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.

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!