…’lo. After a clear amount of interest in Persona 4 Arena as indicated by the community tournaments, I decided to compile this guide to ensure internet connections are running as smoothly as possible. While Arc System Works has had a fantastic track record with their netcode, many modern fighting games have not been immune to release-week doldrums. Street Fighter X Tekken had numerous issues with sound and rollback and, although Soul Calibur V was smooth, it was an instance of it working 100% or not at all. I frequently play fighting games online, with people in different countries or continents. Believe me, a lot of fighting game developers (I’m looking at you SNK) don’t seem to account for long-distance play. With this guide, I hope to establish a social link between your router and your console, to better ensure you have as smooth an experience as possible.
But, first things first. You may be asking, “Why take a few minutes out of my day to read your long-winded guide and tinker with my network? What are you trying to accomplish? Why are my pants down?” If you already know the answer to these questions, or just don’t care, feel free to unfurl the spoiler under Yosuke and get yourself started.
Some people will say, “Hey, I play [insert other online game here] and moderate NAT (or NAT Type 3, if you’re a PS3 player) works fine for me.” I’ll grant you that, in a first-person shooter or a MOBA, such internet connections might be serviceable enough. Especially if running around and having some casual fun for an evening is how you roll. However, fighting games absolutely demand as efficient a network as possible. Whereas games like StarCraft II have balance changes with build speeds in seconds, fighting games are balanced in frames and milliseconds.
Sounds daunting, I know. But once you get used to the “feel” of a fighting game, a bad connection will result in dropped combos, hitching frame rates and reversals against your favor. I won’t break down the science of hitboxes and frame data, because you’ll eventually gravitate toward that info if you ever get serious enough. Just let it be known that the flow and momentum should be preserved.
Additionally, a lot of people will make the mistake of stating the download and upload speeds their ISP provides and say, “It must not be me, I have business class internet.” I’ve made this mistake before, and opted to buy a really fast internet connection last summer when I really didn’t need it. While having a 100 Mbps connection is great and will alleviate your router’s load distribution, the advertised “speed” that Comcast or AT&T emphasize hardly means anything regarding network gameplay.
For example, a long session of Street Fighter X Tekken costs me nothing more than 20MB of data (we’re talking about 50 matches). What this means is that the packets of data being exchanged are mere kilobytes, a far cry from the 100 Mbps connections people covet, flaunt or cherish; it’s a placebo effect. The only thing that matters is getting those tiny packets to and from your opponents as fast as possible. To use a plumbing metaphor (this will come up a lot), the advertised “speed” is basically the (band)width of the water pipes. Torrents and Steam downloads work better with larger (band)widths, but fighting games don’t need as large a pipe.
What are the ingredients for a good connection?
An internet connection that isn’t dial-up
I’m operating under the assumption that you’re viewing this guide with a high-speed internet connection. That might not be the case. Heck, I had a friend who only had dial-up until two years ago because her house was built in some sort of Comcast deadzone. This was way past the days when image threads had 56k warnings. Remember that? Oh, the 90s. Still, if you’re unsure what your speed is, head over to speedtest.net and hit the “BEGIN TEST” button. Anything above 2Mbps for download and 512Kbps for upload is cool. Again, you won’t need much.
These are usually packed in with routers and modems, so there shouldn’t be too much problem acquiring them. If you don’t have an Ethernet cord for a console-to-router connection, be sure to get one. Packed in cables typically aren't long, so if the distance between your console and router is long, investing in a longer cable is a sound idea, and inexpensive.
Your router’s manufacturer and model
Head on over to your router and look at all sides. There should be some sort of label indicating the manufacturer/brand (Netgear, Linksys, Cisco, etc.) and the model number. For example, the router I’m using is Netgear’s WNDR3400. Once you find this information, write it down.
Your router’s sign-in, password and default IP
Using the information you just wrote down, look at and find your router’s manufacturer. Write down the default IP address, username and password. If at any point you changed any of these three things, just ignore writing down the defaults and put down your own info.
Your console’s MAC address
PS3 InstructionsOn the XMB, scroll over to [Settings], then all the way down to [Network Settings]. Select that, then [Settings and Connection Status List]. You should see a screen like the one pictured here. Write down the MAC address.
360 InstructionsOn the 360 Dashboard, tab over to [Settings]. then select [System]. Go to [Network Settings] and select [Wired Network] or [Wireless Network] depending on what you use. Select [Configure Network], then tab over to [Additional Settings]. Your console’s MAC address will be under “Alternate MAC Address”.
What are the fundamentals for a good connection?
Do NOT use wireless
This is the most important thing you can do to make your connection as best as possible. It’ll give your console a higher priority in your network, and ensures data is consistently streamed, as opposed to scattershot through the air.
Most wireless routers operate on a 2.4 Ghz radio band and current consoles are only capable of receiving and interpreting this signal type. Unfortunately, a LOT of other devices use the 2.4 Ghz spectrum; anything from TV remotes to microwaves to wireless phones. These other devices can cause a lot of interference and, if your neighbor also has a wireless router, even more significant performance decreases can occur. Sure, there have been advances in wi-fi hardware such as Wireless-N, 4G cards or 5Ghz bands, but modern consoles can’t take advantage of most of the new tech.
So, I will reiterate: USE A WIRED CONNECTION. Drill some holes, get a really long Ethernet cord. Do whatever it takes to run a wire from your console to your router.
Use a static IP address
The changes we’ll be making in the third sequence of steps are specifically designed to put your console at the highest priority on your network. In order to do that, your router needs to be able to recognize when your console connects in order to apply the newly implemented settings. The best way to do this is to give your console a static IP address (i.e. one that never changes).
To start, look at the default IP you wrote down earlier. There’s a high likelihood that it’s 192.168.1.1, so I’m going to use that as an example. The IP address 192.168.1.1 is reserved for your router, so it’s automatically one you can’t use for your console. When picking a static IP address for your console, the only number you should change is the fourth one. As such, an IP address like 192.168.1.8 would work. Just make sure the fourth number does not exceed 255. Additionally, a lower number does not mean a higher priority. A router simply dishes out IP addresses based on what the first, second, third, etc. devices connected were.PS3 Instructions
With your chosen IP, head on over to your console’s network settings. On the XMB, this is [Settings] > [Network Settings] > [Internet Connection Settings].
Under “Select a setting method”, select “Custom”
Under “Select a connection method”, select “Wired Connection”
Under “Select the operation mode”, select “Auto-Detect”
Under “IP Address Setting”, select “Manual”
You will then see a list of five items. For right now, we’ll only worry about the first three.
Under “IP Address”, put in your chosen static IP address
Under “Subnet Mask”, put in 255.255.255.0 (there are some exceptions to this, but this is the correct value 99.9% of the time)
Under “Default Router”, put in your default IP address
After that, remain on this screen and read the next step.
On the 360 Dashboard, this is under [Settings] > [System] > [Network Settings]
Under “Available Networks”, select “Wired Network”
Under “Network Settings”, select “Configure Network”
Under “Configure Network”, select the first block of settings (IP Settings, IP Address, Subnet Mask, Gateway)
Under “Edit IP Settings”, select “Manual”
Select “IP Address” and put in your chosen static IP. Hit start to finish.
Select “Subnet Mask” and put in 255.255.255.0 (there are some exceptions to this, but this is the correct value 99.9% of the time)
Select “Gateway” and put in your default IP address
Exit back out to “Configure Network” and stay on that screen
Use different DNS servers
DNS servers are, essentially, the middleman between you and the person you’re connecting to. By default, an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, will route your connection through their DNS servers. However, these DNS servers are slow, often far away from your house, and aren’t good at dishing out data. There are tools such as the open-source namebench utility that will point out which DNS servers will reduce latency. Safe bets are usually Google’s public servers, whose IP addresses are 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52. Find what works best for you, and write down two of the best DNS servers available.
Enter these two values in the screen I told you to stay on, under “Primary DNS” and “Secondary DNS”. Now, you can finally move on.
Under “MTU”, select “Automatic”
Under “Proxy Server”, select “Do Not Use”
Under “UPnP”, select “Enable”
Press the X button to save settings
Test your connection if you feel like it. Just know that it might not be successful at this stage.
On the 360 Dashboard, on the screen I told you to stay on, select the second block of settings (DNS Settings, Primary DNS Server, Secondary DNS Server).
Under “Edit DNS Settings”, select “Manual”
Select “Primary DNS Server” then enter the first address you wrote down. Press start to finish.
Select “Secondary DNS Server” then enter the second address you wrote down. Press start to finish.
Test your connection if you feel like it. Just know that it might not be successful at this stage.
And we’re all done for console side of things!
Turn off any media server connections (PS3 only)
Unless you’re using something like the PS3 media server, I highly recommend disabling media server connections to eliminate any additional network confusion. Last I checked, this was enabled by default. Regardless, on the XMB, go through [Settings] > [Network Settings] > [Media Server Connection]. Select “Disabled”.
What are the router settings for a good connection?
Use your console’s static IP in the DMZ
Remember WAY back when I told you to write down your router’s sign-in, password and default IP? Well, we’re going to use that right now. In your browser’s navigation bar, type in your router’s default IP address. If it’s the correct address, you should be prompted to enter in a sign-in name and password. Enter the respective information in each of the fields, and you should see your router’s settings interface. It varies wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so any of the screenshots below may not be accurate to yours. For reference, I am using a Netgear WNDR3400 with dd-wrt firmware installed.
Somewhere on the interface, there should be something called the DMZ. This will open up all the ports on a given IP address. For me, I found it under the “NAT/QoS” tab, then under the “DMZ” tab.
Enable the DMZ, then enter in your console’s static IP address. Save/apply your settings.
Put your console in high priority in QoSThe QoS (Quality of Service) settings are different from router to router. Some old ones I have lying around don’t even have it available. Click around your router’s interface and see if you can find them. I found mine under the “NAT/QoS” tab, then under the “QoS” tab.
Enable QoS and check the box “Optimize for Gaming”. Save/apply settings.
Under “MAC Priority”, enter your console’s MAC address and select the highest QoS tier. For routers running dd-wrt, that should be “Premium”. Save/apply settings.
Change your router’s DNS serversMuch like you did on the console, you should change the default DNS servers on your router. This setting is usually one of the first things to show up when signing into your router via the browser. Just scroll down and enter the DNS server addresses in the corresponding fields. Save/apply settings.
What else can I do?
Use custom firmware for your routerThroughout the guide, I constantly referenced that I was using dd-wrt, which is a custom firmware not officially endorsed by most router manufacturers. While most router interfaces have good options for tweaking a network, dd-wrt (or Tomato, another custom firmware) get more granular and handle network cycles much better than what comes stock. The reason why this wasn’t the first I had you do is because messing with the firmware can result in bricking or permanent damage to the hardware.
If you’re up for it, check if your router is compatible here (for dd-wrt) or here (for Tomato) then continue on with any linked instructions there. I will not be responsible for any problems that may arise from attempts to put on custom firmware.
Please feel free to ask any questions. Being an unemployed college student, I have a lot of free time on my hands. Plus, I keep an eye on my Giant Bomb inbox. Please forgive any grammar or spelling mistakes in this first draft. I told FluxWaveZ that I'd cook something up last week and haven't gotten around to writing anything until last night. I don't like rushed jobs, but I hate breaking promises or obligations even more. Edits will happen, and I hope to have the Google document available later for public editing. As always, constructive feedback and corrections are welcome! :)