“Lag” on TypeRacer – And the Secret to Unlocking the Fastest TypeRacer Scores

Posted on January 29, 2018. Filed under: TypeRacer News |

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The question: Lag?

If you’ve spent some time on TypeRacer, you may have noticed a puzzling anomaly: sometimes your score at the end of the race doesn’t match the score recorded in your typing replay — both of which are displayed at the end of the race.

MaximumChris2 (a.k.a. “Fastest Fingers in India”) loses approximately 27wpm due to latency. Click to see the replay.

The “replay” score is only ever the same or faster than the “recorded” score — if the recorded score is accurate, why is the replay score faster? If the replay score is accurate, why am I getting robbed of my true speed in the officially-recorded score? What’s the difference? We’ll get to the answers below.

I’ve been meaning to blog on this topic for some time now; tonight is the night. While playing some TypeRacer this evening — amidst some problems with my connections — I encountered the bane of gamers (and typists) everywhere: infuriating, punishing lag! (This is how bad it was.)

The lag was of an intensity reminiscent of 1990s dial-up internet on 56k modems — the kind that induces sudden urges to tear out one’s hair and scream, and the kind you may remember back when the internet would drop whenever your mom tried to make a phone call. (Wiki links for younger TypeRacers: dial-up internet and 56k modems).

So what’s really happening here?

The answer: Latency

The answer is that TypeRacer, like many online games, is fundamentally subject to network latency (in competitive TypeRacer parlance, “ping time”). In other words, it takes time (generally a fraction of a second) for your computer to talk to our servers; factors such as your connection quality and distance from our servers work against you if they are poor/far, because they effectively cause our servers to “think” it took you slightly longer to finish the race (thus slower speeds) — after all, it took slightly longer for our servers to receive confirmation that you finished your race.

Why are there sometimes two different scores, though? Because the speed recorded in the replay is calculated arithmetically based on the timing of each character you typed, irrespective of your internet connection. We still use the ping-inclusive speed as your official score, because it’s calculated server-side and isn’t susceptible to hacking or alteration by cheaters — i.e., it’s part of a secure design that ensures TypeRacer remains fair.

Typists at different skill levels type different subsets of all the texts on TypeRacer. Explore TypeRacer texts in the Pit Stop or on TypeRacerData.com.

The good news:

1) Unless you’re in the top 5% of fastest typists, this will likely have little to no impact on you.
2) If you’re in North America and/or have a good internet connection, the impact will generally be negligible.
3) TypeRacer scales its quote length by skill level to ensure that races are long enough to be accurately measured (i.e., faster typists compete on longer quotes, and vice versa).

This screenshot has been included for two reasons. (1) It shows me beating TypeRacer legend Izzy; (2) It shows that, even for typists on questionable internet connections and located on the other side of the world from TypeRacer servers (I’m in China), TypeRacer still generally records your speed with around 98-99% accuracy. The text typed here was among the shortest “Megaracer” texts (209 characters vs. a 200 character minimum), and the recording accuracy would be higher with longer texts and longer races.

#1 and #2 are more or less self-explanatory, since a fraction of a second only matters for the fastest typists, and folks within the North America will generally have a speedy connection to our servers. On #3, many TypeRacer fans are unaware that typists at each skill level will only type texts within a certain range of length; these lengths aim to ensure that each TypeRace lasts around 30+ seconds, and generally no shorter than 26-27 seconds. At this duration, even a slow connection will have minimal impact on your recorded typing speed, guaranteeing accuracy. We also don’t want races to be too short because we don’t think people want ultra-short races — how annoying would it be to wait 5-20 seconds for a race to start, for a racing experience that’s just a fraction of that time?

It is at this point that things get interesting — and controversial. As I write this, I am bracing myself for the yelling, the livid rants, etc. that will be directed at me on the TypeRacer Discord chat, through email, etc. 🙂

The Secret to Typing Ultra-Fast on TypeRacer — and why Lag is Probably Your Fault

For folks who read this post eagerly looking forward to insightful typing advice, I’m sorry to disappoint — this particular post gives no tips on improving your typing. However, I am going to tell you one way (read: “hack”) to get better scores on TypeRacer – the way the pros do it.

The operative idea is simple: most people can sustain higher speeds over shorter periods of time, and on shorter texts — especially after practicing a specific text a few times.

To take advantage of this and get fast scores, we have two main options — i.e. ways to type shorter content:

(1) Find a friend or random person who is a slower typist (beginner level, 0-24wpm) and race against the typing ghosts in his/her replays. This enables you to race ultra-short texts, even if you’re a faster typist. (Saving these scores requires Premium.)

(2) Race against a slower (beginner level) friend in a private race track that he/she hosted. If you don’t have a friend, you can simulate a friend by creating a new account (guest or registered), get a slow average by doing one purposefully slow race, and then hosting a “beginner racetrack” for yourself. Use two different browsers for your two accounts. Anyone who joins this racetrack will be served races on the shortest texts on the site.

This is how most of the recent single-race speed records have been set on TypeRacer; e.g., how Michael DeRoche broke 300wpm late last year.

So there you have it. Although we here at TypeRacer don’t exactly endorse this type of racing, we don’t have any reason (or a good way!) to prohibit typists from typing the content they want to — even if it’s not the appropriate length for their skill level. (Related: type ultra-long texts in our Marathon universe. One race might take you 20 minutes. Remember to set the display to show just one line of text.)

Waiting for the hate mail from the competitive typists to start flowing in 🙂

If you’ve never tried this before, you might find it fun to give it a try. Keep in mind that this is not what TypeRacer was designed for, and by actively seeking out the shortest quotes (even if you’re a Megaracer), you’re circumventing the fundamental controls that TypeRacer has in place to ensure accuracy of your recorded speeds; you’ll be entering the wild wild west, and there’s no guarantee that you won’t lose typing speed due to “lag” or “ping time”, especially if you’re on a slower connection and/or far away from North America.

Good luck breaking those speed records!

♕ David ♕ (valikor – TRData)

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Responses to ““Lag” on TypeRacer – And the Secret to Unlocking the Fastest TypeRacer Scores”

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Great post! Just one thing – the link to the marathon universe actually takes you to some admin page. The correct link should be http://play.typeracer.com/?universe=marathon

Thanks for catching the bad link! It has been corrected.

David

Yes, the lag is sometimes insane, I got 70 wpm instead of 140 wpm I think once.

Hi Boris –

Thanks for your comment. Agreed that the lag can be quite bad sometimes (the example I provided in the post shows shows a ~135 wpm race of mine dropping to ~95 wpm). This being said, the root cause here was major connection problems on my end. During the same evening that this happened, my connection problems were so severe that I was even having problems sending out messages on Discord. . . I think it’s reasonable to assume that such a bad connection would have severely impacted any game.

David

Yes, I have once got 70 or 80 wpm instead of 140 wpm. That’s 50% lag.


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