Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Satellite Internet and Online Gaming: Does It Work?

Online gaming is one of the fastest growing trends in the world right now. With games such as Runescape boasting subscriber numbers of around a million and World of Warcraft exceeding 7 million active members, the total number of MMOG subscriptions is verging on the absurd, quickly approaching the 14 million mark worldwide[6/06,]. This tremendous growth in the popularity of the online gaming industry has, in part, been fueled by the accessibility of high-speed broadband internet. A high-speed connection allows for a much more enjoyable game-play experience. Everyone knows that online games work exceptionally well on DSL and Cable internet connections, but what about the newer high-speed service satellite internet? As satellite internet is becoming more readily available and cost effective more and more rural dial-up customers are making the switch to cash in on the faster speeds and always on access. But, when it comes to online gaming many are concerned that their game-play experience will be less satisfactory, if they can even connect to play at all.
The reason for this concern is the issue of latency. Latency is an expression of how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another. This is direly important when it come to on-line gaming in that latency translates into the time that it takes from the moment that a button is pushed to when the action is performed in the game. Often this can mean the difference between life and death. With DSL and Cable the response time is almost immediate, being between 50milliseconds-150milliseconds. The latency for satellite internet is between 600milliseconds-800milliseconds. This may sound like the end of online gaming for someone who has just made the switch to satellite internet but it is not. Although this degree of latency does all but rule out first-person shooters there are a good number of MMOGs that operate well over a satellite internet connection. And, although the effects of latency can never be completely eliminated, there are ways in which to improve upon them. The simplest way to do this is by speeding up the way that one's computer handles and responds to information being transferred through the connection and by increasing the total amount of available bandwidth. Some operating systems have built in reserves on bandwidth that are non-essential to the functionality of most web applications, see link for a tweak .
By eliminating non-essential services i.e. bandwidth hogs that the average user never utilizes and dedicating more physical resources to the most used application can help tremendously. Minimizing the effects of latency down to the bare minimum allowed by the laws of physics enables one to play more online gaming that was before not workable and also speeds up the responses of other games that already do work. So, although there are limitations to on-line gaming over satellite internet there are also ways to improve upon game-play responsiveness and many games that will play well without operating system tweaks. Below is a list of online games for both console and PC that, according to subscribers that have tested and played them, do and do not work over satellite internet. This is not a definitive list of games guaranteed to work, so be cautious as results may vary.
What Works
Xbox/Xbox360/PS2/Handheld Games:
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat(for me anyway doesn't for some others)
Perfect Dark Zero
All Tony Hawk games
Mario Kart DS
Call of Duty 2
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
Socom 3(mixed results)
Socom 2(so-so)
Nascar 06 total team control(works kinda)
Rainbow Six Series(Host boots for high ping usually, But CO-OP and 2 V 2 work well)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
PC Games:
Asheron's Call
Everquest 2
World of Warcraft
Star Wars Galaxies
Dark Age of Camelot
Roma Victor
Eve Online
Star Wars: Empire at War
Dungeon and Dragons online
City of Heroes(very difficult to connect to the patch server..other than that it works fine)
Final Fantasy XI
Contract Jack
Auto Assault
Aces High Online flight sim
WarRock Beta
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast
America's Army
Red Orchestra
Diablo 2
Titan Quest
Postal 2
What doesn't work or is not enjoyable
Xbox/Xbox360/PS2/Handheld Games:
Far Cry Instincts Predator
Halo 2
NBA Live 2006
Quake 4
Prey Demo
Ratchet and Clank: Deadlocked
PC Games:
Star Craft
BattleField 2 Demo
Call of Duty 1&2
Band of Brothers
C&C Generals
UT2004(playable..not enjoyable)
Prey Demo
Civ 4
Battlefield 2142
Jacob Minett is a consultant and copy writer for the fullfillment company My Net LLC. With six years experience in the satellite industry, Jacob has worked both in the field as a lead technician and now consulting and web copy duties for which specializes in WildBlue Satellite Internet.

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