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Epic Games explains in-depth an issue causing specific players to lag in Fortnite

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Epic Games has posted a technical blog post detailing a network issue which may be causing lag and packet loss for players using a specific internet service.

The post was written by Ryan Gerleve, Lead Networking Programmer at Epic Games. In the post, Ryan goes into great depths explaining what is causing the issue and how Epic plans to remedy it.

Interestingly, the issue lies within Unreal Engine 4, the engine which powers Fortnite and many other popular games such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Check it out below…

We recently tracked down, with the help of an internet service provider (ISP) and one of our hosting providers, a networking issue that could be contributing to some of the lag and packet loss that players with certain ISPs are experiencing. This post is to provide some technical details about the problem and how we’re planning to fix it.

The issue relates to how UDP network packets can be delivered to their destination in a different order than they were sent. This is a protocol that all programs using UDP for networking have to deal with, and Fortnite, by way of Unreal Engine 4, does handle it, but not as efficiently as it could.

To help understand the issue, here’s a simplified version of the high-level sequence of events that occur in a single frame in-game.

  1. Try to read a packet from the network, if one is available, go to #2. Otherwise, skip to #4.
  2. If the packet read was sent before a packet we’ve already processed, discard it. Otherwise, process it normally.
  3. Go back to #1.
  4. Advance the game simulation and wait for the next frame.

We can do the test in #2 because the sender writes a sequence number into each packet they send, and the receiver records this number for the last packet it successfully processed. Discarding packets with lower sequence numbers is important for keeping the game simulation consistent, as well as for security reasons – we can’t just process every single packet regardless of when it’s received.

Now, consider a case where the packets the game receives are out-of-order. For example, if the received sequence is 1, 3, 2, 4, following the steps above, we would process packet 1, then 3, discard 2, then process 4.

Discarding packets here is generally OK, because we have mechanisms to retransmit packets if needed – but this retransmission takes time, so in effect it causes increased latency for whatever actions would have been triggered by processing that packet.

However, the game did receive every packet the sender sent, and it technically could have processed packet #2, so dropping it might seem wasteful – and it is!

If the out-of-order packets are all received on the same game frame, we should be able to sort them into the correct order before fully processing them. Consider this revised processing loop:

  1. Read all packets available from the network. If any are available, go to #2. Otherwise, skip to #4.
  2. Sort all packets received by their sequence numbers.
  3. Process all the packets in their now-sorted order.
  4. Advance the game simulation and wait for the next frame.

Now, we can process all the packets received in the example above without discarding any and paying for the re-transmission time of whatever data packet #2 contained!

We hope to have the revised processing method implemented in the v8.10 update but will update you on the timing for the fix closer to the release of that patch.

-Ryan Gerleve: Lead Networking Programmer

Editorial

Opinion: Ninja Battles is what we thought professional Fortnite would be

Ninja Battles has shown us that there’s a massive opportunity in invitational Fortnite tournaments.

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When competitive Fortnite was first announced, fans imagined Team Liquid going up against TSM and FaZe. Tfue and Cloakzy were battling Chap and 72hrs for the win. TSM boasted Myth, Daequan, and Hamlinz – three of the best players in the world at the time.

Those were the old days of competitive Fortnite, and they are way behind us. There’s been a massive changing of the guard, partially due to the open qualifiers for major tournaments.

These qualifiers were fantastic for unknown Fortnite players who have since grown their brand. Would people like UnknownxArmy or even Bugha have been invited to the World Cup if it was an invitational? We’re not sure.

IMG: Fortnite Twitter

From a viewership perspective, however, it can be difficult to keep track of the constant turnover in the competitive scene. The leaderboard might be filled with names you’ve never heard of in any given tournament. It’s a double-edged sword that leaves some longtime Fortnite viewers behind.

Now, we have Ninja Battles: an invitation-only tournament that also features some of the biggest names in the competitive scene. Sure, there were a few content creators thrown into the mix, but winning the tournament was no small feat. Many of the household names in competitive Fortnite took part in the event, and the prize pool was a large one for an online tournament.

Ninja Battles Week 1 was an unquestioned success. The best news coming out of the event is that we have five more weeks of competition. After one week, it’s already shown us the version of competitive Fortnite we expected to see, all along.

Of course, there was some controversy during the tournament. ZaxRow has been banned after his cuss-filled post-game interview, and Clix issued an apology after leaving early. On top of that, the lack of Arena Mode caused each game to end in a heal-off.

These pros have seen the error of their ways, however, and Ninja Battles will take place in Arena Mode going forward. Ninja stated that the tournament gave him “old competitive Fornite” vibes, and he was dead-on. This was what many of us wanted competitive Fortnite to be.

The participants, largely, loved their experience as well. Nearly every competitor praised the tournament on Twitter. There were no complaints, no in-game controversies, no accusations of teaming – nothing that’s been plaguing the mainstream competitive scene for over a year.

We have several more weeks of Ninja Battles to look forward to, but hopefully, it doesn’t end there. Ninja Battles has shown us that invitational tournaments might be the best format for Fortnite – at least from a viewership perspective.

The FNCS and all other Fortnite tournaments will have their place, but the true ceiling of competitive success may lie in private, invitational tournaments.

Let’s hope that organizers, teams, and companies take note of this success and support this version of the competitive scene going forward. If we get more of what we had last night, then competitive Fortnite has some massive potential.

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Clix apologizes for leaving Ninja Battles for a Fortnite Cash Cup

Clix apologizes for choosing the Fortnite Cash Cup over the in-progress Ninja Battles tournament.

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Ninja Battles showed us that invitational Fortnite tournaments might be more entertaining to watch than those with open qualifiers. It also proved that they can be just as toxic.

The professional Fortnite community is notoriously young, with the densest number of competitors in their teens. After Ninja Battles Week 1, we saw two high-profile pros issue apologies for their actions during the tournament.

The first to apologize was ZexRow, who has since been banned from future events due to his cuss-filled rant on Ninja’s stream. You can read more about that situation in our full article here.

Clix followed with an apology of his own. Was it for calling Ninja – the tournament organizer who put up his own money to host an event – “literally f**king dogs**t”? Not exactly.

Clix issued an apology for leaving the event early and leaving his teammates, BrookeAB and Furious, high and dry. He stated that he talked to the duo before the tournament and warned them that he’d be leaving. In his apology, Clix admitted that he “could’ve handled things better.”

Clix, whose team finished in 17th place, left before his final match to play the Duo Cash Cup with FaZe Sway. The pro made it seem like a no-brainer as to why he was leaving.

Clix released this apology a few hours after the event concluded, but it remains to be seen if he’ll receive an invite in the future. BrookeAB was the one who was invited from the squad, so Ninja could very well tell her not to invite him again.

There’s a lot of drama in the competitive Fortnite scene, even in a wholesome event like Ninja Battles. One thing’s for sure: this was one of the most entertaining Fortnite tournaments in recent memory.

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Patch Notes

Epic nerf Fortnite aim assist on PC yet again

Epic Games have released another Fortnite aim assist nerf for PC players.

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Here we go again – another reported nerf to controller aim assist on PC in Fortnite. Will this one be enough to satisfy the keyboard and mouse (KBM) community? Will it be the final iteration of aim assist? Probably not, but let’s get into it.

This update flew under the radar for most players, as Epic didn’t officially announce this change to the public. Data miners reported on the change with the updated files, and pros began to test it out.

According to Hypex, the new values are as follows:

  • PullInnerStrengthHip -> from 0.6 to 0.45
  • PullOuterStrengthHip -> from 0.5 to 0.38
  • PullInnerStrengthAds -> from 0.7 to 0.52
  • PullOuterStrengthAds -> from 0.4 to 0.3

This seems to be a relatively substantial nerf, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens when controller players get their hands on the updated values. According to early reports, console players should be unaffected.

At some point, it seems like Epic are going to nerf aim assist on PC to the point where it will be more beneficial to use a console. This is a bit hyperbolic but could be a legitimate outcome.

We’ll keep you posted if and when professional controller players speak out on the aim assist topic. For now, not much has happened on that front – suggesting that little has changed.

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