If it's allowed, the game publisher will just come out and say I can use ISBoxer, right?
No, not usually. Game publishers avoid approving or endorsing specific multiboxing software, because they don't control the software to make sure it keeps following their rules.
So, to avoid an awkward situation, game publishers will not explicitly allow any particular multiboxing software, but will say that generally multiboxing software is okay as long as you follow the game's EULA and/or Terms of Service.
Unfortunately, this ends up putting game publishers' customer service in an awkward position, as there are often posts on their forums (even on a daily basis) asking specifically whether ISBoxer is allowed. These posts always beget the same response, which is that they don't approve or endorse any particular solution, and the customer service rep has to awkwardly dance around the issue instead of flat out saying "No we are not currently banning anyone for using ISBoxer".
That's why we have this page for you to read!
So, is Multiboxing with ISBoxer allowed?
It's what every gamer wants to know: Is this even allowed?! The answer is a resounding Yes! If that's all you wanted to know, you don't need to bother reading this whole thing -- but if you are interested, I will be giving plenty of detail.
It is a very simple business decision for MMO publishers. Blizzard, Sony Online Entertainment, Turbine, CCP, Trion Worlds and others simply want two things:
That is the very essence of their business, and that is why their rules exist in the first place. They prohibit you from harassing other players for example because it prevents those players from enjoying the game, and makes it harder for the company to meet the two goals above. If you are botting or hacking, then other players will feel cheated and the game is less enjoyable for other players. Everyone knows that if a game is full of cheaters, nobody wants to play it.
But running a gestapo isn't what game publishers are all about! They want you to play and enjoy the game, just like everyone else. That is, until you have a negative effect on the above equation.
As a multiboxer, they know that you are paying extra money to play their game, and this makes you a valuable customer -- especially if you are also getting others to play or even multibox. Just remember that when you are multiboxing, other players will tend to pay more attention to what you are doing -- out of sheer curiosity -- than what another random person is doing. This means that being a good citizen is extra important! If you are multiboxing and being a good citizen, then the game publisher has absolutely no reason to ban you. If you are multiboxing and being a complete jerk, you should expect trouble.
Being a good citizen
First of all, you should never have to hide what you are doing. If you look like you have something to hide, people will be suspicious. If someone tells you they are reporting you, you should tell them in no uncertain terms exactly what software you are using, whether it is ISBoxer or not, so they get the information in the report right! I have been reported in World of Warcraft numerous times over the past couple years, by people who think that multiboxing is the same as botting (it's not -- a multiboxer has to be at the controls for anything to happen, and ISBoxer provides no method of performing delayed action), and each time I tell them to make sure to tell the GM I'm using ISBoxer. My accounts are just fine! And so are everyone else's accounts. In fact, there are employees at Blizzard (and likely even SOE and Turbine and other companies) that use ISBoxer and other multiboxing software.
When it comes to other players, there are some very simple things you can do to bring a smile to their faces. I like to put on a little show, sort of like live machinima. If someone is following me around and watching, I will put my guys in a Flying V formation (a simple 2-step key map where 4 guys move on the first step, and 2 guys move on the second), and break into a dance. People also like to see you do the same thing across all of your characters at once (unless you're killing them at the time). It's as simple as making all of your guys jump at the same time. It just blows their mind. Or all use a different buff at once, and so on. Or Death Knights in WoW have a spell called Army of the Dead, which spawns several ghouls and can be used every 20 minutes -- that adds up to fun when you have multiple Death Knights!
Generally, people are curious. They want to know how it works, what software you use, and so on. Some people know how it works and they don't like it anyway. That's fine, it's not for everyone. Some people will ask you why you waste your money on the game. My response to that is that many people have much more expensive hobbies. Some people build cars or boats or planes, and it costs them thousands of dollars. Playing 5 characters in a game, by comparison, is a drop in the bucket and you're not risking your life to the tune of an engine failing in your home-built flying machine. But mostly, people just want to see what you're doing and then they will go on about their business.
The biggest thing when it comes to other players is do not grief them. Sure, it's easy to roll with a posse of dozens of characters and destroy someone over and over just because you can. But if you purposefully and methodically ruin someone's day, a GM is not going to take your side, even if you are otherwise following the rules of the game. Back in the day, EverQuest implemented a "Play Nice Policy" just to make that perfectly clear, and similar policies are now enforced via EULA/ToU/ToS in pretty much every MMO. That's because unhappy players don't keep subscribing, and they don't tell their friends to play with them. You just destroyed both #1 and #2 of what the business is all about. Instead of killing them over and over, kill them once to show them who's boss, and then be cordial. Let them go, and hey, give them a friendly wave! You've already proven yourself. I have had people try to kill my teams over and over and over again, and sometimes they're even successful at killing one or more of my guys. But I don't follow them around to get revenge, they're giving me enough pleasure by coming back on their own and letting me kill them again.
But I've heard that "Third Party Software is not allowed!"
First of all, that is wrong regardless of the game being discussed. It's impossible to play any PC game without using any "third party software". The game itself relies on third party software, such as Windows and DirectX. It is a common misunderstanding of the terms set forth in a game's EULA/ToS/ToU. "Third Party" does not imply that you are doing anything wrong. All it means is that the software does not come from the First or Second parties, which are the game publisher (e.g. Blizzard) and you. In our case, I am the Third Party. Both Blizzard and Sony Online Entertainment have either explicitly or implicitly allowed software that I provide: WinEQ 2 and EQPlayNice have been staples of EverQuest multiboxing for several years, and Woody from GUComics got an answer long ago, directly from John Smedley, saying that they would not ban for using EQPlayNice; A few years ago, Blizzard inadvertently banned WinEQ 2 users, but then reverted those bans and gave the players 2 days on their subscription time to make up for the mistake (similar to what happened when Blizzard inadvertently banned Linux players). Clearly, "Third Party Software" is allowed, as long as it abides by the rules set forth in the EULA/ToS/ToU.
There are other types of software that are also allowed. Some other common examples include video recording software (e.g. FRAPS), voice chat software (e.g. Ventrilo), even in-game instant messaging software (e.g. X-Fire, though note that if you try to use X-Fire in-game features with ISBoxer you may experience a performance hit).
So, what types of software are NOT allowed?
2(a) use cheats, automation software (bots), hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software designed to modify the World of Warcraft experience;
2(c) use any unauthorized third-party software that intercepts, "mines", or otherwise collects information from or through the Game or the Service, including without limitation any software that reads areas of RAM used by the Game to store information about a character or the game environment; provided, however, that Blizzard may, at its sole and absolute discretion, allow the use of certain third party user interfaces;
and further that you acknowledge...
17(a) WHEN RUNNING, THE GAME MAY MONITOR YOUR COMPUTER'S RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM) AND/OR CPU PROCESSES FOR UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAMS RUNNING CONCURRENTLY WITH WORLD OF WARCRAFT. AN "UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAM" AS USED HEREIN SHALL BE DEFINED AS ANY THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE THAT, WHEN USED SIMULTANEOUSLY OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE GAME, WOULD CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION OF SECTIONS 1, 2 OR 9. IN THE EVENT THAT THE GAME DETECTS AN UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAM, BLIZZARD MAY (a) COMMUNICATE INFORMATION BACK TO BLIZZARD, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE ACCOUNT NAME, DETAILS ABOUT THE UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAM DETECTED, AND THE TIME AND DATE THE UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAM WAS DETECTED; AND/OR (b) EXERCISE ANY OR ALL OF ITS RIGHTS UNDER THIS AGREEMENT OR THE EULA, WITH OR WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE TO THE USER.
That just says that Blizzard is using a method of detection (called Warden) to try to detect things that are against the rules. ISBoxer and Inner Space offer no protection from Warden or similar detection methods from other MMO publishers, because these products are not designed to break the rules and thus do not need any protection.
Blizzard has banned many players for breaking the rules, but has not banned a single player for using ISBoxer. With few exceptions (see below), neither have any other MMO publishers to date.
I heard about an EVE Online player that got banned . . .
Absolutely! But there's more to the story, and there's a happy ending -- so read on! Kromtor got banned for 3 days when using ISBoxer in April 2010. After doing so, he promptly built an elaborate rig with multiple computers, mice and keyboards, with the input devices connected via wooden dowels to move and press buttons together, and he posted pictures on the internet. Lots of blogs picked up the story, including these Kotaku and Gizmodo articles.
Shortly after Kromtor's story went public, an EVE Online GM clarified their rules: (source, emphasis below is mine)
Special note: Lelouch updated the source post to reiterate the game's EULA since this was written; it doesn't change anything for legitimate multiboxers, keep on not cheating!
ISBoxer strictly adheres to the guidelines GM Lelouch has described, and does not provide any methods for automating gameplay.
If you have any questions about whether multiboxing in general, or ISBoxer itself, is allowed in any particular game, please feel free to post on our forums or come to our chat room to discuss your concerns with the ISBoxer team or just other players like yourself.
Enjoy your multiboxing experience!
For additional related reading, check out these links submitted to ISBoxer.com tagged Tolerance.