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Multiple gameplay experience issues

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Customer Service (Read-Only)
Multiple gameplay experience issues

Mahriman's Avatar

02.11.2013 , 05:56 PM | #1

I am writing to report on a number of issues that affects my general gameplay experience.

1) Server lag
Prior to the superserver-merges, I was never above 35 ms latency (according to the game client). As of the superserver-merges, I've never seen my latency go down below 50 ms. I'm very confident this is not a connection issue, as swtor servers are virtually the only servers I ever get this high a latency from (near-distance servers, of course).
Prior to the first server merges, I was on a 100 mbit (up- and downstream) fiber line, and was never above 20 ms. After the (super)server merges, I immediately moved up to averaging just above 50 ms. I can't say for sure regarding in-between the first merge and superservers, but I'm pretty confident it was still below 20 ms back then. I'm now at another 100 mbit/s connection (though via cable tv network rather than fiber, today), but as I said this worsening of latency was noticed prior to changing connection and ISP and tied to the second round of merging (superservers).

I've been talking to lots of other people, both from the same country as me as well as remote destinations and very different connection types. Everyone tend to agree, somewhere along the way, server latency got much worse.

2) Client/Server lag/delayed response.
As of the second serve merge ("Superservers"), the time between a client action and response from the server has been drastically longer. The first thing I noticed as of character transfer and the populated servers was that it took a long time before the casting bar even disappeared when mounting up. This is true for other abilities, and even though I'm now at about 50 ms latency, the point from the flashing on the speeder button after I've clicked it until the casting bar appears could anywhere betwen 0.3 to 1 second. This does not seem to affect combat abilities as much, but there is still a noticable delay effect which was introduced somewhere around superserver merges.

3) Minor video corruption
This is a problem I haven't been able to figure out if it has something to do with my computer of it it's on your end. I'd like your feedback if there is any troubleshooting I can do or if this is a problem that can be confirmed on your end.

Since about 1.3 or possibly 1.4, I've been noticing intermittent video corruption tied to icons / the user interface. When it appears, it is always just when graphics seem to be 'loading' (even though such load time should not exist) and the corruption is always tied to the GUI rather than the game world. It's most apparant when bringing forth the crew skills window and I can currently replicate the problem just by opening the map. See this screenshot.
When the video corruption appears, it quickly fixes itself (< 0.5 seconds) and replaces the corrupted icon with the correct graphics - though it does seem to get worse if I repeatedly with small pauses bring up the map.
Please note that if I instead spam the M button to bring up/down the map very quickly over and over again, this video corruption does not occur.
It seems related to time to present/load graphics, but I wouldn't know.

4) Character models/textures causing framerate drops/stuttering video
As soon as a new crowd of characters is within a certain distance of my own character, framerate drops alot. I can only conclude this has to do with buffering player or item textures, or exchanging data with the server with info on that character, as the problem always appears whenever the game is trying to present other players, but not any other objects. The more players, the more stuttering and drops in framerate.
This partly goes together with my first point on server lag as it is not a problem during the morning shift, say 4 am, or whenever I'm on any planet with very few players. The fleet is a very different experience depending on if there's 85 persons on it, or 250.
It's very frustrating to have performance drops whenever you encounter another player, this being an MMORPG and all. (Imagine if Quake would've had FPS drops whenever you killed someone!)

5) Class imbalance and pvp exploits
Currently, on TRE, there are quite a few teams and individual players playing in such a way that it's evident there's something amiss. Now, I don't wanna think of my fellow PVP players as a bunch of cheaters, but there are some reoccuring patterns of unjust gameplay behavior in terms of ability usage and creating teams with a specific layout only to bring about the absolutely most destructive and unbalanced force in the game.

I'd be completely OK with this if I wouldn't consider my character well-geared (full elite war hero) and myself a seasoned - and, if I may say so myself, quite good - PVP player.

But while there are some specific problems tied to PVP and class balance, there are even worse problems in that there are quite a few players who've now learned to use various exploits. Having played the game since pre-launch and never gotten stuck in Huttball (for instance), it ought to be quite easy for an investigating developer to see when, where and how players are triggering /stuck and other mechanics to gain an advantage if no one (well, you know) normally gets stuck in Huttball.

My questions:
1) What steps are being taken in the near future and prior to the launch of Rise of the Hutt Cartel to lower server lag and provide an optimal gameplay experience if or when more players come back or join the game?

2) Who is responsible for the decisions that make such problems within the 'OK limit'. That is to say, at which point did someone say "Whoah guys, if we do these superserver merges, my tests show it will take 0.2 seconds longer everytime you try to mount your vehicle" and what was the basis behind allowing this and down-prioritizing the issue?

3) What is the status of optimization work in regard to a highly populated fleet or area and what goals are the teams working towards? At which point is, for instance, frame rate an issue? Would you please care to explain on whose table the decision was that this type of performance issues were well within limits of customer frustration (i.e. framerate drops down to <10 when entering heavily populated areas/lots of characters around), and what the goal is for the game at all?

4) How many persons are working dedicated on security, cheating and game exploitation issues and why can't more proactive as well as reactive work be done by them? I've played with my main character for about 55 days and today I was for the first time positive I saw a /stuck exploiter. I imagine there must be way more effective ways to deal with these kind of problems than relying on players to report other players. Is there anything else but reporting other players that can be done?

5) Aren't any Bioware employees and developers playing the game anymore and seeing these issues, are they burnt-out because they see players whining about these issues all the time or have they just lost their faith in the game?

6) How many of the current known issues (both Bioware acknowledged in thread and player acknowledged in unofficial threads) will be dealt with prior to the release of Rise of the Hutt Cartel; at which state do you plan the game to be just prior to that release, and after it?

I understand this is alot of text and some tricky questions. I hope you find time to read it through and try to answer me, as I've been finding time and money to play the game and trying to be nice even though a paid, promised service from time to time causes more frustration than happiness.

Mahriman's Avatar

02.11.2013 , 05:56 PM | #2
I'm providing additional information related to my system for your convenience.
Thank you for your time.

System specs:

Traceroute to Euro IP (quite typical)


MikeTheDuke's Avatar

02.11.2013 , 08:10 PM | #3
1) Server Lag, this is a very contentious issue at the best of times. We have people saying it is BioWare's fault, we have people saying it is the ISPs, In truth, unless there is evidence to any of them, it is difficult to prove one way or another. Moving to the Super Servers, they increased capacity and resources on the machines to enable this migration.

I believe they were not fully aware of the popularity of the game when it went to F2P. They didn't add any more servers, but merely put more people into the servers. My understanding of the hardware is that the more people sending data to the servers there are going to be blocks put up and this will slow peoples connections and therefore response times.

Another is the longer the servers are up without a reboot the more of a problem this has become. We have been a 2 weeks without a reboot at the time of writing of this, it seems to be pushing the limits of the server. I believe you should not complain if your Lag is below 100ms when som people have constant lag that is above 100ms and sometimes 200ms and I am not complaining about the lag.

2) It is said that the human hand to eye response is about 60-70ms, meaning that the amount of time it takes for use to perform an action we exptect to see it in about that time. They have included a queuing mechanism in the settings to enable your perform the tasks before the cool down has ended. This is meant to take into account the delays of the lag between client and server. Try setting this to about 0.5 of a second. See if that improves things.

3) Often this happens, I have rarely seen any of this. My recommendation would be, and so would that be of BioWare CS would be, start the launcher, log in, then perform the Repair function. This will detect problems with the file, check sums etc... and will fix the file. This can be run multiple times when it finds no more files to fix. Often issues like you are experiencing can be fixed using this method.

4) These stuttering when entering high population areas is caused from my understanding of a couple of things, MORE data needing to be sent to the client (to enable it to get all of the data it needs to render this). A lot of games will always struggle to render that many polygons at one time all with varying textures on the models etc... These are streamed from the disk, defragmenting this can help. But you need to use an program like Auslogics Disk Defrag Free
This enables you to consolidate your free space, defrag specific folders. It is free and I use it. This becomes less of an issue the faster the disk. I run my SWTOR from a SSD and I do not run anything else from it. Some increases could be gained from reducing TCKAck frequency and elements like that but you can also reduce the number of people to render as well, which is the Graphics settings at the bottom.

5) This is an issue. I have been doing more PvP recently and I agree I play mainly as my Scoundrel(Sawbones) and a new Consular - sub 50. Everyone who is bumped up to level 49 in stats is not equal. Gear, increases these elements especially comparing a level 10 to a level 49. The addition of the datacrons which add small bonues. The addition of implants, ear pieces and relics, increase the stats in all areas. Stealth detection. But I play with someone who is a season PvP and we both agree there is an imbalance. How to fix it? I am sure ask anyone who PvPs will say each a different things. Other than grouping people with similar leveled characters, which would be OK, if there were enough for it. Some times there isn't. Rooting doesn't count to resolve, well it should if I can't move, especially if I have been stunned I have used my stun breaker and I then I am rooted. There are people are immune to my stun when there is no resolve in their bar. There is those in cover whom I am unable to jump to, So there are many mechanics involved rather than go up, why not go down, everyone is at Level 10 stats, so, a Smash isn't overpowered, they still have more abiliteis, but their physical power is reduced.

6) This is a difficult one, I will say they are playing but understand, they are possibly on a test server or a special dev server or if they are on public servers they are within the same vLan or anything that makes them have nice fast response times. They are also able to walk up to devs and ask about how to fix small issues. I feel if they lost failth we would not see any releases, no 1.x releases with updates for FPs, Warzones, Ops, events, no expansions. We would see nothing.

7) Bugs are tough to find, harder to resolved sometimes. The exact event that causes the problem to happen might not happen everytime, if it does, it might be difficult to determine the reasons behind why it is happening.

These are my opinions about it, but
I post about Star Wars on my blog. Check it out
MikeDodgers @YouTube

Mahriman's Avatar

02.12.2013 , 10:43 AM | #4

While I appreciate your effort trying to help, I'd very much like a Bioware response on my questions. Especially since several of them are related to performance issues that I've already been troubleshooting and trying to optimise for. For instance, solid state disks are not defragmented and such (disk related) issues should near-impossibly be caused by disk queue/wait time.

I haven't read all of your message, as I've seen there were rationalisations of problems I'm experiencing and you're not, so parts of your reply really doesn't concern me and my problems.

Again, I appreciate your effort, but please refrain from being a good superuser as I'm elevating my concerns, which I think deserve a customer service reply, not other users help.