Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Trend Against Multiboxing Software

While I was following the forum posting of the CSM earlier this week, I ran into another thread on the EVE Online forums asking for the banning of ISBoxer from EVE.  Instead of arguing the pros and cons of multiboxing software, though, I just want to point out the growing trend of game companies making decisions that are unfriendly, if not downright hostile, to those who wish to use multiboxing software like ISBoxer in games.

First, even a company like CCP, whose flagship game EVE seems to encourage multiboxing, is ambivalent about the use of software.  In the EVE Online policy on client modification, after quoting Section 6A2, Section 6A3, and Section 9C of the EULA, the policy concludes:
"We do not endorse or condone the use of any third party applications or other software that modifies the client or otherwise confers an unfair benefit to players. We may, in our discretion, tolerate the use of applications or other software that simply enhance player enjoyment in a way that maintains fair gameplay. For instance, the use of programs that provide in-game overlays (Mumble, Teamspeak) and the multiboxing application is not something we plan to actively police at this time. However, if any third party application or other software is used to gain any unfair advantage, or for purposes beyond its intended use, or if the application or other software violates other parts of the EULA, we may fully enforce our rights to prohibit such use, including player bans. Please use such third party applications or other software at your own risk."
The multiboxing application referred to in the policy is ISBoxer.  Which is why we keep hearing complaints from EVE Online users about multiboxing software.  If opponents of the use of ISBoxer convince CCP that ISBoxer gives multiboxers an unfair advantage then, according to CCP's own policy, CCP will ban the software.

Complaining about multiboxers works.  In March 2013, Blizzard disabled the /follow command in battlegrounds in its fight against bots in World of Warcraft.  According to Bashiok, Blizzard's Senior Community Manager, the effects on multiboxers was a bonus:
"We did consider those who use /follow for other reasons, including multiboxing, before making the change. Multiboxing in battlegrounds has been a long-fought battle within the community, as the effect of multiboxers in those situations is considered unfavorable by many. When we were looking to make a change to disable a command used by bots, which would benefit the game as a whole, we were ok with it also resulting in multiboxing in battlegrounds also going away due to the poor experience it can create for others."
But Blizzard did not begin the trend.  As early as September 2012, ArenaNet had a policy against the use of third-party programs for multiboxing.  That policy was clarified by Gaile Gray in February 2013:
As part of ArenaNet’s policy on third-party programs, we are often asked about multi-boxing and the use of macros. Here is our policy:


Guild Wars 2 players are permitted to use macros as long as the macros are programmed with a 1 key for 1 function protocol.
  1. This means that if you program a macro, it must require one keystroke per action. You may not program a single key to perform multiple functions.
  2. For example, if you Press A and it results in the casting of a single skill, you’re ok. If you Press A and it casts multiple spells, you’re not ok.
  3. You cannot program a macro to perform the same or multiple actions on more than one account at a time.
  4. You cannot program an “auto-clicker” macro that, for instance, opens chests while you play elsewhere.
Dual- or Multi-Boxing
  1. You may use more than one account at the same time.
  2. You may use more than one computer at the same time.
  3. You must be actively playing on each account.
  4. And as stated above, you may not program your keyboard to perform functions on more than one account at a time.
    a. For example, if you press W on your keyboard to move forward, a single character on a single account should move forward. The keystroke or mouse click should not perform functions on more than one account.
So multiboxing programs are okay, as long as none of the functions that make multiboxing software attractive are used.

The lastest game company to join the trend is Carbine, much to the surprise of some multiboxers.    One disgruntled user posted an exchange between himself and a Carbine representative on the forums about multiboxing in Wildstar:

Hi Travis,
Playing with more than one account at a time is allowed as long as you are individually controlling each account. However, if you plan to use a program to control each account simultaneously, with a single set of controls, then this is considered botting and would not be allowed.

Some players only consider the second definition as Multiboxing and if that is the case then Multiboxing would not be allowed. If you consider the broader definition, then there are some forms of Multiboxing that are allowed. It is the automating of gameplay that is against the rules.


WildStar Support Team 

[From the multiboxer]

Ok.. so this is what i thought.. what is strange about this.. if carbine knows anything about multiboxing, especially in a fast paced action combat like Wildstar ( or other games such as WoW ) it is very impractical to "hardware box" using multiple computers. not only from a cost perspective. but a control perspective. SO you guys are basically saying you do not allow multiboxing, for all intents and purposes.
I purchased 5 delux version because i love his game.. but i have been boxing full groups since EQ1 and the newest software..such as ISboxer, is essential in making it even possible (again from a practical point of view).

Also.. one key press per account at the same time is the "norm" in the industry.. so i had no idea that i would not be able to box a full group in this great game.. using the very well known multiboxing softwares that are out there.

Just to note.. i am not a PvP player.. i do it for PvE.. to ease the pain of harder open world content/grinding and having to wait around for groups ( i do enjoy grouping as well ).I would understand both PvP restrictions and more then one action per keypress..but you guys stand to lose multi thousands of dollars per month by making a stance on a playstyle that is harmless ( if non PvP ) it kind of boggles the mind..coming from a business man. 

Just a note.  The norm in the industry, as far as I can determine, is one key press is one action in one account, not multiple accounts.  But perhaps that is a recent development that adds to the case that the industry is becoming more unfriendly to multiboxing software.  The exchage continued, with a new Carbine representative describing what is allowed for multiboxing in Wildstar:

Greetings Travis,
I have played games which are more lenient with their rules in regards to playing in the manor you are speaking of, so I understand the appeal. WildStar was not intended to be played that way, in where you are basically playing one character and the others respond via software. Playing that way is a violation of the rules and may result in multiple account termination. I multibox two accounts on one computer all the time when I QA Test WildStar. I pretty much never leave home without a buddy. If your computer can handle it, its the way to go. What I do is auto follow and then make the screens small or play on multiple monitors. When I need a heal, I just move my mouse to the other screen. That is perfectly OK. But at no point did any additional software achieve that goal. In that way, no rules were broken and I got double the rewards. Protostar looooooves multiboxers! I hope that you are able to find tons of enjoyment with the content available in the manor it is intended to be played. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us.


WildStar Support Team 

So the trend against the use of multiboxing software, although not multiboxing itself, is present in the MMORPG industry.  For players of games that allow its use like EVE, the question becomes, will those games jump on the anti-multiboxing software bandwagon?


  1. There is a long standing current against multi-boxing in the MMORPG community. There was a time when you didn't have to go far in the EverQuest forums before you found somebody railing against multi-boxing as the thing that lead to the demise of EQ.

    When the nostalgia focused Fippy Darkpaw progression server was put up, those emotions flamed up into life again.

    While there is some old bias against multi-boxing from the days of MUDs, when it was sometimes a bannable offense, the general working theory is that by multi-boxing you are denying somebody a spot in your group. Basically, low paid boxing software is stealing our jobs. Also, social!

    The devs themselves have been ambivalent. Another account is more money with a subscription game, and at least potentially more money with F2P.

    Of course, SOE sort of punted on this by introducing mercenaries, so you can just hire a half decent healer or DPS... or a crappy tank... and ignore other players all you want now.

  2. CCP has to allow multi-boxing. Can you imagine the impact to subs if they banned Isoboxer? At any given time, I can see at least one, sometimes up to 3, Isobox fleets in the Incursion system I am in. Further, how many of these F1 monkeys in null sec are Isoboxed Domi's?

    CCP knows that the sub base is shrinking mightily in breadth, and their only hope to stem the tide until their "saviour" Valkyrie is ready. That means allowing as many hard core players to have as many accounts as possible. (note all the marketing drives involving Power of 2). The natural extension of having many accounts is using them at one time, which means IsoBoxer.

    It is one thing to ban Isoboxer when your subscription base numbers in the millions as with WoW. It is quite another when it is entirely possible that the entire TQ subscription base is less than 100,000 actual people.

    1. I have multiboxed, by running up to 3 clients on one machine. However, I flip to each client and perform commands therein.

      I have mined this way, and done other activities where one of the clients was an off-grid fleet booster.

      The argument that the loss of ISBOXER will end multi-boxing is erroneous. Also, the loss of the fleet boxing, one-click multi client response using players isn't a loss.

    2. At the end of the day Eve is intended as a multiple player game. Thwarting that aim using isboxer, negiating the risk inherant needing to trust other players.
      That stated, isboxer has been permitted by CCP. But that never seems to be the end for any discussion. From my own prospective wading through the sewage of forums - most of the voices which oppose isboxer mining' don't mine. Their efforts in this issue and others does not seem to stem from a concern about the health of the game; but rather is just another avenue for tear extraction.

    3. I have 10 boxxed eve without isboxer if u need software to run all your boxes I say good riddance. Ur not much better then a bot. Hell u pry afk rat in null so u are botting without botting. If u can't multibox without software ur cheating. I got a demo of isboxer once because I heard its great for multibox. I got rid of it a week later assuming it would be ban worthy by now. Its cheating. It gives u a huge advantage......whatever ccp dev dont believe me can give me 20 ruptures and isboxxer and watch the perfect arty strikes come in from 1 push of f1.....nah no advantage giving there.......

  3. I have no problem with banning multiboxing software. It absolutely does provide an advantage to be able to issue one command and have all 10 accounts react instantly. I've heard of someone who runs VG Incursion sites solo because he can command all 10 of his accounts at the same time. I have multiple accounts and I often have both logged in at the same time, sometimes even in the same system doing the same activity. But I don't have multiboxing software. I go old fashioned alt-tabbing to issue commands.

    And that's how it should be, in my opinion.

    1. I agree as I state below multiboxing isn't the problem the software is. I saw a guy bragging about flying his 45 Tristans at the same time. Of like to seem him do it without isboxer

  4. You don't need any 3rd party software to multibox EQ2 for the reason I and many others used to do it - powerleveling your lower characters with your higher characters. With the /follow command and chrono-mentoring one mentored-down high-level character could run around with five lower levels trailing him like ducklings.

    When EQ2 became F2P I did plenty of that using one Gold and four or five Silver accounts. I could easily run three or four iterations of EQ2 on the same PC plus a couple more on a laptop. I used instanced dungeons so I wasn't getting in anyone's way. Leveling was very fast and a lot of fun, although you ended up with a lot of level 50 characters with level 10 skills and gear...

    A while back, however, SOE made a change that means characters in a group who don't contribute (healing or DPS) get only minimal XP. It's therefore still just as possible to multibox without using 3rd party apps but there's no longer much point doing it.

    My guess is this change was made because, while it was good for SOE for players to multibox when they needed to maintain multiple subscriptions to do so it became a lot less good when players could make endless free accounts and take up bandwith and resources to no financial benefit.

  5. The thing with Eve is it's an emergent sandbox game where the boundaries are continually being pushed back by players. This means the ethics of multiboxing may change over time, as players find new and innovative ways to gain advantage.

    Let's do some goalsetting. What is the purpose of running Eve? To make money? To create an awesome experience? To support as many different playstyles as possible? It's a little of each and isboxer both enhances and detracts from these objectives.

    In nullsec multiboxed bomber fleets are amazingly strong. To bomb someone you need a perch, usually gained with a cov ops, then a squad or more of bombers to simultaneously decloak. align correctly launch and warp off. The more asynchronous the operation the less effective it is. With duplicated keystrokes you get a bombing run miles better than a group of 7 players can achieve. It is always superior to do this gameplay with alts rather than people.

    But at the same time for the guys who play this it's superb exciting powerful gameplay for which they pay 7 accounts worth of subs per month - they are significant consumers.

    It also probably doesn't detract much from other people's gameplay - they're just a hazard of nullsec but if we die to them it was our mistake, not something people feel is unplayably broken.

    But that could change. If new sov mechanics force more ship presence in space multiboxed bombers become more powerful as the environment becomes richer in targets. At that stage maybe there could be a scenario where whole alliances couldn't hold sov if one multiboxer decided to target them.

  6. Oh and just to back my point up with some research:

    Here's the top 10 Goon pilots. This alliance has 11000 people. The current top 6 and number 8 best pilots on their killboards are Oodell's isboxing bomber squad.

    Here's a newer isboxer, Pasta's wheniaminspace's alt. Since he made it in January he's done 110 billion isk of damage with it at 99.45% efficiency.

    Both of these records are way better than what most people are capable of who don't use isboxer.

    1. "This alliance has 11000 people. "

      This should say pilots rather than people.

    2. What -is- your point, Stabs? That people who use isboxer are more effective than those who can't/don't? That people who can afford to have 10 accounts have an advantage over those with only 1 (or 2)? Are you saying multiboxing is good for EvE simply because it generates more money for CCP?

    3. My point is that it's become too good when I am better off adding 6 alts than 6 real people. Just seems antisocial and unhealthy for the game - after all do we want a game where to be on the level playing field you need to pay for 7 accounts?

  7. Star Trek Online has an in-built security against software multiboxing. You can't start a second client while one is already running on the comp. I'm sure there's a way to circumvent it (someone will always find a workaround to such "problems"), but I have no idea about that (and honestly don't care).

  8. As someone who's multiboxed since uo I have always felt that things like isboxer is cheating. Anything that broadcasts multiple keystrokes should be considered cheating imo. Just cuz it multiboxing doesn't mean u should be able to have commands copied to 10 clients. Isboxer is a slap in the face to people that play by the rules imo and its a base for many many bots. Using synergy to use multiple pcs is one thing but when u start sending a keystroke to multiple clients at the same time ur cheating simple as that. Multiboxing was never a problem software like isboxer is