Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why Do You Multibox?

Werit asks if Multiboxing is Fair or Foul on his site. Some people think its a form of cheating.

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.
In a way, I guess I dual box because it gets around what I perceive as design flaws in EverQuest II. These flaws aren't specific to EQ2 itself; I would dual box in World of Warcraft as well if that had been my game.

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.
So now, dear readers (both of you), I have some questions for you. Do you multibox and, if so, why? Or if you don't like multiboxing in PVE games, why?


Ysharros said...

I have always disagreed with the statement that certain things are acceptable in games because they "don't affect anyone else". Just because my characters aren't taking direct damage from the 6 farmer-bots over in the corner doesn't mean they're not being affected in the meta-game sense.

Two-boxing isn't much of an issue. However, it seems to me that levelling two chars for the time invested in one, especially if one of the chars is simply on passive follow (or using some sort of macro), *is* unfair to everyone else who levels their chars one at a time, playing them.

I'm posting this mainly for principle's sake, since I know it's a discussion that never actually gets anywhere. It's the same as trying to explain to exploiters how exploiting stuff actually *does* hurt other players.

There's no such thing as a victimless crime. I'm not saying multi-boxing is a crime, but I do take deep issue with the position that it doesn't hurt anyone just because avatars aren't taking hit-point damage from it. That's facile.

Werit said...

Ysh, you make it sound as if leveling is a competition, or a test. Leveling is the game, just as much as the end game. I don't understand how it can be 'unfair.'

I agree, if multiboxing is abused for PvP or farming materials, then it is wrong. But if someone wants to quest, then why is it a problem?

I leveled a warrior to 70, Protection, in WoW. Was it unfair that a Hunter/Warlock could have done it much faster than me? They have a pet and didn't even have to pay $15 extra for it ;) Ok, that really isn't here or there.

Lars said...

@Ysh: Thanks for your comments, though I disagree. I don't view leveling as a competition, so I don't see how someone's choice in how they consume the content could be considered as unfair to another.

That would be like saying skipping reading the dialog text is cheating because its unfair that it lets people level faster than those of us who actually like to read the lore.

Ysharros said...

I don't view levelling as a competition either. I obviously didn't explain myself clearly, which is one of my flaws. I'd be grateful if you could just remove my comments, or something.

Ysharros said...

Don't mind me. I'm frustrated at my inability to express myself clearly, not at you guys or anything you said.

I also shouldn't post before I've had at least 2 cups of coffee.

Lars said...

You're fine... I asked for a discussion and I got one. And I can agree with part of what you are saying, re: victimless crime. Of course things can have an effect on the game beyond their immediate impact; buying RMT (in a game that isn't designed for it) affects the economy which therefore affects everyone. That's why most MMOs forbid it.

But I see the effect that dual boxing has on EQ2 as a more positive one because it increases the number of grouping opportunities I have (my Defiler has helped out on guild raids that didn't have enough healers that may have been complete failures otherwise... and I seriously doubt I would have had the patience to get my Defiler to 80 leveling those solo ROK quest arcs a SECOND time.)

On the other hand, I guess there could be a negative: if I'm dual boxing, as I say, partly because of design flaws, then it may not make sense to reward the company extra for it. This is one reason I'm uncomfortable with Eve Online because it sometimes has promotions for multiboxers (discounts on a second account.) These games shouldn't be DESIGNED so that you have to have two accounts to play effectively, and a part of me is afraid that if enough people do what I'm doing, companies will have an economic incentive to encourage more of it.

So I guess now that I think about it more, I do agree with a lot of what you said. Just not the bit about dual boxing being "unfair", though I was perhaps nit picking on that one word when you were saying a lot more than that.

Jayedub said...

I was against multiboxers back when I first heard of it. But I realized that it wasn't much different than when I used to have a buff bot in Galaxies because I did not want to pay other afk buff bots.

"Some people assume people multibox because they are anti-social" - That actually would be one reason why I would end up multiboxing, but that's just me.

Frank said...

I've been two-boxing for about 3 months now with Warcraft. I in no way think it's cheating. Not only is it not easy to do, it costs more. Maybe it's easier with other MMORPGs, but with Warcraft, unless you are 2-boxing with hybrid classes (a class which can both Tank and Heal), there's limited use.

I do it mainly for Group Quests. When I get on a Questing Groove, I don't like to stop and do a LFG for 1 lousy quest. Plus, at least on my Warcraft server, LFG for a quest is a waste of time.

Here are my list of reasons why I 2-box and how it aids in online gaming:

1. Warcraft's email system has a 1 hour's easier to sign on both toons and perform a trade.

2. I can enchant BOP (bind on pickup) items on my other toons without worrying about enchanting tips / charges.

3. Quicker travel around the mage can create portals that allow my Hunter to get to other areas faster.

4. It's an option for a 5th DPS player (controlled by me) in a 5-man dungeon run.

5. It adds more challenge to the game. I've had to create macros for each character to allow for easy play between the two. Since both toons have different spells, in order to keep your toons alive, you have to have certain actions planned out and keybinded to keys which can easily make sense during a battle.

Now, I don't believe that 2-Boxing is fair for PvP. However, it's so difficult to pull off, that if you can actually do it, and win, more power to you. I'd never consider doing PvP with both toons. I just couldn't pull it off. The only way I could see doing it would be to have two or more of the same Class (e.g. 2+ Shaman). That way pressing one button activates the same spell / ability on all characters. What fun is that??? But in PVP, your actions completely depend on the class you've chosen, and trying to react according for more than one class simultaneously in my mind is next to impossible. So if you can do it, prove it and send me the Youtube video.

Lastly, there's the idea of creating toons on opposite factions and giving free kills to the other player for PvP. I tried this once. Blizzard has installed a nice diminishing returns that make this an inefficient method of gaining PVP Honor. Each time you die from the same opponent in world PvP, your resurrection timer goes up...until it gets to the point where you're waiting over 2 minutes to rez, then run across the map to your corpse. In Warcraft, it's only viable for 5 kills per day in World PVP, after that, you're better off getting into a PVP Battleground for the kills.

Well, that's my 3 cents.

this30mg said...

I think what Ysharros was getting at was the fact that MMO's are largely, if not a competitive game, then a comparative one. A large part of the game for most gamers is how accomplished they feel incomparison to other players, be it pvp or pve. I know the satisfaction i derive from getting that awesome drop is largely because it makes me feel more powerful than other players. Same with levels. You feel good being a higher level than someone else. IN that regard, using shortcuts to lvl toons faster effectively lessens the sense of accomplishment the other player has toward his level. "Yeah, that sucked leveling a warrior to 80, but at least it's going to suck for everyone else."

It's like eating M&M's off the ground: They taste pretty good until you see someone eating a bag standing up. Then you realize you've just been eating shit off the ground.

Frank said...

Here's a question, if MMOs allowed multi-boxing without the need to purchase a second account, would you try it?

Lars said...

@Frank Yes. Posting about it in a bit.