OK, I don’t know how many people have been deployed or maybe moved to the country and had to contend with dial-up quality (or slower) connections. Here in Iraq we’ve got satellite internet provided by a civilian contractor called “Babtel.”
For a guy who likes to multi-task, research, talk, link, post, and play—all online and generally all at once—this is a bummer of a connection. Our connection runs about 850 to 1500ms latency during the day when it’s playable. During prime hours, from about 7pm to midnight (zulu +3 hours), it’s unplayable. Our bandwidth during the day is about 18 to 38 kilobytes download, and considerably less upload.
For normal internet operations, this means that it takes well over a minute to load a single profile page on armory or arena junkies, and considerably longer for forum posts or blogs that have pictures or screenshots. Watching videos is completely out of the question, regardless of the time of day. Podcasts? Not a chance. Streaming of any sort? Keep dreaming. Torrents? Oh, now you’re just teasing me. (To download a few megs in WoW patches over here takes hours or all day)
And in-game, apply that same connection…healing becomes a guessing game because you have a lot of stuff happening while your computer gets the data from the server and sends your inputs. Disc healing is better than holy, because you can pre-shield and mitigate damage. (This was a HUGE realization for me, and it allowed me to successfully heal decent groups through Halls of Reflection.) The toughest part of playing here is that what you normally experience as a “global cooldown” is extended based
As for PVP, I haven’t even bothered. Never mind the process of accumulating gear…I have most of the pieces now to at least be better than the average bg scrubs that annoy you, and I have the gold to put epic gems and appropriate enchants on each piece. I need about 100k honor or less more to have a complete PVP set. BUT, with my latency I can’t really enjoy PVP…I can sit in BGs (or even arenas) and throw a heal here and there, but I can’t perform at the level that I would have formerly considered “a bad day for Smoogee” because of our aforementioned connectivity.
This entire deployment has been a fantastic lesson in “delayed gratification” for me. Certainly, looking forward to getting married foremost, seeing family, a promotion to captain…those things are real, and important. And one of the small things that people take for granted is that wonderful DSL or cable modem back home. I can’t even call my wonderful fiancé when I want, much less be on skype while running a bg or instance. I found out the hard way that I can not run 25-man ops, because of bandwidth of all things. SO…you know what sounds really good to this pilot? Taking my fiancé out on a date, treating ourselves to a steak dinner, a good night’s sleep in my own room, spending some time with my family, and having everybody on our business team over for a barbecue. And after that, a 25ms connection, skype, multiple monitors, external speakers, and a 4-hour block of time to raid and pvp once or twice a week! I honestly can’t even REMEMBER what it’s like to be able to play WoW in what I call “real-time” or to be able to press a button and have the corresponding action occur in less than a second.
I find the irony in the fact that my primary soapbox while I’m deployed as a military member is the gaming potential of the Iraqi satellite connection. But, I always keep first things first…this blog simply isn’t about those things, it’s about the gaming potential. Ironic or not, I am really, sincerely looking forward to that beautiful “average” unremarkable cable internet that over 25% of households now have in the U.S.! It’s not the first thing I’m looking forward to by any stretch of my vivid imagination, but when I’m able to catch a little time here to play WoW, that memory of a real-time connection with voice-over-IP, and the ability to surf through web pages with almost immediate loading. The computer geek in me is really looking forward to that again!