Troubleshooting 101

CM Chris
CM Chris
KIXEYE Community Manager
Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675
edited 22 Apr 2016, 11:59PM

Greetings Rebels, and welcome to Troubleshooting 101!

Here you will find a list of the troubleshooting steps that Support provides when you submit a ticket for performance problems in VEGA Conflict. Each entry also includes an explanation as to why a step is important in the troubleshooting process.

POST #1: Pre-Troubleshooting

POST #2: Basic Maintenance/Troubleshooting Steps

POST #3: Diagnostics

POST #4: Additional Variables/Escalation

POST #5: Troubleshooting FAQs


WC:RA/BP Community Manager
Community Rules: CLICK HERE
Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
  • CM Chris
    CM Chris
    KIXEYE Community Manager
    Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675
    edited 22 Apr 2016, 11:47PM

    PRE-TROUBLESHOOTING

    The very first thing a Support agent does when receiving a performance ticket is check the status of our servers at/around the time your ticket was submitted. There are several batches of data we check to determine server performance and this data is gathered 24 hours a day:

    • Concurrent Users. This data shows how many users are active in the game at any given time. An agent will look over this data to determine if there was a substantial or sudden drop in online users around the time a ticket was filed.

    • Battles per Server. This data follows a specific pattern based on the spawn rate of PvE fleets in accordance with what type of event is ongoing at the time. An agent will look for irregularities in the pattern of this data to determine if fleets were not being engaged in the correct pattern (commonly indicating an inability to engage with the combat server).

    • Map Population Velocity per 15 minutes. This is a more in-depth breakdown of the rate at which Concurrent Users are accessing the game.

    • PHP-FPM Slow Requests. PHP-FPM is a third-party processes implementation system that allows us to run certain tasks in VC (most commonly platform authentications and payments). If we are logging slow request errors in this data, it’s an indicator that our servers are having problems talking to third-party interfaces. A Facebook, Apple, Google, or Steam outage will show up here.

    • Translation Failures. If the translation system in chat starts throwing a lot of errors, it’s sometimes an indicator that the server is having problems.

    • Base Errors. These are rare, but we check them anyway. It shows us if there is stuck data somewhere in a player’s base. It’s so rare that in the thousands of users accessing VC, a single base error will send a noticeable alert in the data.

    • Combat: no TCP ACK by 2 seconds as % of connections. TCP is short for "Transmission Control Protocol" (the stream through which data packets flow back and forth between your system and our servers) and ACK is short for “Acknowledgement". When a data packet arrives at our servers, it is acknowledged. So this tool shows us the percentage of battle connections where there was a 2 second delay between packet acknowledgements. If a higher percentage is appearing in the data, this is an indication that one of our battle servers is not responding as fast as it should be.

    Using these tools we can get a very precise reading on how our servers are performing. While we don’t share the hard data results of these tools (intellectual property reasons), we’re happy to let you know whether our servers are performing well or not.

    WC:RA/BP Community Manager
    Community Rules: CLICK HERE
    Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
  • CM Chris
    CM Chris
    KIXEYE Community Manager
    Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675

    BASIC MAINTENANCE STEPS

    As briefly touched upon in the previous section, the fundamental way a game like VEGA Conflict runs is through a constant exchange of data between our servers and your computer, contained in small bundles known as ‘data packets'. Every game’s packet exchange rate is different. For example, a study of a commercial mid-size MMORPG from ~2005 (ShenZhou Online) tallied its average data packet exchange rate per user at 15 packets per second. VEGA Conflict, a game running in 2016 (and beyond) utilizes much more sophisticated tech and subsequently has a packet exchange rate that is much, much higher. If absolutely anything impedes the flow and exchange of those data packets, the result is lag, interruptions, and/or disconnections.

    To ensure that absolutely nothing is impeding the flow of data between your system and our servers, it’s important to utilize basic maintenance steps, which is going to be the first step in our troubleshooting. It doesn’t matter how powerful your system is, nor how strong your connection, absolutely every player should be using these maintenance steps regularly.

    Browser/Steam

    • Temporarily disable firewalls while accessing the game. Firewalls, ad-blockers, and antivirus software work by filtering data packets as they arrive, then checking them for security risks before allowing entry to your system. This is great for security purposes - and terrible for online gaming. VEGA Conflict requires live and immediate responses with no delays in packet delivery or your game runs the risk of lag. It is up to you whether or not you wish to disable your firewall, but having filtering software in place absolutely will affect the performance of your game.

    • Plug directly into your router/modem and powercycle regularly. WiFi is fantastic - but subject to interruptions. We’ve all experienced this, that certain spot in your house that just doesn’t seem to pick up internet signal very well. Taking an ethernet cable and connecting directly into your router/modem ensures that you are experiencing your signal strength at its exact point of connection to your home. Also, routers can get cluttered with the tremendous amounts of data they’re passing back and forth so remember that every few days you should shut off your modem/router, wait about a minute, then turn it back on. This is called 'powercycling' and will ensure your router continues to give you the best performance that it possibly can.

    • Make sure no programs are running in the background. Any tasks that are running at the same time as VEGA Conflict, even if they’re running in the background, are using up valuable processing power. The more tasks that are running (or the more complex those tasks are), the more likely you are to not have enough processing power to smoothly play VEGA Conflict..

    • Clearing your graphics cache. For Browser this means clearing your Unity cache, for Steam this means selecting “Verify Game Cache” in the local files section of your game. We know this one is the **** of every lag joke, because believe me we make the same ones, but anyone with a day of training in IT knows that this step is important. You really do need to clear your cache. Why? As you play VEGA Conflict, the visual platform that you are utilizing collects graphics data and stores it. The more you play, the more data it holds on to, and more, and more, and more. Eventually it’s logged so much data that it can’t operate as efficiently as it normally can (imagine eating a whole cake and then trying to sprint up and down a football field. You’re not going to be as fast as you normally are and you may throw up halfway there). This problem is compounded exponentially after an update because now you have brand new game data clashing with potentially outdated old game data. So, we’ve said it before and we’ll still be saying it for years to come: clear your graphics cache. Do it every day. Do it in your sleep. Do it so much that you start writing the instructions on how to clear your graphics cache as the answer to your Math test (but don’t do that, because school is important).

    • Reboot your computer. Don’t leave your computer on for weeks at a time. Turn it off, let it rest. The performance of your game will thank you.

    • Lower your max-pings-per-minute (Steam only). To do this, open the Steam client and use the dropdown menu in the top left of your screen (labeled "Steam") to select Settings (sometimes called Preferences). Click the "In Game" tab, and you will see an option to adjust your max pings per minute. Set this to 1,500 or lower. This isn’t a VEGA Conflict troubleshooting step but Steam recommends it if you’re having connectivity problems and it’s been known to help players, so give it a shot!

    Mobile

    • Make sure your phone/tablet’s Operating System and version of VEGA Conflict are completely up to date. Running an out of date Operating System or version of VEGA Conflict may mean that you are missing out on performance improvements that have been released. Additionally, the game may be conflicting with systems that are now outdated, which can contribute to performance troubles.

    • No apps running in the background. This is often an overlooked or unknown troubleshooting step for mobile users. Double click your “home” button to see all your currently open apps and programs, then swipe them away so they are fully closed. Every app that is running in the background, even if ‘background refresh’ is disabled in your settings, is using up valuable processing power that should be tasked solely to VEGA Conflict. Eventually you may encounter a high-activity time where, due to simultaneously running other tasks, your device can simply not process the required data load correctly and the game disconnects.

    • Play from a stable WiFi signal. While the benefit of using a mobile device is that you can take it on the go, you will absolutely have stronger performance if you are using a stable WiFi signal. We’ve all encountered this, you’ll have an extremely strong mobile data signal then walk under a tree with one leaf too many and suddenly you’re disconnected (heaven forbid you go through a tunnel). For solid performance, make sure you are as close to your WiFi router as possible, that the signal is as strong as possible, and that nobody else is hogging your bandwidth..

    • Uninstall/reinstall the app. Only do this if you have a way to get back into your account! If you do this while on a guest account then you won’t be able to log back into your base. This is the mobile equivalent of clearing your graphics cache. For a breakdown on why this is important, read the “Clear your graphics cache” entry in the “Browser/Steam” section. We recommend doing this about once a week for heavy-usage mobile players.

    By regularly taking these steps, you ensure that the lines of communication to your internet connection are not being obstructed. Again, these are essential to every player no matter how strong their connection is. Don’t let your performance suffer by disregarding basic maintenance!

    WC:RA/BP Community Manager
    Community Rules: CLICK HERE
    Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
  • CM Chris
    CM Chris
    KIXEYE Community Manager
    Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675
    edited 31 Oct 2016, 5:07PM
    DIAGNOSTICS

    Now that we’ve made sure nothing is obstructing your connection to the internet, it’s important to make sure you’re playing from a strong signal on a system that is powerful enough to run VEGA Conflict without issue. Here’s a breakdown of the three diagnostics we ask for, how to read them, and why they’re important:

    • Test My Internet (http://testmy.net/This is an extremely helpful tool for providing an accurate baseline reading of your connection, so we highly recommend it regardless of where you're playing. While it’s common for Service Providers to recommend using something like Speedtest, those sites are designed to ping off the fastest and closest server hub to your current location, spitting back data on that incredibly short trip before your connection actually gets to bounce around in your ISP’s server trunk. In short, most of those speed tests are little better than marketing tools so you don’t accuse your ISP of shortchanging you (even if they are). Testmy.net is independent and much more accurate as it takes multiple measurements to various addresses, and measures the average performance of your area as well. When you get your results back, pay attention to the Latency Test and Bandwidth Test. The Latency Test should return results below 150ms. If it’s above 150ms, then your connection is slowing down somewhere and you’re operating on an at-risk response time that can result in the loss of data packets when communicating with the outside world. Your Bandwidth Test should return results of above 6Mbps. If your bandwidth is below 6Mbps, that’s a problem. Think of bandwidth like a pipe and data packets as the water that runs through that pipe. 40Mbps Bandwidth is a fire hose - big enough for water to pass through without any trouble whatsoever. 1Mbps Bandwidth is like a straw. The same amount of water that got through the fire hose with ease is now getting clogged in the straw and some of it is being lost out the sides. This is - in essence - what is happening with your connection when you play with low bandwidth. Not all the data is making it back and forth between your system and our servers. Use the maintenance steps we’ve provided to alleviate these problems - but if you’re still noticing at-risk results from this diagnostic, provide those results to your ISP and see why you’re not receiving the internet connection that you’re likely paying for.

    • Traceroute (Instructions found at http://www.wikihow.com/TracerouteWhen the instructions ask for a destination address, use pingcheck.vc.kixeye.com). What we're looking at in a Traceroute is the speed in which your connection 'hops' between server hubs on its way to the servers where we host the game. Much like your general connection strength, hops over 150ms will likely lead to packet loss, while hops that take too long to respond will time out (indicated with a * icon). If all three requests in a server hop time out, that hub is likely just not responding to ping requests. However, if only one or two requests in a server hop time out, then that server hub is experiencing difficulties. This diagnostic tells us how well your ISP is treating your connection once it’s out and about in the world. To read this diagnostic, wait a few minutes for your Traceroute to complete then look over your response times. Are there any hops above 150ms? Any drastic spikes in response times (example: hop 8 stays around 10ms, then hop 9 shoots all the way up to 140ms)? Any problematic server hubs with partial time outs? If so, contact your ISP to see if there’s anything they can do. If a problematic server hub is within their server trunk, they might be able to reroute you or let you know the status of the hub and why it’s being problematic. If the problematic server hub is outside of their trunk then unfortunately there’s nothing they’re going to be able to do, but at least now you know the source of your issue.

    • System Info (Mobile). If you submit a ticket from your mobile device in-game we automatically get this information. Using this System Info, we check if your Operating System and Internal System Memory (or RAM, not to be confused with external storage) meets our minimum requirements. For Android, we require Android OS 4.2+ and at least 1GB of Internal System Memory. For iOS we require iOS 7.0+.

    • System Info (AKA DxDiagnostic. Computer). For a computer, there’s various ways to get this information based on what system and OS you’re using. If you’re unsure how to get your System Info, a quick Google search should tell you. Once we have it, we’ll look over that System Info to make sure your system meets our minimum requirements. For Steam, those requirements can be found HERE. For Browser, those requirements can be found HERE. If your System does not meet our requirements, you should try playing from a different system or making improvements where they are necessary.

    With this data we can paint a clear picture of how your system and connection are set up and performing. If there’s a red flag somewhere in these results, we’ll let you know about it so that you can take any necessary steps to get it corrected.

    WC:RA/BP Community Manager
    Community Rules: CLICK HERE
    Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
  • CM Chris
    CM Chris
    KIXEYE Community Manager
    Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675
    edited 22 Apr 2016, 11:49PM
    IDENTIFYING ADDITIONAL VARIABLES

    Your diagnostics may reveal a few special circumstances that can affect your performance:

    • Connecting from Overseas. We are not yet a company that is big enough to have the type of global server presence that Google or Facebook might have, so if you are connecting from anywhere other than North America your connection has to travel a much longer distance to reach us. If you notice in your Traceroute that your latency response times spike when you are crossing the ocean, then this is likely the source of your issue. Unfortunately there's not much either of us will be able to do about that. It's outside of your ISP's server trunk and we only control our servers here at KIXEYE. This is simply a matter of geography. It doesn’t mean you can’t play, it just means that so long as you are connecting to us from overseas it's very likely that you're going to run into these problems from time to time. As KIXEYE continues to grow, one of our focuses is to expand our international server presence to provide better experiences for our valued overseas players.

    • Playing at work. A lot of our players choose to sign on while they are at work or at school (hey, no judgment. I play the game while I’m at work too. Wait, that’s my job. Okay, bad example). The problem here is that most companies (especially bigger ones) have a company firewall in place. For many reasons - you can’t (and probably don’t want to) shut that off. This is going to affect the performance of your game.

    • On-the-go! This has been mentioned already but it bears repeating. If you’re playing VC while you’re out and about, there are hundreds of possible external variables that can affect the performance of your game. They have nothing to do with connectivity, they’re just environmental factors. We’re not going to be able to identify them with troubleshooting because they are there-and-gone so quickly. So if you’re playing on-the-go, expect to have performance problems more often.


    ESCALATING THE REPORT

    In 99% of cases, one of these steps clears up the performance issue or a diagnostic identifies the problematic external variable that is causing your trouble. Unfortunately, there are rare situations in which we exhaust our troubleshooting steps and the diagnostics data doesn’t pick up any red flags that we can advise you to look into. In these situations, we are not going to be able to correctly diagnose your issue without sitting down at your computer. Instead, we pass along your report and information to the game team and they add it to their list of items to look into when working on general performance improvements that can be made. You won’t receive a response from them, but the information you’ve provided during this process will contribute to the overall health of the game in the long term.

    The fundamental reason for troubleshooting is to systematically rule out all possible external variables and provide the game team with an accurate version of these reports. So if you’ve gotten to this point, we appreciate your patience. The report we can now give to the game team is very beneficial.

    WC:RA/BP Community Manager
    Community Rules: CLICK HERE
    Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
  • CM Chris
    CM Chris
    KIXEYE Community Manager
    Joined Mar 2014 Posts: 3,675
    edited 22 Apr 2016, 11:50PM

    PERFORMANCE PROBLEM FAQs

    Here are a few questions we get in performance tickets that we’re happy to clear up:

    • “Why are you using a form letter? Type your response out by hand!” While I understand it can feel like you’re getting brushed aside when you receive a form letter, there are two important reasons why we use those responses. 1) You’ll notice after reading Troubleshooting 101 that every step/diagnostic has a defined purpose and is ruling out a very specific set of external variables. Systematically ruling out all possible external variables in this way allows us to deliver the most accurate report possible to the game team for inclusion in their investigations. If we did not rule out external variables in this way, we are giving the game team bad data. Bad data leads to bad fixes. By being consistent in the way we troubleshoot, we are adhering to a scientific method in diagnosing and alleviating performance problems. 2) A ton of people play VEGA Conflict and at times ticket volume can be very high. Currently VC CS boasts a kickass response time (less than 24 hours) and this means we can address player issues as they arise instead of several days after the fact. If we’ve done our due diligence in checking the servers and you’re going to get the same troubleshooting steps anyway (see reason #1), it’s better for us to have those steps ready to go in our back pocket. It may seem like hand-typing everything is better, but that’s because you’re likely imagining it for your ticket only. Add to that scenario that we’re doing it for the 300 tickets before yours. We could get to your issue within that 24 hour period if we used form letters - or we could get to you a week from now because we chose to turn every support response into a Civil War letter-to-home (My Dearest Captain SpaceButt, such a tempered July this has been as I march on through the ticket queue and back into the warm embrace of your Zeal Battleships…).

    • “Everything else about my connection was working!” This is one of those statements that sounds like a solid defense but is actually problematic. The first problem is it indicates to us that you’re running other programs while playing VEGA Conflict, which as we established earlier is bad. You are directly contributing to your own performance problems by doing that. Second, a disconnection from the game isn’t the same as a disconnection from the internet. A disconnection from the game happens if you get so backed up with data packet losses/requests (due to slow connectivity response or poor processing power) that the game simply can’t handle it and stops functioning or dumps the data (AKA a disconnection). You can still be connected to the internet the entire time this is happening.

    • “Everyone else was complaining about lag at the same time”. It's easy to see patterns when multiple players experience the symptoms of latency, but additional content and player activity in-game will take anyone who was on the border of performance problems and push them into a more susceptible range for these issues. If sector activity increases, that means exponentially more data packets that all players have to process. Any at-risk players are going to subsequently encounter lag at around the same time.

    • “This only happens during events/RIOTS/Civil War. Your servers can’t handle the load!”. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), our servers are nowhere near their capacity. Again, increased sector activity means exponentially more data packets for everyone’s system to process. This is why times of heightened activity are more commonly going to yield performance problems, especially for users on at-risk connections. We’re still happy to troubleshoot with you.

    • “You’re trying to cover up your server problems by blaming our systems!” This is a theory that pops up from time to time and is simply untrue. If the server has a problem, we are fine with accepting responsibility for it and occasionally issuing a small credit for the trouble. We have done this many times, and we will continue to do this in the future. Additionally, that theory simply doesn’t hold up in execution. If our servers are not performing well, there’s going to be high support ticket volume regardless of if we say it’s happening or not. So saying it’s not happening doesn’t make our job easier. The only thing that would lower support ticket volume is fixing the servers, which means we absolutely want to know if there’s genuinely a problem. Yes, you still have to go through the troubleshooting process for reasons cited earlier, and if there are server problems this will be corroborated in our Pre-Troubleshooting steps, but your receiving those troubleshooting steps is not a brush-off. Again, it’s a systematic elimination of external variables for the purpose of providing an accurate performance report to the game team.

    • “Why can’t you just give me some gold? It would keep me happy.” We have no problem offering an occasional gold credit after an investigation is entirely finished, assuming the situation warrants it. However, if you’re asking for free gold simply because you wrote in a support ticket and would rather get something for free instead of looking into the issue then the answer is going to be no. That’s simply not what we’re here to do. We’re here to investigate the source of your issue and make suggestions about how to fix the problem. If we can’t offer a solution, we can escalate your report to the game team. Whether it’s a bug report, a server problem, an external variable, a problem with the community…we’re here to look into it with you.

    Hopefully this article has been beneficial to you, whether that means helping you get started on troubleshooting on your own, or simply providing a more in-depth explanation about why we take the troubleshooting steps that we do! Best of luck out there :)

    WC:RA/BP Community Manager
    Community Rules: CLICK HERE
    Submit a Support Ticket: CLICK HERE
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