Home Engineering Room

Star Trek Timelines in a Low-Bandwidth/High-Latency (LB/HL) WIFI Environment [TMIR_LBHL]

While on a recent vacation on a cruise ship (yes, I had a good time, thank you) I struggled to be an active Timelines player. Free cruise ship WIFI is quite slow for at least two reasons. First, there are a lot of devices trying to access the network concurrently so bandwidth is quite limited. Secondly, all communications occur via satellite resulting in high-latency, particularly if the seas are swelling to any degree as the satellite antennae struggle to maintain a lock on the satellites in response to the movement of the ship.

This environment exposes a lot of network issues that aren’t normally seen when accessing most WIFI networks ashore. I will describe some of the problems I have encountered during my vacation here. Note that my mobile device was updated with current software versions before leaving for vacation and I kept it updated throughout my trip. Timelines was working normally before leaving.

I played a hunch and did not follow the usual steps of clearing cache/data, reinstalling, etc. when I first encountered the issues exposed by the ship network. When I found reliable WIFI ashore the game returned to normal operations and upon return to the ship WIFI the problems returned. Finding reliable, free WIFI in a port can be challenging and some publicly available networks impose limits that make the game unplayable. However some network providers such as Starbucks do an excellent job and I seek them out and patronize the local stores whenever I can.

I also want to point out that most other applications on my device worked well even with the ship’s WIFI. Twitter, Discord, Gmail, News apps, etc. all worked normally, albeit at a slower speed. Google Photos is difficult to use as it typically tries to upload large files over a bandwidth challenged network. I would expect that Timelines would act like Twitter, for example: slower but fully functional.

With the introduction out of the way I will now describe the issues I encountered. Note that this is not an exclusive list as I did not try to use all game elements during my vacation.

One problem that is present in multiple game elements is what I call “double-fire” to avoid confusion with double-click or double-tap. A double-fire occurs when one taps a game button multiple times in relatively quick succession and the button’s action is initiated twice. For example, in the main UI page it is possible to double-fire the voyage button when a dilemma is pending. It is usually possible to complete the first dilemma sequence however the second sequence usually results in a game hang that requires a restart to resolve. I will mention double-fires a few times below as well as the observed behaviour. The button should be disabled when the first instance of the activity is initiated.

The first activity that must be performed is Logon. Logon could take upwards of 20 minutes to complete onboard. The phase “Activating Combadge” takes almost all fo that 20 minutes. Sometimes I would receive a loss of network error page and the process would retry. Sometimes I would get an error box that had no error information in it. I don’t know what happened when the box was dismissed. More often than not I would have to quit the game, force stop the server and then retry the logon process (meaning up to another 20 minute wait). As this is the first thing one needs to do every day waking up to a 20 minute wait gets old quite fast. Things were a bit better if I tried to logon very early in the morning while everyone else was sleeping so I think this is a bandwidth issue.

I already mentioned the double-fire problem with the Voyage button on the ship UI. Another problem that occurs with voyages is the very long lag that occurs when opening the voyage page. I guess that the log messages are downloaded every time the page is opened because the lag seems to increase as the voyage length increases. This makes responding to dilemmas quite slow as one must wait to get the log messages before seeing the dilemma page, and then wait again for the messages to be downloaded once the dilemma has been resolved. I don’t know why these messages could be either cached or downloaded in small sets as required based on log scrolling in the voyage page.

There’s also a few problems with double-fires in the crew page. You can double-fire the level-up button opposite the “Train” button. This gives an error but the game recovers.

You can also double-fire the “build” button to build an item for a crew member. When this occurs subsequent attempts to build items can fail due to “insufficient items” even though the UI shows that there are enough. In this case the only recourse is to restart the game (see you in 20 minutes if I’m lucky).

Fleet Boss Battles were inoperative. All of the battles I tried to run hung on the “vs page” and I would lose my valour token. The only way to recover is to restart the game (see you in 20 minutes if I’m lucky). I did report this item to Support once and I received a valour credit but did not want to continue to try additional battles after the first few.

It is possible to double-fire the “complete” button for a mission on the faction page. In some cases the game could recover but in most cases I would receive an “invalid shuttle” error and could not complete the mission without restarting the game (see you ...). If I recall correctly the “start mission” button could be double-fired as well. Sometimes I could not start a mission because one of the assigned crew was tagged as “busy” but the game doesn’t say which crew. Restart.

There may be other issues that I encountered infrequently, but the issues above were most common. The requirement to log in repeatedly really makes the game unappealing in a low-bandwidth/high-latency network environment.

While the issues here are readily exposed in low bandwidth/high latency network environments every game player could encounter one or more of these issues, resulting in hard to identify game defects. Finding and correcting these defects over time will make the code base more reliable for everyone. I strongly suggest you start with LOGON.

Thanks.
T’Mir

Comments

  • tytlaltytlal ✭✭✭
    i dont want to hijack your thread, but it might be a nice spot to post about when we find ourselves in suboptimal situations (if you or shan think these must be separated, its ok with me)

    last saturday morning, my hp elitebook 8460p died on me (peacefuly , like hal9000, screen fading , and then utter silence ;( ) ofc, in times of fbb, my fleet needs me,so i went to office to borrow one of "emergency" laptops,nominaly of the same specs (i5,8gb ram,ssd).
    but,those specs dont stand in chalange of Timelines,especially fbb. login takes longer (not 20mins as you described, but 5+ (and im on wired,optical network),with occasional errors. without restarts, it will log on. most parts of the game function well (but not superb , as before), but fbb,arena and gauntlet performance are degraded. specially fbb. and as i needed this dell vostro p75g mainly to cover fbb actions when im out of office, it was quite depressing to deal with.
    fbb was stuck on VS screen. for an hour. then i restarted and tried again. and was not willing to wait so long any more.
    in a few hours i found out, that if i spam maximize,demaximize (not minimize!) stt window, fbb VS screen will engage, and the fight is on.
    i dont know what is going on, as i dont know nothing of unity engine (i have some programming background (mostly assembler on mainframes and pcs), and lots of experience in managing and tuning windows systems). paging is not a problem here, as page file is not fragmented(one single block,3 times larger than memory installed,sometimes defender takes its toll,but im waiting it out (and ofc,not running any other sw)

    so,till im able to afford my old buddys "younger brother", it seems im stuck with that ridiculous scheme of max/demax, for each valor spent, while playing from home. but thats ok, i can participate in fleet efforts , and thats what counts.
    (and im worried about skirmishes, as those are my favorite events :( )
  • I experience most of the same issues as @tytlal does. I mostly play on an old, underpowered Dell Inspiron laptop, with a Pentium and 4GB RAM, HDD. I have to do the max/demax thing, too, so I just run demaxed. Logon takes 7 to 9 minutes. At u desk, i6, 16GB, SSD, it's much better but still hangs in a lot of spots . This really became more pronounced when FBB were introduced. Maybe coincidence? Maybe not?
  • TMirTMir ✭✭
    tytlal wrote: »
    i dont want to hijack your thread, but it might be a nice spot to post about when we find ourselves in suboptimal situations (if you or shan think these must be separated, its ok with me)

    last saturday morning, my hp elitebook 8460p died on me (peacefuly , like hal9000, screen fading , and then utter silence ;( ) ofc, in times of fbb, my fleet needs me,so i went to office to borrow one of "emergency" laptops,nominaly of the same specs (i5,8gb ram,ssd).
    but,those specs dont stand in chalange of Timelines,especially fbb. login takes longer (not 20mins as you described, but 5+ (and im on wired,optical network),with occasional errors. without restarts, it will log on. most parts of the game function well (but not superb , as before), but fbb,arena and gauntlet performance are degraded. specially fbb. and as i needed this dell vostro p75g mainly to cover fbb actions when im out of office, it was quite depressing to deal with.
    fbb was stuck on VS screen. for an hour. then i restarted and tried again. and was not willing to wait so long any more.
    in a few hours i found out, that if i spam maximize,demaximize (not minimize!) stt window, fbb VS screen will engage, and the fight is on.
    i dont know what is going on, as i dont know nothing of unity engine (i have some programming background (mostly assembler on mainframes and pcs), and lots of experience in managing and tuning windows systems). paging is not a problem here, as page file is not fragmented(one single block,3 times larger than memory installed,sometimes defender takes its toll,but im waiting it out (and ofc,not running any other sw)

    so,till im able to afford my old buddys "younger brother", it seems im stuck with that ridiculous scheme of max/demax, for each valor spent, while playing from home. but thats ok, i can participate in fleet efforts , and thats what counts.
    (and im worried about skirmishes, as those are my favorite events :( )

    No, I don't have any problem with collecting similar problems here. What I will ask, however, is that everyone that posts problems here also logs a bug report with Support that references the discussion here. It may help us get a bit of traction from the dev organization and, if we're lucky, maybe even @Shan will provide a thought or two on the matter.
  • Submitting 1 ticket if you encounter this type of issue is def. helpful as it helps us gauge how many players might be affected.

    This is not a priority atm unfortunately but I very much appreciate the details about max/demax!
  • TMirTMir ✭✭
    Shan wrote: »
    Submitting 1 ticket if you encounter this type of issue is def. helpful as it helps us gauge how many players might be affected.

    This is not a priority atm unfortunately but I very much appreciate the details about max/demax!

    What percentage of your user base is required to log in to play the game?
  • TMir wrote: »
    Shan wrote: »
    Submitting 1 ticket if you encounter this type of issue is def. helpful as it helps us gauge how many players might be affected.

    This is not a priority atm unfortunately but I very much appreciate the details about max/demax!

    What percentage of your user base is required to log in to play the game?


    I understand what you are implying but I can tell you that we do not have many reports of this occurring at this time.

    That does not mean we will not look into it, but other things have to take priority at the moment.
Sign In or Register to comment.