30th June 2020 – 11:04pm
If you're interested directly or indirectly in online FPS, you probably heard about the Peeker Advantage. When Valorant was announced, Riot Games directly broached the subject by declaring that it was at war against the peeker advantage. But maybe you were wondering then: what is this thing? In this article, we explain what is the Peeker Advantage.
On Mandatory, we have already discussed some advantages like the Perspective Advantage or One-Ways. The peeker advantage is a different, but complementary advantage. Unlike the other advantages, the peeker advantage is not based on mathematics and geometry, but on a purely technical aspect: latency.
The peeker advantage is a concept that relates to the connection between players and the game server . In a way, it could be considered as lag. It allows a player to take information, even to attack his opponents, even before appearing on their screens. This is literally an advantage for the first player to take a look at an angle (" to peek").
Let's consider a Green player and a Red player. When the Green players moves, their computer sends this information to the game server. The game server is responsible for relaying this information to other players, including the Red player. The time it takes for information to go from the Green players to the server and then to the Red players is what creates the peeker advantage.
In the following video demonstration, the Green player will peek from an angle and attack the Red players. The dark Green player represents the position of the Green player from the perspective of the Red player.
When the Green player shows up, they see their opponent and can make a shot even before the red player can see them, even less to react. The player showing up first therefore has an advantage of a split second, before the Red player can move or shoot.
The fastest and most accurate players can use the Peeker Advantage to peek a corner and return to their original position in such a short time that the server doesn't notice and therefore doesn't display them at the opponent.
In a way, there are two versions of each player in a game at one time. There is the position where the players see themselves and the position where the server sees them. Reducing the peeker advantage means reducing the difference between these two positions as much as possible.
The peeker advantage arises from a physical limitation that our technology can never completely erase. Even the best servers and the best connections in the world experience this delay. The latter is valid in FPS as on all other online games. This is why most high-stakes competitions are played in LAN, in order to limit as much as possible the intermediaries and the distance between two pieces of information.
In online game cases, there are two ways to reduce the peeker advantage:
Improving the speed of the servers naturally allows information to be transmitted much faster between players. Valorant servers operate with a 128 hertz tick rate, which means that the servers check players' positions 128 times per second. However, it only takes a player with a bad connection with a lot of latency to delay the sending of information, accentuating the peeker advantage.
In a video we saw above, the Green player shoots the Red player before the latter has time to see and react. At this point, the server has two choices. The server must decide what is the correct intepretation of the information sent by the Green player. The question remains if the server has to take into account " the Green player head shotted the Red player " or " the Green player shot from this position, with that angle ".
In the first case, the Green player will not even notice that they have benefited from the peeker advantage, but everyone else, including the Red, can be particularly frustrated. In the second case, since the angle didn't correspond to the position of the Red player on the server, the Green player is therefore prejudiced, while the Red player will have no clue of their advantage.
We generally prefer the second solution, the one where the server's point of view prevails. In the worst case, in only bother one person rather than nine. Concretely, this is what happens with hit reg problems hat we can see in some Valorant games. The Green players thinks they're shooting in the head of the Red opponent, but the Red player is actually elsewhere from the server's point of view. These situations distort the game and seem particularly unfair to the Green player.
It also helps preventing some form of cheating where a player only has to send the server wrong information saying " I shot everyone in the head, in one bullet and even on the other side of the map ".
There's one thing to remember in any case: everyone suffers the presence of a player with a bad connection. This latency has repercussions on all players because it forces the server to slow down the tick rate to adapt to this player. You will therefore gain nothing from slowing down your connection, except an imprecise and unpleasant gameplay.