Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to fix Lag Spikes in Starcraft 2 SEA Server

Have you ever played multiplayer games in Starcraft 2 and experienced lag spikes? Lag spikes so unbearable that the games are already unplayable and unenjoyable? Lag spikes that appear so often that you can’t decently micromanage your units? What’s worse is that sometimes the lag spikes in Starcraft 2 already disconnect you from the game?

Let’s first clear the scope of what we’re here to discuss. What we’re going to tackle are lag spikes and how to deal with them in Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand region server (SEA/ANZ) – or most popularly known as SEA server. I won’t be discussing lag spikes in the North America or NA server.

If you don’t know what server you’re on, you can check the box. The edition of the game should be indicated there.

Lag Spikes Starcraft 2 SEA Server graphic01

Check the top right portion of your box to see if you’ve bought the SEA edition

What are the Causes of Lag Spikes?

Lag spikes occur due to three factors that I know of:

1. Lag Spikes due to a Choppy or Unreliable Internet Connection

Most if not all instances of lag spikes during multiplayer games in Starcraft 2 can be attributed to a suddenly slow or choppy Internet connection. Let’s face it: there are days when our Internet connection is simply unreliable. Even though your Internet provider has given you a 12mbps connection (I’ve run SC2 in 1mbps and 512kbps and it still runs great in multiplayer), sometimes, they encounter problems that compromise the quality of the connection they provide you.

To check/verify if your Internet connection is the culprit for the lag spikes, we’ll need to perform a Traceroute to the Starcraft 2 SEA server.

A traceroute to the SC2 SEA server would give us an idea on how our computer is connecting to the SEA server. It would give us an idea on many hops (or places) it goes to at first before eventually reaching the SEA server and if there are any problems in between.

To be able to do this in Windows, go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt. The Start icon is usually located at the bottom left of the screen with the Windows logo.

Once you open Command Prompt, a new window would appear with a black screen. Just typetracert and then press the Enter key.

Now if the first few traces (or lines) show an asterisk(*) or an error like on the traceroute example below, then you are most probably just encountering a choppy and unreliable Internet connection.

Lag Spikes Starcraft 2 SEA Server graphic02

Asterisks(*) on traceroutes tells us that our computers can’t connect or did not receive a response on the IP address or destination you are trying to contact (which are the IP addresses at the right side).

So the asterisks(*) in the first 3 traces actually tell us that we are not receiving responses from our Internet Service Provider (ISP). Ultimately this tells us that the ISP that you are connected to is having problems or is presently unreliable. This would now affect subsequent connections or hops to the SEA server resulting to lag spikes.

Another traceroute illustrating this is below:

Since a bad Internet connection would not just affect Starcraft 2 but also your browsing and other Internet related activities, it may be a good idea to raise this to your ISP by calling their customer service or technical support. Sometimes, a simple reset of your router would solve the problem. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out.

Take the usual steps first in fixing your Internet connection. If you can’t fix it yourself, it’s best if you can call your ISP about it.

2. Lag Spikes due to your ISPs Connection to Starcraft 2 SEA Server

If you experience lag spikes all the time (and I really mean all the time), but have a seamless Internet browsing experience, and play other multiplayer games without any lag spikes – then most probably the lag spikes you experience in SC2 is because of how your ISP is connecting to the Starcraft 2 SEA server

Again if we do a traceroute to the Starcraft 2 SEA server, (tracert, you would most probably have a trace like below:

Notice the asterisks(*) on traces 5th and onwards? This tells us that our computer is having a hard time going to the servers – which seems to be the servers that our computers need to hop or pass through before going to the Starcraft 2 SEA server.

I’ve read several reports of other people in forums complaining that they always experience lag spikes in SC2 and when they eventually do a traceroute, they are having problems connecting to the servers.

We can try to solve this problem in two ways. One is to do a traceroute, save it to a file (or make a screenshot), and raise it to your ISP. If your ISP would listen to you, they would do something on their side to fix the problem so that you would be able to connect seamlessly to the SC2 SEA servers (or to the servers which is prior the SEA servers).

Another is to complain to Blizzard/IAH games (IAH games is partnered with Blizzard for the Southeast Asia Edition). Although this is a long shot, they MAY be able to do something. Blizzard/IAH games may opt to move their servers to another location (SEA servers are in Singapore by the way), or they may add other servers. As I said, this is a long shot. The best bet for you is still to raise your concern to your ISP.

3. Lag Spikes due to the Starcraft 2 SEA server itself

Sometimes, lag spikes are due to the problems in the Starcraft 2 SEA servers themselves. The servers may sometimes encounter problems that could degrade the quality of the gameplay in SC2.

I haven’t experienced this personally but some people have claimed in the official SC2 SEA forums that this sometimes happens on peak hours – as many people are logged in during this time.

I think for these kinds of situations, we just need to inform Blizzard or IAH games for them to improve the quality of gameplay. However, I’m pretty sure they’re already improving their servers even if we don’t tell them as is their main selling point in SC2. When they removed LAN play in SC2, they said was a more than able replacement for it.

: I didn’t include anymore the reason wherein your firewall might be degrading your connection from SC2 to the SEA servers. Windows firewall and most third-party software usually ask the user if they would allow Starcraft 2 to communicate through the Internet – and then they would automatically open the necessary ports for SC2 to work. If a firewall is somehow blocking SC2, I think you wouldn’t be able connect to SC2 entirely.

However, to be absolutely sure, it would still be best to check your firewall settings, especially if you have a third-party firewall software installed.

There you have it. These are the three most probable reasons in lag spikes in Starcraft 2 SEA server. I hope I was able to enlighten and somehow help you in making your Starcraft 2 multiplayer games more enjoyable and lag spike free.

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bhama said...


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