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The Art of Troubleshooting: An Epic Journey

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Two months ago I posted about multiboxing skills, and two of the skills the were reiterated throughout that post and the comments were troubleshooting and patience. This week I had a problem that stressed both abilities to the limit.

Generating new problems and (mostly) fixing them is approximately 30% of the multiboxing experience (your number may vary). From the earliest beginner problems we all have ("Why is Warriorone running off into the distance?") to the most complex, esoteric, takes-all-afternoon type problems that more experienced players face, troubleshooting remains a huge part of your life for as long as you have this hobby. This week I had a truly upsetting THIS CANNOT HAPPEN kind of problem and a circuitous path to victory. The journey was so convoluted that I decided I really ought to share it with you. I warn you that this will be a Holmsian mystery*.

The Crime:
This spring I ran a group for my guild gearing out the Herald of the Titans achievement and getting people their titles. This left me with 24 fragments of Valanyr on my main character so I decided last week that I might as well do Ulduar runs. And because I'm a nice person I opened up my runs to guildies and openraiders that still need their gear. Halfway through XT all three of my characters left group and timed out of the instance. I immediately got frantic whispers from members of the raid on the order of "WTF WHY YOU DITCH US" and I explained something had gone terribly wrong with my multiboxing. This was only the first time this happened, it occurred 2 or 3 more times before I decided to drop the extra boxes and finish out the run with just my main (the one hour run turned into a two hour run). My guildie Soph took over loot and inviting me back, which stopped being a problem once I ditched my other two boxes.

The Investigation:
Obviously this is a huge problem. I cannot do things with other people if this is going to happen and in the history of me playing this game I can't think of any time it has ever happened before. I immediately focused on my "Ctrl Shift D" /leave party hotkey and macro. I disabled the hotkey halfway through the above run but it did not fix the problem. It was probably a macro problem, something triggering it accidentally, but I didn't have time to mess with it then.

Any multiboxing problem has two components I'll call: What Happened and What Changed? At first glance the first is easily solved: My leaveparty macro was triggered on all three toons at the same time, during a raid, and it seemed to be tied to movement. "What changed" was trickier. Although I use identical setups for the teams I am playing now, I hadn't played my 90 team since reupping two weeks ago. I also hadn't tried to raid since turning up graphics on my main so there might have been a lag component.

I turned to the (always helpful) ISBoxer chat room to help me solve my problem. I probably came across as a bit hysterical, not because of foul language or ALL CAPS (we see both from frustrated boxers every day) but from the speed at which I was typing. Both Lax and Kaische were kind enough to offer suggestions and take a look at my config file.** I myself spent this time combing through possibilities, my major issue was that I wasn't sure where the extra "ctrl" for the ctrl shift D could be coming from. My back key used arrows not letter directions, and my main slot FTL key is a shift not ctrl.

They each offered suggestions, Kaische first blaming a key it turns out I wasn't using (Alt Down, for backing up the whole team at once) and then suggesting that my limitation of 15fps on background clients might cause lag in raids. Lax on the other hand narrowed in on the 2012 keymap having the "Hold any Keystroke while Hotkey is held" feature enabled. These both sounded like good culprits so I bumped my frames up to 20 in the background and fixed the 2012 keymap (by moving all of the keys to a more accurate keymap) and hoped for the best.

I took the same three toons into a heroic scenario and got 3/4 of the way through, things going well, when suddenly all three characters were back at their respective hearth spots. (At this point foul language WAS used). I decided to test my original hypothesis, invited my characters to group and pressed ctrl shift D which fully disbanded the group. That was kind of strange, as you'll remember earlier I deleted the hotkey that sends Ctrl Shift D to everyone, as it was only a macro, it should only have affected the main. (the macro was /leave party NOT /uninvite A uninvite B, which is the other format for disband macros). So I changed the macro from /leave party to "/say I am NOT going to leave group", exported & reloaded and pressed Ctrl Shift D.

THE GROUP DISBANDED (I bet you didn't see that coming), and no one /said anything. I closed my windows and restarted isboxer. CTRL SHIFT D - Disband. At this point I knew my initial belief, that the isboxer leaveparty macro was our culprit was wrong, so I turned to another idea. I disabled Jamba. CTRL SHIFT D: Success! Sunshiny said "I am NOT going to leave group" (see screenshot above for a re-enactment of this moment of triumph). I re-enabled jamba and combed through the settings page but I couldn't find anything about group invites and disbands but I know that must be a feature somewhere. I found the culprit on the Key Bindings settings page under "Jamba" (this would be an appropriate time to say Blizzard needs to make the keybindings list collapsable).

I unbound Ctrl Shift D and that was the end of this particular problem. Something lurked at the back of my mind however, and over the course of the next hour of playing with my priest and lock, the "I am not going to leave group" macro was triggered several times. I smiled knowing that I had averted disaster but the complete truth about the problem was still unknown to me. I knew what was happening, but I still wasn't sure about part 2 of the mystery "What changed". The epiphany came to me in the shower. Last weekend, wanting to use Jamba Strobe in an intuitive manner, I added Jamba Strobe OFF to my back key. Back, like all movement keys, has "hold this key while pressed". This keybind was CTRL SHIFT ALT F12, so all of my slave characters were holding all three of their mod keys whenever they tried to move backwards and dps at the same time. I then spent most of the weekend questing. Even in 5 man instances backing up while dpsing isn't very common, I'm usually strafing. It wasn't until I took a completely different team into a set of complex raid mechanics that my brilliant jamba strobe innovation caused catastrophic dungeon failure.

*Some people think that Sherlock Holmes mysteries are cheap and unsatisfying because in a well constructed mystery all of the clues are laid out for the reader such that they can solve it themselves before the main detective of the story. Holmes mysteries often throw in a vital clue at the end during his exposition. So if you scrolled down here to read this before you read the rest of the article, I'll be un-Holmsie enough to tell you that the vital missing clue has to do with Jamba, but no not that part. Well sort of that part. You'll see.

** Incidentally there is something very scary about exposing your full configuration file as a seasoned boxer, sort of like being naked, all of your idiocies and idiosyncrasies exposed. I felt like I had to justify myself: "I made those 2012 and 2013 folders so it was easy to test new keys at the time" I blithered nervously in the chat, almost certain I could hear the laughter from a thousand miles away.

Updated 09-11-2014 at 12:18 PM by luxlunae

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