Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hardware or Software

There are two ways to multibox. You can either run multiple instances of WoW on a single machine, or run a single copy on multiple machines. (or a crazy combination of both) While the obvious advantage to software is the cost, (1 machine cheaper than 5 machines) the disadvantage is in performance. Unless you have a screaming quadcore beast (which I don't) then running multiple instances can slow you down. And any slow down is bad when trying to manage multiple toons.

I originally ran three instances on my main machine, and was disappointed in how difficult it was to manage toons by tabbing through instances. (macros can't make your toon loot, you have to right click) So I decided to try hardware.

I have a stellar game machine, and two decent workstations I bought for my old company, which isn't using them anymore. That gives me three great machines for WoW. I setup the three boxes and used a modified version of Synergy to broadcast my keystrokes. It worked GREAT. Using Synergy meant I could simply slide my mouse to the screen of another toon, click to loot and slide back.

Feeling so good about hardware multiboxing, I started digging around for a few more machines. I found two more that used to be gaming machines (about 4 years ago) that had thier video cards removed. So I called a buddy with more pc parts than God, and he hooked me up with some ram, a couple powersupplies and two AGP video cards that would get the job done.

Last night I took apart the first box, got it all put back together, only to discover it has a fresh install of Windows Server 2003. Ugh. I forgot at one point this machine was going to be a "development" server. I don't know anything about managing WS03, so I coudln't get it to see the other machines (which I need for broadcasting). And of course my MS Action Pack was at work, so I couldn't put XP on there anyways, so I let it sit another night.

Today, while trolling my favorite multibox forums ( I learned some more about a great little program that would allow me to launch multiple instances of WoW, in custom resolutions called Maximizer. Better yet, I found Keyclone, which not only includes Maximizer, but also will allow me to broadcast keystrokes from one machine to multiple instances on another machine.

A pic of Maximizer at work
Maximizer at work

So here's the new plan. Tonight I'm going to install Keyclone on my three best machines. On pc2 and pc3 I'm going to run two instances of WoW each, in 1280x512 resolution. (a horizontal screen split) If this works, it will mean I can run 5 accounts on 3 machines, and 3 monitors, and easily be able to slide my mouse to any screen for looting.... sounds too good to be true. :)

We'll see.


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