A very basic introduction to beginners' multiboxing

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A very basic introduction to beginners' multiboxing
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Recently, I've been dipping my first tentative toe into the murky waters of multiboxing. I've explored various avenues and options, and settled upon what I have found to be by far the easiest way to get started in this complex but very entertaining way to play WoW. So I'm going to run you through it today, and maybe it'll entertain you in the twilight hours of Mists of Pandaria.

Not Cheating

First up, let's dispel a common misconception about multiboxing: that it's cheating. While Blizzard may not like everything that it allows people to do, and will take action in events where it goes over into griefing, multiboxing is completely allowed. Some of the software used to do it can be used to more nefarious ends, yes, but that doesn't mean it's against the terms of service to use it for good.

When does it become griefing? Well, when you're using it to harass players. It's been made far harder to do in Battlegrounds, with the removal of /follow, but there are ways around it if you're keen. If you're taking a group of five around the place, that's OK, but if you're taking a group of 40 to the opposing faction's PvP vendor and repeatedly killing everything in sight, that may well not be viewed favorably.

So far, I've headed into a couple of battlegrounds, but the majority of my time has been spent leveling via dungeons. Most PvP multiboxers will use large groups of the same class, but, inspired by some PvE multiboxers I was in contact with last year, I've been playing a tank and DPS pair.

What do you need?

First up, this is not a comprehensive guide of every in and out of multiboxing. I'm relatively new to it, and I'm letting you know how you can get started.

What do you need? You will need at least two accounts, so yes, as many subs as you want characters. It's not cheap, alas, but it is a good way to get characters leveled fast with RAF, thanks to the +300% XP bonus. You'll also need the ability to run two or more copies of WoW on the same computer, or two computers networked together. The last thing you'll need is some way for the copies of WoW to communicate, and that is where it starts to get more complicated.

How multiboxing usually works is that you will hit a key, say R, and it will fire whatever is bound to R on multiple copies of WoW. As mentioned, those copies can be on the same computer, or on different ones. So, say you have two elemental shaman, and both of them have Lightning Bolt bound to R. Hit R on WoW 1, and R will also activate on WoW 2. Both shaman fire their Lightning Bolt. If one shaman has Lightning Bolt on R, and the other has Healing Surge, they will each fire what they have bound. You can do it with the same spells or different, the same classes, or different.

Communication between Worlds (of Warcraft)

As someone who was just giving it a go, I didn't want to spend money. So paid-for software was no good from the out. I also didn't want to do anything too complicated, so all I really needed was a way to duplicate my key-presses from one WoW to another. I looked into it on various sites, and after trying a few other options, decided to give HotKeyNet a go. It's a free application, which you download, and then you'll need to load up a script. "Oh god", I hear you say, "I have to write a script?" Have we met, dear reader? When have I ever asked you to code before?

What you're going to do instead is use this WoW standard script. Copy it into a Notepad document, call it something really obvious, and save it in the same directory as you put HotKeyNet itself in. It's for two WoW installs on one PC, but there are also scripts for other arrangements. I won't pretend to know how to set it up over 2 PCs, but the HotKeyNet site has great guides.

OK, you've got the application, you've got the script. Let's get started. Change nothing at all in the script for now.
  • Fire up two copies of WoW from your two accounts, and bind something you can hear going off, and that requires no target, to 1 in both windows.
  • Make sure you have Sound in Background enabled in the system menu.
  • Ensure your Scroll Lock is on.
  • Open HotKeyNet, click "Load Script" and select your script file.
  • Hit CTRL+R, this will rename your two windows to WoW1 and WoW2.
  • Bring one of those windows to the front, and hit 1. Hopefully you'll hear both spells going off!

Hopefully it's working. If not, check that your windows are renamed, then check that your scroll lock is on, then check that the script is loaded by clicking "Show Loaded Hotkeys". If it's still not working, shut everything down and try again from the start. If you really can't get it going leave a comment and I'll try to help!

Editing the Script

Alright, I said I wouldn't ask you to code, but it's barely code at all. I wanted to show you how easy it is to edit the script. Let's start with the scroll lock for activation. On my laptop, I couldn't work out how to turn on Scroll Lock, so I changed the activation to NumLock. How? I replaced the word "Scroll" with the word "Num". Pretty simple! I later figured it out and changed it back.

I also wanted it to broadcast two of my number pad keys, as I use a Logitech G600 so wanted to control the slave character with the mouse thumb keys. So I added them in. If you open HotKeyNet's main window, look to the top right frame, and hit a key, it will tell you what that key is called. See the original, then my modified version below:
Hopefully you can see that I decided I didn't want it to broadcast my main keyboard (A-Z) and did want it to broadcast Numpad4 and Numpad5. I also wanted arrow key down (Down) to stop /follow. Eagle eyed readers will note that the exception is now irrelevant, but I left it in there so I had an example of how you do exceptions.

Multi-boxing control my way

I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert at this. So I'm going to tell you how I have my controls set up, and you can pass swift and heavy judgement in the comments. Macros are key to this, allowing you to put together sequences to cast spells. So, for example, on my Mage, I have this very simple macro

/assist [Paladin]
/cast Arcane Blast

which I will spam in single-target situations. AoE? Well, Arcane Explosion. I also have a WeakAura that plays a noise when Arcane Missiles procs, and a separate assist macro for that. Isn't it easy? The character I'm playing in my main screen does the movement, I have a /follow [Paladin] on the mage, and the down arrow is there to cancel /follow and leave her where I put her so she's not in melee. It's no harder than controlling a hunter pet while also tanking.

On that note, though, if you're planning on leveling two separate classes via RAF, pick one you know. This is exactly what I'm doing, I've got a new account on US servers, and I'm trying to fill it with the same number of characters as I have on my EU account. So the pair I've started with is a paladin tank, a spec I know inside out, with an arcane mage, a spec that's relatively simple to play. Why am I not using two of the same class? Well, I want to level the classes I want at 90! This is a functional thing for me, it's utility.

Hopefully that's enough information to get you started. If there's stuff that's unclear, please let me know, it's meant to be simple enough that anyone could understand it. I'm certainly having fun with my dastardly duo, and perhaps you can too! Do tell me your stories!
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