Mobile Broadband Gaming- Part 1

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“…a story of one gamer/podcaster who refused to give up.”

Part 1- History

This story, like so many others, begins with a man who has it all. The fame, the fortune, the glory that was 30Mbit/s high-speed internet. However fate would have far darker plans for our hero. This story is about one man who lost everything, he was made to crawl through the bottoms and filth of the desolate lands of the internet. Only to find retribution and reclaim a small part of himself to become… The One!…who kicks your ass gaming from a cellphone.

I am often surprised at the number of people I meet in the gaming world who lack access to proper low latency high-speed internet. It’s a situation that I never gave second thought to until I was included in the number. I had lived in a the college town of Morgantown, WV. For 10 years with my wife. Typical of a WV Mountaineer we owned a trailer and lived in a trailer park. However we did have a banging internet connection thanks to our buddies at Comcast. Fate had other plans and we soon packed our bags and moved to a very rural location in central WV.

I obviously knew going in there would be no thing as high-speed internet, neighbors had probably never even heard the words “DSL”. The property however did have Hughesnet Satellite internet service. I am a VERY avid gamer, which includes playing World of Warcraft. I was the raid leader and was depended on by many people. In my head of course I thought “Yeah ill have a little high ping but nothing I can’t manage” I was horribly, HORRIBLY mistaken.

The problem with Satellite internet isn’t necessarily download speeds, but Latency. Latency is a measure of the time it takes for you to send a packet of information (I click the 2 key!) to the game and for it to send information back reflecting that command. The number that comes out is usually displayed in milliseconds (MS) and is referred to as a “ping”. Now back in Morgantown, I would have a ping around 80-100 ms when playing online games. The means when I am playing a sniper on Enemy Territory it would wake only 80 milliseconds from when I click the fire button, to when I would see the red dust. This situation however does not apply when looking at a satellite internet connection.

With a satellite connection, in good times, you may only be able to achieve an average ping of 800-900ms. Again this is only in BEST case scenarios, more often than not your ping will be in the thousands. This is because your signal must travel 22,236 miles before it reaches the internet “backbone” here on earth.  Even traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) with zero interference, one would still have a better ping on some dialup connections than with Satellite internet. What this means is, when I am playing that sniper and I click the fire button, there is almost an entire seconds worth of time before I see that my target has moved back behind cover and my bullet has struck a rock in the background. My position is compromised and my ass is toast. You can see now the predicament we are in playing games that are not Hearts Online.

Of course I tried to make it work, I have played games all my life I couldn’t just stop now. I tried to raid in Warcraft, which was horrible. The Latency was fine if I was farming materials, doing a few daily quests, searching the Auction House. But in a raid situation where you constantly need to move to avoid things… well let’s just say looking back it was hilariously awful. Of course I wasn’t laughing then, I was PISSED. I Vowed that somehow I would be able to play these games I love so much, not to mention keep up with my weekly podcast that was just beginning to see new levels of success (before my move of course) (If you want to know how bad it was go listen to a few episodes in the late teens).

My quest had really just begun and it was not an easy one to complete. I started around December looking for better options and was able to achieve my first 25 man raid on a mobile broadband connection around late January. But I get ahead of myself, there is ALOT that happened in between. Some good, a lot bad. But the results were the only thing that kept me sane. In the next part of this series I will show you step-by-step how I was able to put together a rig that not only allows me to bring down small aircraft, but continue to dominate the online gaming community….from a cellphone.

Click Here for Part 2

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