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Tips for playing with multiple ships?

posted Jul 10, 2013 14:55:42 by VictorRoberts
While I love this game, I have had some really bad experiences when trying to run multiple ships. The software is allegedly able to handle up to 36 people, but anytime I try to get more than about 10 going (which means not more than 2 ships, or 3 if you stretch people thin), I get lag, bugs, and lots of disconnects and crashes, pretty much constantly. I am using a nearly brand-new very nice windows 7 gaming machine for the server, and a pretty good wireless router. I've tried using different machines for the server as well as different routers and always get the same or nearly the same result. Any tips from people who run multiple ships would be greatly appreciated, as I'm taking off today to head to a retreat where I'll be running a game with a bunch of gifted kids who have not generally played this game before.

I did something similar at a retreat last weekend, and it was a huge hit, but the whole thing nearly crashed and burned due to the number of bugs we experienced. Eventually got it working, but had to limit it to ten people. I'd like for things to go more smoothly (and with a larger number of players) this weekend if possible.

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10 replies
JamesDunnem said Jul 10, 2013 15:34:39
Similar experience here when running 2 bridges, but there are a lot of possible contributing factors.
In our case, we were running an observer station for each bridge on machines not designed to handle 3D well, we were also running a modded version of Artemis, so another run using vanilla will help narrow down the cause.
Also planning to use a beefier machine to host the game, as the degradation seemed to correspond to the number of attached clients.
"There is an old Celtic saying: "Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde."
-Beware of the anger of a patient man.
JanxJelantru said Jul 10, 2013 16:52:19
use a switch and wire those clients. Wired connections perform better than WiFi as a general rule.

Adjust the ms refresh timer on the server when you launch (I forget what it's called). The lower the number, the faster it sends out info, which could be clogging things up with the more clients on the network.

before you swap your gear, open up Task Manager and watch your CPU, memory and network utilization (especially on the server). I bet you none of them max out.

Now look at your switch/router/wifi doo-hickey and look at its utilization. Odds are good, it is pegged when the crashes happen.
VictorRoberts said Jul 10, 2013 18:35:42
Thanks for the advice, guys! Please keep it coming. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated, as I have yet to hear back from customer support after more than 48 hours.

James: Thanks for the response. We were not using any mods at all, and machines don't get all that much beefier than the one I was using for the server.

Jan: I will try running what I can wired. Unfortunately, many of the devices were (and likely will be this weekend) ipads, which are not capable of a wired connection. We did fool with the refresh timer, and it did seem to help when we upped the number. I will keep an eye on my server's and router's stats this weekend if it gets buggy. I'm also thinking of setting up more than one wireless network and connecting them through a vpn if we have more than ten or so people who want to play at the same time.

Also, I am more familiar with ios devices than I am with android. I installed the app on my friend's kindle, and it was soooooo slooooow that it effectively didn't work at all. I don't really understand why the android market is set up in such a way as to let you buy apps on a device that will not work on that device. Oh well.
MatthewNazy said Jul 11, 2013 00:47:53
Question, what difficulty level were you playing on and what station was the Kindle running? we've found that when playing the higher level (difficulty 10) the netbook that we had running the Comms essentially shut down due to the sheer number of ships.
VictorRoberts said Jul 11, 2013 15:55:58
Even before the simulation was running, it took about ten seconds for any button to respond, and it didn't even get past the console select screen. I tested it out this morning though, and it worked fine when there weren't many other devices connected, so there might have been something else going on before.
cdm014 said Jul 12, 2013 15:35:32
Thanks for the advice, guys! Please keep it coming. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated, as I have yet to hear back from customer support after more than 48 hours.

Just understand "customer support" is Thom (i.e. only one person, and the same guy who made the game and is working on fixes and upgrades).
Mike_Substelny said Jul 15, 2013 15:43:50
I have run up to six bridges before on my home network, and I will be doing so again this Saturday (7-20-2013 . . . all of you are invited). We do experience some lag, but not enough to make the game unplayable.

The flagship/server bridge is completely hardwired via ethernet, as are three of the main screens. The other three main screens are on wireless and they show a lot more lag.

This is important: I use three separate wireless access points scattered throughout my house, two of which are industrial grade Cisco routers. The whole network was designed by a professional network engineer.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
JanxJelantru said Jul 16, 2013 14:40:29
another note, don't use VPN, that'll slow everything down.

If all the stations are going to be in your house:

wire up what you can, setup additional wifi hardware access points that are WIRED to the same network (no VPN, no routing).

WiFi HAPs are about $50 if I recall. Set each one to broadcast on a different channel, use a different SSID so you can easily control which station is on which HAP.

I ran a single bridge game with all 6 computers on wireless and it worked just fine. Let's pretend that's the standard and more stations on the same wifi would choke it.

So that means you need one WiFi HAP per bridge. Hook them all to the same central switch/router and all the computers will be on the same network so you won't have any problems there.

Also take a look at what tech level your wifi is at. 802.11b is old and runs at 11Mb/s. 802.11g runs at 54Mb/s if I recall. 802.11n runs at about 100, but don't quote me on that. Odds are good, everything you have supports G, which is fine for internet surfing (it's faster than your ISP connection), but may get a little tight for local gaming.

Granted, we used to play Doom and Quake on a 10Mb/s network just fine, and this game is unlikely to be more trafficky than those games. But I've never run the numbers or done a packet sniff on it to see.
VictorRoberts said Jul 20, 2013 19:52:30
Thanks for the tips, guys! I will try what you suggested next time I run a large game.
stonefish said Jul 21, 2013 04:44:06
Is anyone interested in performing an isolation test and actually benchmarking how much traffic this game generates under certain circumstances? Wireless will always be inferior to a wired connection, but 802.11g should theoretically be sufficient for pretty much any number of consoles. If it isn't, perhaps there's some inefficiency in the system somewhere that needs to be traced and improved.
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