I’ve recently started multiboxing in WoW and it’s where I’ve finally found a comfortable experience with my favourite MMO. In case you didn’t know, multiboxing is playing more than one copy of a game at once and using hardware/software tools to broadcast keystrokes and mouse clicks from one instance of the game to the others.
One of the bad points of WoW and most MMOs is that they have a large amount of group only content. Sections of the game that you can only get into if you have a whole group of people to back you up. I’m talking about instances, dungeons, raids, and other special encounters here. The trouble with these group only sections is that you need a group to do them and getting a group together is really, really hard.
The pick up group is fraught with difficulty, there is inevitably someone who takes a 10 minute break halfway through, someone who only has 30 minutes of time for a 3 hour commitment, or worst of all someone who just wants to rush through so they can ninja loot all the goodies and foster ill will all around. Even if you have a bunch of friends who play WoW, getting them together at the same time, all ready to play, and without interruptions for the 3 or more hours required to do an instance is a very rare occurrence. For anyone with a job, family, or a sense of responsibility it’s nigh on impossible.
Until now I’ve just skipped over these sections of the game and put it down as just one of those things that I can’t do anything about. However I have come across something that allows me to get into those areas and appreciate the full spectrum of the MMO experience: multiboxing.
Multiboxing is a decent challenge for someone like me who’s good with computers and programming but not so good with an MMO. It took me a very long time to get to level 70 in WoW; I first started in 2005 and didn’t get to 70 until 2007, which in WoW terms is an eternity of crappy playing. I didn’t even get to 70 under my own steam either, I had to use a step by step guide to show me the way to go because until I got the guide I was just flailing around with my multiple alts.
Now that I’m an experienced but not good player I can look back and see what a terrible lack of direction I had in the early years of WoW. Although with the many recent changes to quests and leveling that make life much easier I could probably do better nowadays.
It’s multiboxing I want to talk about here though. There are several tasks you need to accomplish to get multiboxing and I’m not going to write a multiboxing guide here, there’s plenty of that on the dual-boxing.com forums (see link below).
The first task is to decide how you’re going to multibox, the basic decision is either hardware or software. If you choose hardware you will need multiple cheap PCs and a bunch of keyboard and mouse linking hardware. If you choose software you will need one or more powerful PCs and a software tool.
The second task is to decide how many games you will multibox at once, for WoW it’s generally 2-5 although some people manage to successfully multibox 10 at once, and there are even a couple of people who manage a whole raid of 25 or 40, which is a LOT of hardware!
The third task is to pick up a tool to let you broadcast keystrokes to all the games you’re going to multibox. You’ve got a choice of solutions depending on cost, availability, and your desire. I chose to use a software solution called Keyclone on my single powerful desktop PC.
The fourth task is to buy and install all the copies of the game you will need and create all your accounts, making sure to register them all in your name (it’s a bannable offense in WoW to multibox with differently named accounts and multiboxers get reported all the time).
The last task, and in some ways the hardest, is to set up all your macros and keystrokes for smooth play. This is where the dual-boxing.com forums really become useful, there’s a number of guides and a lot of advice on how to get started and how to optimize your play.
Once all that’s done the rest is just playing the game.
As you start playing as a multiboxer you will inevitably attract comment from other players, generally these are favourable but you also get a lot of people deriding you as incompetent, a few who report you, a number of people who will take great offense and insult you, a few who will assume you are a botter, and of course those people who view a multibox party as a juicy bit of honor to be ganked mercilessly.
Interestingly there’s quite a strong link between botters and multiboxers. Although the multiboxing community, because of the fact that there’s bunch of botters in it, really wants to keep that little fact under wraps. The multibox community is a bit worried, and rightly so, that if they’re seen to be associated with botters then multiboxing will get banned as well because multiboxing is right on the edge of what is acceptable in playing WoW.
Additionally, because a multibox party is able to act in a much more coherent and guided manner than one made of five individuals, it is very easy to overpower other players with directed fire and DPS. So potential multiboxers really need to think hard about the consequences of acting in an unsportsmanlike fashion, ganking people with a multiboxed team will get you hated on damn fast, and enough hate will eventually cause the developers to rethink their stance on multiboxing.
There are certainly a number of multiboxers who play because it gives them an advantage over the solo player, or multiboxers who use the method to farm gold or items, but then there are always low people who will use any form of advantage, tool or exploit to screw over other people, regardless of consideration for others.
To sum it up: what I’ve wanted from WoW all along is to be able to play at my own pace, see everything cool there is to see and do the things that need a party, and with multiboxing I can have a party whenever I want without the difficulty of herding cats that is the usual pick up group experience.
It’s my party, and I’ll play when I want to.
p.s. You can find out more for yourself at www.dual-boxing.com
p.p.s. This article was written in 2008, since then I’ve stopped playing WoW, started and stopped multiboxing EVE Online, and now wish that DDO was capable of being multiboxed properly.