- 2012/11/16 08:51:48 AM
tl;dr: We are working on a fix (a collection of fixes, really) for culling and character loading issues. The fixes require significant changes to a number of game systems and thus require time to implement. We’re not yet ready to discuss a release date for the current set of fixes, but we’re working hard to improve the experience as quickly as we can.
Now for the long version:
We currently use server-side report culling to limit the number of characters that any given game client is aware of. By limiting the number of characters that we report to any given client we also limit the bandwidth used (by the server and the client) and avoid situations where the client is overwhelmed by the number of characters that need to be processed and rendered. While this system has some obvious advantages, and it works well in PvE, the large battles that are the signature of WvW tend to highlight the deficiencies of this approach.
There are also some client-side issues which have contributed to the perception of how our culling system works. Once a character is reported to a given client there’s a non-zero amount of time required to load and initially display the assets associated with that character. Extra load time varies depending on how beefy the client machine is (those with more memory, faster CPUs, more CPU cores, and faster drives experience shorter load times). One of our engine programmers recently completed an optimization pass on the character loading process and so we should be seeing improvements to that part of the issue very soon. Even so, the bulk of the issue remains with the server-side culling as it doesn’t matter how fast your client can load and draw a character if it hasn’t even been told that character should exist yet.
As you may have heard we already have a fix for the server-side culling implemented for sPvP. Because sPvP has dramatically less players we were able deploy our fix immediately without worrying about downstream side effects. WvW, however, operates at a much larger scale than sPvP and so we have a number of additional hurdles to clear before we can turn on the server-side fix. In order to address the culling issue we need to ensure that clients, including min-spec clients, are able to handle rendering and processing many more characters. We also need to ensure that the bandwidth needed by any given client remains reasonable and falls within our min-spec for connectivity. The WvW team is working to address both the bandwidth and the client performance issues even now. The changes that we’re making are complex and have a large impact on the way the game engine works. Because of the level of complexity involved, and the core systems that are impacted, these fixes take time to implement correctly. As such, I can’t give you a date when we’ll be done.
At the end of the day our goal is to dramatically improve the experience of large battles in WvW and provide a substantial increase to the number of players that can be seen by any given client.