A developer has created a tool to help dev teams tackle visual stuttering caused by delayed frames.
Uploaded to the gamedev subreddit, user Crumbly_Cake's 'frame delay reference chart' shows the visual effects of different delays. At a 0 millisecond delay, the circle in the gif below passes back and forth entirely smoothly, but after that, there's a brief delay as the circle passes over the middle of the box.
The impact of the delay will be felt differently depending on your reactions and the refresh rate of your monitor (it's also worth noting that the 0, 5, and 10ms inputs don't actually change due to gif compression in-browser), but the stutter will likely start kicking in around the 30-40ms mark. Later on, as the lag stretches to 75 or 100ms, it's extremely noticeable.
Sharing the tool on Resetera, user delete12345 says that developers can use the reference to focus their attention when it comes to optimising the game. "We would focus only on the noticeable frame delays when updating and rendering our games. If we, for example, start seeing noticeable delays around the 40ms on a high refresh-rate monitor, it may impact our player base that owns similar monitors, so we should put our focus on removing objects that cause the frame latency issues around that area in our game."
While it's not an entirely perfect tool, its relative simplicity means that it can be easily recreated in other game engines to help developers fine-tune their own games. It's also a fascinating look at what visual lag actually looks like at its most basic levels, even if it won't help you next time your dodgy internet speed causes you to miss that crucial headshot.
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