Gaming: Starlink vs Path of Exile

I’ve been using Starlink since March. I’m also a gamer. While Starlink has gotten a lot better for gaming it’s still not perfect. See this lag graph for an example. Basically every few minutes the game freezes for a second or so and I’m 95% sure it’s Starlink packet loss. It doesn’t make the game unplayable but it is annoying.

Path of Exile is unusual in that the default network mode is lockstep. It only draws a frame if it receives a network packet from the TCP stream, so any packet loss and retransmit delays is immediately visible. Most games compensate for network flakiness by guessing at what probably should have happened and then catching up once the network resumes again. PoE has the option to do that too, but by default they show you exactly what’s coming in on the network. No packets, no updates.

So it’s a nice example of how Starlink’s momentary outages can cause problems. You won’t notice it streaming a video or loading web pages. You’ll see occasional hiccups in a live videoconference. In PoE you see little lag spikes.

I have more proper monitoring for similar loss: see my latency graph based on sending 5 pings at once every 5 seconds. Each red dot is packet loss. It’s really quite good but you see some latency spikes and a few lost packets here and there.

(I also posted this to Reddit.)