An empirical evaluation of TCP performance in online games

Kuan Ta Chen*, Chun-Ying Huang, Polly Huang, Chin Laung Lei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

A fundamental design question to ask in the development of a network game is - -Which transport protocol should be used - -TCP, UDP, or some other protocols? Seeking an objective answer to the choice of communication protocol for MMORPGs, we assess whether TCP, a popular choice, is suitable for MMORPGs based on empirical evidence. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first evaluation of transport protocol performance using real-life game traces.We analyze a 1, 356-million-packet trace from ShenZhou Online, a TCP-based, commercial, mid-sized MMORPG. Our analysis indicates that TCP is unwieldy and inappropriate for MMORPGs. This is due to four distinctive characteristics of MMORPG traffic: 1) tiny packets, 2) low packet rate, 3) application-limited traffic generation, and 4) bidirectional traffic. We show that because TCP was originally designed for unidirectional and network-limited bulk data transfers, it cannot adapt well to MMORPG traffic. In particular, the window-based congestion control and the fast retransmit algorithm for loss recovery are ineffective. Furthermore, TCP is overkill, as not every game packet needs to be transmitted in a reliably and orderly manner. We also show that the degraded network performance did impact users' willingness to continue a game. Finally, we discuss guidelines in designing transport protocols for online games.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2006
EventInternational Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006 - Hollywood, CA, United States
Duration: 14 Jun 200616 Jun 2006

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006
CountryUnited States
CityHollywood, CA
Period14/06/0616/06/06

Keywords

  • Internet measurement
  • MMOG
  • Network games
  • Performance analysis
  • Transport protocols

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    Chen, K. T., Huang, C-Y., Huang, P., & Lei, C. L. (2006). An empirical evaluation of TCP performance in online games. In International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006 [1178830] (International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology 2006). https://doi.org/10.1145/1178823.1178830