Mrs. Fotchenstein and I used to play this together something like 10 years ago. I believe we first started back before we even got together, then kind of drifted away from it, then started again when we moved in together when Burning Crusade came out, then a few months later finally quit entirely after I had some problems with my account, which is a story too long and boring to bother getting into.
Anyway, we tried a few more things after that (before I swore off MMOs forever) like Dungeons & Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, and Warhammer Online, but none of them ever really got their hooks in us like good old Warcraft did (though DDO was a close 2nd place for me. Sometimes I miss that one a bit too). World of Warcraft is the only one I found myself having serious urges to play again even after all those years though. Sure, it lost some of its luster in the endgame days where it just became endless repetition of daily quests and the same small handful of final dungeons, but there was so much to like about the long journey leading up to that part.
So what’s a guy to do when he really wants to jump back into an old online-only game, but doesn’t want to deal with all the ganking, griefing, guild drama, and bullshit involved in having to repeatedly team up with groups of strangers who have about 50/50 odds of being awful? Well, I thought it would just be like most cases of old online-only games I liked, where I was just shit out of luck and better get used to the idea of never playing it again (which is mostly why I don’t touch online games anymore).
Turns out there are…options though. It just suddenly occurred to me one day that if there are all these private WoW servers that we keep hearing about, then surely I should in theory be able to create my own home server for just two people, right? Well, it took hours of research and then several more hours of messing around with various files and settings, but I finally got it going.
It’s pretty interesting stuff really. It’s not just a simple case of making the game client play offline, you need to emulate a login server, a world server, and a massive database, then you can connect to that collective emulated server and play the game all as-usual, minus all the other people of course.
Now you might think that would make all those group-only dungeons, which most would consider the best part of the game, completely unplayable when there’s only 1-2 people around, but AHA…having control of the entire server means YOU make the rules! Rules like knocking all those pesky elite enemies’ health and damage down to 20% or so of normal, making them entirely beatable by only 2 people. Hell, you could make yourself a GM account and be invincible or teleport or create any object you can think of if you wanted to, but there’s no challenge or fun in that (Well, ok, maybe we created a few crafting materials, since there’s no more auction house for conveniently buying such things).
Interestingly enough, there’s even a single player mod that spawns a bunch of random bots on each side. You can team up with them if you want, or try to hunt down opposing members for pvp rewards if you can manage to find any, but for the most part they’re not smart enough to be of much use. They do make for nice background flavor though, as you can see them running around in big towns or out getting in fights with creatures or other players in the wild.
The only downside is that you can’t really do this with the newer expansions. The artificial servers for the more recent stuff isn’t in working order yet (though it is being worked on currently, supposedly). The highest you can go up right now and still be near 100% working and stable is Wrath of the Lich King, but I can live with that (for now!). That’s still enough content to keep busy for quite some time.
So yeah, it’s been quite fun so far, and Mrs. Fotchenstein seems to have become even more re-addicted than I am, but we have agreed not to play on these characters unless we’re both playing, so that keeps us both in check somewhat.
I think that maybe I’ll chronicle our various adventures here, so expect the first part soon, of what I guess will probably have to be quite a long series.
Quick, and probably pointless, disclaimer: I’m running this server only on a home LAN, using our own personal legally bought World of Warcraft discs. It’s not open to the public, I’m not running some pirate server on the internet. Don’t sue me, Blizzard!