Editor’s Note: as of the new patch, May 10ish, 2013, supposedly you will need to notepad edit your preferences again to unique port = false to run two game instances. See example below. And/or you will need to use the settings panel, general tab, and click “Allow multiple game instances” (updated November 17, 2013 ~ I have not dual boxed however since Rohan last fall).
This guide describes how to dual-box in LotRO–to play two characters at the same time on one computer. LotRO also offers the opportunity to play your own party of four if you include two AI-controlled skirmish soldiers. Best of all, you have the ability to start a second F2P account and try out this playstyle for free.
The first thing to consider is your computer. Most newer computers should handle this. I get acceptable medium-setting performance on an old 32 bit Vista system with an Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3800+ 2.00 GHz, 3 GB RAM, ATI Radeon 5770, and two internal hard drives, one for each copy of the game. (A separate physical drive for each copy of the game is advisable for good performance but not absolutely required.)
Supposedly 2GB RAM is imperative for Windows XP, as is a decent video card, so 3GB RAM for Vista is advisable. Another thing to consider is your internet connection. A poor connection or bandwidth-squeezing tactics by your ISP may result in laggy performance.
Setting Up Two Game Windows:
Since the original writing of this guide, the Turbine devs have apparently changed the game code so you can start two copies of the game at once with the same installation. This is great, because previously this was not considered possible. If you want to play off of one drive and one installation, try simply starting two windowed copies of the game and logging into your two separate accounts.
If that plan works for you, you can skip the old instructions and go to the next section on using HotKeyNet. If opening two game windows with the same installation doesn’t work for you, or you want two drives, consider the following steps.
1. Acquire two LotRO accounts. You can’t log in twice to the same account.
2. Log into one of them and set your preference to “Windowed Mode.” (Your game settings are stored in the My Documents folder for LotRO, so note that your settings will be common to both accounts on the same computer.)
3. Go to C:/Program Files/Turbine (Or wherever your lotro is installed. This is not the folder in My Documents. This is the folder with your actual program files.) Copy the “Lord Of The Rings Online” folder.
4. Paste the copy to a new location, such as your desktop. If you use a different physical drive of some kind, performance should be improved.
5. Rename the folder to something like “LotRO2″. Go into the folder and send a shortcut to your desktop for the Turbine Launcher.
6. If you are on Windows XP, you should now be able to open two separate launchers and log into two separate accounts at the same time. If you are on Vista, you must take the additional step of:
In your UserPreferences.ini file (which should be located in your Documents\The Lord Of The Rings Online folder) look for the section [Net] and look for the line:
Change it to:
7. You should now be able to alt+tab between the two LotRO windows, place them on two screens, etc. There are various solutions for controlling your characters simultaneously. I started out using two displays and clicking back and forth on skills. Now I use HotKeyNet to transfer keyboard commands to the second character, mainly because it is currently freely distributed by its author.
Read the Instructions and References for HotKeyNet. HKN is not automation software. You still have to press every key to use your skills. The HKN program is simply a router that sends your keypresses to the LotRO window that you designate in the loaded script.
For example, I use one set of keys for my main character and another set (the function keys) for the second character. Simply pressing the relevant key will switch focus to the correct window that is displaying the character assigned to that key.
Here is a starter HotKeyNet script. The second character uses Function keys F1-F12. Don’t forget to rename the first window to LotRO1 and the second window to LotRO2 using HotKeyNet’s action tool. These window labels tell HKN where to send your different keypresses.
This is just an example. A lot of more complicated setups are possible.
// SCRIPT FOR TWO LOTRO’S ON ONE PC
// Toggle the caps lock key to turn hotkeys off and on. (You
// can change this to scroll lock if you want, just like you can change
// everything else with HotkeyNet.)
<KeyList HealerKeyList F1-F12>
<KeyList MainKeyList A-Z, Numpad1-Numpad9, 0-9, Enter, Oem4, Comma, Oem6, numlock, plus, minus,
except Tab, W, A, S, D, Q, E, L, I, O, Space>
<Label w1 Local SendWin “LotRO1″>
<Label w2 Local SendWin “LotRO2″>
<Hotkey CapsLockon HealerKeyList>
<Hotkey CapsLockon MainKeyList>
(Update 12/19/11) Please note that you may be able to substitute SendWinSF for the SendWin commands in the above script as per the comments below this post. I was not able have success trying this, and normally the LotRO windows require “focus” to receive commands and will not accept messages to a window in the background.
Here is a trick to keep the window focus of your second character in the background. I’ve altered the healer SendLabel command slightly to send F1-F12 first to the second window, then the first. The shift happens so quickly that the second window effectively remains in the background. I will then not bind F1-F12 to anything at all for my DPS character, so the effect is only to keep the first window in focus.
<Hotkey CapsLockon HealerKeyList>
<SendLabel w2, w1>
Using this same coding trick, you can also send commands to both windows at once. For my tank/healer PvE playstyle, I currently only use this for mounting and dismounting both characters using the decimal (numpad .) key. I do not PvMP, but I would not use this to dual box Hunters in PvMP because I disagree with it ethically, and I don’t want to call attention to abuse of dual boxing.
I haven’t seen multiple-sending in LotRO, but I’m sure it happens. It has a long tradition of being acceptable in other MMO’s like World Of Warcraft, but it’s also the best way I can think of to get this activity potentially banned. If you use multiple-sending for single keypresses, do it at your own risk, keep it to a minimum, and preferably use it for PvE convenience only.
// SCRIPT TO MOUNT-DISMOUNT BOTH CHARACTERS
<KeyList BothKeyList Decimal>
<Hotkey CapsLockon BothKeyList>
<SendLabel w2, w1>
Staggering your two windows diagonally or side by side on the screen can be very helpful. I almost like this more than two monitors, but it’s a matter of personal preference. Make sure you’ve got skill forwarding set up in combat options if you want to do something other than heal with your second character.
To follow with your second character, it’s also very easy to right click your lead portrait in the second window and select follow if the vitals of your lead are visible and not hidden. You can also try a follow alias command as a hotkey, maybe with some sort of target key set up.
If you’re trying to bind keys but you’re not sure what key is what, notice the “last key press” function in the upper right corner of the Hotkeynet program window, which will tell you the key name. Press a key and see what name corresponds to that key, then use that in your code.
If you think you might ever want to multi-box dungeons, you’ll want a tank and a healer class. For the healer, the Minstrel is preferred due to more effective inductions and passive buffs. A RK is difficult to heal with at high levels even if you aren’t boxing. On the other hand, the update 6 changes to RKs (writs usable at any attunement) make the RK very versatile for general usage. Try using a Buffbars plugin display on your tank to keep track of your heals over time.
Regardless of whether you attempt to box dungeons, the best features for a follower class are: ranged attacks (i.e. Minstrel, Hunter, LM, RK), passive buffs (Captain, Minstrel), healing (Minstrel, RK, KoA LM, Captain), inductions on skills (Minstrel, Hunter, LM), and pets (Captain, LM). Buffs and pets are good for the same reason long skill inductions are good–because any benefits you can get with little or no effort are desirable when boxing.
A Captain is interesting because the class can both tank and heal, although neither at a high level. This means a single Captain on your second account can serve as both a leader or a follower for your team depending on your needs, and can summon. A Hunter offers fast travel, a group speed buff, and high DPS for grinding.
A Warden appears difficult for your lead character because of the complexity of the class and the high number of keypresses, combined with the need for full attention on your combo building. A combination with a Minstrel or LM (which could supplement self-healing and give the added benefit of power restore) could still be very good. A Champ offers excellent DPS and some tanking ability, and performs great in skirmishes. Skirmishes will be fun instance entertainment for you as a dual-boxer.
A Final Word:
This has been a basic introduction to LotRO dual boxing. There are other ways to do this activity including shareware-type software and types of switching, as well as a lot of more complex and creative ways to use HotKeyNet.
Of course, you should engage in this activity at your own risk. This activity will also put significant extra stress on your computer, especially without two physical drives. There are also haters out there who might report you in game, for example, because they don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t as familiar with the political environment as people who have researched this and are doing it.
There may be GM’s on different pages as to what is acceptable as well. This is impossible to predict. As of the time of this writing, this activity is by all accounts acceptable and openly discussed and mentioned in the official forums.
Good luck with your LotRO dual boxing, and have fun!
LotRO Adventures has posted a “guide” for using ISBoxer instead of HotKeyNet. I don’t see why you need to do that when you can do it simply and free, unless you are a power user and want mouse functionality or a larger party than 2-3 characters.