The Truth About Ping Abuse In Online Games

What’s up guys Rogue-9 here and in today’s
video I want to shine a bit of a spotlight
onto the issue of peeker’s advantage, ping
abuse and how latency in general will affect
your experience when you are playing a first
person shooter that uses server side hit validation.
Dying to a high ping opponent who manages
to kill you before they even pop up on your
screen is super frustrating and as we all
know the higher the enemy’s ping, the more
time they have to shoot you after
coming around a corner, right?
This is one of the most common misconceptions
when it comes to peeker’s advantage and
in fact one that I myself used to believe for a long time.
I will be explaining the various issues in
this video using Rainbow Six Siege as a basis
but these concepts will apply to all games
that use server side hit validation, so the
findings will apply to pretty much all modern
online first person shooter games out there.
And with that, let’s finally get to it!
Before I launch into an explanation of how
and why your opponent’s ping does not matter
at all when it comes to peeker’s advantage,
let me first very briefly go over some of
the basics to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Ping, that number we see shown to us in online
games: that’s the time it takes for a message
from your PC or console to travel to the server and back.
Latency is the time is takes for a message
to travel on one leg of that journey, so from
your device to the server or from the server to you.
So latency is basically half the ping.
Times are usually shown in milliseconds.
Now, how does this affect gameplay?
Well, when you provide any input to the game
on your device (e.g. moving your character,
using your weapon or a gadget or anything
else really) that input is registered on the
local game client on your machine and your
character performs the required action.
At the same time, a message is sent to the
server informing it of what you have chosen
to do in your game and it will take half the
time of your ping plus the processing time
of up to one tick for the server to receive
and understand that message.
I’m going to keep things simple in the examples
going forward and leave out the processing
time on the server and client and we will
simply assume that they are equal for all
players although of course a player running
the game at a very low frame rate will have
be disadvantaged compared to others
but that it a whole other topic.
So the message has now reached the server,
is processed and then of course it needs to
get sent out to all of the other players and
the time it takes for the message of your
original action to reach the other players
is dependent on their individual latencies.
What all of this will cause is what we can
think of as a ghosting effect.
When you move on your device, your character
as represented on the server will lag behind
by half of your ping and then you will need
to add half of the other players’ pings
on top of that to get the time lag when compared
to what they see on their PCs or consoles.
Makes sense so far?
I tested this in game but before I show you
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Let’s face it, playing with high ping is
never a great experience.
For one, silly things like this can happen:
As you can see in this clip where both players
have high ping, I landed a total of 5 headshots
on Rook here before losing the gunfight.
100% ridiculous and what’s even worse is
that in the death cam replay you can still
see me supposedly shooting 5
bullets before Rook reacts!
What really happened in this clip is that
Rook actually fired a split second before
me and since his shots were registered on
the server first, all of my follow up hits
were rejected and I lost the fight.
It looks really sketchy both in the live play
and in the replay but actually, it worked
perfectly as intended.
The player that shot first (where both players
have a pretty bad ping) won the fight.
But how does high ping affect peeking?
Here is what it looks like to get peeked on
a server where both players have a pretty
high ping…
I think it’s fair to say that that was pretty
much an instant death; I really didn’t have
any chance to react.
Now let’s look at that situation in a local
match where the ping of both players is 1ms…
Ok, that also was pretty much instant…
In fact, if we put the two clips side by side,
you can see that they are virtually identical
and any variance is most likely due to the
human factor of me not replicating the peek
perfectly across both tests…
But isn’t high ping supposed to cause a
major difference in the victim’s experience
due to peeker’s advantage?
Well, here is where the most common misconception
of peeker’s advantage comes in.
The higher the ping of the peeking player,
the more profound the ghosting effect on the
server will be BUT this will not provide them
with any advantage at all.
Because we have server side hit validation,
it will take just as long for the player’s
shots to be registered on the server and this
basically cancels out any advantage that would
come from the higher ping of the peeker.
Let that sink in for a second: The ping of
the peeker doesn’t matter, because any advantage
in terms of the time they get to see the opponent
before the server registers the peek is eaten
up by the time it then takes for the shots to register.
Peeker’s advantage is still a real thing
but it is in fact the ping of the victim that
is important here.
Many seasons ago, the Rainbow Six dev team
shared a visual example in a blog post and
why don’t I walk you through this step by
step to explain what I mean.
In this example, we have player 1 (with a
high ping of 200ms) peeking player 2 (who
has a lower ping of 100ms).
Player 1 peeks and it takes 100ms (half the
ping) for the peek to be registered on the server.
Then it takes 50ms (half of player 2’s ping)
for the info of that movement to be sent player
2’s PC or console.
So at the time that player 2 gets to see the peek, player 1 has already been fully exposed for a full 150ms.
150ms after this, player 1 fires (we are assuming
a 300ms reaction time) and it then takes 100ms
for that info to reach the server.
As long as player 2 manages to shoot early
enough for their shots to reach the server
first, they still win the gunfight and their
own latency of 50ms again plays a role here.
What this results in, is a window of opportunity
during which player 2 can win the gunfight
and that is player 1’s reaction time minus
player 2’s ping.
In a perfect world, we would have no delay
at all and it would just be a case of whoever
shoots first wins, so as long as you can aim
and shoot quicker than your opponent, you’ve got this.
But since it’s all about who’s shots register
on the server first, the disadvantage for
player 2 comes from the 50ms it takes to see
the opponent after the server has already
registered the peek and then the additional 50ms it takes for player 2’s shots to register on the server.
Player two is disadvantaged twice by their
latency, which adds up to their ping and therefore
explains the peeker’s advantage window of
opportunity formula I mentioned earlier: Player
two must react faster than player 1’s reaction
time minus player 2’s ping.
I hope this little example helped clarify
what I’m trying to get at because it was
a complete revelation to me when I found out
that it’s my own ping providing the opponents’
peeker’s advantage and not theirs.
And consequently, there is actually no such
thing as “ping abuse”…
If an opponent has a very high ping, they
get no advantage when peeking you but they
do get a serious disadvantage when you peek them.
Any kind of peeker’s advantage you perceive
against yourself is down to your ping and
the processing time on the server/your machine.
No more, no less.
And beyond that, the disadvantage of a high
ping goes even further because if you are
ever in a gunfight situation where both players
fire at each other at the same time on their
clients, the player with the higher ping will
lose, because their shots will reach the server
later and if they are already marked as dead
on the server, their hits will be rejected,
resulting in an all-out win for the low ping player.
BUT: Why is it then that we have these experiences
all the time where we die without the opponent
ever appearing on our screens?!
And why is it almost always against players
who have a bad ping?!
Maybe the answer is that those deaths are
more down to perspective, than lag…
Maybe we notice suspicious deaths more when
the opponent has a high ping because that
fits in more with the usual understanding
of peeker’s advantage.
I’m just guessing here of course but the
fact is that in games with server side hit
validation; there is no plausible reason why the peeker’s ping should provide them with any kind of benefit.
And that’s it; I do hope that my little
excursion into this frustrating topic has
provided a little more clarity on the issue.
If you learnt something today and enjoyed
the video, do leave it a thumbs-up and if
you didn’t like it, that’s what
the thumbs-down is there for.
Do leave any comments you have below and as
always, thank you so much for watching, I
hope you enjoyed the video and I will see
you in the next episode!

1 comment

  1. P2ReactionTime = P1ReactionTime – P2Ping < P1ReactionTime So in narrow pathways P1 does indeed have an advantage.

    A much better way to punish high ping is by letting the server only giving the player positions when they have line of sight: After after 100ms server registers peak of P1, after 200ms P1 sees P2 (assuming P1 and P2 have same reaction time of x) and at (300+x)ms it registers P1's shot on the server. While for P2 he sees P1 after 150ms, and the server registers the shot at (200+x)ms.
    Giving P2 an advantage of exactly the difference in ping time.

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