in many other games; not just Call of Duty.

Without lag compensation, you would never be able to play in a lobby with a high ping; and if you did, it certainly would not be enjoyable. As the name suggests, lag compensation compensates for lag / high latency. Hell, even under perfect/low ping latency conditions, playing without lag compensation can be a frustrating experience. Why? Because lag compensation attempts to figure out where the enemy was when you pressed the trigger button on your controller. When you fire your weapon, data is sent from your XBox/PS3 to the host. By the time the host machine receives your data and knows that you have fired your weapon in a specific direction, the enemy that you were shooting at will probably be a few steps ahead. Basically, you will have missed your shot even though you were aiming at him when you pressed the button on your controller. In games that have no lag compensation, players are actually forced to fire a few steps ahead of where the enemy is headed. Now imagine that for a second. You see that a foe is sprinting in a certain direction and in order to take him down, you must aim at the spot that you "think" he might be headed.

That would make the game pointless and unbearable to play.

So please; don't complain about lag compensation as if it's some sort of new feature that is there to help those with bad connections. It's also there to help YOU shoot people with bad connections. It is a vital part of P2P multiplayer games and taking it out of the game completely would be catastrophic. If there are problems with lag in MW3, don't blame lag compensation. Blame how MW3's lag compensation is tuned.