Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds investigating causes of connection problems

The makers of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds say they have found one potential reason why some recent players have grumbled about being shot by people so far around corners they hadn’t even seen them. PUBG Corp say the update last Wednesday, July 4th, unintentionally broke the North America servers’ ping-based matchmaking restrictions which are supposed to keep high-ping lagjerks out. I find it extremely validating when my death turns out to be a bug’s fault, so I’ll blame this for all of my recent murderings. The devs say they’re poking at the problem but don’t give an idea of when we should expect a fix.

“We’ve investigated reports of connectivity issues experienced on NA servers since Patch #17 and found ping-based matchmaking is not functioning correctly for NA servers,” the game’s support team tweeted yesterday. “We are investigating the cause of the problem and will provide an update as soon as possible.”

That sounds promising, but reports of unreasonable lag stretch beyond the North American servers and back longer than last week. This particular cause they’ve found might only be part of the problem. When (if?) they fix this, I hope PUBG Corp go into more detail on it all.

Lag has long been a problem with the 100-player multiplayer stag weekend, from rubber-banding rouges to infuriating interruptions. Complaints have increasingly become about ‘desync’–desynchronisation–where two players can see quite different things. One player might be standing in a window and hosing an enemy with bullets, while their opponent… sees no one standing in the window but still eats hot lead. Or you see yourself clearly escape gunfire into cover then half a second later fall down dead. Any real-time online game will have some latency quirks but this has gotten silly.

Worse than being irritants, deaths to desync and lag undermine trust in the game. Every shoot I feel I might have hit becomes one I suspect should have hit. Deaths that felt a little funny can feel wildly unfair, caused by technical problems rather than skill. In a game that already has trust issues due to cheaters, it’s worse. We trust games to be reliable systems, playing them not so much as digital systems ruled by computer rules but as models replicated inside our head through our understanding of how they work. When the digital reality clashes with our meat-based model, it feels wrong. Some canny games use this to thoughtful and unsettling effect but I’m pretty sure Plunkbat isn’t shooting for existential horror.

Head honcho Brendan “Plunk” Greene recently said that PUBG Corp are currently “refactoring a lot of the code to try to peel off some of the bandaids we had to fix”, aiming to replace code patched inelegantly with lean new magic computer words which just plain work. That’s a long-term plan, mind, and the game seems to need a few more sticky plasters for now.

Less “Lag!” and more “Laaads!” please.

20 Comments

  1. Twisted89 says:

    Or maybe it’s just their complete incompetence and bad programming, the latency issue has been there since the game launched and I can’t see them fixing it any time soon.

    Maybe if they actually did some decent server side hit detection (Everything is currently client side hence why you can die after moving behind a wall and still get hit) it wouldn’t matter so much.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      If it was client side, if you saw yourself behind the wall, wouldn’t your client think you were there and so the wall would block it?

      Isn’t it server side that would think you hadn’t moved and so should be hit? I feel like I’m misunderstanding.

      That said, yeah, Plunkbat Corp. does seem to have some quality control issues to say the least.

      • CMaster says:

        Client Side on the shooter’s side.
        The person being shot’s client has no say in the matter.

        There’s no way they are moving to server side hit detection – client side hit detection rules the roost in all major FPSes at the moment, because anything that doesn’t work like that gets complaints up the wazoo from players.

        • Premium User Badge

          Drib says:

          Ah, ok. That’s even more baffling, but I guess it would… arguably save on network reliance? Though seems like it’d open things up to cheating. I guess that’s why there’s that anti-cheat engine.

          • CMaster says:

            It’s all about “feel” and smoothness.
            By putting hit detection on client side, the person shooting always has their bullet hit where they see them hit, and there’s no need to adjust for lag, and you never get the “but I saw blood! Why didn’t they die” frustrations. (It does also reduce server load somewhat). Nobody makes big shooters any differently, because if you do, the shooting “feels” much jankier and you hemorrhage players fast.

        • Twisted89 says:

          “client side hit detection rules the roost in all major FPSes at the moment”

          Maybe, but they should enforce the same rules as battlefield 1 – anyone with a ping higher than 100ms has server side detection, below its on the client.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      It actually hasn’t “been there since launch” and if you played the game instead of just complaining about it you’d have noticed the difference.

      • Twisted89 says:

        Firstly – yes it has, there has always been massive latency issues in this game.
        Secondly – How does posting a comment here mean I’m spending more time complaining than playing? Unless you have something constructive to add please go elsewhere.

      • airmikee99 says:

        An internet search brings back quite a few results for ‘PUBG lag’ that go all the way back to when the game was in early access. So you’re right, it hasn’t “been there since launch” because it’s been there since long before launch.

        • Twisted89 says:

          By launch I mean public access so steam early access, not the 1.0 release.

          • airmikee99 says:

            Oh yeah, I totally agree with you. I had a friend that played back in EA and watching the lag and bugs while he played convinced me not to try it. Still haven’t seen anything about the game that shows the game is in anything other than a massive beta test/cash grab.

      • Crusoe says:

        Yes, yes it has.

        It’s been there since the game first appeared on Steam, and has never been resolved.

  2. hungrycookpot says:

    Ah excellent, I definitely noticed that issue this weekend, along with a reinvigoration of the chinese invasion that used to be the case in NA servers. I hadn’t had one of those pre-recorded chinese language hack-site advertisement bots until this weekend, I figured something must have gotten twisted up. Glad they’re on top of it.

  3. Kolbex says:

    Several times this weekend I’d be downed for no perceptible reason, only to have a grenade go off on top of me a couple of seconds later. Lag, indeed.

    Since it’s Bluehole I just assumed it was something stupid like the tracking of every single shotgun pellet’s trajectory individually was overloading their servers or something.

  4. suicicoo says:

    what’s this playerunknown’s battlegrounds?

    • wwwhhattt says:

      Some niche indie game. I’ve seen a few people claim it’ll finally knock Yorkshire Gubbins from the top of the steam charts, but I don’t see that juggernaut leaving us anytime soon.

  5. Ham Solo says:

    Pretty late to start worrying about bugfixing now…

  6. Enko says:

    Enjoy your $$$ Blueballs. Could have been a staple of pro-gaming for decades to come. But due to your insular focus its just another botched could-have-been game.

  7. Dwan says:

    That’s explain “wait, I already in the cover, I still get shot, then dead? why?”

    But it’s nothing new for us, for a player who live in SEA, using obviously SEA or Asia server, “curving” bullet exist yo!

  8. Enko says:

    This game is so fucking hopeless. They make it barely playable, and ruin it with next untested update. They don’t test their updates.

    They listen to community, then months later return features everyone hated.

    People are leaving in droves to play other games. Their big time twitch supporters are bitching about it non-stop.

    Oh there is a hacking epidemic. Worse than ever.

    Its fucking hopeless.

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