Network Lag

The worst lag spikes in the game are caused primarily by network lag.

This can appear in game as incorrectly moving primal attacks, skulls and birds that stutter and aren't where they appear to be, embers that don't break when you hit them several times with a primal, and player teleports that occur in unnatural ways or players seeming to be invisible or impossible to hit. Damage lands all at once or not at all. In the worst case, the game can basically lock up for 5-10 seconds before everything sorts itself out and happens all at once.

A number of things contribute to network lag. Some are fixable, and some are not.

Lag between Europe and the United States is generally not fixable. Come back when it's not peak hours and try again. This lag has been especially bad since covid-19, as the internet overall is taking a heavier hit from everyone staying home worldwide. Lag between the United States and Canada is also apparent but not nearly as bad as lag to Europe.

Playing on a wifi connection will give you worse performance than playing on a wired connection of the same speed. Wifi is also more prone to random disconnects.

Having insufficient bandwidth, especially upload speed, will kill your performance. You may not see it yourself right away, but your opponent will (and will likely be annoyed at it). How much bandwidth do you need? Minimum of 4 Mbps upload, and 20 Mbps download. Better if you have more. Because...

Insufficient bandwidth can cause "buffer bloat" where packets are waiting their turn to use the network, and they sometimes get long delays, then send all at once. That can make the network lag spikes feel worse in game. There are some things you can do on routers to reduce the likelihood of buffer bloat, but the best solution is simply more bandwidth all around (from your ISP and internally to your network).

Sometimes rebooting your router will help for a bit. Turning off automatic software updates, downloads while playing VR, and other sources of video streams, tv shows / movies, and VPN or skype/etc., can also help preserve bandwidth. Do make sure your router is capable of handling that level of bandwidth (gigabit ethernet will do you no good with a 100 Mb router, for example) and that it has the computation ability to keep up.

Disconnects mid game tend to penalize the higher ranked player, which means that if you're playing with lots of network trouble, players will eventually get mad at you and not want to play anymore. Try to make sure you have enough bandwidth, or step out of queue when you start noticing problems.

Computation Lag

Computation lag looks slightly different from network lag. Whereas network lag will be a spike of lots of events delayed and then suddenly happening at once, computation lag is more of a continuous slow down, particularly obvious in the slow down in hand tracking. It will feel like you're moving your hands through mud. Everything slows down across the board.

To reduce computational lag, make sure you're not running other programs (especially web browsers) and have a freshly rebooted computer. The Unspoken game can crash after an hour or more of playing, so quitting it and restarting it helps sometimes too.

Also (after you start up Unspoken), go to your desktop and press Windows-d to minimize all windows. This makes Unspoken not display animated graphics on your desktop, which can save your GPU some cycles. Obviously you can't do this if you're live streaming, since you need the desktop display for recording, but it works well if you're not streaming.

Graphics Lag from ASW

ASW (asynchronous spacewarp) is a frame-interpolation technology from Oculus that attempts to improve lagging frame rate by interpolating what should have been in that frame, and showing you that instead. Unfortunately, since the usual reason that frame rate has dropped is that the computer can't keep up, interpolating actually doesn't work quickly either, and can still reduce your performance versus just letting the frame drop happen.

This effect is especially apparent on Midway Pier arena, where extra particles and motion tend to bog down graphics cards. It can also be a problem with the Dark Tag artifact is in use, due to its particles. If you notice that Midway Pier is especially laggy for you (particularly when skulls are flying around close by), try turning off ASW.

The Oculus Debug Tool contains a setting for this, although the user interface is quirky and misleading. The third party "Oculus Tray Tool" has a setting for it that is more accurate.

Using the Oculus Debug Tool:

  1. Open the game you want to play (in this case, Unspoken). Start the game up.
  2. Go to C:\Program Files\Oculus\Support\oculus-diagnostics\ and launch the OculusDebugTool.exe
  3. Change ASW to Disabled. If it's already disabled, change it to Auto and then back to Disabled. (Yes you have to do this every time.)
  4. Play your game. There should be less smearing and ghosting.

Using the Oculus Tray Tool:

  1. Download and install the oculus tray tool (third party software).
  2. Start the tray tool. Start up your game.
  3. In the tray tool, Game Settings, change ASW to "Off".
  4. When you start a new game, switch it to Auto and back to Off to make it take effect for that game.
  5. The game must already be launched for the ASW change to actually work.
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