GW2: Overthinking Lag (and How to Continue)

I was going to write a deep, brooding post about how it’s easy to begin things, and more difficult to continue them, and even harder to end them.

I was going to tie that into how I was over-reading Reddit and getting occasionally mildly peeved by comments that lack nuance and context – “Want to do group content? Oh, join a guild!” – conveniently glossing over potential issues like timezone matching, finding said guild in the first place, how much time and effort commitment might be involved and whether the group culture matches or might devolve into conflict and drama.

I was going to lament that in general, the world does a lot of talking about and encouraging the first, and pays less attention to the latter two things. That I was struggling with thinking about the latter two things, even while beginning with the GW2 End of Dragons expansion, trying to discern the depth and level to which I might want to be playing for now.

What level of gameplay can I maintain? How easy or hard might it be to end, when I need it to?

Be it for a gameplay session – I had an elderly relative suddenly need emergency chaffeuring to the A&E for kidney stones the other day, I just dropped quickly and easily from Dragon’s End and that was it, no long explanations or justifications to another social group required, or sense of guilt from not fulfilling one set of obligations – or for a months long break if burnout or boredom hits.

I was going to muse about how shorter, accessible drop-in, drop-out content like map metas and even strikes, where you pop into a group to contribute for 10-20 mins when you have the time, might be a better fit for me at this stage, while brooding about the allure of trying out strike challenge modes, which would be best done seeking out an organized group – with all the baggage and preparation required to commit for an indefinite amount of time.

I was going to waffle about my greed for profit-making from strikes and just checking out new content while it’s hot and learning while the playerbase is less set in their ways versus whether it’s worth just not participating in the content, since it’s only played by a smaller fraction of players than those who do map metas, and shifting Arenanet’s metrics accordingly.

Or maybe just going for the easier strikes and avoiding like the plague the harder ones, just to prove that a majority of players do prefer the path of least resistance. But… that mastery point. But new content. Achievement get. Surely it’s worth seeing once? *cue Explorer twitching*

Later, I was going to posit that I was possibly overthinking it, and that in the past week, I just went for it. Beginnings being supremely easy, after all. You jump in. Fall flat on your face a few times. You learn what not to do the hard way. You don’t do it again after that.

That I even lucked into someone LFG posting a Harvest Temple learning-progression run and that we basically banged our heads on it for 2-3 hours, going phase by phase until it all got figured out.

And that I started feeling real antsy by the end of that time, but stuck it out anyway because it was my best shot at the achievement, and learned something valuable about the second-to-last phase (projectile absorbs and reflects are really good against the bullet hell orb) that may have saved another PUG run a few days later.

Continuings and endings though. Ah, those are harder. Much harder.

This is not that post. (Or maybe it is.)

This is a post about it being all moot anyway, because in the last two days, I have somehow suffered through Dragon’s End with 3-4 second ping. Not milliseconds. Seconds.

It is hilarious. It has to be hilarious, because otherwise I will be throwing breakable things through other breakable things.

It is certainly, on a 1-10 scale of enjoyment, much less enjoyable than actually being able to fire off skills and react to cues on time. (Let’s say 5-6, whereas the latter case would be a 8-9.)

What’s amazing is that it’s even possible. I get side-swiped by every last tidal wave in existence, of course, since I’m not seeing any half of the arena light up in time to react. Pretty resigned to just dropping dead and looking like the world’s biggest noob in existence. There’s a Pact airship for port backs… assuming the waypoint clicking registers eventually.

Mostly I just stand at 900 range away from Soo-Won’s smashes and go harbinger auto-attack gatling gun with the sporadic laggy as f–k skill 2s interspersed. No fancy skill-weaving of 4 or 3s; those are for less laggy times.

The first run was pretty funny. It was a Discord run, and the calls were coming in on-time and clear. It was, as usual, just the server routing from where I am to where Arenanet’s Amazon servers are, busy dropping packets in the middle of our timezone’s prime time. So it felt like playing blind and just logically predicting everything.

Guy calls “tail” and I don’t see nuthing, but hey, I’ll just run to where the tail should be, and wait for it to appear on my screen 3 seconds later. This is the phase where Soo-Won throws an arena-wide tidal wave, and she normally appears south-west-ish, so let me try to hug this crystal on the north-east side about 5-10 seconds beforehand and try to micro-adjust when she appears and let’s roll the lottery on whether I survive or no. Hey, I lived!

Unfortunately, he had a tendency to just call “move” for half-arena tidal waves, which wasn’t -quite- descriptive enough for me at the time. Ah well, we learn things the hard way. In the future, maybe we try to hug the half line more. Heh.

The second run wasn’t a Discord run alas. Just a typed chat one. So it was basically a self-guessing game and mostly side-swiped by every last badly predicted orange that appeared 3-4 seconds later.

It’s the old albatross of GW2 come home to roost yet again.

If I play at NA or EU times, this doesn’t happen, but my sleep schedule is already twisted from too much obsessive play of End of Dragons and it’s not sustainable in the long run. Especially once work starts pushing all of us back into the office more than they already are.

Somehow, from around 8-10pm of our SEA timezone, with my ISP’s default routing, there are a couple of servers just off where GW2 sits that clutter up really badly and start dropping packets all over the place. Maybe it’s 8am-10am est over in NA territory and everyone’s having their online meetings and such.

The solution for this is to go get a VPN, and basically force the routes to switch away from that cluttered point.

I’ve been idly poking around at a few VPN websites… but it always makes me wonder why I should be paying $5-10 USD monthly just to offset a couple hours when the trouble periods take place. I did it for a few months when my raid static was still ongoing, but I can’t say it wasn’t a factor into why extreme frustration and resentment built up over time.

Then there’s the risk of getting swept up in a massive ban wave if I should happen to pick the same VPN and get similar IP ranges that botters and hackers might be using.

No resolution on this yet. It basically boils down to several options:

  1. Get a full fledged VPN and pay the $5-10USD monthly for the period this lag issue lasts. Live with the inconvenience of disconnecting from the game/map when I want to turn the VPN on, and the risk of getting side-swiped in a ban wave.

2. Survive with a partial bandwidth-limited VPN option. I’ve been idly testing out BitDefender and one of its cheaper pricing options comes with a VPN with a daily limit of 200 MB. It’s… just enough to last one round of Dragon’s End, preparation events included.

3. Don’t get a VPN and just log off during the bad lag periods, or sit around in town doing crafting and all the necessary inventory management fiddling that GW2 tends to spawn after some gameplay time.

Option 1 is more necessary if I want to go through the effort of participating in hardcore group content. Just one more hurdle in an already occasionally depressing list of things to prepare to get all of one’s ducks in a row before potential fun can take place.

Option 2 is a more middle-of-the-line casual option with the limited ability to level out my ping for a more crucial map meta or strike that happens to be taking place at a bad hour. Except there is the chance that the spaces may fill up before I can even get the VPN on. I might also start feeling like I want an unlimited option to stop having to worry about suddenly running out of bandwidth.

Option 3 is the non-participation option. Just lazily do nothing and wait it out. It is possible. It also may just wind up with me having nothing feasible to do and losing interest in the game and meandering over to more attractive, less laggy games. It’s not an unappealing option, I’ll tell you that.

As usual, I might be overthinking this. It’s not like any challenge modes have shown up in any strikes yet.

Maybe the internet kerfluffle will cease by the time the first CM appears. Maybe I’ll just pop in on a weekend during NA time and luck into an LFG that’s looking for a few fillers. Maybe the guild advertisements will start when there is an actual need for teams to form. Maybe I’ll have lost interest in GW2 by then, or something might crop up IRL that stops me from playing, and it’ll be all moot regardless.

Some serious reflection is needed.

My default stance would veer to somewhere between option 2 and 3. I could always upgrade for a month or two if and when necessary.

I think I’m only thinking about this so hard now because the trial for BitDefender is coming to a close. So if I decide to pick it up, that would have an impact on which tier pricing I opt for. The cheaper option would be the more casual stances, but there’s that little niggling thought in the back of the mind whether I might like greater convenience and flexibility if I just go for the “no worries” unlimited VPN option.

(Of course, if I get swatted by a blindly-wielded banhammer while on a “no worries” unlimited VPN option, it’s going to make me very cross indeed.)

Or I could use a different, possibly better VPN than BitDefender’s premium option, because the options honestly don’t look that premium compared to other VPNs.

And here I go, overthinking it all over again.

It’s enough to make me think I should just pick up the Nintendo Switch and play that instead.

2 thoughts on “GW2: Overthinking Lag (and How to Continue)

    1. Certainly does help. Suggests that it’s a larger ongoing problem somewhere, and maybe the more people are affected and report a problem, the faster it’ll get resolved.

      Two to three years ago when PoF launched, the lag spikes were terrible, but it was only affecting a small portion of us with a particular Singapore ISP, and it felt really annoying to dismissed by Support. It is with some rather particular irony that I note during EoD launch, it’s now a group of people with a particular French ISP complaining their heart out about lag spikes, and also getting the runaround.

      You can have the best content in the world, but if no one can play the content the way it was intended because certain underlying services are poor… well… *grumbles*


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