- What kind of issue are you running into?: There's no way for me to chose what quality I want to watch
- Any specific videos where it’s occurring?: Any live streams
- Browser where issues are occurring (have you tried another one?): Every browser that uses the new video player
- Are the issues the same in incognito mode or when you disable extensions?: Yes
- Have you tried switching from Auto quality to one of the other options? Did this help?: Yes, it didn't help. This is specifically the issue I'm mentioning
- What’s your IP address (in case it’s an Akamai issue)?: 191.205.56.?? (I'm not putting my full ip on this open forum, sorry)
Like I said multiple times on multiple support tickets/google forms, I don't have any problem with the videos themselves - All of the bitrates run amazingly well on my Computer (an i7-2600k), with my 200mbit fiber connection (yeah, I know). I do live in Brazil, which means I get weird routing from Akamai, but everything works perfectly fine. Except for one very important thing - The new player is really bad.
So, to expand on that, the player "itself" is not bad: The video plays well and there's no CPU hit (unlike the previous player). However, what I don't like is the "adaptive" feature of it - it's actually really bad. To be able to get my point across, I will get fairly technical here. I don't know if this is the place to do it or if this is lifting up the curtain too much. Any admin/engineer can PM me if that's the case and I'll remove some of that information, but I need to expose my problem and what I do to fix it.
The current setup for the vide player is that it provides 3 different "quality" settings: Auto, High and Low. The video itself is distributed through one .m3u8 file (a playlist file) from Akamai servers. Inside that playlist file, there are links to all the video streams being spit out. Today, on Blue Bomber, there were 5 different .m3u8 files inside that "master.m3u8" file, all properly labeled (well, technically the filenames are incorrect, but they have the variables set properly, with the resolution and bitrate). If you leave your video player in the "auto" setting, it detects your internet speed and chooses the ideal file to play for your bandwidth, which technically is a good option: It removes the "burden" of the user. They don't need to have the technological knowledge to understand what is the speed and don't have to act when the Internet has problems and will "always" receive a smooth video. I have no problem with the "auto" setting being adaptive. That is it's purpose.
The problem I have is, because of the changing nature of routes on the internet, specially on overseas cases (like me), the player speed detection is never good enough. For instance, I have a 200mbit connection - Technically, I'll never have any issues downloading a 10mbit video stream from the website. But, for whatever reason, the player detects my speed as being 30mbit. And then 40mbit. And then 18mbit. And then 8mbit. You can actually see the "detected speed" change (by right clicking the video and select "show statistics"). Sometimes, that forces the video quality to change (from, let's say, 10mbit to 6mbit when it thinks my speed is not fast enough). That switch is not smooth - sometimes, the videos are not perfectly in sync, with the new video rewinding or fast forwarding a couple of seconds. Don't get me wrong, I understand the technicalities of what is happening. This is how the "auto" setting is supposed to work.
My problem is when the same thing happens in the "High" and "Low" settings.
You see, "High" and "Low" settings have the same "adaptive" behavior. Right now, they're set to still be adaptive, but not as broad as "auto": "HIGH" will chose from a list of video streams that have a higher bitrate than 2001kbits/sec, while "LOW" will chose from a list of streams that have a bitrate lower than 2000kbit/sec. This means that the same problems I have on auto (where the video will decide to change video qualities by itself because the algorithm used to detect my bandwidth speed decided it went down for a split second) happen on both LOW and HIGH. And NOW I have a problem with it: This setup 100% removes my control over the matter. If I wanted the player to decide which stream to play, I would have let it set to AUTO. I don't, I want to stream the best quality possible, because I know that my internet will work with it, and I want to get all the "buffering" and frame drops that come with it.
To solve this issue, right now, I have to load the player, inspect the HTML, manually download the master.m3u8 file, inspect it with a text editor, extract the highest quality stream playlist file out of it and paste it either on VLC or on www.hlsplayer.net, which gives me a FLAWLESS EXPERIENCE, with no frame drops or buffering. Which means one thing: The Giantbomb player is incorrectly detecting an existing bandwidth narrowing, which is untrue and giving me a worse experience.
Ideally, the player would allow me to chose which bitrate I want. The counterpoint I was given by an engineer is that "we don't know how many streams are coming out of any stream and there's no interface on Akamai to grab that". Except that there is. I can open the .m3u8 file and look at the qualities myself. I could (and probably will) even code a python script to do so (as the URL for the videos change on each stream and doing this every time is a pain in the ass). The counter-counter point I suggest is, maybe, limit the amount of streams. Instead of 5, how about 4? Mobile, Low, Medium, High. Make the "AUTO" setting adapt automatically and provide a single stream to the other options for the users that want them. That way, both bases are covered.