Piloting, from hercs to mechs.

Piloting, from hercs to mechs.
A running recap of what I'm doing for fun, between active duty flying, technology, gadgets, and some of my favorite games.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cataclysm...2500ms style

I'm sitting here on my new 2011 macbook pro using bootcamp for Windows, in a place called the USO (an organization that does things for our troops). They have free (slow) wifi, WoW works to some degree, and I have made some progress while I've been out here.
Kyle Rudd, a friend who has played with me since beta, encouraged me to continue the blog, and the timing is perfect for that. Today I'll cover:
  • Options for high latency OR low bandwidth connections in general
  • "GCDA" or Global Cooldown Availability
  • Applications for tunneling that will work with WoW on either Mac or Windows
  • The effects of bandwidth/latency problems on disc and holy specs
  • Gameplay suggestions for instance play as a priest in poor network situations
  • WoW suggestions in general for consistently crappy internet situations
  • Cataclysm options for someone in my situation
  • Mouseover, the new standard for healing in WoW
I'll start by saying that I did buy that directional antenna, and it is fully functional. That means that I have a consistent internet connection in my room here in Iraq. It does NOT provide any noticeable performance increase over my old omni-directional antenna, only a more stable connection to the routers. While the latency fluctuates between 700ms and 10,000ms in game, the bandwidth is so restricted that instance play of any type is impossible under ANY circumstances. My connection provides 20Kbps during the best performance hours, and less during peak usage hours. So, like last year, in order to get some JP and start the gearing process, I still have to find external sources. However, I'll talk about what I have been able to do with that connection.

Options for extremely high latency or very low bandwidth connections in WoW.
Under the worst conditions, understand that your gameplay changes dramatically. You need to familiarize yourself with the concept of queuing your spells and building specs that improve general survivability. Here's my first example: I rolled a DK alt (more on that in a moment), and using a frost spec, I will Q up an obliterate and half the time Killing Machine will proc in the 2-3 seconds it takes for my command to reach the servers, process, and get back to me. Using this strategy of ability selection, I can actually anticipate events and speed up the grinding process. As a priest, this is even more difficult, and I HIGHLY recommend speccing for HoTs and DoTs. Hunters and warlocks, by my estimation, are probably the very best classes for high latency connections, because you can "fire and forget" and much of the work will continue to be done while your computer waits for the server to fill you in on what's happening.

Global cooldown and you...most of our overseas users already know this...
The global cooldown is a limiting factor for all competitive players on good connections...in PVP especially, but also in raid healing situations as both disc and holy (especially disc). It is the rate at which you can cast spells one after another. On a poor connection, though, your GCD changes completely, no longer limited by your character, haste, and that little circle thing on your boxes that goes clockwise to tell you that you can cast again. On a poor connection, you are guaranteed that you will never run up against the GCD again, rather you are just waiting for your GCD to even become available! Instead, you have to wait for the server to see that you casted and to be able to process your next request.
Example: you cast PW:Shield on someone and choose Prayer of Mending as your next spell. When you activate PW:S, that icon will highlight until the server sees that you casted it, and by the time it goes grey (indicating a successful cast), it's guaranteed to already be past the GCD timer (approx 1 second).
What you MUST do on a poor connection is queue up your next spell, but sometimes not immediately. You can't spam every spell on your bars and expect the server to cast them in order...otherwise we'd do this with good connections. However, you can spoof the connection by simulating a GCD before selecting your next spell. Aside from abilities that do not trigger the GCD (trinks, Power Infusion, Archangel, chakra), you can only select one spell in sequence. I HIGHLY recommend using your non-GCD abilities EVERY time they're available and activating them during that anticipated cast, before your queued ability. In this example, I'd cast PW:S, then immediately select archangel or PI, then select greater heal. Shield would cast, there would be a standard delay, depending on your connection, then the server would activate your PI and cast gheal once it caught up. (For my DK, I often Q up non-GCD abilities during that in-between "lag void.")

Tunneling WoW...a month of research and effort to save YOU some time.
USE LEATRIX LATENCY FIX...first step on any network, windows OR mac.
Learn how to ipconfig /release /renew /flushdns if you are on a wifi network that drops you frequently or seems to slow over time...this actually helps me on the connection in my room (Babtel....boooooo....hisssssss).
It is entirely possible to tunnel to log on, but not easy to describe. I began experimenting with the Tor network, as well as Your-Freedom, PuTTy with SSH to a shell server, and eventually settled on HighPingBuster.
  • Tor: is SLOW, due to the p2p nature. It is not ideal for any games, although it can be used to get things like Steam online, or for downloading patches. Tunneling WoW through Freecap is one option, and if you can get the Tor network online, you should be able to get the downloader working through Freecap. Word to the wise: Widecap is best for this, because you can set profiles and capture the "extra" exe's that are running, such as Blizzard downloader. In my opinion, the Tor network will really frustrate you. However, using Tor with Firefox is an outstanding way to access sites such as HBP or Your-Freedom in a lockdown situation such as mine. Those sites are normally blocked, but Tor allowed me to get the files downloaded to use later.
  • Your-Freedom: this is a better platform for tunneling, and it's free. If you have a poor connection, chances are you'll never exceed the bandwidth or streams allotted. Similarly, programs like Pcap are not bad utilities to actually tunnel your specific programs (just throwing out different ideas, I've tried them all and each requires tutorials). I used google to research the configuration for both WoW and Steam.
  • I tinkered with PuTTy and buying my own Linux shell. The company I chose never configured the shell server, but I think this is a VERY strong option...read on.
  • HighPingBuster is a pre-configured tunnel program specifically designed for WoW and other online games like Rift. It actually uses an embedded PuTTy program and they have a pre-loaded list of shell servers around the world to choose from. I love how they let you ping the servers through their app. It is extremely simple to set up, and it's only like $6 a month. This is a great option for connecting to WoW on a network that blocks WoW! It does not, however, help much with our crappy satellite connection. I thought I noticed a slight reduction in ping, but I honestly think it's about the same as without...but it always allows me to log in. NOTE: if you have connection issues with HPB and it was just working earlier, quickly uninstall and reinstall...that has helped me three times so far.
I'll cover the rest of the topics in my next post, because I actually want to log in and play right now, and a seat just freed up where nobody can see my screen (not supposed to online game on this network and military guys talk so much crap when they see people playing games). More to come, hope this helps...email me with any specific questions if you're in a situation like mine.

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