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Increase Latency to discourage online gaming

Posted on 2013-12-02
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Last Modified: 2014-03-13
Hi,

I have a need to make a LAN unattractive for any on-line gaming. Seems like the best way to do this without impacting other uses/users is to simply increase the latency such that online games are not very playable.

LAN gets to the internet through a Netgear WNDR3800 router.

There are a million articles about reducing latency but hard to find one on increasing it.

I thought about simply blocking IP's but that is an endless list.

Thanks in advance,

swjtx99
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Question by:swjtx99
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by:SStory
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If this is a business or you can afford it, you need a content filtering system.  Sonicwall is a good one. There is also Untangle, Barracuda, and more. (these are appliances)

Here are more:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-content-filters-suitable-for-both-home-and-business/
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by:swjtx99
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Hi SStory,

I don't really want to block or filter the content. I'd rather the conversation be "why does this network suck for my on-line game" vs. "why is the content blocked".

I see a lot of sites offering advice for reducing lag, is there a surefire way to introduce it? Router settings? Software that can induce it on all network traffic? (or better yet, by MAC address?)

Thanks,

swjtx99
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by:SStory
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I'm not sure about your particular router. If you had a more robust one like a Mikrtoik or Cisco you can do anything with them. You could allow short bursts of speed and then limit bandwidth after a while. If you know what kind of packets to look for the firewall could drop them.  If it is a business this is a personnel issue that HR should deal with.

If you limit bandwidth it will be limited for everyone though.  For short bursts that might be OK for many things, however if video is involved, i.e. people need it, you will them as well on bandwidth.
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by:SStory
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Again, it depends upon the game. Logging to see what games are being played would help. Then probably a more programmable router and example that traffic when it is going to a certain IP and modify the bandwidth or better drop so many packets per second to flake it out.
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by:Cyber-spy
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What size network is this?
How many computers are attached to it?
Also, how is it laid out - are there lots of remote offices with routers connecting them all together, or is it mostly in one place, with switches to divide it up?

Does it have VLAN's to manage traffic? One route may be to use a VLAN and Quality of Service to ensure all other traffic has a higher priority than the game traffic.

I can't describe exactly how to do this, as it will depend very much on the kit used to build your network, but this is one route you can explore.
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by:SStory
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The issue is how will you identify game traffic. If the game is on port 80 it will appear just like browser traffic.  First you must identify it to mess with it. This usually takes a more sophisticated router.
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by:swjtx99
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Hi Sstory,

Thanks for the HR advice but the question is how to introduce lag into a network. Let's stick to solving that problem. How to ID Game Traffic? I don't want to go down that road, I just want to introduce lag... and lots of it.

Hi Cyber,

Small. Four computers, 8-10 wireless devices (ipads, cell phones, IP Cameras). One router. No switches. No VLAN's. QOS is an interesting idea.

More searching has led me to a little prog called software lag switch. I think it would work if I could set it on a timer and have it hammer the network at certain times and/or for specific durations.  Maybe do a VBS/Task?
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by:Cyber-spy
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swjtx99,

The software lag switch app may work, but it would have the effect of slowing the network down for everyone, which you probably don't want, unless the issue is only at certain times of the day, and you only slow the network then.

If you could give a more detailed description of the problem you are trying to solve, that would help.
For example, is this a work network, or a home network?
What problem does the gaming cause? Slow internet access or a lack of work?
Is the problem only a certain times of the day, or can it happen at any time?
Is it particular games that cause a problem or are there many?

I know you've said that you can't use HR as a solution, and that you don't want to try and identify Game traffic, but the more you tell us about the problem, the more likely someone will come up with a solution, possibly one that you have not considered before.
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by:tliotta
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Identifying game traffic will be more complicated than identifying gaming sites.

Tom
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by:SStory
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Tom,

I agree, but the point is the OP will have to identify something probably in a more sophisticated router in order to mess with the quality of that traffic so as to make it stink to use and not mess up desired traffic.  Although some QOS might be available that might allow him to accomplish the task.
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by:swjtx99
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Hi Cyber-spy,

Would the introduction of lag really slow the network down for everyone? I'm thinking it would not be perceptible to anyone except an on-line gamer which is why I am pursuing this solution. I come to that conclusion because I have had to connect to a network via VPN. The connection point is local but all traffic goes to another State to flow through the central firewall. This introduces considerable lag and causes web pages to load a few milliseconds slower, downloads to start a few milliseconds slower, videos to start to play a few milliseconds slower, etc. It's barely noticeable. Even VOIP works fine with a few milliseconds of lag. Online games, however, are completely unplayable (I know because I've tried that too) so based on that, it would seem that introducing lag in my network would be an optimal solution to discourage/disrupt on-line gaming. I can't think of anything anyone is doing on my network that a few milliseconds of lag would negatively impact except on-line gaming. Ever notice that online gamers don't like playing over WIFI? Again, this is because of the lag that WIFI introduces. Other users don't complain much about WIFI so there's another example that lag is a good solution to pursue to disrupt that specific activity without a significant negative impact on anyone else.

I appreciate the fact that providing more information might produce a different solution but what I am seeking is a way to discourage/disrupt/eliminate on-line gaming. The network could be at home or at work. The problem gaming causes could be slowing the network or a lack of work. It could be certain times of the day or anytime. It could be one or many games.

I could spend hours/days/weeks and thousands of $'s examining network traffic, installing content filtering, blocking ports, turning the network on/off at certain times, admonishing offenders, yelling/screaming/pleading but the introduction of a few milliseconds of lag seems like a very tidy solution with no downside to other uses/users that I can think of.

Now I just need a way to do it.

swjtx99
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by:SStory
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It seems to me that lag time would only help if it caused a timeout, but I could be missing something.
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by:Cyber-spy
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Based on what you said above, I think your best bet now would be to just try the software lag switch app and see what the effect is. If it works, then you're sorted!

Let us all know how it goes.
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masnrock earned 200 total points
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You're basically asking about packet shaping. But unless you want to play with QoS, you're either going to need a packet shaper (might get costly, depending on what you choose), a better router, firmware like DD-WRT, or you could just block online games. You might look like the bad guy for blocking them, but isn't the point to have users focus on being productive? No point in trying to be secretive about it.
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by:swjtx99
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Hi masnrock,

I'm talking about lag. For on-line gamers lag is a critical issue. A few milliseconds delay in "click until response" is the difference between playable or not. Whether I come off looking like a bad guy or if I you think I am being secretive is not the question posed which is why I'm trying to avoid side discussions and focus on the request which is how to introduce lag in an effort to disrupt and discourage on-line gaming. I only offer the purpose of disrupting on-line gaming on the possibility that someone may have a better solution than introducing lag, otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned the purpose and only asked "how to create lag".  

On that topic, there are 200K hits on google for reducing it, none on introducing it so I come here for advice. Whether the solution is effective is for me to measure once I am provided, or determine a way to do it.

Regards,

Swjtx99
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by:masnrock
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Your question is understood, but as pointed out earlier, you would need to need to obtain data on the sites and addresses you want to lower the priority for in order to tweak QoS for in order for what you want to do to work. Another option would be to get a device in place that would be able to do traffic shaping, but that might cost more than it is worth. Improving latency for games involves improving latency for the whole network. What you want to do would in turn impact the whole network. So you cannot really hurt one and not the other. What you overlook is that games may be the driving force to improve latency, but are not always the sole reason.

You could use a proxy, but that also hurts a number of other items too. Even setting your internet MTU to something not optimal may help, but have more side effects than you hope for.

While people are giving suggestions, they are anticipating side effects. To truly impact only games, you have to either filter or log.

The reason you were given alternative approaches is that they are far more feasible and generally less labor intensive. Sometimes business solutions are far better than technical ones when in a business environment.
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by:swjtx99
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Hi masnrock,

Thanks for the reply. I disagree that I would need to obtain data on sites and addresses to lower priority and tweak QoS. That was your suggested alternative solution but I am pursuing a way to introduce lag/latency. In reading through hundreds of sites/posts on how to decrease latency, I find hints such as this that reinforce my belief this will not have a noticeable negative impact on anyone other than an online gamer:

"Windows networks aren't designed for online games. They're designed for general desktop computing in large networks where traffic efficiency has the highest priority. In these environments, network latency isn't important at all" (from Leatrix Latency Fix FAQ).

"At all" may be a bit overstated.

You may be right that to truly impact only games, I'd have to filter or log but that isn't proven since I haven't tested a latency solution.

Also, I didn't say this was a business network...and I didn't say it wasn't.

Thanks,

swjtx99
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by:Cyber-spy
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Have you tried the software lag app yet ?
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by:tliotta
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Do you have solid info on what percentage of your available bandwidth is currently used (i.e., your utilization rate)? Practically speaking, you need to know performance stats first. Introduction of factors that decrease performance can have effects far beyond their effected impacts. If you're currently at somewhere above 35% over your Ethernet now for example,  an increased latency of a few milliseconds can cause a lot more interference than if your at, say, 30%.

Tom
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by:masnrock
masnrock earned 200 total points
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QoS on your router will let you assign low priority to applications, but you would have to know which games are in question, and maybe what ports they require for communication. That may not totally disrupt the games, but at least prevent them from negatively impacting everyone else.

"Windows networks aren't designed for online games. They're designed for general desktop computing in large networks where traffic efficiency has the highest priority. In these environments, network latency isn't important at all" (from Leatrix Latency Fix FAQ).

"At all" may be a bit overstated.

More than a bit overstated... it depends on the applications. Sounds like a marketing ploy to make potential customers feel better, especially when you consider the number of people who are able to play games without issues or using any sort of optimizations. High bandwidth applications as a whole tend to get helped or hurt by many of the same things. How important is online video for example? What games are you targeting? Different applications have different tolerances.

But since you used Leatrix Latency Fix as a site to quote, here's a quote from them: "Leatrix Latency Fix will reduce your online gaming latency significantly by increasing the frequency of TCP acknowledgements sent to the game server. For the technically minded, this is a program which will modify TCPAckFrequency." So, if you wanted to modify TCPAckFrequency so that acknowledgements are less frequent, that might help in your cause, but remember that other things are guaranteed to get impacted. This is impacting anything that uses TCP communication. Since streaming is usually UDP based, that part shouldn't be a factor. But do you really want to mess with that part

Here's one more quote from a forum discussing Leatrix: "Its impact is lessened a bit on Windows 7 as I recall, but on XP I remember it cutting my ping in WoW in half." Since XP is very much on its way out....

Plus the quality of an internet connection always tends to vary, so what seems like a few milliseconds of lag at one point can really multiply during slow times. DNS servers acting up could do the same thing.
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by:swjtx99
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Hi Cyber-spy,

Haven't tried the software lag switch yet. Just haven't had time to set up a proper test. Perhaps on the weekend I'll have the chance.

Hi tliotta,

Utilization rate vary wildly unfortunately. If you're saying lag would have a more negative impact on non-gamers during periods of high utilization, point acknowledged. If I can find a way to do it, I'll look for that.

Hi masnrock,

As I am one of the users on my network, I'll be able to monitor the negatives and if those are high, I can always discontinue introducing lag.

I also do not see where high bw applications would be negatively impacted. It's applications that require split second constant TX/RX/acknowledgement. If you click on a 100 MB online video and it starts playing in 320 milliseconds vs. 11 milliseconds, who would notice?

Modifying TCPAckFrequency would only affect the computer it's modified on. I want to affect the entire network. I suppose I could search for "router settings to improve latency" and reverse engineer those but was hoping to narrow it down vis-à-vis my post here. Seems like it would have to be "at the router" which makes me wonder whether the software lag switch will work as I can't imagine it would affect more than the computer it's running on.

Regards,

swjtx99
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by:SStory
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I suppose on a better router you could drop every so many packets per second for those particular IPs and they have to resend and that might make it worse on them and not everyone else.  Or limit there high bandwidth to a fixed burst amount and then slow down. Or log everything and take it to management as it is really a personnel issue.
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by:masnrock
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@Sstory, swjtx99 has already cited not wanting to log. And traffic shaping has already been suggested.

@swjtx99 - software lag switch can flood a network with udp packets , but that would slow the local network too. There is no silver bullet solution, plus the best targeted solutions require filtering. Generally speaking, blocking and machine lockdowns are the best ways to prevent behaviors you do not want, as far as tech goes. Plus there are far fewer side effects
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by:swjtx99
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Thanks for all the input.

Think I'll leave this open for a while to see if anyone knows any specific router settings that would introduce lag/latency. Sure are a lot of suggestions on the 'net for settings that would reduce it.

swjtx99
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by:swjtx99
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I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

No solution.
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by:Cyber-spy
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Given the restrictions the OP placed on the question - ruling out most suggestions and refusing to describe the nature of the network or why the suggested solutions like blocking sites or filtering game traffic were not acceptable, we provided some reasonable solutions above. There is no feedback from trying any of the suggested solutions

I recommend dividing up the points between the following posts, which have covered the main solutions to the requirement:
39690802
39690345
39691910
39693694
39697899

Adam
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by:swjtx99
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Following Adam's suggestion to split.

Appreciate the insight. Seems like there is no router setting to accomplish this.
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