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Riot talk peeker's advantage, strafe shooting & solo queues in Valorant dev update

Riot are tackling two of the game's biggest issues head-on in their latest developers update.
Since the launch of Valorant into closed beta Riot have taken many opportunities to inform the community of where they stand on certain issues, what features are coming and bugs they intend to fix. Whether that be in live streams, via the Valorant subreddit or any one of their developer updates.

And today, they are back at it again with a developers update that talks about one of the big issues currently being experienced in the game - peeker's advantage and strafe shooting. It's a pretty detailed look at both issues, tackling the root causes and laying out their plans to combat it.

The dev's also discussed the want of a true solo queue, but on this Riot seem steadfast.

"Having a solo queue can easily lead to that becoming the definitive test of someone's skills and the primary way to play competitively," explained Ian Field, product manager of the Valorant competitive team.

"If players have a group of teammates they perform well with, we don't want to discourage them and set a precedent that the real test of skill is in solo play."

 

What is peeker's advantage?

Valorant what is peekers advantage
(Picture: Riot Games)

 

Peeker's advantage is a term to describe the delay between a server communicating where a player is and where they are, in fact, within the game - this delay, between where everyone in the server visually sees where a player is and where he is, is crucial and it almost always favours movement.

Take this example. One player is standing still holding a corner, there computer tells the server where they is, in turn the server tells all the other player where they are because they aren't moving, the information that players receive is correct. 

 

 

Now imagine someone is strafing from the corner the previous player is holding, strafing player's computer sends that information to the server, the server sends that to the other players and so at one point the strafing players movements are ahead of the information the other players in the server are receiving.

This gives the strafing or peeking player an advantage and thus the term peeker's advantage was born.

Now depending on a number of factors, like latency and how a game handles movement in relation to latency, peeker's advantage can have a more pronounced effect. 

As it stands Valorant seems to have a particular problem with it and this is what the developer's update is focused on.

 

Riot's thoughts on peeker's advantage

Valorant developers update peeker's advantage
(Picture: Riot Games)

 

On peeker's advantage are clear - this isn't an issue that can be solved in its entirety, it will always be a factor in online games it can only be mitigated.

"Our goal is to minimize it as much as possible in Valorant," explains David Straily, the technical engineering lead.      

He goes on to lay out how Valorant uses a fixed Network Interp Delay of 7.125ms this is to smooth out player positions on the client machine. (ELI5: your computer guesses where an opponent will be based on the last previous piece of information.)

This value can be increased through the game options, but this would increase peeker's advantage and can only be done to make the game appear smoother when playing with a higher ping.

Other factors that can increase peeker's advantage is "1-Way Network Lag" which is based on the distance between you and your opponent's geographic location, on this Riot state they are "targeting <17.5ms for 70% of the player population," claiming they are "our way to hitting this target". 

Riot also are at pains to state that peeker's advantage doesn't favour high ping players, that in a situation when a player has a high ping, the peeker's advantage if there is one, is equal for both a high and low ping player.

They do suggest in high-ping disparity games though, that players should play aggressive.

 

Riot's thoughts on strafe shooting

Valorant strafe shooting peekers advantage network interp delay
(Picture: Riot Games)

 

Riot are also working hard to make strafe shooting less pronounced, as currently, it can look like an opponent has beamed you with a headshot while they are moving.

The key word here is "look", as it may be they have in fact stopped, but because of a combination of animations and of the server updating it looks like they are moving at full speed.

On this Riot have a number of things they are doing to fixing it including increasing the number of animations between "running" and "standing", investigating whether weapons are in fact too accurate when moving, and also a promised fix in the next "patch or two" for corpse-blocking, which is when your dead body "blocks full visibility of the enemy, so you can't see what the opponent did immediately after you died."

They also state that the might introduce a no remote interp delay, which would be a silver bullet fix but would mean that teammates and opponents could appear to "pop" to a new location if you had any packet loss during a game, something which could mean "pops of up to once-a-second."

Riot say this is an "extreme option" and would be the last option they would try.