I have been playing World of Warcraft quite a bit lately. In fact, I've been multiboxing--playing with five characters at a time. Yea, I know this makes me quite the nerd.
Luckily, I can do all this with one computer, unlike the old days when multiboxing could only be done with several computers. My system has an AMD Athlon X2 64 Dual 4800+ processor with 2GB of RAM and a striped volume set up using two hard drives and the Windows Disk Management utility. My video card is an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT with 512MB of RAM, and I have a 21" LCD screen running at 1680x1050.
This setup easily runs 5 instances of WoW with the main instance at full graphics settings and the four other instances at minimum graphics settings. However, things start to lag a little bit in crowded areas, especially Orgrimmar, because my memory usage spikes to over 2GB. Another GB of ram would make my system ideal for 5-boxing.
Before I go into key broadcasting software, I'd like to share a couple tips you can use to make your five characters look super-coordinated. First is chain follow. Set up a macro on your second character to follow your first character, one on your third character to follow your second character, etc. Now you can run through populated areas with your long chain of characters so everyone can see just how many they are. This is much better than having them all lumped together right behind your main.
Second, when you are just standing around, you don't want all your secondaries in a big lump standing behind your main. So, here's what you can do. Designate a key (I use the up arrow key, but you might want to use something like F12) for positioning. On your main, leave this key unbound. On your secondary, bind it to strafe left; on your third, bind it to strafe right; on your fourth, bind it to forward; and on your fifth, bind it to backward. Now, you can press your positioning key to have all your characters fan out. Move your main into the middle of the formation and you have an escort.
Now, on to key broadcasting software. I started out using Octopus for key broadcasting and instance management, but it lacks a few features I wanted such as round-robin broadcasting and 'hotstrings.' I know I can set up a round-robin system using castsequence, but this prevents me from using /stopcasting in the macro to get immediate heals. Sadly, I just found out that Octopus is no longer in development.
A few days ago I bought a license for Keyclone. The only thing I can't do with Keyclone that I could do with Octopus is assign F1-F5 to my instances to switch between them. I can do something similar with the maximizer in Keyclone, but I want all my instances to be full screen. Maybe there's a way to do this and I just haven't figure it out yet. --Update: This is possible by creating a bunch of full-screen regions, but maximizer is screwy with widescreen resolutions and wants to just stretch 800x600.
The feature I love most about Keyclone is the hotstrings feature. Using a clever setup, I can play from any of my instances at any time and all my characters will automatically assist the active instance. This is done without using focus or having to keep a target. It took me some trial and error to get it to work right, so in addition to the link above I'll let you know what exactly worked for me.
The first complicated part is setting up a whole crapload of hotstrings. You have to have five hotstrings per instance per macro. To save you this headache, you can download my keymap files here. Unzip those files to your keyclone directory and assign them to each of your 5 WoW instances. You'll need to bind the following keys in WoW to some action bars (I used slots 1-6 on action bar 6):
[ ] ; ' , .Next, you need some macros with complicated targetting based on which modifier keys are being held down. The example macros in the link above are longer than 255 characters and a pain to get working, so here is a shorter macro that works just as well:
/target [mod:ctrl,mod:alt,mod:shift,target=Character4] [mod:ctrl,mod:shift,target=Character1] [mod:ctrl,mod:alt,target=Character2] [mod:alt,mod:shift,target=Character3] [mod:ctrl,target=Character5]This macro is actually three lines, so make sure you move all the "[mod:...]" parts onto the first line, separated by spaces.
/cast [target=targettarget] Lightning Bolt
This should be all you need to get the setup to work. If you have any problems, please post to the dual-boxing forums.
Next, I'd like to explain what settings I use for my WoW instances. Like I said before, I run my main instance at full graphics settings and the other four at the lowest settings. The easiest way to do this is to have two copies of WoW, the first one for your main instance and the second one for your other four instances. This wastes a lot of space though, because you have two copies of the Data directory, one in each WoW directory. I have a better solution.
In Linux, you can create links to files and folders. This means you could have a directory called "Bush" with a bunch of incriminating documents, and you could create an alias called "scumbag" to point to the "Bush" directory without copying all the files. Lucky for us, there's also a way to do this in Windows.
First, download the program Junction and extract it to your Windows directory. Next, create a new directory called World of Warcraft2 or something of your choosing. This will be the installation for your other four instances. Now, you need to copy everything in your original WoW folder EXCEPT the Data, Screenshots, Patches, and Logs directories into your new WoW directory. Delete the Accounts under WTF in your new WoW directory (because we're going to create a link for it also).
Now, open a command prompt (Start, Run, type in cmd). Go to your new WoW directory (for example, type cd "C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft2"). Type junction Data "C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Data" and then "junction WTF\Accounts "C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\WTF\Accounts" and you're all set! Launch WoW from your original installation for your main instance and from the secondary installation for the other four instances. Configure the other four with the lowest graphics settings you can stand.
Finally, a few tips for leveling up. First of all, as you may have already heard, avoid collection quests! Unless you are just collecting one item for each character, that is. Otherwise it's rather inefficient. Finish all the "kill X number of Y" quests in your starting area, then move to the low-level area. If you finish all the good quests there, you can always move to another faction's starting area. For example, I usually do the quests in Durotar and Brill, then Crossroads and The Sepulcher.
Wow, that was a pretty long article. Thanks for reading!
P.S. I am developing a program to manage WoW macros, with multiboxing support. This will make it easier to copy the same macro across all your characters. Post your contact details in a comment if you are interested in trying out a beta.