Oops. We “accidentally” started playing World of Warcraft again.

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!

Watchin’ Stuff

An interesting movie about a man who wakes up an amnesiac after a car crash and comes to find that everything that comes within 50 feet of him instantly dies. It does a pretty good job of keeping this seemingly limited premise interesting throughout the whole movie, with some interesting twists along the way. It’s no Blade Runner, but it’s still worth checking out for fans of sci-fi thrillers.

I’m pretty sure that this didn’t actually play in theaters. Not in this country anyway. What a shitfest. Another cheap cash-in attempt on the brief comic-movie craze of the 90’s where everyone was trying to ride the coattails of Tim Burton’s Batman. Red Skull is Italian for some reason. Captain America’s damn mask doesn’t even fit right. Just awful stuff.

Well, it wasn’t as terrible as the 90’s Captain America, I’ll give it that much. Still not a very good movie though. It didn’t feel much like a Punisher movie, really. It’s just a generic Dolph Lungdren movie with the Punisher name slapped on it, and not a very good one. Not horrible, but completely forgettable. Oh well.

Strange movie. It’s listed as an action/horror, but despite all the violence, I wouldn’t really call it either of those. It’s really more of a comedy. It’s about a law office building being infected by some semi-rage virus, but it’s really not about the virus. It’s about a disgruntled, recently fired employee who’s trying to fight his way to his former boss at the top of the tower so he can give him a piece of his mind before the quarantine’s lifted in eight hours. The time is important because of a legal precedent that was established regarding the liability of people for their crimes while under the influence of the virus, so he has to hurry and kill his boss while it’s still technically legal. Like I said, strange movie. Enjoyable enough though, if you’re into that kind of violent office struggle business.

(This movie is All The Colors of the Dark, as I just realized this poster doesn’t even have the name of the movie on it for some reason) Mix a giallo with Rosemary’s Baby and any given generic 70’s movie about satanic cults and you’d get this movie, which is not even slightly like the poster suggests. It’s mainly just about this woman who’s being stalked by some weird guy that she has dreams about where he kills her. She agonizes about this for a long time and gets freaked out by him randomly popping up all over the place, until she meets a new friend who suggests that she should stop seeking help from psychiatrists and such and…attend a black mass. What a great idea! Naturally, she agrees to do it, with very little need for convincing, and quickly finds herself being forced to drink dog blood and getting gang raped. Great. That’s more than enough of that. I’ll have to live without knowing how it turns out, though I’m sure I can make a pretty good guess.

This series seems to be regarded as a cult classic, but I sure can’t tell why from this original film. This is a fucking awful movie. Terrible characters, terrible actors, terrible effects. It’s not scary, it’s not funny, I don’t know how anyone could like this movie. It’s a miserable, ugly mess. Maybe they like the sequels? I hear those got bigger budgets and are allegedly better. Ugh. Guess I might as well try one.

Surprisingly, the sequel actually was better. It’s still pretty awful, but it managed to climb a few steps from completely irredeemably awful to kinda funny awful. The budget clearly got a bit bigger and they spent it all on the effects of a whole house full of bizarre new freaks. It’s almost like a comedic, poor man’s version of Nightbreed.

The 3rd one picks up directly where the 2nd one left off, and continues the story with the same tone and most of the same cast. Again, this is another objectively terrible movie, but there was something strangely compelling about how utterly ridiculous it all was. I’m not sure what I would even compare these to. I guess Dead Alive is the closest in tone. Just completely terrible and insane, but somehow a charming aberration.

Beowulf answers the question “what if the story of Beowulf happened in some weird half-assed medieval steampunk future where Christopher Lambert was a Beowulf who carries around a bunch of weird Bloodborne-type trick weapons, Grendel is some weird ghost/monster who has to be covered with a weird cgi purple fog almost constantly so you can’t see how shitty his costume is, the music is all weird 90’s industrial bands, and the director was clearly lazily trying to replicate the style of Mortal Kombat the movie for some reason?”.

It’s…not a good movie. The production value is amazingly bad considering the 1999 release date. Terrible sets, terrible effects, terrible costumes, terrible quick cut action with a guy who is clearly not Lambert doing a bunch of fancy air flips. If you have some kind of morbid fascination with crappy old Christopher Lambert movies (and maybe I do just a little…) you might find it slightly entertaining, in a fascinating train wreck kind of way, but otherwise you should really avoid it.

This is another Italian Rosemary’s Baby, but also an Italian Exorcist. Much like the previous Italian Rosemary’s Baby, it’s also terribly slow-paced and boring. It was almost interesting for a few minutes when the protagonist family is introduced and you meet the complete asshole father and the strange, foul-mouthed children, all of which are so unusual that it’s briefly entertaining, but that quickly fades and it just slides right into snoozefest territory. Bleh.

In typical Italian horror fashion, there were actually 3 of these movies, and each one was by a different director and had no relation at all to any of the other films. The 2nd one was by Mario Bava, who I’ve learned I’m not a fan of, so I skipped it and went straight to the 3rd, which sounded like it might be more my style. Well, it gets a little closer at least. This is more of a typical 80’s Italian horror, with a lot of strange characters, synth music, and imaginatively gruesome deaths. Even by those standards though, it doesn’t really stand out that much from other similar movies. The plot is goofy and near-incomprehensible, as are some of the characters’ actions. It’s also all about a mysterious Satanic cult and most of the movie takes place aboard some kind of possessed, evil train, I guess? I’m not even sure what exactly the deal with that train was. Even with the whole train thing, it doesn’t do anything particularly memorable. It’s pretty average overall, at least by the standards of bad Italian 80’s horror. I wouldn’t really recommend it, but I think I’ll hang on to it just the same.

A decent, but pretty predictable fireman drama/thriller that still holds up relatively well. Not much else to say about this one way or the other!

A very fun action-adventure movie. Much like the first movie, it plays out like some kind of crazy R-rated extended episode of James Bond Jr. (anyone else even remember that show?), full of cartoonish characters and violence that feel like they shouldn’t work, but it’s all done so well that it’s all quite entertaining. Matthew Vaughn has truly become a better Mark Millar than Mark Millar is these days, if you know what I mean.

What a waste of time and talent this was. Pacino just kind of sleepwalks his way through this, Karl Urban does a decent job, but can’t really carry this mess all on his own, and everyone else around them is pretty disappointing. I can’t blame any of them either, because this is a pretty badly written movie. Hangman is trying hard to be the new Seven, but it’s just a constant string of missed opportunities. The killer’s shtick is that he hangs his victims and carves letters into their chests in order to slowly spell out a word. His methods aren’t interesting in any way. His motives, when they’re finally revealed, are so simple and boring that they don’t feel at all genuine. The way the cops go about trying to track him down is just baffling. No one in the entire fucking movie ever even suggests the idea that maybe they should try to figure out what the fucking word is that the killer’s spelling. I suppose that was for the best though, as the revealed word turns out to be something that has no meaning or significance to anyone except the killer, and serves only to make his motives even more confusing. Not worth watching at all.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, and is now suddenly in space and in the future, because sure, why the hell not. Things seem to be off to a good start so far though, and I’m confident that this will be another enjoyable season full of surprises and comic book craziness.

Vikings has also returned. I have to admit, it feels like it’s missing something with Travis Fimmel no longer around. Ragnar’s various sons were able to maintain the show’s momentum even without him for the rest of the previous season, but will they be able to keep carrying this show on their own when more and more of the original cast seems to keep disappearing? Guess we’ll see…