Loving Lag

By Mangleman

Lag. We all deal with it from time to time. Through my years of playing Runescape I have found a few tricks and even advantages of playing under high lag conditions. Don't get me wrong, I prefer low lag, but I have found a few activities particularly productive in high lag and it has made all the difference.

Specifically the way the Runescape client application is built is conducive to doing a few specific actions even during lag. The way the interface is designed, the menu systems, and click actions are sent to the server not as "clicks" but as specific commands. For instance if you cast a spell, the menu is run on the client side and the server only receives the action "Cast Spell X". When we lag, we are still running the client application at full speed, but the server connection is slow. So we can use this behavior to maximize our play experience even when we are lagging.

I will provide two examples that I have used a lot. But I want to stress that many things that are low risk and heavy on menu actions can be successfully done in lag environment, and in some cases is just as good or better than at full speed.

"Lag Alch"
Anyone who has been playing for a while has likely cast high alchemy repeatedly on a stack of items. Most people know that if you place the stack of items to be alched in the 4th slot of the 4th row (from the top) you do not need to move the mouse between clicks. This makes for a very efficient method of alching many copies of an item. When the alch spell is cast, the interface automatically switches back to the spellbook so you can cast another. The problem is that during lag the spellbook does not switch back until the server verifies the spell cast was successful. If you are experiencing lag while alching you can switch back to the spellbook manually with the F6 key. If you do this rapidly while lagged out, often the system will alch even while you cannot see it. Lately I have been able to alch 10 off the top of my stack while my screen just said "connection lost. Attempting to reconnect..." Lag alching (since you never need to move your mouse) is extremely good when you have either a touchpad mouse (on a laptop) or are using "mouse keys" (an accessibility option in windows that lets you click by pushing the "5" key on the number pad). So to bring it all together:
1) Setup mouse keys or use a touch pad
2) Move your stack of items to Row 4 column 4
3) Click "High Alchemy"
4) Click item to alch
5) Hit "F6"
6) Repeat 3-5

This way you can kind of "queue up" casts while your connection lags.

Many people know about the second popular lag activity. Pickpocketing is actually easier in a way when you are experiencing lag. This time your computer is sending the pickpocket action and target, and even better, pickpocketing takes much less time per action than alching. The Master farmer is the fastest NPC to pickpocket because it is a left-click default action. With the master farmer, lag-pocketing is incredible and it is easy. Click like crazy on the master farmer while you are lagging and he is "frozen" when your screen finally refreshes he likely will have walked away, but you will still be pickpocketing for 30+ seconds after the freeze. It makes it much easier to acquire the target and send the pickpocket command.

When we think more deeply about how the game actually works we can find new ways of dealing with everyday playing and everyday challenges. Lag is a beast that most of us have to deal with from time to time. I hope that I got you thinking about how to live with lag. But more importantly I hope you think about why and how the Runescape program works, because the more you understand, the more you can take advantage of the quirks of this game we all love.

Last update: 03-Feb-2008
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