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Multiboxing skills: what are they and do you have them?

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
I've been multiboxing 2-6 boxes across 3 games since the summer of 2008, so I suppose that is six years of experience, on and off. Most of that time has been spent in World of Warcraft, a few weeks in Lord of the Rings and a few weeks in Rift (last summer and right now). So I've been practicing for years but I'm not sure if that means I'm actively getting better. When I play (raid on) a solo character (almost always a healing priest in wow) I have very definite ways in which to improve. Not only am I constantly getting feed back from watching meters and reviewing logs but there are always dozens of things to read theorycrafting the state of your spec at the moment, and so I can confidently set goals and work on improving my game. This patch (SOO) I went from not having raided for more than two weeks in a row in years to ranking on most of the regular mode 25 man bosses and a couple of heroics (if I hadn't had such a wussy raid leader who loved to run with too many healers those numbers might have been even better).

But today I'm listening to an audiobook about performance and thinking about myself as a multiboxer and wondering whether I am "good" and how I can be better. I think for the most part I am "good enough" for whatever I want to do at the moment, but there have certainly been skill walls that I have hit over the years that prevented me from doing things I wanted to do (Cata heroics! The pain!)

I thought I might take some time and try to break down the skills a multiboxer uses and more importantly ask all of you what other skills you have (wish you had) and how they might be improved. Some of these are going to be the same skills that an individual player needs, some will be unique to our situations.

Creation of efficient dps and tanking rotations from existing class guides like Icy-veins
Brainstorming creative healing solutions to keep as much of the system firing on auto-pilot as possible
Encountering a new feature in game and saying AHAH! I can use this while boxing (an excellent example is the gentleman that suggested I use a rift dimension not only for testing combat dps but also to hide my toons in when I need to take a break while questing).

Execution of interrupts/stuns
Efficient debuffing
Movement with aoe damage
Movement of packs of mobs
Independent movement of slaves
Switching between boxes seamlessly and comfortably
Non-fatal aggro management

inventory management skills/systems
information flow management (through video feeds, buff watching, etc)

Pvp specific skills? (I haven't pvped while boxing in years)

Please let me know if you can think of any more to add to this list, later this week I'll talk about where I think I stand on these skills and how one might go about practicing them.

Updated 10-10-2014 at 09:02 AM by luxlunae

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  1. JohnGabriel's Avatar
    I wonder how many people have lots of focus. When I am focused on one thing I feel like even an earthquake cant interrupt me.

    Single tracked mind, or absent minded, often another way to describe it.
  2. Ughmahedhurtz's Avatar
    There are far too many game-specific or game-type-specific skills to list. In general terms, there are a few areas that are pretty much requirements to be successful beyond basic screwing around in the open world.

    Situational awareness: as a multiboxer, you have to keep track of much more than normal single-character players. For example:
    • Are all your characters still following you and keeping up with the group?
    • Are all your characters still in range of the target so their abilities work?
    • Do all your characters still have enough energy/mana/etc. to use abilities?
    • Are all your characters clear of ground or positional debuffs/damage effects?
    • Do all your characters have the quest you are working on?
    • Did all your characters loot the quest items?
    • Are your characters showing the right button bars so the abilities work?
    • Are your characters all mounted up in a vehicle properly?

    Most of these require various separate user interface indicators that can quickly clutter the screen, so as you mentioned, good UI layout/addon selections is important.

    Class/Game knowledge: understanding the abilities, synergies, glitches and recovery methods for in-game mechanics becomes even more crucial when managing multiple characters, especially when those consist of multiple classes with abilities that may or may not work well with your other characters' abilities.

    Imagination: anyone can derp their way to a macro site and come up with a rotation that basically works to kill stuff without too much hassle. Running instances -- especially heroics or raids -- is a completely different matter. Doing this requires the same skills a successful raider employs AND the ability to micromanage an entire group all by yourself. Coming up with creative ways to maximize efficiency and reduce complexity cannot be achieved through simply downloading something, clicking an icon and profiting; there are tools that go a LONG way to reducing initial setup times and supporting wonderfully complex management of diverse tasks, such as ISBoxer, but even with those sorts of tools you must still tell it what to do and when to do it.

    Patience: you will die. A lot. In a loud and grotesque manner. You did something wrong. YOU screwed up. Not the game; not the multiboxing software/hardware. YOU. You'll have to just figure it out on your own. Sucks to be you; deal with it.

    The ability to do your own research. There is a metric shit-ton of information out there on how to do the various bits needed to multibox at very, very high levels of achievement. All too often, however, we see people that are long on money and short on brains trying to multibox because it Looked Cool(tm). You know the type: "Hey, what's the FOTM class this month?" "What's the absolute best 5-man arena gank squad?" "How can I pwn nubs bettar?" Part of good research is being able to figure out enough on your own to ask good questions. Sites like this one have a bunch of really, really smart, helpful people that are perfectly happy to help you better understand some aspect of multiboxing. What they grow tired of doing is answering the same question over and over again when the answer already exists in the FAQ, the wiki, the beginner and support forum, and probably other sites as well. Sooner or later you're going to run into a problem that actually isn't already answered. When that happens, you'll either be able to figure out a workaround or fix on your own or you'll be stuck. Good research abilities help immensely in resolving these problems. And sharing your discoveries with the rest of the community is well appreciated.

    Interestingly enough, the kind of character traits that make you a good multiboxer also tend to make you a good employee or inventor or generally a productive member of society.
  3. luxlunae's Avatar
    You're totally right Ughmahedhurtz, I didn't even consider the first three of those because they are second nature now, but just the constant keeping track of the slaves (are they following, are they close enough) is definitely a skill.

    My current patience limit is 10 wipes for a dungeon. If the gear is broken then I can feel like I'm not being a slacker for leaving. I actually think it is an amusing contrast between the way I game and my significant other (who, despite this anecdote, is a socially functioning member of society). The other day I was working hard on a dungeon (Lantern Hook, I think) and he was playing a hearthstone game, we share a computer room. From him it was 20 minutes of "Luck sack!" "There was only a 20% chance of that happening!" "I am the most unlucky player EVER. That would have never happened for me!" etc, while I died quietly over and over on my side of the office. Like a gracious martyr.
  4. JohnGabriel's Avatar
    Ugh, Sounds like you're saying we have to be geeks.
  5. JohnGabriel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ughmahedhurtz
    Two of those things, Imagination and Research have changed alot.

    In the old D&D board game days you had to have ALOT of imagination. And to do your own research took alot more work with no Google.

    The other things probably more constant, and likely a trait you would look for.
  6. Ughmahedhurtz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGabriel
    Ugh, Sounds like you're saying we have to be geeks.
    If that's what being a geek means to you. Most of the people I know that express the above character traits tend to be engineers. /shrug
  7. JohnGabriel's Avatar
    Of all those things, what would be the one that is the very top of your list?

    Some things needed can be found without needing the skills, such as theorycrafting. Searching google and even this forum will find you the macros and dps rotation you need.

    I like your dungeon wipe example. How many times do you wipe before taking a break? I would guess the higher the number the more likely to box.
  8. MiRai's Avatar
    Incredibly well-written reply, Ugh.
  9. Ughmahedhurtz's Avatar
    The top of my list is somewhere between situational awareness and research ability. Situational awareness (or lack thereof) can be mitigated by knowing your limitations and avoiding things that just stomp you into the dirt. Research, however, is a requirement at all times. Macros and abilities change. Bosses change. New content is introduced. Without the self-motivated ability to go find this information on your own when you feel it is needed (and the internal drive to realize WHEN change is needed), you just aren't going to accomplish much. Of course, that largely depends on what you ARE trying to accomplish.

    My mother, for example, is totally not a macro expert. Neither is she really interested in running heroics or PVP or any sort of really challenging content. She just like to run around the world, kill stuff, loot things, explore and level up with different classes. For her, it's a game and a distraction, not an accomplishment quest. She multiboxes (two) so she can do things on her own without having to bail from groups mid-dungeon or having to find groups late at night to quest with. She is relatively slow on the draw with interrupts and such (when she remembers she has them) but that is perfectly fine with her. I, on the other hand, have the desire to 5-man everything up through heroics. I don't raid or PVP as I find those endeavors too much like work rather than play, so I choose not to bother.

  10. Mercurio's Avatar
    Just noticed this blog and thought I'd put my two cents in. As a ten boxer that has gotten down at least half of the most difficult raids in the last three expansions, hopefully I can provide a unique perspective.

    In thinking about it, I think the single most important factor is drive. Drive to do something very few of the millions of WoW players would even attempt. Drive to optimize each and every class's rotation to a level you can't simply find through doing research alone. Drive to do the tedious PvP grinding that gets your foot in the raiding door. And most of all, drive to keep knocking your head against a problem that seems impossible. For example, I wiped 38 times on Immerseus before finally downing him. I tried all sorts of crazy strategies that normal 10 players raids wouldn't because they just didn't need to. Those 38 attempts were over the course of a couple of a number of weeks and I think I thought through and tweaked my strategy almost every attempt. There was certainly more thinking, planning, updating ISBoxer, updating a macro for a specific class time than actual play time in those attempts. But when you finally get a new boss down, it is magical moment.

    One big note here, here, im not in any way saying people with that much drive are "better" than others - in fact, I could probably just as easily argue the other side of that. But in order to accomplish things that others don't, that drive is essential.
  11. dougie700's Avatar
    As well as all the above, I think you also need a steady stream of income to provide those repairs, shiny items, from what i gather, i pretty much do the same as other people on here, time on AH, instance grinding and making sure I have all the proffs covered, so i can farm, craft those items i need or sell on the AH.

    And the other thing that I wished I had would be greater dexterity, for doing all those key combo's :P