* Access to our network, giving your players protection from attack, 100% reliable NAT traversal, and improved connectivity.
* Tools for instantly estimating the ping between two arbitrary hosts without sending any packets.
* A high quality end-to-end encrypted reliable-over-UDP protocol.
They started using it in some of their games a couple of years ago (Counterstrike Global Offensive and Dota2 if I recall correctly).
I'd be much more afraid of vendor lock-in that actually runs throughought your code base and shapes it.
Isn't the entire point of the original article to lock you into the Network Next platform by forcing you to implement their SDK?
I think every network provider is going to work to lock you into their platform.
You have to use THEIR APIs. It won't work if you use regular networking code. Gotcha!
No amount of good netcode that you write can compensate for this.
The problem is the internet itself.
The internet doesn’t care about your game.
The Internet did change, such that streaming movies became viable. Given that games are now bigger than movies, could it be argued that that the network lag we're seeing is the industry lagging behind the culture? (Which it generally does, at least a little.)
A part of this might well involve special deals between large companies involving specialized infrastructure. There are such things now involved with movie streaming. Google's plans involve the infrastructure part of that already. What happens to net neutrality?
Once game streaming becomes mature, then it's only a matter of time for App streaming to follow. We'll be back in the mainframe days, just with much larger companies with much larger multi-box cloud "mainframes", commanding the attention of a much larger portion of the population and the culture. "The computer is your friend. Trust the computer!" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(role-playing_game)
Counterintuitively, the market that Network Next is making shifts us closer to actual net neutrality than relying on the benevolence of FCC or Comcast by putting power into the hands of content providers where previously they were at the mercy of last-mile ISPs.
If businesses can collectively bid for performance from private networks to offset actions by last-mile ISPs to cut costs and reduce service, then they also have the power to organize a general strike by refusing to bid for performance from traffic from specific ISPs until they work out better rates throughout the value chain.
So I see this as a mechanism to restore the spirit of net neutrality despite the best wishes of the FCC.
You realize this is exactly what net neutrality prohibits?
To the poster who said that we are trying to restore the true spirit of network neutrality. Bravo, you get it. This is exactly what we intend to do.
Bandwidth has followed an improvement curve since the early days of the internet, though it has slowed down a lot lately.
Streaming movies became viable despite the slowing rate of bandwidth improvement. We had 30 kbps modems in the 90s, then 8 Mbit ADSL1 in 1998, 24 MBit ADSL 2+ in 2003s, 40 MBit DOCSIS around the same times. If the speeds had continued to improve at the same exponential curve, consumers would have 100+ gig broadband by now.
The same is true about datacenters, the bandwidth per compute capacity available to servers has decreased for a while.
Bandwidth is an easier problem than latency, because it's not limited by speed of light.
Unless you're telling me that Google is giving you access to its private networks all the way to the datacenters, which I'd find hard to believe.
Between you and a Google Datacenter, most of the path is through Google's private networks.
Again, you only have visibility to the POPs, so you're only seeing improvements on the path to the POP.
For example: there is no Google POP anywhere near its Oregon datacenter. You literally can't just push your traffic to the Dalles and plug into the datacenter.
So, no matter where your customer is, you can only improve the traffic to the Seattle or the Bay Area POPs, where the traffic will move over to Google's private network.
Sorry, but I have to call BS on your claims...
Instead of routing to the nearest PoP, they route to the PoP that provides the lowest latency to their game server. I don't understand the confusion. They are simply measuring latency over a number of different routes and choosing the optimal one (for their use case).
Maybe you are assuming that there is no latency between the PoPs and the datacentres? I can assure you thats not the case.
The root of the issue is that the IP protocol is incomplete, in that is relies on private agreement and ISP servicing that cannot react to a real-time, real-world demand. IPv4 had some attempts at public QoS features that were mostly dropped in IPv6 because people realized it didn't work in practice.
The only way to fix this for real is to merge ISP servicing and peering into a per-packet peer-to-peer network market. This solves a great many issues at the same time and essentially achieves the promise of mesh networking and more.
If you would like to help, please drop me a line: email@example.com (sorry no website at the moment).
Or is the idea here that I don't have to cough up for all the benefits of that superior product when I only want some of them and only some of the time?
And this whole thing does rely on the bottleneck not being at then edge, which I don't see any proof of or reason for. EDIT: is there any proof/data to support this?
Just let me choose a server to which I have a good connection and I will be much happier. Instead of dropping me in games with random people all the time with random connection issues.
One of the main reasons I don't play fps on the consoles is missing this. (And there are social advantages of playing with the same 'random' people as well).
Having a server browser does not solve all issues mentioned in his presentation, but it does at least inform the player of the connection before they join a game.
The problem with server browsers, or user hosted servers are/were arbitrary rules enforced by the admin of that server. It's what killed Black Ops 1 on the PC.
The death of self-hosted servers means the death of admin powers which means the death of building a gaming community one wants to see come to fruition. Those admin powers are key to protecting vulnerable people from general assholes. And the "modern" online "report a person" is woefully laughable in comparison.
Matchmaking lobbies killed a lot of the fun to me
(that and the fact that dedicated servers in BO1 meant you could rent them just from one or two places, no files for you)
Banning boring weapons is a good thing. Also, some servers mentioned the main rules in the name.
Those servers are the reason games like CoD4 and CS survived for decade(s).
You get the power of choice.
I'd say it's a benefit. I remember playing on a bunch of CS servers with special and/or zany rules that couldn't exist without server browsers.
One thing that's interesting is how different these services need to be in different countries.
It's also interesting to see these "private internet" endeavours have popped up to solve centralization issues on the internet. Streaming sites like Youtube and Netflix have solved it in similar way, striking deals with ISPs, as have the big CDN's, simply putting their machines at the ISP's datacenters.
Network.Next is solving this for the gaming domain, but there is a more general preferential routing on the internet problem this idea could be expanded to.
... and then maybe add "faster gameplay" power ups to our loot boxes (kidding).
Plus, how could they get a fair price if they’re the small guy. Suppliers on Network Next cannot identify buyers and cannot have one price for one buyer and one for another. So now the small guys get the same price the big guys do and competition should drive the price down over time.
Many games make this distinction already. The latency-critical stuff goes over UDP, and it's limited to data where a missing packet is superseded by the next packet. Nothing is retransmitted. Bulk data goes over TCP, with reliable retransmission but more delay.
It's too bad ISDN died off. 64Kb/s end to end, not packetization delay, and no jitter. The ideal gamer network would be an ISDN connection and a IP connection in parallel.
If we had QoS systems where 1% of your maximum data rate could be at high priority, this, and the VoIP problem, would be mostly solved.
Typically, shaders are used to move vertices in 3d meshes or color pixels in the GPU. Network Next is just using the term in a creative way to help connect to their audience, but it's nothing different than a bidding model.
Or some combination. Cosmetic in-game purchases aren't necessarily bad, but the amount my son has spent and tries to continue to spend (I strictly limit what of his money he can waste on it now) on fortnite stuff is ridiculous and concerning. A sane middle ground would be helpful.
That's exactly what I was referring to. In this situation, you would be sort of like a transaction processor.
> I think it’s much more enlightened to simply sponsor your player’s connection and help them have as much fun as possible.
I'm not sure I would use "enlightened" to describe anything to do with the majority of games that use microtransactions, at least when it's a constant barrage of "special deals that last for a limited time and you'll only ever be able to get this digital item right now and if you miss out it will never be back."
When aimed at a very young audience, this is anything but enlightened. I don't mind my kids paying for the content they use. I do mind them investing in digital content locked to a single platform that they both don't own, and which becomes useless when they stop playing. At least if they collected cards for a collectible card game in real life, they could look at a collection, pass it on, or sell it.
Basically, I'm advocating for revenue streams that don't require hiring specialists in promoting addictive behavior linked to spending for games where a large part of the audience includes adolescents.
I can see some problems with the model, where it might not allow for a more evenly distributed set of revenue from players and certain players would get the benefit without the cost by having a very good and well connected and routed ISP that happens to line up with most servers, but what's the problem? If the accounts were designated "competitive" tier, that seems to clearly signal what the user gets. Additionally, at least it's then more information the service can expose about a player advantage, rather than the user paying for it outside the service and having a similar advantage but without the same signalling.
If it's about pay to win, I understand the sentiment, but I think there's a clear difference between pay nothing (or a token amount) and pay something for a "regular" account without a bunch of microtransactions and extra tiers, and what we see with games where you literally can buy your character into an elite level of capability that changes the game at a fundamental level (either from hard to easier or from nearly impossible to possible). I think making it so your players can easily separate based on these levels is good as well (which is another point towards very few differentiating levels). As long as the price is low enough that anyone could easily afford it for a while, it's not a real problem. Close to unbounded capability to pay for advantage is though.
As part of a paid account I think it at least has utility for a large percentage of people, and may provide more or less useful as their play mode changes or they play on different servers or with different people over time.
I think a $5 a month plan that included your service, plus a visual indicator or something on the name or player that's customizable, plus early access to some content such as maps, would be a good sell. Some people might not take advantage of the player customization, some might never play the maps early because their group includes people that aren't paying, and some people might not have a use for the better networking, but all together, it's an interesting package.
The more honest way to do it would be to convert funds to "latency improvement" tokens that trickle out of customers' accounts when used to improve performance, and provide the user with analytics of that improved performance. (NN could take note here and manage this token bucket feature themselves in a 3-way arrangement between customer, vendor, and NN that maintains NN's B2B focus. Happy to explain more if you want to spitball the idea).
I really was joking when I said that players could find latency improvement tokens in lootboxes.
Plenty of things are offered as value-added services for products all the time. Sometimes you get a free skin you might never use, or a coupon on something else you'll never buy. Players are free to buy a similar service themselves through other providers, but as part of multiple incentives for pay, I don't think it's that bad, and really, when it comes to the current status quo of paying for products with advertising or with cosmetic enhancements that are designed to have no upper limit in purchasing amount and advertised in a way to make children go crazy over them, I'm happy if the payment alternatives include more options that don't include that, even if they aren't ideal in some other aspects.
The near future involves last-mile ISPs openly selling $40/mo bundles for Facebook, Amazon, and Google. In that environment, flat fees for sometimes potentially lower latency seems exploitative (albeit no doubt wildly profitable).
If NN objects to their service being used to further entrench that future, then being opposed to working with customers who want to do flat-rate passthrough pricing seems defensible and consistent.
(Regarding your comment on the status quo, I completely agree.)
Interesting to see if they can keep the 10-second update intervals while scaling to more users.
Curious to see if the market actually wants to pay for marginal improvements in gaming latency. I would have expected something like this targeting VoIP to be more lucrative.
First you need client side prediction and smoothing. Next, you must design your game so it follows certain very strict rules about player interaction. These rules allow the players to feel the have real time synchronization when in fact synchronization is lazy.
The specific rules required are different for each game, and must be nailed down before game design begins.
Now seriously: client side prediction is not magic and it always introduces its own problems, like getting killed after getting into cover (especially in low TTK shooters) or the opposite: bullets not registering when if they hit in your screen.
Client side prediction is sleight of hand. It will never replace actually perfect network conditions and will still feel better the lower your latency is.
It's necessary, but not sufficient.
* A national policy that actually encourages competition
> Also one that classifies 'the last mile' as public infrastructure to compete on top of.
* Fiber to the home/MDU (Ethernet the rest of the way)
* Where cable Internet must be used, the anti-buffer bloat parts of DOCSIS 3.1 (DOCSIS-PIE).
* Actually having peer to peer focused ISPs, not content consumption ones.
Upload should be no less than 25% of download; ideally symmetric.
* Better visibility in to peering between users
and actual effort applied to removing the bottlenecks.
I'm all for improving the Internet and dunking on large ISPs, but what does this mean? Specifically what kind of national policy would foster competition (regulation tends to favor monopolies, right?)? Also, don't these private networks and marketplaces constitute competition? Or are you talking specifically about the network edge while the article is talking about the backbone?
This article has me thinking that there is potentially a lot of economic efficiency to be unlocked by these sorts of marketplaces--basically routing based on economics, but maybe this is antithetical to net neutrality ("pay to play" internet routing)?
Some places that I think should be at least initially studied / considered for LAST MILE* competition include:
* LAST MILE (connectivity) being the connection between citizen's houses and peering/point-of-presence locations: connecting citizens to a marketplace of different service providers.
* Remove legal barriers that prevent municipalities and utility entities from providing last mile connectivity
(often laws lobbied (paid) for by existing monopoly or near monopoly companies).
* Things similar to "Local Loop Un-bundling"
> Require the existing providers break out last mile connectivity from their back-haul package.
> Require they sell access to their private PoP at a cost which they also pay
at a similar rate (to the PoP on the balance sheet).
* Things equivalent to 'right of way' grants (poles on public land, trenches, etc) must be owned by the citizens.
> Also leased at FRAND rates to any entities
> Serviceable with 'one touch' by any entity licensed with the owners (citizens via the City/County/State/etc that owns it)
By separating the bulk transit last mile provider from the private network direct routing solutions, I think we actually guard against a lot of the problems net neutrality is meant to fight (as long as the ISP doesn't classify the private network provider as higher tier). Net neutrality is only really needed because there's not enough competition in the ISP space for large swaths of the country. If we each had 4-5 ISP choices, net neutrality actually starts being a negative, because it impacts types of offerings that might require special priority routing to work well and that are willing to pay for it. The market would probably settle on specific plans where consumers may or may not pay for better streaming/gaming capability, and that's a good thing. There would be no chance for an ISP to strong-arm a content provider because no ISP would have enough market share to do so (customers that care would just jump ship to another ISP if youtube/facebook/whetever ran like crap and another ISP advertised better speeds for them).
There are other regulatory levers here, though. Prevent municipal governments from awarding monopolies to providers (Boston and Comcast, I'm looking at you). Require last-mile fiber owners to lease to multiple competing companies. And so on...