Das_Schlippo, on Feb 11 2014 - 08:47, said:
Ping measures how long it takes packets from your computer to reach the destination server, measured in milliseconds. A ping of 100 ms means that it's taking 1/10th of a second for your packets to be received. Obviously, the longer it takes for the server to receive your packets, the further "behind" the game you are. With a ping of 500, the server is seeing what you did a full half of a second after you did it, and this obviously creates problems. I don't usually start noticing problems in game unless my ping is 200 or more. There is also a second connection issue called packet loss, in which the packets sent by your machine are never received by by the server. This can create problems like ghost shots. The little red lag indicator means that you're dropping packets, even if your ping is fine.
This is a fairly good summary.
By and large your geographic location sets how fast your ping can be. Of course there are fluctuations and oddities, but in general if you are within a couple hundred miles of the east server, you will get pings of about 30 ms. It drops about 1 ms per 20 miles distance from there.
Does it make a difference? YES!
Check out the geographic locations of players. You will see a steady dropoff in average player stats as you move further away from the server.
For a lot of the ingame actions, there are actually several 'round trip' packets that have to complete in order to complete the action. Think of an action as a sequence like 'spotting' someone, aiming, shooting, and withdrawing to cover.
At every step of that sequence the faster ping player comes out ahead.
Imagine 2 players, one with 25 ms ping, the other with 100 ms ping. Most actions require a 'round trip' of action, and update. So the 25 ms player has a sustained 150 ms advantage over the other guy. In a 'fast twitch' game like this, 150 ms is HUGE!
I'm in the midwest and get about 85 ms ping on average. I went on a trip last fall that got me closer to the east server. I played for hours at a 55 ms ping. What a difference that made! It was IMMEDIATELY noticeable! You just don't realize how big even that small of a ping difference is until you experience it!