Stressed test

Friday, January 20, 2006 | 12:24 PM | by
I'm sure some of you remember me mentioning that I was trying out the Dungeons and Dragons Online stress test a couple of months ago. Because of the NDA I wasn't allowed to discuss it at the time, but I was really unimpressed with the experience.

However, it was a beta stress test and most of the issues I had with the game could be chalked up to beta status. So I was determined to give the game at least one more chance before forming an opinion. Last night I installed and fired up the latest stress test they are running, and I'm happy to say, things seem much better.

I've got today off (mostly) so I'll be diving in to DDO to really get a feel for the game. At first glance, there are a lot of features that suggest it's a quality offering. It's often the details, the little things, that pique my interest in an MMO.

For instance, when creating your character in Dungeons and Dragons Online, you find yourself not sure what class you want to play as. Each class is accompanied by a short voiced-over in-game movie that explains the strengths and weaknesses of that class. Small detail, but very cool addition in my opinion.

Basic character customization is pretty diverse, which is always a huge bonus for me. I haven't played the game enough yet to see how well armor/clothing varies, but hopefully I can see some of that this weekend. I'll give it a good play and then talk more about it.

I've blown through the Empire at War demo with great enjoyment. I feel that this game accurately captures the look, feel and spirit of the Star Wars universe, while offering really good RTS gameplay. I eagerly await its release so I can try out multiplayer.

The demo for Rainbow Six: Lockdown has been released. I'll be perfectly honest, I'm not too excited over this game. Right now I've got America's Army on the brain, and I don't see Rainbow Six topping it. But I'll probably give it a try just for trying's sake.

Now, if only Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter would come out for the Xbox 360... that would pull me away.

Rumors still say that Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is coming in the first half of 2006. Oh please, oh please, oh please let that be true.

Sad news

Friday, January 20, 2006 | 11:27 PM | by
A reader has just brought this matter to my attention.


"Earlier this month, gamer named Mitchell S. with the online screenname "Kuja105" who posts on a few online videogame forums (including and committed suicide. On January 2 he posted a message in both forums detailing his intent to end his own life, citing overwhelming complications with school and finances.

A very brief period of initial disbelief was followed by a barrage of replies from fellow forum members pleading that he not take his life, trying to talk him out of it.

For days, no word was heard from Mitchell. Fearing the worst, members and administration from began searching for contact information, spending hours on the phone trying to get in touch with him. Finally on January 4, Ryan K., an administrator at, got him on the phone and spent hours desperately trying to talk him out of it.

Sadly, Mitchell soon ended his own life by consuming antifreeze and painkillers.

Later, members from the site contacted Mitchell's family to find out the grave news. They reported it to their online community, and posted a tribute to their passed friend on the front page of" Full Report Here.

Mr. Jack Thompson then sent in the following letter regarding the situation to, one of the forums frequented by Mitchell, where he was known well:

"Your "gamer friend" will find peace through the Lord, Jesus Christ, but sadly it's too late for that.

There is a void in every heart. You can fill it up with the things of God, or the things not of God. This unfortunate soul chose to fill it up with combat games. The playing of these video games is masturbatory activity, meaning senseless self-stimulation. If you gamers could use a dictionary you would know that that term is not necessarily a sexual one.

The real tragedy here extends beyond the life and death of this one fellow. There are literally millions of young people and young adults whose despair is deepend by turning to the things of this world and then finding them meaningless.

All of you gamers need to put down the controllers and get a life. The utter inanity of the vast majority of postings here shows how vapid "gaming" really is.

You are one of the cheerleaders for this wasting of time and the wasting of lives. Do you feel any remorse for having contributed to this "culture of death?" Of course not. Hey, let's all play MORE games, and ignore all the really productive things to do with our lives.

Let's pretend to be shocked that a gamer might descend into deeper depression, as his gamer "buds," knowing he was killing himself, couldn't figure out how to call 911 themselves for him. That would have involved leaving their computers I guess.

Sad. Sad for all of you."

Here is an article written by friends and peers of Mitchell at