Mobile Broadband Gaming- Part 2

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

Part 2- Math

As I have discussed in Part 1 of this series my main goal in my search was to find a applicable solution to be able to play online multiplayer games, mainly at that time, World of Warcraft. My first venture was to actually attempt to try Dialup. In theory it started out pretty well. Our phone lines aren’t very good here in WV so at most you were getting around 24kbps. Not that great however you could log into WoW and move around. Your ping was actually pretty low in comparison to something like satellite. Usually in a major city I would get around 350 or so, something I could actually work with.

The problem however is that dialup suffers from the exact opposite problems that satellite has. With Sat, you have a fair amount of bandwidth (The amount of data you can send and receive), but extremely high latency ( how fast that data takes to get from your computer to, say… blizzards server). With Dialup you have an extremely small amount of bandwidth but a better amount of latency. Dialup is actually fine if your just doing nothing in wow but daily quests and farming. Wow running by itself only uses about 2kb/s worth of data, which a dialup connection can handle. However when you decide to go into a group or zone the amount of data required to be sent to and from your computer is increased and overtakes the dialup threshold. Resulting in a complete freeze up.

Essentially I went to test this connection in a ToC 5 man, right when the mobs were pulled the entire zone locked up. Once everyone was dead my computer was able to finish downloading the events of what had just happened and I essentially watched my 4 group mates try to kill the bosses in fast forward until we had all died.

I sat there defeated once again…

(Suck my nuts Coach Rod)

I can’t actually recall who/what/when/where/why I started looking at mobile broadband as a means of gaming. It may have started because my parents who live in rural WV use a mobile broadband card as their main source of internet connectivity. There are 2 HUGE hindrances with mobile broadband however. 1.) Price- Well I guess the price problem is tied in with Problem #2, but let’s just say I pay $55/month for my connection, the average price is around $65/month, the real problem is how it ties into 2.) The Cap- You severely limited to the amount of data you can download using a mobile broadband device. Mine is only 5gig/month. Yes you did read that correct. 5 gigabytes/month is what I am allowed to DL.

So I had to really answer a few questions before I proceeded. The first and foremost….. How much bandwidth does WoW and other online games actually use and would I be able to stay under that Cap. After many hours of googling I was able to figure out that in a raiding situation WoW would only be using on average 10kb/s. This number is greatly dependent on a lot of MoD usage. I am a MOD whore but I was able to trim down some of the mods I use as well as use a mod called Fubar_AddonSpamfu, which is now called Spamalyzer. Which told me which add-ons were bombarding my computer the most and I could eliminate them. However I couldn’t just think about WoW, I had to consider the other big part of my online community and being a raid leader. Ventrilo!

Now, we use Ventrilo as a tool in our gaming community not just for WoW, but the other online games we play, to make a long story short I was able to change the voice quality from 10 to 7 using the Speex codec, this change had no real discernable effects on the actual quality of our Ventrilo server. What it DID do was shave about 3kb/s off when people were talking over vent. And being a large gaming community that has been together pushing 10 years we tend to talk quite a lot.  Running on quality 7 Vent uses around 3-3.5 kb/s when others are transmitting voice to me (thanks ihealzu)

So from what I have gathered I would use bare minimum 36 MB/hour for raiding in wow, and around 10-12 MB/ hour using Ventrilo. So all together, we were looking at a solid number of <50 MB/hour raiding. So, I had a number for bandwidth to work from. As a guild we raided 3.5- 4 hours 3 nights a week in 25 mans, and I ran another 10 man raid group. 10 man raiding in wow uses much less bandwidth but for the sake of micromanagement let’s just look at those 3nights/week 25 man raiding.

For the sake of this math I overestimated EVERYTHING, because a big clutch in Mobile Broadband is, if you go OVER your SCREWED. It takes only minutes to see horror stories of people using mobile broadband devices to download movies and music who go over and get hit with bills over $10,000 dollars! This is not an option for me AT ALL. I quickly tallied up the amount of bandwidth I would allow myself to use per week to be around 1200MB.

So, I said I would raid 3 nights/week at 4 hours/raid. This meant worst case scenario I would be using 600 MB/week for 25 man raiding. Leaving me with 600MB to use on other projects. Those other projects ended up being 2 short 10 man raids/week and of course, The Slash 2 Podcast. Surprisingly, the podcast uses quite a lot of bandwidth, since we are utilizing high quality Skype codec’s, to ensure that the sound is good, this average out to around 150-200MB/show.

Bottom line is, If I am just doing my WoW raids, and my podcast, a mobile broadband connection with a cap of 5gigs/month would be sufficient for me to do so, pending some crazy factors that I haven’t even gotten to yet.

1.) Is a 3g Connection even available anywhere around my area

2.) Cell phones don’t work where I live, so can I get something to boost that signal and still be viable

3.) What will the latency even be like if I can get it all of this to even work.

All of these questions will be answered entirely in Part 3 of my experience with Mobile Broadband Gaming.

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