Why The Division is broken online according to a former God of War & Titanfall dev

We’ve already heard about The Division’s glitch problems being the result of client-side networking tech, now we have an expert to explain why that’s bad. 

Glenn Fiedler set up The Network Protocol Company especially to make games play good online. Before that he worked on things like Titanfall and the online side of Journey, Playstation: All-Stars and God of War: Ascension. 

In a blog post picked up on Reddit he really lays into The Division’s apparent use of client-side networking, largely as a result of this video: 

Let’s explain a couple of things first. ‘Client-side’ means your console is handling a lot of important stuff online, rather than a server on the other end of the network. That video shows a client-side cheat program having an effect on things like ammo, damage and player position which likely means those details are stored on the console end. 

Here’s what Fiedler has to say on that: 

"I sincerely hope this is not the case, because if it is true, my opinion of 'can this be fixed?' is basically no. Not on PC. Not without a complete rewrite. Possibly on consoles provided they fix all lag switch timing exploits and disable players moving and shooting while lag switch usage is detected (trusted client on console exclusive games is actually more common than you would think…), but not on PC unless they completely rewrite most of their netcode and game code around a server-authoritative network model".

As Fiedler explains, server side networking usually mean the server trusts nothing from the console. Instead ‘the real game’ runs on the server, taking details like position, shooting, fire rates, inventory ect from all the players and inputing them before deciding what happens. In this server-based system the kind of hacks shown in that video wouldn't work because the server decides what’s happening, not the console. 

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Leon Hurley
Senior Guides Co-ordinator

I'm GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.