Network Gaming

I believe Monster has a rather nice network and some pretty good net-code. And the good news is it's only going to improve from here, since it's been expressed by the author of the game that improving the net-code is a priority.

My only real nitpick is that the list of active games (hosts) doesn't refresh automatically. You have to exit and re-enter the network screen in order to refresh the list. I suppose that's easy to cope with, but I'd still like a refresh button. Hopefully there will be one added in a future patch/upgrade.

But on the plus side, as it is right now, gamers are able to enter the network screen and connect with a server. The server collects and reports information on who's playing and who's waiting to play. Fortunately though, there's a Direct-IP function in the Network screen, which allows players to directly connect using their IP address.

So basically, we broadcast information to a server that says if we're available or not, and then the server broadcasts that information to other players on the network. If that server we report to goes down then at least we have the Direct-IP option, which will let players play without the need for a server.

In regards to the actual lag (latency) while playing over the network, it seems pretty good so far. According to some people it's not really the "best" or least latency. But this is definitely the coolest idea I've seen for fighting game net-play, which is actually to reduce frame rate rather than have input lag.

Basically what happens when there's lag in Monster is the game visually slows down, but your movements and attacks are still right on cue as you're pressing the buttons. This is fairly ideal in comparison to having the game be normal speed but then having your attacks and movements occur late due to lag.

Playing in slow motion isn't really ideal for proper gaming, but at least it's viable. The only really annoying occurrence is lag "spikes", which would be times where you have absolutely perfect frame-rate and 0 input-latency, but then suddenly the game slows down for a brief moment, and then resumes normal play. Very annoying indeed.

Fortunately, lag spiking is rare. I'm in North Virginia and I've had some excellent connections with people in MD, NJ, NY, NC, and even a pretty good connection with players in FL and Canada, which is rather surprising. There are limits though, because playing against West Coast players while on the East Coast is exceptionally slow. But hey, at least when there's lag it's "slow" and not "laggy and unplayable".

On a side note, players with sticks/pads that are having trouble getting them to work might want to try JoyToKey. Just keep in mind that if you're using a stick/pad and JoyToKey, you'll want to set both Player-1 and Player-2's controls to the same, so that you're able to play with the same controller on either P1 or P2's side.

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