A Random Thought on Lag

There are three things that drive the players of TF2 to near insanity and hopelessness. They are the butchered horse of weapons balance, the butchered and burned horse of random crits, and finally the unanimously accepted lag. Since everyone seems to have contributed something to the discussion of random crits and weapon balance it seems pointless to provide another rage consumed analysis of crits or another saddening analysis of weapon balance that shows (once again) that valve does not play their own game. Instead I will ramble on about another less common subject that only appears in discussions between performance optimizers and the grizzled and grizzly veterans of pre-F2P times.

But how do I succinctly explain a common phenomena while also providing entertainment value…

“Lag… that almost random moment of immense frustration where you are frozen within time and forced to observe an equally frozen, broken, and looping world. Perhaps if you were engaged in battle you would raise your hands up away from your keyboard and mouse and twiddle them as you quietly wish for the forces of the universe to preserve the life of your digital ‘you’. In any other situation you would stare at your ping in frustration, impatience, and rage.” – The maker of this succinct article

…I guess that’s how you sum it up.

I guess lag is also less rage inducing since you can choose to lessen it. You can choose a server with lower latency, get better internet, change your net settings, etc.

But what do the commonly thrown around terms of lag, latency, and net settings truly mean.

Lets take a look at lag and latency first since they are they most simple. Lag is simply a noticeable delay between the action of the player and the reaction of the server. Latency is a time interval between the stimulation (You pressing the attack button) and the response (the server giving you the visual information of a rocket moving toward an enemy). The higher the latency the longer it takes the server to react and give you the information you need.

Network settings are a bit different since they are actually a set of commands that influence your how your client ‘speaks’ with the server and since they can influence the action and reaction of the client and server they are very important to optimize. An article made by __ called Why TF2 is Hard gives a very good explanation of why these net settings are so important. He has already explained the two most important net settings better than I would be able to, So I am going to quote him instead.

So, there’s 2 main net commands which vital for decent performance. the first of which is cl_updaterate. For those of you who are not in the know, updaterate basically says how many times per second your client asks the server where everyone and everything is. So this is about as important as your FPS, as the hitboxes move in time with this. The default is atrocious, it’s 20. So this means, on your client the hitboxes update every 50ms. Except actually, these are just snapshots which are basically blended on your screen by cl_interp. It interpolates these snapshots over a period of time to create a smooth hitbox on your end. The default is 0.1, so 100ms. So therefore, basically it creates a smooth hitbox from 2 points.  – __

As you can see __ was good at explaining the two main net commands. But he only explained two commands. I could probably spend a week trying to get material to explain net settings and write over 2000 words on the subject. I even spent 4 hours searching for information on these settings when I decided to just quote __. There is just so much misinformation, confusion, and people just wanting to copy paste their settings that its very difficult to find comprehensive information.

So all I can do now is suggest that you do your own research and hope that you find what you are looking for.

Hope you enjoyed – Tryhard (I don’t kill freindlies I swear)






I swear I don't kill freindlies.

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