For PVP games, it certainly can be used for that. Some people cheat in games like Pirates of the Burning Sea (and probably in Warhammer Online as well) where you are restricted to playing on faction on any particular server. They use a second account to spy on the other side. On the other hand, dual boxing in actual combat was generally not as effective as it sounds. Managing two characters is not as efficient as having two players playing one character each; in an RVR game, I think it would actually set your team back, because few can play both characters as well as two real people would play.
I multibox, but I only do so in one game: EverQuest II. That game is a PVE game with very little or no PVP (except on certain servers, which I don't play on), and I don't consider multiboxing to be an unfair advantage in a PVE game, since it doesn't effect anyone else.
Some people assume people multibox because they are anti-social. I don't think that's typically the case; in fact, I probably even group slightly more often, since I can LFG from both machines.
I multibox for a few reasons:
- I think it adds an additional element of tactical interest. RPGs are very role oriented, because they traditionally require groups with varied skills, such as your Holy Trinity: chanter, tank, healer. Playing one of those roles without the others is boring. That's one reason why grouping is usually more fun (the social aspect is another). However, we can't group all the time.
- I actually started dual boxing because my Defiler soloed so incredibly slow, especially once she got to the ROK era. I think ROK may have driven me to dual box. I am not sure whether to admire or fear for the health of anyone who had the patience to level a Defiler to 80 naturally. I'm leaning towards "concern for their well-being." I may be the "anti-social multi-boxer" but at least I have a life.
- I'm a very casual player and am very time constrained. I work long hours, sometimes need to work on weekends, and often have to drop at a moment's notice. Some people might say MMOs aren't for me. Maybe they still aren't compatible with my kind of schedule (despite how casual accessible they have gotten in recent years). But for an extra $15 a month, I have managed to make EQ2 compatible enough.
The design flaws I perceive:
- I enjoy the end game because that's where we do instance runs as groups. The progression curve becomes flatter and instances generally require more skill and tactics than overland quest arcs and soloing. I group for the dungeon runs; I don't dual box those (I doubt anyone would let me if I tried :) ). Leveling to get a different kind of character there is not quite as exciting for me. Some people say "its the journey" that counts. To them I say "I've done it twice." And claiming the leveling process is to learn the class doesn't make sense to me when it takes longer to level to 80 than it takes a doctor to get certified for some very difficult medical procedures. And you aren't learning the class unless you are grouping, and you aren't grouping in the low levels anyway because there aren't enough other people around below the level cap. So I have been dual boxing new alts that I've created to get them to the fun faster.
- Solo mobs are boring. I think one of the problems with recent games is they try to balance things so solo mobs can be handled by anyone, and that means they don't have any interesting abilities nor are they challenging in any way: the game designers don't know what skills the character will have, so apparently they assume they don't have any. I think a better design for MMORPGs would be to make everything require a party, and let people train pets (hirelings/Heroes) to fill out their own party when they are feeling anti-social or are time constrained.
- There really needs to be a way to LFG (with the in-game tool) any character on your account from any other character. Let's say I'm working on soloable epic updates on my Monk. No one would group with me just to watch me run around Norrath clicking on things. But maybe I'd be glad to group with my Assassin for something - let me do that! Let me LFG my Assassin and then route tells to that character to the one I'm on. Add a way to fast character switch while we're at it.
- With a subscription fee, I guess I start to feel I need to make a certain amount of progress or else I'm wasting my money. It may seem silly to spend more to give myself that little boost to ensure I make that amount of progress, but the numbers work out in my head. I might not care so much about "progressing my character" if these games used an alternate business model such as a pay as you go scheme where you pay based on how much time you spend in-game instead.
- I simply find it more interesting playing two characters at once. I grew up on multi-player dungeon crawls: Wizardry and Bard's Tale and Ultima 4-6. I leveled my monk to 80 the normal way, and now the early (pre-80) game just doesn't seem as fun as it was the first time around; but by adding a second character to manage, it adds something intangible to the leveling process that makes it more interesting.