On ICO, that is.
When I play single player on Faster everything, I always have enough time from the first second of the game to
(1) queue capital ship and frigates
(2) manually order my 2 scouts to adjacent gravity wells
(3) sell metal
(4) build 2 research stations
(6) set HW rally point to another unexplored planet, or edge of gravity well
After this, I usually have about 2 to 4 seconds before my first scout is built. But when I join or start up a game on ICO, I never have this much time, and my credits seem to be increasing at like 50 to 60 per second (2 to 3 "game-seconds" per IRL-second), and my ships get finished and arrive and fire and die much, much sooner - I can't keep up. Even once my new scouts start getting built, it's somewhat difficult to finish giving them scouting orders before the next scout is built. I've been practicing my early-game strategy a whole lot on SP and have gotten really good at it, I think, but am having serious difficulties transitioning to multiplayer due to the extreme speed increase (despite having practiced on "Faster" and also playing "Faster" online)
On ICO, the first minute or two or three of the game goes by much, much faster than normal - definitely faster than it should.
This is my credit income speed during single player:
As you can see, there is about one 'tic' per second, just as it should be. The income infocard says my credit income rate is 19.3 per second, which is what it is.
But this is my credit income speed at the beginning of games on ICO:
These .gifs are both direct screengrabs from the game.
Here, there are a lot more 'tics' per IRL second, translating to something like 40 or 50 credits per second in income. The income infocard still says the income rate is 19.3 per second. (but that of course really means "19.3 credits in income per tic")
After doing a number of tests, I think I've figured out the cause of this problem. This very-fast speed (that I, for one, experience on ICO) lasts for a varying amount of time. If I am hosting the game and this instance of the Sins program has not yet loaded a game before, the loading screen with the art lasts for about 20 seconds, and the increased game speed lasts until I get 4000 - 4300 credits (if nothing is bought). That's if all effects are off and if all quality settings are set to 'low' - otherwise, it lasts significantly longer. Once I got 10000 credits without the very-fast-speed wearing off - it would have created SERIOUS problems had I been playing for real. If the program has loaded a game before and I'm hosting, the loading screen lasts only for a few seconds and the very-fast-speed lasts only a short amount of time, until around 3400 credits. If someone else hosts the game, the very-fast-speed lasts somewhat longer, maybe 10 or 15 seconds longer.
The actual numbers don't matter all that much, but they do point to the cause: Online, the game appears to be initialized the moment the host presses "Start". Not when the host's game is loaded, or when all players' games are loaded: the server starts the game immediately when the button is pressed. Due to the time required for loading graphics, etc., this means that at the very beginning of the game, everyone is (basically) lagging compared to the server, including the host, and so all players see an increased game speed to compensate for not being quite up-to-date with the server.
At least, that's the conclusion I've reached given how my game acts. I've talked to some people who say they've experience something similar - I'm assuming this is universal.
If this is indeed a problem common for all players, then I can think of a couple of very simple solutions off the top of my head.
First, players, when logging on to ICO, should be required to load a psuedo-game so that all the graphics and stuff are loaded and in the program when they start a real game on ICO: this way, the loading screen with the art should only last for an instant. This is only necessary if the player has not started a game yet (SP or MP or anything) with that instance of their Sins program. The ICO loading screen could just be the regular loading graphic art with a caption of "Precaching resources" or something, after which the player would be put into the default ICO chat room like normal - they wouldn't actually see anything of the psuedo-game that was loaded.
Secondly, the server should start in a "paused" state. This could last for a specific period of time, like 10 seconds. It could also "pause" until all clients report being loaded and ready - that would be a more elegant solution, but would probably require more programming. But if the psuedo-game loading is implemented, all players' loading times should be similar and very short, so a set pause time of 10 seconds would be sufficient.
Either one of these would be a very welcome addition to Sins multiplayer.
(I sure hope I'm not the only one experiencing this, else I'll look quite silly)