Interviews

Interviews
Asherons Call: srand Makes a Statement About ID Changes

Kelly Heckman | 6 Apr 2003 13:40
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[i]Over the past year or so, we have been slowly improving the client-server communications in order to decrease bandwidth usage. We have also made been working to decrease extraneous server load and thus improve server-side lag. Several months ago, we added some code to the server that we felt would improve this situation with regards to IDing objects.

Basically, when you were *very* quickly switching between targets with the ID panel open, the server was sending you full appraisal info for each object -- which was a waste of resources, because that can be quite a big chunk of data to marshal and send, and you didn't have time to read that full info anyway. (When I say *very* quickly here, I mean *very* quickly.)

So we added a very short timer: if you are IDing *very* quickly, the server no longer sends you each and every full appraisal -- instead, it starts up a half-second heartbeat, and sends you info about the thing you currently have targeted on that heartbeat. We arrived at the 'half-second' time through extensive user testing, and when we were satisfied that this was both a resource win for the servers, and that it did not unduly limit live players, we put it in.

That code has been live for several months, and most players didn't notice it at all. Any why should they? It didn't effect them at all, unless they were *very* quickly switching between targets with their ID panel open, and in that case it actually improved their client performance.

Now, we knew that this change might affect some third party apps with ID functionality, but those apps appeared to have adapted just fine. What we didn't know, however, was that many of those third party apps were -- inadvertantly or not -- getting around this change by using a loophole in the buggy fellowship appraisal code.

With the March update, we fixed the buggy fellowship appraisal code -- not in order to screw over the third party apps, mind you, but because it was a badly written, inefficient system that was causing extraneous server load and bandwidth usage. But this had the side effect of removing that ID loophole that many of the third party apps had been using. That is why this month you may be having problems with your third party ID functionality. And you'll have to talk to the developers of those third party apps about that.

(There are reports of an unrelated issue with IDing that I am investigating. But since the changes I describe above have been in the game for several months, it is unlikely that those changes are related to this possible new issue.)

So, to sum up, we did make a change to IDing several months ago, and in that time it has improved the situation with bandwidth and server resources, and has been mostly unnoticable to normal players.

[/i]

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