The advent of the internet means you can challenge others in arcade classics, like SNK's Garou: Mark of the Wolves, from the comfort of your own home. But the nature of that netplay can sometimes be spotty, and players might turn to other measures to fix it.
Yesterday, SNK announced via its community manager's Twitter that all PC versions of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, as well as PlayStation 4 and Vita, would be getting rollback netcode. The code, via Code Mystics, has already been reportedly improving online multiplayer across various regions.
Various players who know what they're talking about, like Giby "Dr SNK" Zia, are liking the changes. Connections seem to be more stable and feel better than they did before, even on other netplay services like Fightcade.
Hey folks, I've been working with SNK and Code Mystics the past few months testing the online. My connections all around were significantly better than playing on Fightcade. Be sure to pick this up if you don't already have it. Let's play when I get back to the States! https://t.co/foODBnYjVx- Giby 'Dr SNK' Zia (@ManChest) January 23, 2020
If you don't know what rollback netcode is, the solution is fairly simple in concept. Every match of a fighting game has to be "simulated" on two machines, and inputs are sent back and forth over the internet as packets. When the gap between two players gets too large is where rollback comes in: where other games might pause the action, "eating" your input because it happened during a freeze in time, rollback predicts your moves.
An interview from Hold Back to Block with Killer Instinct developer Adam "Keits" Heart breaks it down very well, but essentially, whatever move you were doing before the hiccup in lag, you will keep doing until the transmission catches up.
It's actually surprisingly effective, and other games have been adding it. Rising Thunder was infamous for its use of GGPO, rollback netcode specifically made for fighting games, and the studio is now at Riot Games working on its new fighting game, "Project L." A fan patch caused an uprising in the Street Fighter 5 scene after it fixed an issue with the game's netcode, highlighting the power of netcode.
The results speak for themselves. One player posted a recording of their own match, with one opponent in Scotland and another in Pakistan, and it looks clean.
The best part of this update is that it widens the net for players to find good matches. For older, smaller titles like Garou: Mark of the Wolves, you're walking into an arena with a smaller pool of potential opponents than Street Fighter 5 or Tekken 7. You're often at the mercy of having nearby players with less lag, or forced to play bad matches—ones where either your skill levels or network latency are mismatched.
If this leads to even more players picking up one of SNK's most excellent gems, then it's a win all around. See y'all online.