Is lag equal for both players? or is sometimes longer for others?


Hi guys first post,

Have been playing SF4 online for PC now for a couple of months and this is my first time playing a fighting game online. What i wanted to know was is if the game is lagging out, am i still seeing exactly what the other player is seeing on his screen or are there times when i am seeing stuff before him and vice versa?

It almost feels that sometimes the other player is just reacting way quicker than I am able to… I remember playing online vs Ken… He whiffs a HP SRK and i am standing there waiting for him to come down to HP, HP SRK him, before I even get my HP out, he’s already Shoryu-Reppaing my sorry hide???
In all honesty there are times when i also feel that my opponent who seems to be pretty good is also lagging out behind me (doing things like walking directly into fireballs, getting sweeped way too easy)

Obviously the netcode isnt perfect, but is it even the case that the lag can be so uneven?


People mashing out commands will beat the person putting it in once during lag most of the time, hence why online play causes me to rage and punch holes in the walls.


This is roughly how it works:

Ken’s HP DP has 9 frames out ground recovery. His close HP activates in 6 frames. In the case where he whiffs a DP and you decide to punish it (with Ken) by walking forward and attacking with an HP combo as he lands, you only get a 3 frame window (4, if you’re using Ryu) to connect. 3 frames = 50ms = 4 yellow bars. So if your ping vs your opponent is more than that, you will not be able to punish a whiffed DP by attacking as he lands - you have to do it so that the HP activates within the first few frames he touches the ground, and that’s not always possible if you’re walking forward from max distance. So you either have to adjust your timing by pressing the button earlier than you would do it offline (lag compensation), or use a quicker attack, like The latter is the lesser of two evils.

As for lag symmetry, yes both players experience the same amount lag at any given time. However, lag can fluctuate during matches so you might find that sometimes your opponent can’t react to certain things even though you were able to do it a few moments earlier. You don’t notice that you’re lagging because you’re not the one who has to react to the move. And if you’re still in recovery (eg. after throwing a fireball), you can’t move anyway so lag doesn’t affect you.


thx for the info… compensating for lag is a habit which is driving my offline game to the pits…


I don’t think that anyone can make that statement as fact.

Without knowing exactly how the two consoles communicate, we can’t really know if the lag is symmetric or not.

For example…do dropped packets get resent? Do packets expire? What protocol is used…UDP? TCP? RTP?

There are ways to empirically test these issues, but to my knowledge no one has ever done it and posted results.

All I’m saying is: I don’t think there is enough known about the underlying tech to state as fact, that lag is symmetric or not. Remember that if I send you a packet, it does not necessarily take the same trip across the same nodes as when you send me a packet. It may, or it may not, that is going to depend on many factors.


It does apply for both, though you can learn to play to the lag (and this generally means using a noncharge character, spinning the stick at 200 kilometres per hour and slamming buttons).

Makes me completely rage because as a charge mainer for both my main and second, it makes it difficult as hell to string anything.

What’s that Bison? You want to do your ultra on wakeup? HERE! HAVE A BISON WARP OR KNEE PRESS INSTEAD!! Urgh


Yeah, we’re not sure. I once intended to do painstaking analysis of DSP and Saqs sides of a DSP vs. Saqs online match, but I’ve never gotten around to it.


LOL…i laughed the first time that happened to me online. in any event, it’s not you. it’s SF4 online play.

i don’t know, but i do know you can expect more of the same in SSF4. best thing to do is not take it seriously.


lag isnt always the same for both people playing (example)
i was watching the WNF stream last night and on live and i fought 2 people that were also watching the live stream with me
the 1st i fought that was in norcal had a 2 bar connection to me and i to him and im in boston now even though i saw he had 2 bars i felt no lag but he said he couldnt take the ammount of lag he was feeling
the 2nd guy i fought had no lag to me and he had 4 bars im not sure where in the world he was but to sum up my point no lag isnt always equal for both people


That is very interesting, thanks for the input. This is one example of a non scientific way to get a handle on this issue.


Yeah, pretty much the only thing anyone can be certain about is that there is no way in hell that lag is symmetric. What we don’t know is what factors determine which player gets saddled with it.



if you wait till ken lands, then yes you are right about 3 frames of leeway.

however nothing is stopping you from doing the st.fp 3-4 frames early, turning a 3 frame punish into at most an easy 8 frame punish and at the middle timing a 4-5 frame punish…

his ex srk is probably the one that got mashed out… that piece of crap has only 3 frames of landoing recovery… so technically it cannot be punished by any thing less than 3 frames right??? lol

just time your move early, and the punish gets much easier, ken will land into a move that you stuck out while he was still in the air, and will hit him once he gets fully grounded.



That’s exactly what I said, except sometimes there are things that prevent you from doing an early HP:

Put it into context: If Ken whiffs an HP DP, he’s going to be a significant distance from you when he lands (unless he did a random DP from a mile away and landed in front of you or behind you). Depending on what you were doing during the whiff, you might not be able to close the distance to perform an early HP by the time he lands, especially considering that input delay will prevent you from walking forward at the exact moment you want (same goes for the HP).

You’re right. Still, I don’t advise taking subjective perceptions of gameplay as evidence that asymmetry is a significant factor. It’s the same sort of thing as when people saying they drop combos because of significant differences between the console versions, or that opponent’s are using lag generators to gain an advantage.


I feel your pain:(


One of the most frustrating things on earth because they’re looming over you and you go “Right, Ultratime.” and it comes out as fricken Bison warp.

I do wonder, I always thought lag was one-sided, then when I claimed as such, I had people go “RAWR IT’S TWO WAY!” So I don’t know where to stand. Because I’ve been playing a game with friends online before. on headset they’ve gone “Woah lag.” and I don’t get squat and vice versa so it does make me wonder.


There’s no way it’s symmetrical. Off anecdotal experience alone, i can recall games where the other person is able to pull off proper strings while i’m having fireballs come out of jabstrings instead of Demonflips and scissorkicks come out of Bison attempts that just never happen offline. Just the same, i’ve seen games where i’m fine but it felt like the other person was doing strange moves that were indicative of lag.

I don’t care what anyone says, lag is not symmetrical. I’ve seen it enough myself that i require empirical evidence to be convinced otherwise. The only other explanation is that some people literally are too stupi to notice 150+ms lag during their random mashings.


IIRC it’s against the XBLA TOS, and it’s clearly a form of cheating, but it’s not a huge technical challenge to have routing machine delay the outbound packets only.


This is no way substantiates any claims about lag symmetry. Lag can fluctuate during matches. If it changes while you’re performing a combo while the other dude is blocking, you will feel it, but he won’t. Similarly if someone throws a fireball and you can’t block on reaction, you notice it but he won’t because he’s still recovering. Now if both people feel it at the same time, both will just say it was a shitty connection. On the other hand, if one person loses occasionally because of it, you get threads like these.

Like parabellum said, we don’t know the underlying architecture, and anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much. You end up with a situation where 100 people post anecdotes from 1% of their matches and in the end it looks like it’s a bigger issue than it really is.

Why would you want to do that? It would mean that all your inputs would also end up getting delayed or even lost.


No clue about other games, but in Street Fighter HDR, the game uses a rollback system to cover lag, so when you do a move, the display at the other end will skip a number of starting frames corresponding to the amount of time that the information took to get there. Longer lag from you to the opponent means that your opponent won’t have as much time to react.


SFIV doesn’t use GGPO rollback style netcode.