I heard from one of the developers that the game uses dedicated servers, but may fall back to peer-to-peer in extreme situations. I’d like to learn more about the details. @MacMan, @MrStrategio, who else?
The server location seems to depend on the host’s Steam client download location. I know for sure I get hosted in US servers when I choose US - New York as my download location and go play some public games – I can tell that because my ping drops to 3 bars instead of the usual 4. I don’t know if that’s the case when I start a custom match; would like to test this later.
The game’s netcode is far more punishing for monsters than it is for hunters. Stealth pounces, melee attacks (especially heavy attacks), skills, eating and beginning/cancelling an evolve are all delayed by the ping, locking the player in place until the client receives a confirmation from the server. These are all pretty much basic actions a monster must take during the match. The only things that don’t seem to be affected by high ping are movement and traversals.
Hunters have no such locks, although some of their actions need compensation. From the player’s POV, Markov’s lightning gun lock-on, for example, needs to be compensated just like 90’s online FPS games. Caira’s grenades seem to explode a lot later under high ping. Dodging enemy projectiles requires the player to compensate both his lag and the monster’s lag. Cloaking and acceleration field depends on the players positions which needs to be predicted by the support/Caira player. There are many more cases, none of which locks the player in place, unable to perform any other actions. On the other hand, hitscan projectiles seem to have ping compensation.
This is the reason ESL gives monsters the host preference, and this is why I asked you for an US East player to host the game. Unfortunately for me, we had an agreement (in which I had no voice; my teammates decided that in my stead) and the ESL rules state that you’d have the right to host anyway. I think this rule needs to be revised to ensure the host is fair for all players, especially for the monster, as the high latency is extremely punishing for monster players who are not in NA/EU given its effects.
If custom games are hosted the same way as public games (that is, using a dedicated server based on the Steam download location), picking US - New York would technically make me an NA monster as far as hosting goes, therefore I would have the right to host despite getting 3 bars of ping.
Ping will always be an issue with international events, unless scientists figure out how to make space-time-warp-based routers for instant communcation across the world (and beyond).