Living in Australia is great, aside of course from having to dodge Kangaroos on the way to work (joke … kind of … I actually nearly hit one the other week, but not in town or on the way to work). Not everything about living Down Under is great however. Ping for one thing. The servers in the US are a whole lot of ocean away from here. Rubber banding is just one of the artefacts that you learn to live with. You move ahead 100m and the server decides, nope, you didn’t actually do that, and puts you back from whence you came. Sometimes this can happen several times in a row. Now I’m a carebear, so it’s a generally annoying thing, but not too critical, but what if I was into PvP? Now the game becomes pretty much unplayable. Some games are better than others, but Aion and LOTRO happen to be two games where the effects are felt the most. So what to do about it?
Just because we play games doesn’t mean we’re technical, some of us are, but many of us aren’t. There are a gazillion bits of advice that offer various registry setting changes. There are programs to block all traffic except that associated with your game. There are hints to do with hardware. But honestly, I think these make a difference more if you’re geographically close to the game server. Most of the problems we face here are simply due to the routing of traffic to a far away location, and no amount of registry changing is going to improve that too much (feel free to prove me wrong, I’m not in the technically competent category :P).
In Australia (and presumably other countries also affected), there are services that, for a fee, offer you a significantly lower ping. You load up their program, choose a server from their list of many (some US based, some EU based) and then simply start your game and off you go. I tried one out last night out of frustration and it made a huge difference, cutting my in-game ping in half! In LOTRO it went from over 500ms to around 250ms and I saw pretty much the same change in Aion. Now the difference this makes in-game is huge, no rubber banding, skills go off when you want them to, etc. The service makes use of proxy servers and various network tweaks and basically channels your data in a more direct manner to the game server. Setting it up was dead simple, and most companies I found offered a trial account, you can see the benefits before buying, but until you pay something you get kicked off after half an hour or so. Enough time to see whether it works or not 🙂