How do competitive online games perfectly sync up everyone so that it’s a fair playing field?

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What boggles my mind is that it’s not only player movements but also things like voice chat callouts. I hit a button to push-to-talk, and someone on the other side of the country hears me near instantaneously.

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you play a game online with other people, there is a special computer (server) that makes sure everyone sees and plays the game the same way. This computer talks to each player’s computer and tells them what is happening in the game. This helps make sure that everyone is playing the game fairly and that nobody has an advantage over anyone else.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you play a game online with other people, there is a special computer (server) that makes sure everyone sees and plays the game the same way. This computer talks to each player’s computer and tells them what is happening in the game. This helps make sure that everyone is playing the game fairly and that nobody has an advantage over anyone else.

Anonymous 0 Comments

(Each game varies, but these are the most common answers. Some games may be different…)

Honestly, they usually don’t. They are providing illusions that they do. Lag compensation is a thing, usually making it look like you’re playing in real-time by lying to you a little bit. One way to see this is to unplug your internet briefly while playing. Other characters often tend to keep moving in the last direction they were moving at the moment of disconnection, and you’ll be able to move and shoot at least for a little bit before the game realizes what’s happened. None of your shots will actually have happened, obviously.

But if two players both click their mouse at the same time to kill each other, the player with the lower ping usually wins. Organized competitions for games may compensate by selecting a server that’s equally distant from all players (or at least a best effort), or declare the location of the server ahead of time so players can decide whether to even participate or go to a different competition that’s more local.

Back before COVID, offline tournaments were a lot more common. Players would play at PCs in a single room, ensuring that internet latency would not cause any problems. As well as being a good way to ensure nobody’s cheating.

Voice chat does have latency. They try to get it as low as possible, and sub-100 milliseconds is possible if you’re not crossing an ocean or the long way across a continent. But I assure you, it’s not perfect. Try it. Have you and your friends sync your PC times to the internet, then have someone (everyone?) in voice chat just call out the ticks of the clock. You’ll see they’re slightly delayed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

(Each game varies, but these are the most common answers. Some games may be different…)

Honestly, they usually don’t. They are providing illusions that they do. Lag compensation is a thing, usually making it look like you’re playing in real-time by lying to you a little bit. One way to see this is to unplug your internet briefly while playing. Other characters often tend to keep moving in the last direction they were moving at the moment of disconnection, and you’ll be able to move and shoot at least for a little bit before the game realizes what’s happened. None of your shots will actually have happened, obviously.

But if two players both click their mouse at the same time to kill each other, the player with the lower ping usually wins. Organized competitions for games may compensate by selecting a server that’s equally distant from all players (or at least a best effort), or declare the location of the server ahead of time so players can decide whether to even participate or go to a different competition that’s more local.

Back before COVID, offline tournaments were a lot more common. Players would play at PCs in a single room, ensuring that internet latency would not cause any problems. As well as being a good way to ensure nobody’s cheating.

Voice chat does have latency. They try to get it as low as possible, and sub-100 milliseconds is possible if you’re not crossing an ocean or the long way across a continent. But I assure you, it’s not perfect. Try it. Have you and your friends sync your PC times to the internet, then have someone (everyone?) in voice chat just call out the ticks of the clock. You’ll see they’re slightly delayed.