Being in mainland China, I usually have two main hurdles with playing online games and interact with players: distance and the Great Firewall.
Latency depends not only on physical distance but also on how much routing the network traffic will have to pass to get from point A to point B and back. That would explain why I can play online games well in East Asia (which would be obvious), but also in the US, which is physically at a greater distance than Europe or Australia. Just take a look at my results from speedtest.net (in order of distance).
Anyway, on the weekend of May 22-23, I got the chance to seriously try Demigod in multiplayer.
1. Router [getting ready]
SPI disabled, endpoint independent for TCP/UDP filtering. I had to enable WAN ping respond or else I couldn't get connected to other players . Forwarded UDP ports 6100-6200.
2. /serverproxyonly [impression]
I got better connectivity with this option. Hopefully, the proxy service will be further improved.
3. ImpulseReactorOptions.exe [problem]
I had to disable the NAT Port Range since I kept getting "cannot connect to NAT facilitator". I think this has to do with some tweaking I did to the registry in order to speed up small packets (disabled nagle's algorithm), among others, in an attempt to further reduce latency.
4. In-game chat window [problem]
I'm able to open Demigod's IRC from Impulse, but not in-game. I kept getting the following:
ERROR: Closing Link: MyName[~MyName@IP address] (Excess Flood)
I have to type /reconnect twice in quick succession in order to have it work. It's an odd problem...
The response I got during my overall connectivity tests (DMZing, PC to modem, proxy tunneling) was this: 22.214.171.124:6667 unable to connect to remote end, reason: connection refused .
I even added the IP to the hosts file and disabled the firewall-based software but to no avail. It doesn't work unless I force my way through.
5. Player connectivity [problem]
Wow... Sometimes some people can't really connect to each other. Suffice to say that when the connectivity would linger for too long I would just leave. The connection information is a good tool BTW.
6. Joining custom games [impression]
An interesting exercise in endurance and chance... I had to jump from game to game until I found a group of players with the right amount of latency.
In more than one occasion I had to leave (better than being kicked) due to disparate latency. If it is just fine to play with other players with 220, 286 and even 340ms, I can't say the same for the guy displaying 541ms, as you can see in the image below.
There was a German-hosted game that I got into (it wasn't announced as being from the EU) with a latency of 500 on average, I still decided to give it a go... We all later agreed for me to leave the game.
Something quite annoying was to see people demanding to play with others with less than 200 or 100ms (?!?) latency. I was kicked out of games when there was only a latency of 250-280ms. Games can still be played fine like that, but some people think otherwise.
I was still able to play good matches with better informed hosts, and up to 350ms. Fortunately, I do have a stable connection.
7. Skirmish [impression]
I wasn't able to get into skirmish. It was just taking too long and I got tired of trying. Too few people trying this option methinks.
8. Pantheon [suggestion]
Good games, but the waiting time sucks. Better player interaction, reading some information or maybe even mini-games would help kill time...
9. Game stability [suggestion]
The only problem I got with Demigod during the weekend was when I got kicked out of mutliplayer with a message about the game needing an update via Impulse. It gave me that erroneous message the first time but never on my other subsequent attempts. The game would just freeze for a while each time I would click again on the Internet button (what other way is there to see when multiplayer is on again?).
That freezing is somewhat stressing for the player. A better indication and handling of service downtime would be better.
A look at the chat window was finally enough to see a certain Stardockian indicating that the servers had been restarted.
10. After-game socializing? [hindrance]
So, a game is finished and everyone gets booted to the main menu? That's it? No chit-chat about what happened? No chance to add newly met players as friends? Good luck at remembering the aliases...
All in all, when you actually get to play Demigod it's quite an experience. I'll be yearning for better connectivity and player interaction.