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Jeff Lydell Explains Retribution Networking Improvements

By 5*General - 17th January 2011 - 08:47 AM

Producer Jeff Lydell (aka EgonSpengler) recently took some time to respond to questions and speculation raised on our forums about how Dawn of War 2: Retribution will handle networking:
Retribution is still a P2P game. We do have a nice new tech out of Steamworks which is their NAT reflection server. If a connection to a player fails, then we will route through Valve's servers.

We've done tests internally where we start a match between two players, then block the IP connection between the two and the game continues gracefully. In theory it should mean any two people who can connect to Steam can connect to each other. I say in theory because there are certain problems which will require us to be in beta to truly test.

This should go a long way to improving connections between players. NAT problems are one of the contributing factors to poor connections and skill mismatches.Source: EgonSpengler

This solution sounds promising. Dawn of War 2 has had issues with NAT negotiation issues preventing friends from playing with each other and less severe cases of such causing irksome lag in-game. Demigod was a fellow sufferer of NAT negotiation issues in its early days, and in fact it suffered so much that the producer, Stardock, worked to implement a back-up system of "proxy servers" which worked much as Steamworks' "NAT reflection server" sounds like it will. Effectively, when players ran into NAT issues, they were routed through one of Stardock's provided "proxy servers", allowing the players to connect to the server (a much easier task) and thus allowing the servers to connect the players. That boosted Demigod's networking reliability supremely, so the basis certainly exists that Relic's and Valve's gambit will pay-off.

Lydell also went further in his claims as to the looming impact this could have, stating that NAT problems impact in-game connection quality and even matchmaking. If true, Steamworks may yet prove the major networking upgrade many players have long sought for the game. However, Lydell offered no details as to whether Steamworks will improve lag source detection and anti-drophack capability over Games for Windows Live's woeful offerings on those fronts. Given the NAT advancements though, such improvements seem likely as Steamworks seems to have a superior grasp of the inherent issues of P2P networking in an RTS.

Relic are continuing to prove that Retribution is a commitment and reward to the developer's fanbase, granting wishes and addressing issues. With "There is Only War", Relic proved it was willing to significantly rework its game in the hopes of improving it. With Retribution, Relic is proving that they are willing to partially rebuild the game to support it.