The video above is a (likely flawed) example of lag in the peer-to-peer multiplayer setup of Call of Duty: Black Ops for the console. Our detective skills, or simply looking at the bottom right corner of the HUD, indicate that this all happens on the Xbox. What this player has done is recorded a feed from his screen and published it from the console contained Theater Mode. He’s then mashed the two feeds together at the same exact time stamp and created a convincing scenario.
As he successfully shows, over and over, the action on his screen rarely syncs up with what he is assuming is the host’s game. He’ll blast all over his enemy on his feed while the Theater Mode displays woeful inaccuracy that is likely impossible in this age of shooters… I mean, no one’s that bad.
What this filmer fails to indicate, however, is that this is not a Call of Duty: Black Ops specific problem. No. This is a problem that stems from peer-to-peer multiplayer, or online multiplayer in general. In the console world, the connections happen peer-to-peer. One player in a match, typically the one sporting a quick internet connection, is selected by the matchmaking protocols to be the host of the game. The other players connect to the host and rely on their joint connection to enjoy the round.
The issue is that finding a full room of players with perfect connections is nearly impossible. Every peer-to-peer based multiplayer shooter is going to experience host advantage, it’s the nature of the beast. This filmer expresses frustration in Black Ops specifically, but this is a problem that’s plagued games since multiplayer’s inception.
Having a dedicated server does eliminate a lot of the discrepancies in lag. Folks with similar connection speeds will enjoy tight aiming and responsive firing. However, handling the load of a network like those found on LIVE or the PSN would be expensive and virtually impossible. Peer-to-peer based gaming just makes more fiscal and logistical sense.
And, yes, this was one of the reasons so many folks were angry about the missing dedicated server functionality in Modern Warfare 2.
Anyone else a victim of flagrant host lag? Every console gamer should be nodding right now. This problem has been a constant in console internet gaming since the genre first sprung up.