Question of the Day: Alt accounts for the win?

Back when I was playing Dark Age of Camelot, it was pretty much de rigeur for anyone playing seriously to run two accounts. One for the main character/s and one for a buffbot. It was a ‘feature’ of that game that there was one buffing spec, and that buffs could be cast out of group and stayed up until the buffee got killed. Also, buffs were immensely powerful.

So you could log your accounts on, buff up your main, park the buffbot somewhere safe/ out of the way, and go play with your superpowered main character.

Surprisingly few people ever complained about this, and eventually as I said, most semi-serious players got another account and levelled up a buffbot. I remember when running big public master level raids, it was quite common for people to ask if they could bring their buffbot along and set it on follow (the master level raids gave characters new master level abilities if they completed them.)

You also occasionally hear about people ‘multiboxing’ in WoW, which means running multiple accounts simultaneously for fun and profit. I know people who have multiple WoW accounts for trading purposes, but I never really felt it was necessary.

I was thinking about this when reading a blog post this week about the Monocalypse which commented that serious EVE players had several alt accounts.

Have you ever run multiple accounts in a single game? Do you like the idea that it’s an option? Has it had good/ bad effects on games you play?

(This is, btw, the most accepted form of pay to win in subscription games, and has been around for a very long time indeed.)

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24 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Alt accounts for the win?

  1. For a while in SWG (pre-NGE) I had two accounts because of the single character limit and I wanted to play a different character than my main one with the people I knew on that server. It was fairly common as I recall to do that.

    In City of Heroes I have also had a second account in order to create and invite some of my characters into my personal super group, which was created to make it easier to transfer items between them. Not that necessary nowadays.

  2. I have run three accounts at once in EVE, though the third was too much for me. But running two accounts was very effective for mining and missions. For mining with one hauling and one mining it made me pretty much immune to can flippers and other such hijinks.

    I have also been running a pair of accounts on the EQ progression server, in tandem with Potshot so we have a nice static group. That has also worked out very well, but EQ has relatively few skills in any given class, so it is very manageable, and the client isn’t very demanding on the CPU.

    While my pal Gaff finds 3-4 accounts at once in EQ2 to be very effective (my post on Klak Anon will be up later in which I run one character while he has three going), I have never found the game worthwhile beyond a single account. Too many skills to manage.

    For WoW I have never run more than one. I know too many people who play WoW to worry about needing to find somebody to team up with for anything small, and once the dungeon finder came along PUGs were pretty much instant.

    I have not considered a second account in any other game.

    Coming from the days of MUDs where “multiplaying” as it was called was a banable offense some places, it took me a while to get over the idea that two accounts was “wrong.” I think EVE really cured me of that. Two accounts is practically the average per person with some people I’ve met running 5 or 6.

    • I know the MUD convention was a really big influence on me when I started playing MMOs as well. In MUSHes in particular, there was a lot of antipathy towards people who had a sock puppet account and as staff we used to eye the IP addresses quite carefully.

  3. I regularly run 2 accounts in almost every MMO I play. DAOC was my first serious MMO and that’s probably why.

    Ahh the days of being ‘the guy with a shaman bot’. Group size was 8 back then so there was usually room for one or two bots. One for the aug spec buffs (the big meaty stat increases) and one for other miscellaneous ones like melee haste, runspeed or even healing!

    I started dual boxxing in Warcraft as I was tired of being unable to kill things in the various world elite areas without a group. The ability to boost yourself through any instance or quest an added bonus too! Eventually it got out of control and I had my own LBRS stealth group in classic wow with 3 rogues and 2 druids.

    It ALWAYS made the game more fun for me however and was often something I’d do more of towards the end of an expansion cycle.

    Taking the time out to optimise your setup and tweak multiple characters to play together at once is highly enjoyable to me and it’s pretty cheap with the tools available today. As of right now I just run two characters on a PC and a laptop next to each other and slave the controls of the laptop over the network (lots of free software to do that)

    Generally it’s a bit of laugh that I find always adds an extra dimension to an otherwise fairly stale genre at the moment. Plus annoying my GM by asking for an invite on ‘yet another alt’

    Oh and I don’t PvP. Technically legit or no, running 5 elemental shamans in a battleground was like shooting fish in a barrel and just felt cheap. Hilarious, but very very cheap.

    5 resto druids however… now THAT was funny.

  4. I’ve multi-boxed since eq days. My playing times are odd, and getting groups was difficult. EQ I had a warrior, cleric, wizard Trinity – it was a basic enough game that Warrior was basically hit 1 to attack and keep aggro, occcassionally switch to Cleric for healing, and Wizard nukes the rest of the time. Similar Trinity worked in EQ2 as well.

    I’ve multi-boxed WoW to level 50 or, and was completing 5-man instances on my own, either as a 5-shaman groups, or a mixed multi-class. TBH, that was the point at which I decided WoW was too trivially easy to bother going on playing.

    Probably the most *fun* I’ve had was City of Villains – I managed 6 characters at once, and had an Ice Tank (To get/hold aggro), and 5 Fire/Rad Corruptors. With auto-fireball, multiple buffs, and leadership, it was spectacularly and completely lethal. It helped that missions scaled to team size. It was also nice to create a team look/feel – I made my guys tall/skinny aliens. 5 of them on auto-follow looked weird/cool, and always garnered comments.

    More recent games, being more twitchy, don’t lend themselves to multi-boxing; Warhammer, Conan, no chance. Rift probably could, but LFG mechanics have improved to the point I wouldn’t bother, I think.

    When CoH goes F2P, I will probably try to do an 8-man group (I was stopped by hardware limitations before).

    I’ve never multi-boxed in PvP, and won’t – doesn’t feel fair. The only one I was tempted by was to play Engineers in Warhammer – a rank of 5 musketdwarves firing in unison would have looked cool, and been lethal.

    • The one thing I note with multiple accounts is that it’s basically invisible to other players. Unless you tell them, no one will know you’re doing it (I wonder if this is key in a pay to win environment :) ). And in a game like EVE I think this does mean that vets have an even bigger advantage over newbies than most of the guides and info will actually say.

      I’d rather that multiple accounts were visibly linked, but I know it’d never happen.

  5. I do find it amusing how multiple accounts = fine, but premium services/MT = bad. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t like premium services/MT, but mostly because of how burned out on them I got from my M:tG days.

    Example: Would there be an uproar if you could buy a level 80 toon from Blizzard? Of course. “Dual-boxing” (you really just have two windows open at once) a Recruit-A-Friend account is perfectly okay. More bank space, character slots, and the ability to transfer goods cross-faction are all already premium services… just $15/month extra. Buying game time each month is objectively identical to making a micro-transaction, and we buy content (in the form of expansions) all the time.

    To answer the question, I briefly had 2 WoW accounts just to RAF my way to three new level 60 alts.

  6. Pre-NGE I had two accounts for SWG, but then you had to have multiple accounts to have more than one character (unless you unlocked Jedi ofc). That’s the only time I’ve ever had more than one paid account.

  7. I used to play Warcraft for quite some time. When the new RAF benefits were introduced in 2008, I began to multibox. While my machine at the time was suitably powerful enough to handle two at once, I lacked the screen space (a 19″ 5:4 LCD and 19″ CRT) and the funds to do more than that. When my RAF benefits expired, I switched from boxing to simply playing on two accounts. I boxed two of my characters from 80 to 85 and quite a few dailies until I got bored with the game and stopped playing.
    The expanded RAF benefits is tempting should I choose to return. Now that I have a pair of 24″ IPS panels I now have screen space to comfortably run more than two clients, along with a significantly more powerful machine than I had in ’08 – the only things holding me back from boxing more than two clients is a) income and b) a desire to play the game.
    If permitted by game rules in some manner, I would gladly run multiple accounts, possibly even multibox in a new MMO I may play. If necessary, I can drop a spare GPU in my home server.

  8. Never have and never will. In WoW it just never felt right; I loved watching people who WERE multiboxing, of course, but I never actually did it. Hell, I’ve never even had any other account, full stop, than my current one. To me, it always seemed like more hassle than it was worth, setting up all the addons, the key cloners, the screen splitters etc.

    In EVE, I just don’t think I will. It’d cost too much and while it would be worth the hassle (more so than WoW) I don’t think I’d remember to log on and train up the skills to be useful.

  9. I used to regularly run multiple characters in Everquest and DAoC (champion/bard ftw), and shortly after starting WoW I inherited a second account from a friend who left the game. I can’t say that I ever really dual boxed wow all that seriously. For the most part I ended up using high level characters on one account to run my low level alts through dungeons for gear.

    I enjoyed it, because it gives you a sense of being truly self supporting. I found wrecking instances for my lowbies a relaxing practice for a lazy Sunday afternoon. However as game play becomes more and more reactive, the ability to realistically run multiple accounts tends to go out the window. I’ve considered a second account for Rift… but honestly not sure what I would do with it.

  10. I log on my wife’s enchanter to team with whenever I go farm low level greens for my enchanter. Being able to disenchant immediately saves a lot of time and inventory space. Other than that, I’ve never seen a reason to do it.

    I don’t see anything particularly wrong with multiple accounts, as long as you’re not interfering with someone else.

    People that push the limits, harming others in the process, are the ones that get restrictions put in place that hurt all the other people that are using, but not abusing the grey areas.

  11. I ran 2 accounts in SWG — 1 was a master armorsmith that didn’t have enough points left over to be truly effective at harvesting, so I got a 2nd account to be a combat/harvester character. And the 2nd account ended up being my main, was in a different PA than the 1st. . completely different circle of friends on that toon, really. Was much fun. Logged in a couple of years ago when I still had the station access to run around and see how different the NGE had made ir (I’d actually quite before the CU, much less the NGE) and I was surprised at the sheer sense of nostalgia I felt when running around the old haunts.

  12. I run two accounts in WoW, but not even for multi-boxing purposes (although I do run myself through stuff since I have the second account available anyway) – I just ran out of character slots on my main server for all my alts.

  13. My first experience dealing with someone multi-boxing was also in DAoC. I was doing armorcrafting, which relied on tailoring components. One of the other people doing armorcrafting ran a second account and worked up tailoring. He was the first person to brag about having a mithril piece…. I just couldn’t keep up because nobody in our guild was doing serious tailoring, and I had to pay a markup for the tailored pieces.

    In WoW, a friend of mine multi-boxed a whole party: 1 Druid, 1 Mage, 3 Shaman. He even ran instances and did a few outdated raids. Very interesting ot hear him talk about running with that group.

    Personally, one character is enough. I prefer to play with friends than try to control a whole party myself.

  14. While I prefer party control to single unit control, multiboxing just isn’t something I have the tech for or the sub budget for. I do have multiple Wizard 101 and Puzzle Pirate accounts for different reasons, but those don’t cost me anything.

  15. And I guess a follow up question might be, does any MMO other than EVE Online actively encourage multi-account play?

    The reason I got the third EVE account at one point, mentioned above, was because CCP was offering one of their regular “never fly alone” deals where you get a break on the game and a three month subscription.

    • Not sure about actively encouraging it… DAoC’s design (probably unintentionally) encouraged it by having a number of character builds that were incredibly beneficial but didn’t require the palyer to actively do anything. Not just the standard buffbots, but also things like bubble-specced wardens.

      Later games learned a lot about how NOT to implement buffs from DAoC – one of that game’s few real design failings.

  16. I can’t think of a game besides Eve that actively encourages it, although several (including WoW and the original EQ) passively encourage it by design.

    I’ve never done any multi-boxing. While the challenge sounds interesting, it just seems like too much work. (I’ve been tempted several times in games that restrict alts, as one of my favorite MMO activities is trying out different classes and skills. The general ban on multiplay in MUDs always frustrated me, and I tended to stick with the ones where that wasn’t viewed as a problem.)

  17. I was in a guild once with someone who played four shamans at once. Two trolls, a tauren and an orc. They were a roleplayer too and actually came up with personalities and played all four of them. It was a very interesting experience.

    As for my opinion, I’m perfectly fine with it. It doesn’t give someone any advantage they wouldn’t have had if they had just asked a friend to come along.

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