Interstate '76 Lag Racing
Racing in a laggy environment (or "Honey, get me my .12 gauge, I'm gonna blast that damn PC!")
By: The Jaff
You're racing on Baja Speedway, behind the wheel of your Rattler. Last lap and you're gaining on the leader. You close in on the Orange Strider in front, ready to attempt a pass when he suddenly jumps around in front of you. You bump him, lose control, and hit a ditch that makes you fly over a wall to your death... Then the devilish Strider crosses the finish line and ask innocently "What happened?".
You're boiling and imagine him grinning behind his wheel, leaving you with 2 choices:
1) You can leave the game and come back with a monstrous Moth Truck packed with Cluster Bombs and Aim 9's and track him down to beat the crap out of him while laughing hysterically behind your computer, foam oozing out of the corner of your mouth. Now this solution may not be well received and you may end up with a *host has disconnect* but I can guarantee it's relieving.
2) The other solution is somewhat simpler. Understand the effects of lag on racing and apply some common sense to get a more enjoyable racing experience overall.
When Sui asked me to do that paper on lag in races, I at first hesitated to agree. Seems to me there's not a lot to explain and I never have had that much problem with it. I have always dealt with lag bumping well, mainly because I'm cautious. And I guess that's the key. I get a lot more comments in racing games about how I bump people that me complaining about getting bumped. But hey, when I'm in front, I'm not cautious anymore. It's up to those behind to be cautious.
What causes lag bumps?:
The leader of a race never need worry about getting lag bumped. It's to all others following that the danger exists and have to deal with ghosts. By ghosts I mean the car that you see of the other players but that is not actually at the position you see them. Or as explained better than I would do by Death Machine on his great paper on lag aiming: "This is caused by the length of time it takes for two computers to update each others position on the map. This lag time creates two cars for each player" That's why when you hit the car in front of you, you suffer the impact while he go on like nothing happened cause what you hit is his ghost, not him. Always take in mind that your opponents "real" car is always a couple of car lengths in front of what you see.
Tips and Techniques for Racing Survival:
The best approach to avoid being lag bumped is to never follow someone directly. Keep a certain angle behind him. If he moves right in front of you, go left or right so you're never directly behind his car.
My main preoccupation when I follow someone is not to pass him but to avoid getting lag bumped. The more his car warps around, the more you have to be careful. Safe chances to pass will come, be patient. Another key factor is the map. I like a lot more racing on maps like Snake Rally and Baja Speedway on Nitro or Double Trouble and Race fans on Regular I76 because there is enough space on them to avoid easily being lag bumped even at 4 or 5 racers. Most of the lag bumps occur at the first turn since no racers take turns the same way. Some take it large, other cut the corners. At any rate, it's where the big mess and frustration usually happens with all the racers turning together.
I always play the start on F3 (you can't see in front but there's no need once you know where the 1st turn is), it helps me to find out if I'll be first at the corner or in the middle of the pack and show also how the other racers are going to take the turn. If you're in front, no worries, but if you're not, watch out. From using the F3 and F2 keys, I try to spot a safe place between 2 cars (never directly behind the one in front!) before the turn. If not possible, I will rather slow down and let everyone pass (and bump themselves) and take the turn slowly than taking a risk and getting lag bumped and lose precious seconds to recover. Now using the F3 key may not seem easy while you race, but with practice, it can become part of your skill set (if some Bozos can master the F12 key cheat when they play, I don't see how it would be more difficult).
All in all, it's just a matter of precautions. Beware of ghosts, they can bite!