I dedicate this to Wolfei for being too lazy to do any of it himself
I thought I'd post a little something here because I get asked about it often. Usually by DC hackers who wonder how my FM store doesn't DC for 7 days after they spamhack me for hours. But it could be useful to people who have problems with bosses too.
The following is based on personal experience and is mostly theory. Since I do not have the MapleStory source code, or know what to do with it even if I had it, I don't know the fine in-and-out workings of the game, therefore what I have learned is from some amount of testing and logic. If you see anything I have written that is clearly wrong, please say so and post a link to the info source and I'll amend it.
Please give credit if you're copying/pasting to another site or forum.
Several parts of this guide refer to physically altering your PC, tampering with your phoneline and other mischievous monkey-business. Make sure you know what you're doing if you go ahead and do this! I won't be showing you how to do it or going into detail about it, nor will it be my fault in any way if you screw up your equipment. I will not be responsible for you breaking your equipment because you chose to follow this guide. Look on Google, there's a guide for everything mentioned below somewhere.
Which type lag do you have?
There are two general causes and both generate slightly different lag. Your PC or your connection.
~Lag caused by your PC being too slow, infected with performance-degrading malware or bloatware (for example, a virus, some adware, or iTunes) or with faulty hardware and/or bad drivers... The list goes on and on.
How can you tell if the lag is caused by your PC performance? Usually with these indicators:
--Screen freezes briefly with no movement, usually when an avatar appears or an avatar smega is used, or when certain attacks are used.
--The frame-rate varies depending on where I am or what I'm doing. In busy areas, the game movement isn't smooth and stutters.
--The game freezes with a black screen or a screen with no movement for a long time when in Free Market on Eu1 during busy hours.
--Game closes completely with Hackshield errors or MapleStory errors with error codes.
~Lag caused by your connection is where the flow of data between your PC and the MapleStory servers is getting interrupted somewhere, somehow. The variables that could be causing this are enormous and many cannot be fixed.
How can you tell if the lag is caused by your connection? Usually with these indicators:
--USE items like potions take a long time to take effect after pressing the button.
--Monsters take a little longer to die even when they have lost all their HP.
--Skills become unresponsive and stop working.
--Everything stands still except for you.
--Game closes completely or gives you a "cannot connect to server" error and send you back to the login screen.
Tips to avoid lag caused by a problem PC:
1) Secret annoying little applications:
It's important to have as little running on your PC as possible while playing. Any background process could upset Hackshield and/or hog system resources without you authorising it to. I use iTunes as an example here, because it secretly installs half a dozen programs that run when you turn your PC on without you even knowing. These programs keep checking for Apple software updates, checking for attached Apple devices etc. All this useless stuff and you won't even know it's happening!
To disable these annoying little apps, try the following:
~Click the Start button
~~~Type "msconfig" into the dialog box and hit OK.
~~~~Check the Services and Startup tab. Untick any applications running that you don't need. If you are unsure as to whether you need them or not or don't know what they are at all, a quick Google search will bring up the information. For the Services tab, I recommend you disable any non-Microsoft service unless you know you need it.
~~~~~Apply the changes and reboot the PC. These little background pests won't start up by themselves anymore.
2) Meet the REAL minimum specs:
Your PC specs might not be up to standard to play MapleStory properly. You don't need a super computer to play, but it helps to have a half-decent machine.
The website states the minimum specs are something like 1ghz CPU, 256mb RAM or something like that. Unfortunately, these are rather optimistic and if you did try and play MapleStory on a machine like this, it would struggle.
As long as your PC is around 5-6 years old (or newer)(not including laptops), you should be able to play with no problems. My personal recommended minimum specs would be
~A later model Pentium 4 or AMD equivalent CPU, preferably with multiple cores and hyperthreading enabled (as this will help Windows spread the work around for other background apps you might be using during play).
~~2gb or RAM if you intend to go bossing with a large party. 1gb should be fine also but Windows generally performs better in general with 2. Plus with that extra you can disable virtual memory which makes things a little more responsive and prolongs your HDD's lifespan.
~~~And a graphics card, preferably made within the last 6 years at least NVidia and ATI are both fine.
~~~~Any standard SATA hard disk will do. If your PC only has an IDE HDD this could cause some small freezes when entering a busy area in the game but I'm only guessing on this one.
Everything else shouldn't make a difference, just be sure nothing is actually faulty.
3) Vista ****s? Not necessarily... OK maybe it does:
The Operating System, which will be Windows of some flavour, also plays a role in the game performance.
Personally, I have used XP Pro, Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 RC1 (all in 32-bit flavour) on the same system set up.
~Windows XP is the platform that is officially supported by MapleStory. Many say that using XP will cause the least problems, and they're probably right. It's the safest choice for sure, because Vista has many problems in general.
~~However, that doesn't mean MapleStory can't work well on a Vista PC. Most problems users experience with Vista and MapleStory are caused by another factor, usually because Vista is complaining about something else, which in turn would cause Gameguard/Hackshield to complain or make the game itself think a hacking attempt is going on and D/C you. The fact is, if you have configured everything correctly in Vista and have as little as possible running in the background (as explained above), the game runs perfectly happy. I have done Zakum parties and stayed online with no problems at all using Vista. I didn't use Service Pack 1 though, and I hear a lot of people have seen problems with MapleStory occuring after installing this, but like a lot of things, results may vary and another hotfix after the bulky patch may correct it, so make sure you install all of Microsofts updates. I have never witnessed an update that made my PC behave even worse than before.
~~~Windows 7 should be avoided if you play MapleStory a lot. Although Windows 7 runs very nicely, it just doesn't want to play nice with this game. Users will see many random disconnects, graphical glitches and will have the game randomly close often. A solution is to use Windows 7's clever XP mode which runs Windows XP on top of 7 to apparantly give XP's compatibility within the 7 environment. I haven't tested this however so can't comment on whether or not it makes an improvement.
4) Punishing your Laptop:
Laptops. I cannot stress enough that just because a laptop has a processor with paper-specs on par with a desktop PC, that doesn't mean that it is any good for any kind of gaming.
Most laptops use integrated graphics, most commonly the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator. They will give it a model number and some specs but what all this basically translates to is "this laptop has no dedicated graphics processor". The laptop will load the video data into the RAM instead which is slower than dedicated video memory, this will very likely cause lag issues in busy places.
Hard disks in laptops are also typically slower (not including SSD's) than desktop ones, as they normally spin at a slower rate (I think it's about 25% rpm slower or more). When the game requests to load a lot of the game files at once, it will likely freeze until it's managed to load them all into the RAM.
So it's really a combination of poor performance components that cause laptops to have the most problems, that together with the use of wireless Internet but we will cover that later.
So how do you get better performance from your laptop? The way they're built pretty much prevents you from upgrading the system yourself. There are a few things you can do to try and help but it's mainly fruitless and more complicated than necessary or not worth the effort.
~Solid State Disk's or SSD's do away with the mechnical hard disks. Instead of a mechnical arm scratching the surface of layers of spinning disks, an SSD is purely electronic. It is basically a bunch of flash memory in the shape of a conventional HDD, so you can just replace it for your old one and it works.
It is infinitely faster at locating data than an HDD is, because instead of the arm scratching around the spinning platter, the data from flash memory is just.... There... Instantly. It's hard to explain but, I'm sure you can picture in your head. It's like comparing the speed of sound to the speed of light. I noticed improvment in the games load times and generally had less freezing while using an SSD on a low-spec laptop. The bad thing is that these disks are horribly expensive and low capacity, with a shorter lifespan than a traditional HDD.
~Adding more RAM to a laptop can help. Because the video is sharing the RAM, you may find 1gb is just not enough. When RAM is low, Windows will use the HDD as a substitute. Reading and writing to the HDD is a lot slower than using the RAM, so this will undoubtably cause problems when loading new game data. So adding more RAM, to a minimum of 2gb, will make sure you always have enough to never have to use the HDD. You can then disable Windows from using the HDD as a RAM substitute (called Virtual Memory) by doing the following (For XP, method may differ for other OS but can still be done):
-Navigate to your Control Panel
-Click the System icon
-Click the Advanced tab and then the first Settings button (under Performance)
-Click the Advanced tab and then click the Change button
-Click the "No Paging file" radio button, then the Set button, and apply the changes
-Click OK to everything and then reboot the PC
(Do not attempt this if you have a low amount of RAM as it will cause problems)
Except for changing the RAM or HDD, there's not a lot else you can do. Everything else inside the laptop will most likely be soldered in place and will not be swappable.
Quick note on problems caused by Firewalls:
~Everyone suggests using a Firewall, but a lot of people don't know they already have one. Many Internet modems/routers have built-in Firewalls already which will suffice, provided they're correctly configured. Problems occur when using 2 firewall systems at the same time, it causes conflicts and won't necessarily tell you this. You can get your firewall tested on some online services if I remember correctly. If your modem came free from your Internet provider, they can probably answer any questions on your firewall.
Quick note on Windows software updates:
~Make sure you have installed the latest Visual C++ runtime files and the latest release of DirectX9. Having these up to date eliminates a whole bunch of potential error messages.
Moving away from local PC issues now, and onto factors that can degrade the quality and speed of your connection to the MapleStory servers.
Here are some tips for getting the best possible connection for lagless play and with no disconnecting!
Tips to avoid lag caused by a dodgy connection:
1) Be prepared to talk to Indians... To escape British Telecom?:
ISP is an important factor. Mainstream ones such as BT, Virgin and others like that are best avoided. Sure, they're cheaper, but there is a catch. These companies will often have many customers and will focus on keeping download speeds as high as possible during peak periods. One method they use is throttling or load-balancing, which makes download speed a priority. Download bandwidth has absolutely no effect on lag for Maple, but these companies will cause delay in the actual speed than data packets get from 1 point to another, in order to keep the bandwidth high for their main customers who are browsing Youtube and watching AVGN for the 20th time.
In short, they sacrifice latency-sensitive applications like online games and Skype, to keep their bandwidth-intensive applications going.
What's the solution to this? Go for a small company, preferably one that offers a broadband package tailored to online gamers. These small companies are more expensive but have their benefits. They are under less pressure from pro-copyright groups to spy on your browsing, they have insanely effective and fast customer support, they provide a much higher quality service than mainstream companies in order to keep their few customers and best of all, with one of their gamer-tailored packages you're going to get fast connections to MapleStory servers all the time (assuming there isn't a non-related problem elsewhere, keep reading for more).
I myself use a company called Aquiss. Since Nexon fixed their own lag issues about 6 months ago, I've never had any lag since using them.
2) Modems. Better than Christmas lights:
Your modem could be the source of all your problems, especially when it comes to disconnecting. Are you with BT Broadband and using their HomeHub? If you are, throw it in the trash right now and go get a new router. Contrary to what BT will tell you, you don't need a HomeHub to use their broadband.... Bunch of liers....
A router is basically a PC in its own right. It runs an operating system, it runs a web server, a DHCP server and various other bits and bobs. It has its own memory and you get the idea, it's a small PC in a box with flashing LED's on it. This little PC is your gateway server to the Internet though, so you will want one that works and works well.
A couple of the best ADSL router brands you can get would be CISCO or Draytek, you're unlikely to go wrong with these. They were built for corporate server rooms and although expensive, are extremely durable and of the highest quality and come with the most configurable software you can imagine. You can even choose how much bandwidth to dedicate to a single use! Tired of your family downloading videos and lagging your game? Simply change the settings so that Maple has the priority (Google QoS for more). Just one example of the many tweaks you can do.
Other brands like Netgear will probably suffice, but make sure to read customer reviews and professional reviews on the particular model you intend to buy, just to make sure it has no kind of common problem. Also check the firmware upgrade notes for these models to see what is fixed and what features get added.
3) Why you should have taken that Electrician vocation:
Home wiring and external wiring can be a problem, also a huge pain in the neck to resolve. Because ADSL broadband uses telephone lines, you're going to see different qualities of Broadband signal throughout your country, depending on the quality and age of the equipment used at the telephone exchanges that your signal passes through. Rural exchanges have to hop to city exchanges before the connection can be made to wherever it is you're trying to reach. Also, some exchanges may be overwhelmed by too many users at once, it depends on the area as to the quality of the line you have.
Sometimes a line may be noisy, which causes problems with the connection too, and the telephone company isn't obligated to do anything about it (until the noise reaches a certain threshold). With BT, there is a free number to call for a noise checker, you may not even hear the noise yourself but this service will find if there is any problem.
If you get connection trouble when your telephone is ringing, you need to insert an ADSL splitter into each in-use telephone socket in your house. This adapter splits the low frequency telephone signal from the high frequency ADSL signal, which not only keeps the phone from interfering but also can improve the ADSL performance, especially in terms of bandwidth speed. These adapters are very cheap and can often make a lot of difference (some BT socket plates already have splitters, check before buying).
Unfortunately, if the wiring issue is outside of your home, there is little to no chance of getting it fixed. Unless it causes the telephone or Internet service to not work at all, your telephone company is not obligated to fix any problems. They do not cater for (or care about) online gamers.
4) Did you fall for those cheap Virgin Cable ads?:
Connection methods are also an important and often key factor in working out the cause of lag. I have found there is only 1 ideal solution. A cable to your router that is connected to an ADSL line.
Connecting to your router through wireless is not advisable. More and more devices are using wireless technology and more people are adopting this technology into their own homes. Operating on the same frequencies, they will often interfere with each other, I don't think I need to explain what problems this can cause. Appartment complexes should avoid using wireless connections, as they will likely have a high concentration of wireless signals, making for a congested wireless network.
For your Internet, as I said, ADSL seems to be the winner here. The alternatives available are 2G/3G, which is a 7.2mb wireless protocol which allows a device to be online anywhere. This method causes lag because of the distance the signal must travel to reach the receiver. Instead of a laptop transmitting to your home router, your laptop must transmit to a broadcast tower on some hill miles away. You wouldn't notice the delay when browsing the web, but for online gaming this is hardly ideal.
Last main alternative is Cable. This is for areas where fibre-optic cable has been layed underground. It delivers data services such as digital TV, also I think telephone, and of course broadband. I have never used Cable myself, but reading about how it compares to ADSL for gaming makes me believe that it too would not be an ideal way of playing.
5) Stop your data being strip-searched:
Interleaving could be the answer to your lagging problems. Interleaving is a quality control system that takes place at the telephone exchange (I think?). This system checks all the data you send and receive for errors caused by a bad signal. If it spots any errors, it requests the data again so that when the data is sent/received, it doesn't have any errors.
As nice as this system sounds, it's actually causing us a problem. It works sort of like an airport security booth, where all the data is stopped and searched. Sure it's necessary but it slows the data stream down so much. Unlike the airport though, interleaving is not necessary for most people. Only for those who have a poor quality line or exchange. Interleaving is switched on by default.
Some ISP's will actually turn this off for you! Most won't actually say on their website or brochures or support pages that this can be done, but it can! You just have to ask over the phone whether they will or won't. Turning off interleaving can decrease the time taken for data to reach the MapleStory server by 50%! And in most cases, there are no downsides to doing this!
Last part, it never hurts to have a good quality network card in your PC either. A cheap built-in network adapter on a cheap £10 motherboard might be the cause of all your stress.
So final notes in a summary:
~Relatively decent spec PC (not laptop)
~Background processes disabled
~Virtual memory disabled
~ADSL Internet with no wireless involved
~Decent high-quality router
~Gaming-tailored or premium ISP
~Hardware firewall, properly configured
~Windows XP, Vista is fine too but not officially supported
Sorry if it's a bit longwinded, and probably needs a dozen edits. Hope someone finds it useful anyway.