We’ve all seen it or at least heard about it. You know you go online to play some Madden NFL 12 and you are dominating your opponent and then a message pop’s up that says “Connection to peer has been lost”. You swear your opponent quit or pulled but did he?
In an attempt to clear things up, EA has just released a blog explaining the details of their online server questions, and attempt to give the fans a better explanation.
You can read the whole article here.
Hello Madden fans – I’m Alec Antrim, Online Lead for Madden NFL 12. We’ve seen a number of questions that focus on a few key technical areas of the Madden NFL 12 online gaming experience, and felt it was the perfect opportunity to provide some context to the following areas: Excessive Grieving, Lag, Peer Disconnects/Quits, and Skill Point vs. Level. Let’s take a look at each separately:
- Excessive Grieving
In order to maintain a fun, competitive environment, we must monitor users for behavior that alters an opponent’s ability to play Madden NFL 12. As such we have a number of metrics that are monitored in-game which we consider potentially “grievous”. Thresholds for these metrics are maintained on our servers, and when players repeatedly perform actions enough times to break that set threshold, they are kicked for “Excessive grieving”. Some of these are obvious, such as the user drawing too many offsides, encroachments, and false starts penalties. NOTE: These are USER behaviors. You are not at risk if the CPU happens to draw these penalties without user input.
The more obscure kicks, however, come in the form of being removed for “Network Timeouts”. Without going into too many details, these occur because we have determined that something on your end is degrading the gameplay experience for your opponent. This type of kick is only used in more extreme situations, because we do not want to kick users who are not acting maliciously. However, the bottom line is, if you are kicked for “Network Timeouts” it is because something on your end of the connection is degrading your opponent’s play experience (i.e inducing lag, hitching, etc).
In the past, many of these issues were simply communicated to the user in the form of a “Peer has Disconnected” popup. Based on community feedback, we decided to communicate why the peer was kicked instead of identifying it as a general problem. In short, nothing has changed on the functionality side, we’re simply now accurately communicating to users why games are ending.
There is a very common misconception that head-to-head games are laggy due to poor EA server performance, but that’s not the case. When you enter a head-to-head game, the lag is determined completely by the connection to your opponent. There is no middleman in this situation, so any lag experienced is a result of the connections from you and your peer. The exception is in Online Team Play, where all connections do go through an EA server, to prevent having up to 6 connections that could impact the gameplay experience. In Online Team Play games, it is actually possible for the server to be at fault for some lag.
- Peer Disconnects / Quits
There is some confusion on what happens when you receive a “Connection to peer has been lost” or “Your opponent has quit the game” popup. In the case that your opponent quits a ranked game, the game is treated as if you won, regardless of the score. Madden NFL adheres to a “Last man standing wins” rule for incomplete games, so even if your opponent was winning when they left the game, you will receive the win.
The slightly more confusing case is a disconnect. If a disconnect happens because of an EA outage (even though head-to-head games don’t go through the EA servers we do require you to stay connected to them while playing) then both users would be disconnected and the game would be thrown out. In the case that only one user disconnects, then the disconnected user is treated as a quitter and is given a loss (and the remaining user is given a full win). The reason being, it’s impossible to detect a legitimate loss of connection vs. someone simply pulling their network cable. As such we have to assign full blame to the user who lost connection. If you receive a “Connection to your peer has been lost” and you note that you received a game loss, then that indicates that your connection has failed while your peer was able to stay logged in.
- Skill Points vs. Level
In previous years, people were matched up based strictly on their level which is an ever-increasing stat based on how frequently you played Madden NFL. The problem with this system, however, was that you could be a lesser skilled Madden NFL player and still be continually matched up with increasingly difficult opponents simply because you played more often. Skill points, on the other hand, are a system very similar to a vast number of other league-type systems whereby we try to hone in on your skill as compared to the rest of the population, and then use that skill to match you against someone of similar skill.
If you beat someone of your same skill level, you are awarded a fair number of points. If you beat someone of a much lower skill level, you are awarded fewer points. If you beat someone of a substantially higher skill level, you are awarded more points. Over time, you should expect to have found your true skill rating against the rest of the Madden NFL population when you are hovering around a 50% win ratio (playing against evenly matched opponents is giving you a 50/50 shot of winning). The benefit here is that the more accurate your skill point rating is, the better your matchups will be. It also means that those sitting at the top of the leaderboards are the gamers who are able to consistently win against the rest of the top players, rather than just individuals who play more frequently.
Look, this is nothing new. I’ve been trying to figure out why EA just doesn’t go to a more dedicated server where we connect to their servers like we do for OTP and then it wouldn’t matter what type of connection they have. I really think this is a serious problem that should have been addressed years ago. No other sports game do I have more connection problems than Madden. Not any of their other sports games or any other developer sports games. Something needs to be done.