The Net is Vast
The biggest bottleneck
Many people focus on the obvious things for improving their gaming performance. A great deal of concern is placed on upgrading the video card, or the CPU, the RAM, the hard drive etc., and rightly so. All these components can have a big effect on your gaming experience. Seems like everyone's eager to bend over backwards to squeeze every last frame out of their gaming rig. But is it wise to do this and ignore your connection to the net?
Mainly it's the pursuit of multiplayer gaming, right? After all, who doesn't want to get the upper hand on their opponents? Sometimes though, people forget that the real problem isn't a "slow" Pentium 2 266. It's their pokey modem that's preventing them from reaching first place in Quake 2 free for alls. I don't care how fast your computer is - you could be getting 120 frames per second, but you're still going to lag in a deathmatch if you are trying to shove all that data through a 28.8 modem!
How we attain access
So what alternatives are there? A lot of people may not realize it, but dialing up with a modem isn't the only way to get online. There are a lot of high speed alternatives out there that are reaching more and more people for affordable prices. These include new modem technologies, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), satellite connects, cable modems, and Digital Subscriber Line.
If your computer is located in a college dorm or workplace you may even get to connect using T1, OC-3, or other high speed line. The point of this guide is to provide people with the facts on all the different ways to connect to the Internet, the prices you should expect to pay for these services, and the hardware you'll need. Think of this guide as a jumping off point for doing research in your own area about ways to connect to the net.
Before we go into the different ways of connecting to the net, we should clarify what it is we're trying to eliminate. Colloquially it's known as "lag." You know it as that annoying gremlin that causes choppiness and skipping in your framerates while you're trying to play games like Quake 2. Every gamer out there knows that too much "lag" on your computer makes it harder to play network intensive games like first person shooters. Lag can even hurt you in some real time strategy games like Total Annihilation. But what exactly is lag?