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Topic Subject:5 tips for people with slower systems...
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Angel JustGreg
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 03:17 PM ET (US)         
Hey guys, I was thinking one day, and said "Well, people seems to be major laggers. Maybe I'll extend a token of my goodwill to them". So I decided to write this.

Just a warning, if you screw something up, it is not the fault of JustGreg or HGS.

So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentelmen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I give you...

Five steps to improoving AOE/ROR Multiplayer

As we all know, the Zone tends to lag. This is something that is pretty much a charicteristic of Web based multiplayer systems. I just felt like helping the lower end agers catch up with us, and even help the people with Pentium 3's or K6-3's saying "What the hell? Why's it laggin?". Of course those Zone servers and the interface doesn't really help either...

1...

Sometimes the amount of things you have running while playing RoR can be holding you back... eating back valuble system resources. If you have an older system this can be a problem. I only have 4 programs running when I have an Idle system, which are...


  1. Explorer
  2. Systray
  3. MSWheel
  4. Hpwpsw

Some of the progs I had running Default were...


  1. Explorer
  2. Systray
  3. MSWheel
  4. Osa
  5. Findfast
  6. Realplayer
  7. ICQ
  8. EGN2
  9. Sidewinder Game Software

Some of these things have to go. Anything MS Office related- "Nope". Any third party prog, "Sorry". Anything unecessary goes. Not during games, anyway. There are a couple of ways to edit the progs on startup.

In Win95 it requires some Registry hacks. WARNING...Remember to BACK UP YOUR REGISTRY!!!
Go to Run, type in "regedit"and follow this path...

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

Then delete the keys that you don't want (the progs)

In Windows 98, go to Run-> msconfig - Its a simplified version. Just click what you want or don't want and hit apply.

Ok now, moving on...

2...

The Zone and your browser are your enimies when it comes to lag. The whole time you are playing you have not one not two not three but four windows open, 3 a special internet plugin with java and the sort. IF possible, you want to close the browser, and in some cases even Zone rooms. If you do not want the Zone to do weird things, use IE 4-5 or NS 4.51+ (I use the latter... It works out good never crashes). Never use Opera. It works horrible with plugins. And it lags you like... Potejon

3...

ISP's?

No matter how powerful your modem is, you aint goin no where if your ISP only supports 28.8 connections. AOL is not a good Gaming ISP, or even an ISP in the first place, but things like Earthlink and Mindspring are fine. But if you can get a local ISP that has decent speeds (V.90 56k is what you want for modem... better trade in that crappy 36.6 Winmodem). A good utility for dial up networking is TweakDUN (for the 95 users that don't want to edit their registry). You can get it at their site, but beware that it is Shareware.

Also, if you have Cable, DSL, or Sattelite connections availible in your area, get it! Don't even have second thoughts! Some good services are @Home and Road Runner. These are cheap considering the banwidth they deliver!

4...

Hardware is still crucial. I know the sys reqs say P90, 16 megs RAM. But it will still hurt you in the long run if you have a crappy system. The best first step is a RAM upgrade... If you have 16 go to 96 or more with a 64 meg simm (not dimm...make sure its the same speed and has the same amt of pins and bus speed...) The next thing is the processor. If you have an old Pentium or Pentium pro resting in a Socket 7 or super Socket 7 mobo, a K6-2 or K6-3 is in your future. But, some people might have trouble doing that. Thankfully, there is a special upgrade package by Powerleap. It requires no reseting of jumpers, no changing of mobo bus speeds, no voltage changes. Just drop it in and enjoy Then you do as you please with that power. And don't give me that "all intel" stuff... save the money, get the upgrade. Don't be an ignoramus.

But if your budget is lower than a coupla hundred bucks... be stingy, we'll all be laughin at you

5...

Have you defragged your hard drive lately? Maybe you should. It'll free up space and prevent the HD from reading data all over the place. Every coupla weeks is ussually a good idea.

Well, thats it. Hope it helps you enjoy your AOE/ROR experiences. If you have any other questions concerning other games or tech Q's, e-mail me.

------------------
-JustGreg

[This message has been edited by Angel JustGreg (edited 06-10-99).]

AuthorReplies:
armagedn
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 03:24 PM ET (US)     1 / 47       
Great post, JG. I certainly hope your advice helps speed things up among our redballers. Turtlers, of course, need to get a new processor (read: new PC!)

Now if only we could eliminate the Dropsies....

Thorfinn
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 04:23 PM ET (US)     2 / 47       
Hey, JG. A good post on a sorely needed topic. A couple quick things.

You need to put closing double quotes on all your a hrefs in the ISP section. The last one also needs an equals sign. Lotsa data in your post is not getting out to the public. (unless they view source, too) Actually, the last part of 3 and the first part of 4 are gone!

Do you mean "rededit" or "regedit"? I suspect the latter.

Lastly, is it OK to just Ctrl-Alt-Del and close the extra tasks that are not closable via the systray, or am I taking chances here?

Thanks

Keep your stick on the ice.

[This message has been edited by Thorfinn (edited 06-10-99).]

Potejon
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 04:36 PM ET (US)     3 / 47       
I ALWAYS close every thing I have, yu shoulf know this.

about the registry editing, do I need the
BrowserWebCheck c:\windows\system\loadwc.exe

I delted it but I don't seem to need it.
I got 28.800 works fine if you ISP is good.

------------------
Das grosse Karthago fürthe drei Kriege.
Es war noch mächtig nach dem ersten,
noch bewohnbar nach dem zweiten.
Es war nicht mehr auffindbar nach dem dritten. -B. Brecht

Godzilla
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 04:43 PM ET (US)     4 / 47       
also look for a program called mtuspeed. it optimizes the way data is transferred between you and your isp, allowing you to get the most data at once. helps you tons, so check it out.
Thorfinn
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 04:58 PM ET (US)     5 / 47       
Just to make it easier for all, download.com has links to both TweakDUN 2.22 and MTUSpeed here, complete with a short description of what you get from each.

Oh, downloading those reminded me of one other program that you gotta check out. It's GoZilla Free 3.5, a great download client. It has a huge range of configurable options, some odd sound effects that are easily disabled, has features to monitor sites for upgraded versions, and its free! As you download from other mirror sites, it saves these sites as possible mirrors for other downloads, and selects from the best site available. I suspect it would be especially good for non-North Americans because of this intelligent mirror selection. The only downside I know of is the push banner advertising, but, hey, what do you expect from a very professionally done piece of free software?

Keep your stick on the ice.

[This message has been edited by Thorfinn (edited 06-10-99).]

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-10-99 05:00 PM ET (US)     6 / 47       
My appended version to JustGreg's guide:

1.) Things that you can close before running AoE..

* If your computer came installed with a temperature
monitor (i.e. ASUS's PCProbe), be sure to close that
one out. It takes up 100% CPU Resources every 5
seconds.

* FindFast is a major culprit - you might be unlucky
enough to be playing a game and findfast starts to
index your harddrive (ouch!) You can remove this
from your Start->Programs->Startup group

* If your soundcard has software-enabled features like
Reverb, WaveSynth, any software music synthesizers
(like the one from Yamaha), disable them. All of
them.

* If you installed System Agent, Norton Scheduler, or
a similar program, you want to disable them so that
they don't accidentally run things while you're
playing a game. Also, make sure you don't have
automatic subscription updates running on IE,
or any automatic software updates for that matter
(i.e. LiveUpdate)

* Shut off your E-mail program. Some of them have
a nasty habit of checking mail while active. In
Outlook, you have to do an "Exit and Logoff" from the
File menu

3.) ISPs. You want an ISP that's close to a backbone. Try
and find out if your ISP resells other ISP's services -
if they do, find somebody else. The trick is to
eliminate the # of hops it takes to get to a backbone
to minimize lag. You can use a utility called tracert
on your system to see how many hops it takes your
computer to get "there" (i.e. tracert 123.123.123.123)

If you have a cable modem, you have a chance of speeds
that's slower than a 28.8k if your neighbors have
cable modems also... and you're out of luck if any one
of them runs a MP3 or W*rez server =(

4.) With some CD drives, turning off the CD Music actually
helps the game. (i.e. on my computer, every time
the computer switches tracks the game freezes for a
second or two). ES also suggested disabling the
"nature" sounds in the game. You can find out how to
do this in the latest readme file on the MS website (
search for LAG and Age of Empires on their support site)

5.) Run at a lower resolution... only as a last resort...

6.) You can always go and get a new computer =) They now
sell computers without OS's and monitors for as low
as $299.

Angel JustGreg
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 05:07 PM ET (US)     7 / 47       
Thanks, Zen I know the banwidth problems cable can cause... but that monitor thing is new

I never would of thought about res either... thats pretty much reserved to 3d games in my mind (well, not anymore)

And I always forget the damn endquotes!

------------------
-JustGreg

Potejon
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 05:54 PM ET (US)     8 / 47       
Gozilla absolutely rocks, it serches other ftp sites for the same file and compares the speed and picks the best. So much better than getright.
For me ti seems that MTU and TD do the same thing, is that right?
ULT_WiLD
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 07:37 PM ET (US)     9 / 47       
Ok for all of you who want all this stuff in one place here is some tricks to help improve your ping and stop unessary load up stuff.
1) goto start-run and type in msconfig then go to the startup tab and check / uncheck stuff you don't want to load at startup. And if you change your mind just go back and check it (Why doesn't Microsoft tell us this stuff?)

2) For all of you ppl who are still having trouble with bad pings changing your MaxMTU SHOULD help here are the registry paths to them if you want to do them manually (CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK) you'll need to run regedit from start-run
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE - System - CurrentControlSet - Services - Class - NetTrans (double click on the value MaxMTU and change to 576 no more no less)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE - System - CurrentControlSet - Services - Class - NetTrans - 0001 (double click on the value MaxMTU and change to 576 no more no less)

and this next trick gets really nerdy, but helps my ping 50ms or more, and Increases through-put ALOT.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE - System - CurrentControlSet - Services - VxD - MSTCP (double click on the value of DefaultRcvWindow(recieve window) and change to 16000 (if this causes connection problems to some websites change it back to the old value))

Hope this helps some ppl have better pings on the zone and interent.

If this screws up your comp i take no responsibility.

------------
ULT_WiLD

Angel JustGreg
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 09:24 PM ET (US)     10 / 47       
Interesting, UTL_Wild. I've never been much of a Registry hacker myself tho and those tips could be helpful to the through-put impaired
fangr
Inactive
posted 06-10-99 09:46 PM ET (US)     11 / 47       
"No matter how powerful your modem is, you aint goin no where if your ISP only supports 28.8 connections."

Actually way back when AoE first came out I used to not lag in 8 player games on a 14.4... The problems is that most people have crappy ISP's that let trillions of people connect at 56K on their T1 (read ~1M/sec / 200 users = much much less than 14.4 on a decent ISP) Modem speed is not much of an issue as compared to upstream bandwidth. I almost never have bandwidth problems on my 28.8 during RoR. The thing I find funny is that everyone who has cable wants everyone else to get cable... but then their cable connection won't be as fast as a good 28.8 connection because of simultaneous users... If I had cable I'd tell everyone else not to get it... more bandwidth for me

ULT_WiLD
Clubman
posted 06-10-99 10:21 PM ET (US)     12 / 47       
It's ULT_WiLD not UTL_Wild.
I play RoR on a 26.400 connection (don't ask why) and i don't lag. The lag with me happens because i'm running RoR on a 166MMX thats over 2 years old, and those tips i put up help the slower computer since there is less "handshaking" with the other comps. If those things work for you post here and spread the word of how to improve your ping.

------------------
ULT_WiLD

Cherub Shadow8357
Clubman
posted 06-11-99 04:01 PM ET (US)     13 / 47       
Is there any way to find out how much band width you have available? I have a 56K modem, but I still lag a lot. I also get turtled and red dotted. I balm it on my 166 Pentium (no MMX). At least I have 48 Megs of RAM (should be enough, right?). I will try MTU speed, and see if there is any improvement. Thanks for the tips, guys.
Thorfinn
Clubman
posted 06-11-99 04:29 PM ET (US)     14 / 47       
I really recommend trying out NetMedic 1.2.2 It watches your connection for bottlenecks and diagnoses the problem, as well as making recommendations for improvements.

Keep your stick on the ice.

ULT_WiLD
Clubman
posted 06-11-99 06:46 PM ET (US)     15 / 47       
It's me again. I'm posting this program i just made today to help ppl who are afaid of the registry or just don't like digging thourgh it(like me) a nifty and easy little program that allows you to change the RWIN and MTU values.

Use at your OWN risk.
http://members.tripod.com/~ULT_WiLD/MTU_RWIN_Changer.zip
hope you enjoy it!
if have any ideas to little programs that i could make to make those annoying tasks easier pls e-mail me at people_go@hotmail.com .

------------------
ULT_WiLD

Potejon
Clubman
posted 06-11-99 10:25 PM ET (US)     16 / 47       
28.800 don't matter very much, but RAM does.
Today I played 4 gig maps with my 28.800 and I did not see the turtle once on me and the games were the less laggiest I have ever played, this means that connection means less than you think

[This message has been edited by Potejon (edited 06-12-99).]

fangr
Inactive
posted 06-11-99 10:49 PM ET (US)     17 / 47       
The best way to test what kind of bandwidth you have available is to pick a big well known ftp site and try downloading a semi large file from them (for a modem I'd recommend about a meg) Any decent ftp client should report your bandwidth. Too small of a file will result in inaccuracies and too large of files results in boredom... You need to find an ftp site that's reliable because then you know that any bandwidth slowdowns are more than likely due to your bandwidth rather than theirs. Try to pick an ftp server that isn't necessarily close to you (node wise) as well... (ie don't use your ISP's ftp as a test)
Thorfinn
Clubman
posted 06-12-99 12:45 PM ET (US)     18 / 47       
Pote, the turtle reflects CPU bottlenecks, not bandwidth bottlenecks. You are watching out for the fireballs. They indicate the connection condition. (That is my understanding of those icons, anyway.) Turtle means just that with the machine running as it is, you don't have enough sheer power to keep up.

fangr, that can work as a ballpark guesstimate of your throughput, though I would question whether you can assume the ftp site is not the source of the problem. In many instances, ftp sites have been the major cause of slow downloads. A heavily used ftp server like ftp.cdrom.com or ftp.download.com can be a major cause of problems, and some ftp sites are either run on a Commodore 64 or using a 300 baud modem, based on ability to feed files to the backbone. A much more reliable way is to use some sort of program like NetMedic 1.2.2, because it tells you right up front where the problem is, and whether there is anything you can do about it. Plus, since you get 30ish days for free, you really have nothing to lose but your bad connection. (Boy does that sound hokey, or what?)

Keep your stick on the ice.

Potejon
Clubman
posted 06-12-99 01:43 PM ET (US)     19 / 47       
Okay, but at least I ahd NO lag compred to normal games for me, though some plyers saidsorry for lag, hmm they must be weird
Angel JustGreg
Clubman
posted 06-12-99 06:51 PM ET (US)     20 / 47       
Like I said before Pote... I think you should get that powerleap thing (break out the couple hundred). Maybe you could expand what you can do or something like that.. like, stuff
Potejon
Clubman
posted 06-12-99 08:21 PM ET (US)     21 / 47       
YEP I COULD BUT i WILL GET A NEW ONE SOON i HOPE, BUT i HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION.

sorry caps was on but I have no time to re-write it

About the startup and removing, I have at all times 2 explorer.exe files running, do I really need 2?
Or can I just remove that string from the startup?

Ted_E_Behr
Clubman
posted 06-13-99 11:04 AM ET (US)     22 / 47       
Just how much is this upgrade? Cause for us canadians it'll be whatever tyhe price is times 1.68 (or some such amount) and for a $600 upgrade it costs $1008!! (or so)

------------------
Ted_E_Behr
This Emotionally Unstable Bear is Currently:

BlackDouglas
Clubman
posted 06-13-99 01:27 PM ET (US)     23 / 47       
Here's some more thoughts on the topic of lag...

LAN connections to the Web
If your connection to the web is through a LAN, the quality of your LAN has a significant affect on performance. I was playing online from a client site (I do some consulting) one evening; their lovely T1 worked great until someone did a database transfer in SQL Server! The P2-300 I was on lagged so bad I was dropped from the game...

Serial Connection to Modem
Make sure that your serial connection to the modem is working efficiently. For example, if you have an internal modem on COM3, it is sharing interrupts with anything running on COM1. As Angle JustGreg pointed out, make sure that nothing is running on your system except the bare essentials.

Hosting
As I understand it, the host machine does the bulk of the work for handling computer players, wildlife, and keeping the map synchronized between players. The fastest machine with the best connection should always host.

Upgrading old machines
In general, it doesn't do much good (in terms of overall performance) to add a fancy-pants graphics card to an old, slow PC -- nor does a faster CPU compensate for a lousy video setup. At today's prices, you can pick up a decent new machine for a few hundred bucks.

Lower population limits
Methos_ST and his cohorts can be persistent about this issue, but the reality is: High population limits create lag. The more units, the more work your CPU is doing. My favorite pop limit is 75.

Map choice
Highland and Hell Country cause less lag than Coastal or Narrows, in my experience. This is probably due to pathing issues; the CPU has an easier time moving troops across open territory, and gets bogged down on maps with lots of obstructions. Island maps work pretty well, too.

Any other ideas?

[This message has been edited by BlackDouglas (edited 06-13-99).]

Angel JustGreg
Clubman
posted 06-13-99 10:25 PM ET (US)     24 / 47       
Ted_E- The powerleap upgrade is about $200 USD average, it depends what kind of system you are upgrading (like Socket 7 and Super Socket 7 mobo's, for example). But its easy as hell, or so I've heard.

------------------
-JustGreg

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 06-14-99 04:19 AM ET (US)     25 / 47       
If you have two explorer.exe's running, it might be a good idea to take out the one in the Startup...

In terms of computer upgrades...


  • If you still have an ISA Video Card (!!) You really should get an PCI one (I've actually came across a few that has it...)

  • If you have one of the first generation AMD K-xxx chips, you really should consider buying yourself a new computer, as those CPU's don't have a feature called "Floating Point Processor" (FPU). AoE needs that to run fast

  • If you have Windows 95 or Windows 98 and have a slow processor (anything from the original Pentium line), seriously consider an upgrade to a P2, P3, Celeron, or and AMD K2-350 (or higher)

  • If you have Windows 95 or Windows 98 and have 32MBs of RAM or less, seriously consider a RAM upgrade to 64MBs. It should cost you around $50 if you have enough SIMM / DIMM slots...look around for prices (www.pricewatch.com)

  • If you have a 3COM/USR WinModem, consider getting a Sportster or other modem with its own processor. The WinModem uses your computer's CPU for power, so it takes away from AOE when you're playing online.

That's all for now...

Also, there's a company selling computers without the Operating System installed... you can check them out at www.suredeals.com (I'm not affiliated with them) - one sells for $299

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