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Gaming Proxy Services - this is a discussion that we need to have

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Llewen, Mar 11, 2012.

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Should gaming proxy services be officially sanctioned (ie. allowed)?

  1. yes

    10 vote(s)
    76.9%
  2. no

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  1. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    I realize I'm taking the chance that this thread will be locked or deleted, but I've tried to get an official response on this topic, and none has been forthcoming. The basic question is, are gaming proxy services (I won't name names) "legal" or not?

    There are a number of issues and pros and cons that need to be discussed:

    - First, what exactly do these services actually do? They claim to improve your routing to your game server and thereby lower your latency and your "ping". For some people, especially those connecting to servers that are located geographically far from them, this seems to be a legitimate claim. However the real problem is the software that comes with them. There is some evidence to suggest that the software that comes with them actually uses the same kind of process that the much despised "speed hacks" use - or maybe they just optimize your networking, or maybe they simply provide connection and routing services.

    - One of the biggest issues is should something that provides such a competitive advantage that many will feel forced to become a subscriber, be officially sanctioned? The services cost an extra $10-$15 USD a month, or essentially the cost of an additional full subscription. These services are already extremely popular.

    - Are people having accounts suspended for using these services now? Are the services being blocked some way? I've heard some anecdotal evidence that this may be the case.

    - Another issue here is an issue of fairness for people connecting from countries that are geographically far from the server they are playing on, or from countries with a poor networking infrastructure. These services can really help those people and allow them to compete when they might not be able to otherwise.

    - Another issue however is an issue of obfuscation. These kinds of services can be used by hackers and cheaters to mask their ip's. I personally don't think this is a big issue, especially when most player ip's are dynamic anyway, and change regularly, but nonetheless, it is an aspect of the larger issue that should likely be discussed.

    What do you think? Please don't post names of services here, or post urls unless we get official word that these services are allowed. Do you think these services should be allowed?
     
  2. Phangs_of_Phage

    Phangs_of_Phage Journeyman

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    All these programs do is reroute the track that you take to get to the server. Pretty sure EA cant do anything about them because they dont edit packets in any way. I used this when I lived in Ca and it knocked my east coast ping down from about 150 to 70ish. Now that I'm in MS I ping roughly 35-45 without it and 30-40 with it so its no longer worth the money.
     
  3. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    A proxy server is a proxy server, that's like asking if it's legal to play from comcast or is only verizon ok, it's networking and has nothing to do with the game. If you're worried about masking IP's that's silly as well, 99.9999% of people are dynamic IP anyways, meaning they get a new one every time their DSL/Cable modem reconnects, and unless EA is investigating something on the level that requires police/FBI involvement (a breech of TOS, last i checked, wasn't even a crime, much less enough to get a search warrent put against you) they wouldn't have access to that information anyways.

    Now that that's said, the chances of your connection actually improving using one of these services is very slim, and actually chances are it will INCREASE your lag in 9/10 cases, proxys you usually use for security reasons and their major downside is generally increased latency, it's an extra hop as now you have to hit their servers before going to wherever you were headed. The ONLY time your latency might decrease is if your ISP has a bad route, or has some sort of QOS that purposefully slows down game traffic in favor of browsing, allowing them to charge you full price but not have to pay for as much bandwidth...you know...ripping you off (check the contract you signed with them to see if yours does this) A word of warning also, most games, i believe UO included (but not sure) don't encrypt their logins, meaning a proxy that you do not own would be able to capture your username/password quite easily.
     
  4. Cogniac

    Cogniac Grand Inquisitor
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    When I read the title I thought it was about services that involve some villager in China or South Korea literally playing the game for you as a proxy to max out your skills or farm resources.

    Now that I know what the real topic is: It should be quite obvious that if a service does actually do what it purports to do, and not some of the shadier things you mentioned, like working the same as a speed hack by tricking the client and/or servers, then it should be allowed. To ban something that optimizes your route to the server would be to ban anyone living within X miles of a routing exchange, or to ban anyone living too close to Fairfax, or Redwood Shores, or wherever their respective server is housed.
     
  5. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    A bit of misinformation there. First off, every mmo that I am aware of does encrypt your login. If they didn't it wouldn't take a proxy to steal your account information. Second off what you say about these services degrading your performance would generally be true if they weren't doing something else with the packets - that's one of the reasons why there is a specific list of the games they support. If they didn't interact with the packets in some way other than simply routing them, all you would need to do is provide the ip or address of the service you want to connect to, and they would be able to support any game (albeit with varying results due to routing issues).

    So they are doing something beyond simply altering your routing. My question is are they actually "packet pushing" or altering the packets in some way, or are they simply optimizing your networking configuration with the software that you install with the service?
     
  6. Phangs_of_Phage

    Phangs_of_Phage Journeyman

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    They have a specific list of games they support because they have optimized each one of the proxy routes for that particular game.
     
  7. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    That's a possible answer, but I think there is more to it than that. I have formally submitted a request that this issue be looked at, and I was told that the information would be submitted to the engineers. If that is all there is to it, why haven't the devs come out and said that there is nothing wrong with these services? That was what I was asking for.
     
  8. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    I don't see it altering the packets. I see it as a service where instead of your computer going through several default routes to get to the UO servers, that these services figure out the optimal/fastest routes for your computer to reach the UO servers and then setup your routing appropriately.

    It should not alter UO data. In fact, altering UO data would slow things down enough to offset any speed gains. That's assuming that it could alter UO data.

    If I was in Boston and wanted to drive to New York, I could just take whichever roads are in the general direction of New York and eventually I would get there - just keep making turns to follow the general direction to New York. That may mean that I end up on a lot of roads with a very slow speed limit, but eventually I get there.

    These companies sound like they are some kind of trip/navigation software that will tell me the fastest way to get from Boston to New York, or in this case, will find me links between my computer and UO that are faster than what my ISP defaults to.
     
  9. Lord Obsidian

    Lord Obsidian Journeyman
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    From my point of view, there is no need for EA Mythic to approve / forbid the use of those services as they do not alter the game data stream in any way. As much as the services claim they do, they cannot overcome simple physical limits and there is no way of malforming / reforging network packets ("packet pushing" as you call it) to increase their "real" speed of travelling the net.

    What proxy services can do, is offering better routes (= via payed dedicated bandwidth, not congested, sometimes shorter routes) to a given destination, traffic prioritization over other internet traffic, and optimization of how your TCP/IP stack behaves. To provide this service, there is no necessity to analyze the content of your rerouted game data packets (OSI model layer 7 / "application layer"), as there is nothing in there one can alter to increase the speed (and the speed of light in general... ;) )

    The primary purpose of the software you have to install is to reroute only the selected ("supported") game-related traffic, as there is no use to bring your daily google search to near any game server as fast as possible. This is done by selecting the network packets leaving your computer to a given IP and/or port number (OSI model layer 3/4, TCP/IP) to be rerouted over the proxy of the (payed) service. "Supported games" are those the proxy services try (!) to maintain optimized routes to. Now what Mythic concerns, they can't approve or forbid whether you move to a house 1 mile away from your preferred game server, which internet provider you chose, whether you have a residential shared or a business dedicated bandwidth internet access, and so on - so there is also no need for them to approve / forbid the use of proxy services. Generally, the use of proxies is a basic internet mechanic; even cloudflare used by stratics is a form of proxy.
     
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  10. Mandrake of DF

    Mandrake of DF Lore Keeper
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    I agree on whats said here, cuz all that thoose services do - is to find an alternative route for your game packets. One more thing to keep in mind, is that this is a paid bandwich - and most isp have a exchange agreement to route their traffic through other isp's to get to your destination. Ive seen odd routes from norway to germany, like it goes sometimes through some nodes in the us before its returning to europe - that will make my game ping a lot worce to play with. But - that is mainly because the isp i was on had a agreement with some isp in denmark that routed me through the US server before i could get back. Mainly - that route is given from the DNS i use at my isp. A paid service will find the shortest and fastest route for my destination, so all it does is speed up my connectivity to the game service im playing - and taht is what you are paying for.
     
  11. popps

    popps Always Present
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    There is something I am missing with this discussion here.......

    In the past, I have read posts complaining about subscription fees for UO, asking for free to play and all that.

    Now, if the monthly fee to play UO is felt by some as already too high, wouldn't the addition of an extra fee for a proxy server service make the cost higher ??

    What I am trying to say, is that Ultima Online could use more subscriptions and thus increased revenues.

    BUT, if some players feel that, in order to be competitive in PvP they need to pay for proxy servers on top of their UO monthly subscriptions this might deter some from actually deciding to play UO at all unless they want to pay for the extra service to speed up their connection.

    Connection is important in PvP competitiveness but if some can get extra speed by spending more for an extra service my concern is that this could deter other players who might be willing to play the game, from playing UO at all. They might think that if they cannot afford the extra cost and so they cannot be competitive with other players who use the extra service, then why bother playing the game at all if they cannot win fights because their connection is slower ?

    In order for UO to be attractive to more perspective players, I think that players should loose some fights but also win some fights and not most always win or most always loose fights. This means also, at least as I see it, that the game should be designed in such a way that the connection speed should not matter so much in determine who wins a fight. I see it as important for Ultima Online that players with a decent connection should be able to win fights also versus other players who have a much better connection speed.

    That is, the game engine should, to my opinion, somehow have ways to compensate for different connection speeds.
     
  12. temu

    temu Lore Keeper
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    Proxy service is the only way that I have been able to play UO since November of 2011. Took my ping to GL from 150ms to about 80ms. I think it's fair, considering in fel you're up against people who take less hops to the UO servers and can ping under 40ms. Honestly, anyone who votes no to proxy service either doesn't understand how routing/hops works, or is mad because they're losing to people who would normally ping high and would be at a disadvantage.
     
  13. Mandrake of DF

    Mandrake of DF Lore Keeper
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    I honestly dont see the reason for to argue this at all - as it is nothing that affects the game, just your connectivity to the game provider from your isp. What you choose to pay for or what route you choose with or without proxy to connect to EA game servers - EA has nothing to say either for or against. If you found a shortcut to use, it is up to you to use it - as well as if you find a beta driver for your graphic card that makes your game window update faster.
     
  14. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    What you are saying essentially is that "speed hacking" is a myth, when it is clear that it is not. I don't disagree with the basics of what you are saying, packets can't be pushed faster than the speed of light, etc., but "speed hacking" does something technically with the packets that increases your movement speed, and even, anecdotally, your casting speed, in the classic client. What exactly it does, I don't know, in part because we aren't allowed to discuss those sorts of things openly, and in part because what you say is generally true - but nonetheless, "speed hacking" does do something real, and in my experience in extreme cases, not only increases the movement rate of the character whose player is using it, but also can cause lag for others who are on screen with that individual, and as such, is fundamentally unfair.

    So in spite of what you say, based on my experiences in pvp, and in what I have seen in game from people who have admitted to me that they are using these services, I think there is something more going on than simple packet rerouting. Now when it comes to them causing lag, I can't attribute that directly to these proxy services. In the specific examples I can think of, I don't know whether what was being used was a proxy service, an old school "speed hack", or a combination of the two.

    And that is what I am trying to get at here. If all these services do is reroute your wan traffic, or optimize your Windows networking, then clearly there is nothing wrong with them. And that is why I want the networking engineers from Bioware to give us an official word on these services, because they are aware of them, and I would think they would have at least taken a quick look at them, as they have been aware of them for some time.
     
  15. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    Speed hacking is most definitley not a myth, I could tell you exactly how it works...but I won't as the only reason for someone here on stratics to even ask about it would be to use it in game and there's enough of that already without tempting more people to use it... It just has absolutely nothing to do with routing, QOS, or anything being talked about here, it does not change how long the packets take to reach EA's servers in any way.

    I proxy everything and run QOS on my own traffic on a box + linksys router in the other room, does EA need to approve that too? Just think of a proxy as an alternate route for your internet traffic to take, much like a tollway. (and just like tollways, 90% of the time they're too far out of the way to actually save time anyways). It has absolutely 0 bearing on the game, and it happening at a network layer well below the application layer.
     
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  16. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    I can see the positive part of this discussion in clearing up any myths or misconceptions on routing.
     
  17. Llewen

    Llewen Grand Inquisitor
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    Well, we may have gotten at least an indirect official answer to my basic question in this thread. It appears that at least one of these services no longer works with UO. Which is interesting in and of itself. If it isn't working in the same way that The-Program-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named stops working every time there is a patch, then it means that very clearly, as I have guessed, the software that comes with this service is doing more than rerouting packets, it is at the very least reading memory locations used by the UO client executable. It also means that as soon as they patch the software, it will be working again. If the service has actually been blocked by the engineers at Bioware, this means they found something they didn't like in the service and the service may no longer work with UO on a permanent basis. Either way, it means there is more to this service than simple packet rerouting...
     
  18. Omnius

    Omnius Crazed Zealot
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    This seems like another indefensible position. Essentially adding a PAY for barrier to PvP, or competitive play in UO. Want to play with the best? Pay extra....

    We should be pushing EA to streamline the client when possible, rather than approving extra 3rd party programs.

    UOA should have its entire interface integrated into the classic client.
    speed hack performance boosts should be integrated so everyone benefits.
    And these ping lowering services which effectively put people in a class all their own for connection should simply be banned. Players shouldn't be banned for having used them unless EA can't isolate and prohibit those services from connecting.

    UO should not require players pay extra to random shady companies. UO should not be so slow that it promotes the use of 3rd party programs.
     
  19. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    ping lowering is impossible, changing the route for lower ping is possible but quite unlikely, you'd have ot have a very ****ty ISP to not already have peering agreements to get you extremely close over a major backbone. (but yeah, ****ty isp's like that DO exist) A paid proxy (if it actually IS just a proxy) is no different than paying for a different tier of internet service, perhaps everyone using DSL should be banned since it's an obvious advantage over those only paying for dial-up, so long as all it is is a proxy and not just a coverup for a remote cheat program bannig them would be foolish and showing ignorance of how the internet works.

    If they're actually modifying packet data to trick the server then yes, it should be banned, as it's essentially just a cheat program running on a different machine. And the speedhacks aren't performance boosts, as you may note that speedhackers tend ot lag and clip around far more than normal players, they just move faster. That's a side effect of what they do.
     
  20. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Were you this upset back in the 1990s when some people were playing UO on dial-up while others were on broadband?

    Even today there are people on crappy DSL that has like 1.5Mbps versus people on fiber running 100 times faster.

    But proper routing can help - I knew people on dial-up that had good connections that could handle themselves against the broadband players who had crappy routing.
     
  21. Lord Obsidian

    Lord Obsidian Journeyman
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    This is a false interpretation. I tried to explain how proxy services do their work, and what they can (or cannot) do for you. Proxy Services have nothing in common with any speedhacking technique. They only (try to) optimize how your network stream on OSI layer 3/4 is being handled and they do not have to have any knowledge of what is being contained within your network packets to provide the service offered. They see the originator (IP & Port), the recipient (IP & Port), by how many hops this packet has been handled up to now, the size of the payload, some checksums and other pure network related fields. The payload (in our case UO, which is encrypted, btw.) remains untouched by them. (but: could be read / manipulated if unencrypted!)

    Speedhacking / cheating is based on a completely different technique. Like Raptor85, I shall not go into details, but this is generally done by exploiting glitches / peculiarities on how your client and the server communicate on OSI layer 7 (application layer).

    To keep this thread clean and constructive, please do not make further speculations on what I wrote about speedhacking, I won't explain any more details. I would recommend these wikis for a general understanding of the OSI model and proxy servers in general:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server

    "FIN" ;)
     
  22. Omnius

    Omnius Crazed Zealot
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    An argument in favor of these services is an argument favoring that there be an increased disparity in UO where none need exist. The comparison between different types of broadband connections isn't relevant. People get broadband connections for a lot more reasons than UO. Yours is an argument that we should pay EXTRA for UO to effectively obtain what was previously a relatively level playing field.
     
  23. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    what the heck are you talking about? I don't think you quite understand what a proxy is. A comparison between different types of broadband services is VERY relevant.
     
  24. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    There has been a disparity in UO when it comes to connections from the moment it opened up to testing back in the 1990s, when many players were still on dial-up.
    You can't say that it doesn't matter if somebody gets broadband or gets better broadband for UO, but that it does matter if somebody sets up their routing for a better connection.

    You can't really differentiate between somebody paying $10 extra month for a gaming proxy service to help their connections or $30 extra a month for fiber through Verizon. In both cases, players are paying to get the best connection they can. People do in fact pay extra for better connections. I did it when I moved from dial-up to Time Warner's Roadrunner, and I did it when I moved from Roadrunner to AT&T's U-Verse. I would gladly move to full fiber if I could.
    There has never been a level playing field when it comes to UO and connections, because plenty of people to this day still have crappy broadband connections, either because they can't afford better or because they live in areas that do not support better connections.

    And you're ignoring the fact that most broadband providers do not optimize their services for online gaming or don't take gaming into account. Why should players suffer because AT&T or Time Warner or Verizon don't care about gamers?

    It's funny that we are talking about this in 2012, because if you go back to 2002, internet forums, and probably even Stratics , were full of debates about which was better for UO or EverQuest or whatever - DSL or Cable Modem.

    If you want to be angry, be angry that the major broadband providers don't cater too much to gamers. It wouldn't be hard for them to make some improvements for gaming. Gaming proxy services wouldn't exist if the broadband providers cared about gamers.
     
  25. Omnius

    Omnius Crazed Zealot
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    About 2 years ago an interesting thing happened. Most of the PvPing population of UO was running around at extremely comparable speeds while playing in their timezone. With only handful of outliers, just about everyone was playing at the same speed. Mainly because just about everyone had a standard cable modem or campus internet connection. Over the last 8 months, that roughly level playing field has been flipped on its head with the growing popularity of two services/and their associated non-approved 3rd party programs. With players moving at speeds not seen since a particular programmer stopped coding 3rd party programs, the speed requirements to pvp have shot up.

    If you're pvping without these services, you're essentially playing with 1 hand tied behind your back. Let's be totally honest, connection means a lot. A bad player with a low ping can kill more people and survive more situations because his ping is superhumanly low.

    Raptor you're acting as though every connection goes through the fastest routes or that the most mainstream routes are the fastest. That's completely incorrect. You and I both know that. It's misleading for you to treat that as an assumed fact because it misstates the facts as they are.

    The debate between different broadband services and proxy services is not apples to apples. People get broadband services for varying reasons. UO is only one. Proxy services to play UO only are clearly a different animal. UO is the only reason to pay for this service. The benefit is limited to only UO and to allow them essentially requires players to use them. It's the same situation with UOA. If you don't use UOA, you can not compete, the outcry against this issue only died when a free unapproved alternative was released some years back. By allowing these services, you require players to pay extra to compete. It's that simple.

    There is no free alternative and to allow these two 3rd party programs/services to be utilized should be acknowledged for what it is. An additional reason to NOT pvp. Under your argument, every player must now shell out money for shady unapproved 3rd party services.

    If we're going to allow these services, you might as well argue we should allow speedhacks because they provide a free means to gain a substantial performance boost. But even with the popular and easily obtained speedhacks out there, you will not obtain the performance of pay for UO speedhack services.
     
  26. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    I'd love to know how you believe these services magically lower ping for people, no matter WHAT route they take, that are further physically from the server than you are. I don't care what proxy they use, unless they're running a speedhack also you'll still have a better connection than they do. And yes, in 8/10 cases the major ISP will ALREADY have the ideal route as they're far more likely to have peering agreements for all the major backbones, a proxy only helps in the least in cases where the ISP is forced to peer on a non-ideal route due to an existing agreement, these do happen but they're not common, I assure you at least 90% of the players in UO would see speed degradation using a proxy over their ISP's existing route. And i really don't get how you cant see why there's no difference between changing ISP for better ping or changing your routing service (proxy) for better ping.

    If it's doing something to the packets beyond just acting as a proxy server THAT's SPEEDHACKING and has nothing to do with a proxy, you could do it on your local machine for free and not have to pay them for it and it would do the exact same thing, if that's what they're doing they're a "proxy" service in name only, what they're really doing is installing and configuring a speedhack for you.

    And 2 years ago everyone moving the same speed? 2 years ago speedhack usage was at it's PEAK, SA and the patches after brought out a whole new wave of people using them as an advantage, and even two new "big ones" being used to this day were updated at that time.... As for right now, the reason you're seeing so much is because the particular "tool of choice" at the moment is fairly new and not UO specific.

    or are you going to claim the proxy is helping people run through the tombstones and stumps also....

    This poll is pointless, if people aren't going to take the time to understand the technology they're voting to allow or deny the results will be 100% meaningless.
     
  27. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Omnius, I really think you are mixing, deliberately or not, speedhacking and unauthorized third party programs (written specifically for UO), with people trying to optimize their connections to the UO servers.

    To use an example from the thread, let's say I ping my normal shard at 150ms - 175ms.

    I want to cut that in half. I have two options.

    Option #1: I pay a gaming proxy service that improves my routing (probably not cut it in half, but can improve it since some ISPs have crap routing).

    Option #2: I switch to another internet provider that has better routing or is better overall (say fiber).

    There is no difference between the two options except who I give my money to. I'm still improving my connection/routing and the process is not specific to UO, it's improving my connection/routing in general.

    Just read what Raptor85 and others said about speedhacking. It's two different issues.
     
  28. Raptor85

    Raptor85 Certifiable
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    I checked out the websites for the services being talked about above, they weren't hard to find.

    1. They're just standard Socks5 proxy servers with special low bandwidth peering agreements
    2. the software seems to essentially just be a packet filter, like a standard firewall (probably just a customized port of BSD's netfilter wrapped in a windows tray app), it just splits off game traffic only to the proxy and lets all other traffic through your normal connection, this makes it so their proxy has game traffic only, not the downloads/web browsing.
    3. it warns RIGHT ON THEIR sites that it's just a proxy, can't do magic, and ....hell...i'll quote it from the one that put it best
    4. the companies providing the services are not "shady third party", though I havent inspected them all they seem to be fairly large, properly registered businesses.
    5. they all seem to have 1 month free trials so you can see if routing through their servers even helps before comitting
    6. the most expensive one i've seen is $7 a month, that's MILES cheaper than, for most people, changing their ISP due to nothing more than a bad hop

    and while i'm at it, if people still don't understand what a proxy server is...

    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/internet-infrastructure.htm
    http://uo.stratics.com/content/misc/proxy.shtml
    http://uo.stratics.com/content/misc/servip.shtml (scroll down to TCP-IP ports where there's port listings to help set up a proxy)
    http://support.uo.com/tech_0.html
     
    Mandrake of DF likes this.