Wild World of Warcraft

Ah, the slow grind of the early days. Stabbing your way through boars and sick wolves and such for some pitiful amount of xp. It’s a bit slow in the beginning, with such simple quests and such limited abilities for your character, but it was probably necessary, as we had no idea what we were doing after almost a decade of absence from this game. It’s not terrible, having to run around doing these early solo quests, but we were both eager to get to the dungeons, as that’s where all the real action and rewards are. Also, holy shit is it slow to have to walk everywhere. Level 20, where the first dungeons and mounts are, couldn’t come fast enough.

Once we got there though, it’s been almost nothing but non-stop back-to-back dungeons. I’m not complaining, it’s just strange to look back and realize how often we’d have to resort to doing everything BUT dungeons back in the day because we couldn’t find a group or we found one and it went wrong part way through. Without the reliance on large groups of friends or random strangers, you can just dive right into the dungeon content and never really stop.

We blew through quite a few places before it occurred to me that I should take more screenshots in order to keep some kind of record of all this, so there isn’t much to show for all these early ones. I actually screwed up a bunch of the first batch of screenshots by accidentally re-binding the same button to both video and image capture. Oops. So, I’ll keep these brief this one time.

The first dungeon for the Alliance side is The Deadmines. While it was nice to finally get into a dungeon again, this one is a bit annoying in the beginning. Dungeons are typically instanced so you can’t be disturbed by other players while you’re in there and the creatures don’t ever respawn as long as one of your group is still inside, so it’s strange that this one has a massive outer area that you have to fight through to get to the actual instance entrance. It’s really long for an entrance area and it’s a bit of a maze of caverns so there was a good amount of backtracking to find the right passage to the entrance, and since those no-respawn rules don’t apply to anything outside, we had to go through the same large groups of enemies multiple times. Oh well. It was fun once we got in. Rogues, goblins, and pirates. Pirates with attack parrots. Fun times.

Final boss of Gnomer

Next on the list was Shadowfang Keep. This was one we never saw much of back in the day because it’s deep in Horde territory and very difficult for low level characters to get to without help. It’s a shame, because it’s my kind of dungeon, a dusty old mansion filled with werewolves and ghosts.

Then there are The Stockades. This was a common, popular one since it’s right inside one of the major Alliance cities. It’s not a particularly exciting one though. It’s very short and you just fight a bunch of prisoners with no real variety and no interesting bosses. Oh well.

After that was Blackfathom Deeps. This is a weird maze of ruins and caves that’s partially submerged under water. This is probably the first “real” dungeon you go to. It’s noticeably longer and broken up into different sections, each with their own different visual style and set of enemy types. You’ll come up against murlocs, nagas, giant snapping turtles, a variety of evil cultists, many more bosses than before, and there’s even a giant three headed hydra boss at the end. This is what it’s all about, that sweet, sweet dungeoning!

Herod in The Scarlet Monastery

Then there’s the infamous Gnomeregan. A strange clockwork labyrinth full of trogs, diseased gnomes, and many bizarre mechanical enemies. The quests in this one are a bit complicated, requiring you to find well-guarded terminals in a specific order to upgrade a key card level by level until it’s high enough to open the door to the last boss. The layout of this place is pretty complex and it’s easy to find yourself lost or missing the one terminal you need. Still, without having any impatient team members trying to rush things along, we were able to explore it all at a nice relaxed pace and find everything we needed. Looking back on it, we used to play with some real assholes back then, that made things not so fun sometimes. I don’t want to get into all that, I’m just glad it isn’t an issue anymore.

The last stop on this particular tour is The Scarlet Monastery. This was another semi-popular one, but also one that was pretty difficult to get to for the level range it was intended for. It’s not only in Horde territory, but it’s through a few areas that are of much higher level than you are if you’re going to this place. You’d either need an escort or just have to try to run for it and hope you survive until you get there. It’s a pretty fun place if you make it though. A lot of crazy templar types and big boss fights.

That’s all for now. I apologize for how basic this post is, I’ll make sure to have more pictures and details on adventures in individual dungeons now that this has caught up to the point where I actually realized “I should record this shit!”. Goes to show how much we’ve been playing this and how quickly we’re progressing, as we’d already shot up to the mid 30’s by this point.

Watchin’ Stuff

Randomly came upon this on Netflix. An Indian horror movie directed by Jennifer Lynch for some reason, all about some bizarrely erotic snake woman who’s seeking revenge because some white guy stole her “lover”, which is just some big normal snake that she fucks apparently. It’s…pretty damn weird. Has some decent effects, but the acting and story are both pretty awful. Interesting to see once, but I don’t know if I’d ever bother doing it again.

Another random Netflix movie. This one is about a very disturbed kid who’s obsessed with vampires and is secretly some kind of vampiric serial killer, but then meets a girl that he comes to like and becomes conflicted about his vamp lifestyle. It’s very bleak and strange and kind of feels like Let The Right One In in reverse or something. Not exactly a horror, but it can certainly be disturbing. I’d recommend it.

More of a soap opera story than a horror movie. Son comes back home to live with rich dad. Him and his new girlfriend plan to kill dad to get the inheritance. They mostly just talk about doing this and don’t do much to actually attempt it, along with more talking and scheming with other secondary characters. Gave up after almost nothing happened for the first hour.

Gave up even quicker on this one. Slow, boring, incredibly shoddy looking in both design and video quality. Ultra snoozefest. Pass.

Seeing a pattern here yet? Yep, I’m almost through the B’s. Unfortunately, I’m not having as much luck with these this week. This is another stinker that’s forgotten by everyone for very good reasons. Slow as hell, horrible acting, no good death scenes in sight. An entirely pointless movie.

This one was alright. It’s another one that was actually pretty terrible, but in a funny way. I’m not sure how much of it was intentional comedy and how much was accidental. One of the main characters talks like he’s doing a constant bad impression of Christopher Walken. I don’t know why, as this takes place in Canada. David Cronenberg also plays a weird gangster character. Anyway, if you like vampires and bad horror comedies, you might be able to enjoy this so-bad-it’s-good movie, but then again…maybe not.

This one wasn’t bad either. Not particularly scary, but it was entertaining. Three kids who are unrelated, but were all born on the same day, all turn out to be evil and start killing anyone that makes them mad. Why? I don’t know, because they were all born on the same day and that caused some astrological phenomenon that made them all evil I guess? That’s the only explanation given and it was very brief and vague. Anyway, there was something amusing about how crafty and brazenly violent these little bastards were.

Oh well, another awful one, but at least this is the last one with blood in the title. Very low budget and confusingly random. A group of “kids”, who all look like they’re about 35, get stranded on an island and stumble upon some abandoned hotel (why is there some hotel on some empty island anyway?). It’s all made up like a New Year’s Eve party and a bunch of WACKY ghostly stuff keeps happening, like…a vacuum cleaner suddenly turns on and moves down the hall by itself and the kids are harassed by…laughing bushes? I don’t know, it all just seems so random and related. They wanted to tell a ghost story but had no idea how to do so and just threw a bunch of random crap together, none of which is even remotely interesting or scary. It’s just baffling and boring.

An interesting movie. Not at all what you’d expect from a war movie. There’s no typical Hollywood heroes journey and oddly enough there’s barely a drop of blood in sight in the whole movie, though it still manages to be pretty bleak and dark most of the time anyway. Absolutely amazing visually and packed full of an impressive level of detail. The story is also a pretty non-standard narrative that doesn’t do any hand holding. It doesn’t give much at all in the way of explanations for the situation or the characters, it just dumps you right in there and lets you observe a few different groups of characters and how they try to survive a massively failed evacuation and its aftermath.

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…

Black Friday Haul

Got some good stuff. Held back and didn’t go as crazy as the last two years since I still haven’t even gotten around to all the stuff from those times. Also the first Xbone game I’ve bought in a few years.

Also grabbed this at great price. Maybe I’ll even watch it someday. I’ll put it right next to the dust-covered complete series’ of The Shield and Damages.

So what crazy deals did everyone else get?

Watchin’ Stuff

What a great cover! So naturally it’s a disappointing snoozefest. Fulci actually plays himself in this, in a weird story where he’s starting to lose his mind after directing all those nasty horror movies and his psychiatrist uses it as an opportunity to go on a killing spree and try to pin it on his patient. Wait, wasn’t that the plot of Night Breed (and many others)? While the movie Nightbreed actually came out the same year as this, the book came out a few years earlier. Tsk tsk. It doesn’t actually share any similarities beyond that though. It’s just a kind of boring slasher movie that’s apparently supposed to be a satire, but there isn’t a laugh in sight. Certainly not Fulci’s finest moment.

This Fulci film was much better. It’s kind of a cross between Carrie, Suspiria, and Patrick. An unpopular girl gets tricked Carrie-style, but then ends up getting knocked into a coma in the course of the prank, and then starts possessing another girl and causing strange things to happen to her tormentors with her mysterious coma-witch powers. It’s everything Cat in the Brain wasn’t, with cool over-the-top synth music and a lot of bizarrely memorable death scenes. Great stuff.

Another strange giallo movie. Pretty standard giallo stuff, with bizarre, compelling characters wrapped up in a murder mystery full of crazy twists and turns. Not amazing, but strange and interesting enough to be decently enjoyable.

This is a classic that I’ve seen quite a few times already. Sexy energy vampire from space invades London and causes an epidemic of weird life-sucking zombies. A must-see 80’s sci-fi/horror that was written by the late, great Dan O’Bannon and directed by the also late and great Tobe Hooper.

An interesting werewolf movie from the 90’s. A bit goofy, but the effects were pretty good for the time (except for that one awful CG transformation scene). The interesting hook is that the family dog is really kind of the main character here, with everything kind of revolving around him, as he’s the only one who realizes what’s really going on and trying to do something about it. The writing of the human characters is actually a little frustrating. Spoiler alert: the tough lawyer mom who is supposed to be the actual main character ends up becoming unbelievably stupid. She sees news reports about a bunch of people being found savagely killed in the place her brother just moved to her place from, goes in his trailer and finds pictures of girlfriend having been horribly mutilated, and even finds a journal where he flat out says I’M A WEREWOLF AND I’VE BEEN KILLING A SHITLOAD OF PEOPLE, but when the police find a mutilated dead body near her house after all that she says “OH. I GUESS MY DOG MUST HAVE DONE IT. BETTER SEND HIM TO THE POUND TO BE PUT DOWN!”. Pretty bad even by conveniently dumb horror movie character standards. Still, the rest was good enough to be enjoyable despite that.

This is one of those ones where I really should have known better. The horrible quality was actually kind of funny at first. It seemed like some college kids just made this on their personal camcorder and they seemed to be having a good time and not taking it too seriously, but the novelty wears off as the story just stops going anywhere at all after the first 20 minutes or so. You can’t be awful AND boring. That just doesn’t work.

This is like a cheap, Italian version of The Exorcist. Oddly enough, it’s by the same director as the infamous Troll 2, but it’s nowhere near that level of awfulness. It’s not great, but it’s not completely terrible. I enjoyed it a bit, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to recommend it to anyone else.

Hm. Another winner, surprisingly. This is a very strange horror comedy about two brothers who run a popular vegetarian diner, but secretly make all the food out of people, but that’s also a cover for their real goal of creating a patchwork body for a ritual to summon their weird fake Egyptian goddess, Sheetar. One of the brothers is also a wrestling fan and ends up doing an exhibition match against a guy called Jimmy Hitler. Very strange stuff. I got a good laugh out of it though.

And finally, we binge-watched the new Punisher series. It’s sure a very different version of the classic Punisher origin, leaving all the familiar Vietnam War ties behind and pretty much cutting the mob out of the story altogether. It was an excellent show though, one that I’d think would be enjoyable for both fans and newcomers to The Punisher. Extremely violent at times, not that I’m complaining.