LitRPG Podcast 034
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 34 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews.
Jay Taylor upped Patreon pledge to $10 a month!! He’s a great supporter of the podcast. Thanks.
New Releases and Reviews:
We’ll begin with LitRPG news
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Aleron Kong, author of the Chaos Seeds series, has put some LitRPG merchandise up for sale at www.litrpg.com/store . You can get some cool looking t-shirts and hoodies.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST
Joystick Game Bar
427 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA
Hosted by Aleron Kong
Spawn Campers out as audiobook.
Soulstone Awakening is also out as an audiobook.
The 1st audiobook in the Chaos Seeds series is being re-released in March and the other books will be released as audiobooks each month after. They’ll be narrated by Nick Poedh.
James Hunter wrote on Facebook this week that his next LitRPG novel, Viridian Gate Online: Crimson Alliance, is going to be delayed due to editing. It’s being pushed from Feb. 17th to no later than the 24th.
For The Guild (Book 3 in the Emerilia series) pushed back to a Feb. 28th, 2017 as a release date.
Jeffrey Falcon Louge, author of the Slime Dungeon Chronicles, says book 3 is finished and should be available for purchase in the next couple weeks.
Dungeon Madness is out, will review it next week!
Viridian Gate Online: Crimson Alliance (Feb 24th, 2017)
For The Guild (Book 3 in the Emerilia series) (Feb. 28th, 2017)
Spetsnaz: A Permadeath LitRPG LitFPS (Feb 28th, 2017)
The Crystal Sphere (March 10th, 2017)
Awaken Online: Precipice (March 31st, 2017)
Delvers LLC: Obligations Incurred (March 2017)
The Karmadont Chess Set (The Way of the Shaman: Book #5) (April 2nd, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
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New Releases and Reviews
Eden's Gate: The Reborn: A LitRPG Adventure
When Gunnar Long is transported into the first fully-immersive virtual MMORPG, he finds himself in a new world filled with magic, mystery and adventure.
No more 9-to-5 job. No more studio apartment. No more reality TV.
Finally, he's in a place where he can call home, a place with people he can call friends.
But as more people want to trade their real world lives to get inside Eden's Gate, the government of the outside world wants the "game" shut down at all costs.
Gunnar must learn to survive, grow in power and find a way to find send a message back to his old home.
"We're fine. We're alive. Eden's Gate is real."
My Opinion: 317 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There are two storylines: 1) The one where the main character explores the new world he’s trapped in, goes on quests, gets equipment, and learns some magic. 2) An exploration of how non-gamers would feel if 5 million people were killed and their minds trapped in a game. Then how society feels when more people voluntarily do the same to get into this game world, knowing it will kill their bodies. The U.S.A. and other world governments feel threatened and plan to shut the game down, killing everyone trapped inside.
I really liked this story. It felt familiar, yet fresh. The opening of the story reminds me alot of Sword Art Online. The premise is set up similarly where the players of Eden’s Gate are trapped in the game by a mad developer. Only in this case, the players bodies die, so there’s no hope of returning to earth. I enjoyed the more realistic fear based reaction of general society to this event. They don’t understand it, so they want to just shut down the game before more people voluntarily suicide to get in.
The main character, Gunnar, is likable and I find myself rooting for him from the very beginning of his journey in Eden’s Gate. I also really like that there are the realistic consequences for the decisions the main character makes as he starts his new life in Eden’s Gate. When he makes poor, selfish choices there are bad consequences. Reputation is lost or people get hurt.
The game mechanics are pretty standard. Health, mana, stamina, damage percentages. There are no classes but an open skill system. Crafting has only been explored with the ability to upgrade weapons with runestones. Still, I enjoyed the game world and I found myself wanting to learn all the different types of spells.
This is a solid story. It’s well written and engaging. Good action. Good adventure. Can’t wait for the next book to come out. I give it a 8 out of 10.
A Gamer’s Universe- 3 Short stories
A Gamer’s Universe was created by S R Witt as a part of a Ph.D level writing program called Phoenix Prime. He collaborates with J.L. Hendricks, who’s also in the program, on a couple of the short stories set in this universe.
While not directly advertised as LitRPG in the books’ titles, part of the description of each states, “If you’re a fan of LitRPG, gritty science fiction adventure, cyberpunk, or multiplayer games, this is the series you’ve been waiting for!”
Each of the three stories I’ll be talking about is it’s own separately sold novel with a price of $0.99 and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited. Each short story is between 40-60 pages or 10K-12K words.
I’ll be reviewing each entry as a story individually, then I’ll give my opinion of them as LitRPG at the end.
Operation: Catspaw: A Gamer's Universe Story
My Opinion: 42 pages 10K words, $0.99, available on Kindle Unlimited
Written by S R Witt. A group of mercenaries take a job to retrieve some valuable tech from a space station. If they succeed they get a bunch of “points” to use to pay bills and get upgrades. Turns out that tech is attached to a person. Specifically, a vulnerable young girl in a glass tube.
Cool infiltration mission that turns into a rescue operation of sorts. I liked it.
Operation: Snowblind: A Gamer's Universe Story
My Opinion: 55 pages 12K words, $0.99, available on Kindle Unlimited.
Set in the same “Gamer’s Universe” as Catspaw and written as a collaborative project between S R Witt and J.L. Hendricks.
Zotz takes the lead in this story as the main character. A former mining slave, he was rescued by the space crew he’s now with and leads the team in an operation to sabotage a mining colony while he tries to preserve the lives of the mining slaves he discovers there.
Good Sci-Fi. I enjoyed the use of drones and A.I. to exploit the tech of the mining facility.
Operation: Pirates vs Drones: A Gamer's Universe story
My Opinion: 49 pages 14K words, $0.99, available on Kindle Unlimited
J.L. Hendricks takes point on this collaborative short story with S R Witt.
Throd, the half war machine member of “The Metal Rats” crew books passage on a pirate ship to complete a mission that involves taking on the cybernetic scourge of the galaxy.
There are some solid twists in this space pirate story that I enjoyed. The story is also told from the perspective of the pirate captain of the ship and it was nice to get a non-operator perspective on this universe. Cool villain in this story. My favorite story of the three.
My Opinion of the three short stories:
There’s lots of action, technology, and a moral choices for the characters to make. However, this is not LitRPG.
In this universe, there is a corporation that uses augmented reality to hire “operators” to complete missions. These missions are gamified with points, main objectives, and bonus side objectives. The activities of the operators are also broadcast to undisclosed subscribers for entertainment.
There are two references to potential game mechanics: “points” that the team gets for completing the mission, and a reference to “leveling” for team members and getting a new piece of software for their artificial components. That’s it. If I can replace the words “points” with “credits” and “leveling” with “upgrades” and it destroys any sense of a game system, then it wasn’t a game system in the first place.
Now to be fair, the authors don’t directly claim this is a LitRPG story. There’s no part of the title that says LitRPG adventure or anything. So, I’m not upset or mad about the world. It’s a really cool sci-fi universe and I like the Metal Rats crew. They give me a real Firefly vibe.
However, it is inferred in the description. “If you’re a fan of LitRPG, gritty science fiction adventure, cyberpunk, or multiplayer games, this is the series you’ve been waiting for!”
You can tell that the story is not LitRPG when more time is spent trying to get you to read other stories they’ve written or sign up for their newsletters than on the supposed game mechanics of the universe.
So, I was disappointed when it turned out not to be LitRPG. It’s a good sci-fi adventure, but it’s not LitRPG.
Potty Mouth (Caverns & Creatures short story)
In a world where everyone seems to be pissed off, sometimes the only thing you can do is try to piss on.
Join Cooper and the rest of the C&C gang as they fight tyranny the best way they know how... by being assholes.
My Opinion: 26 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited.
If you’ve ever read the Critical Failures series by Robert Bevan, you’re familiar with the special type of potty humor that makes the series beloved. Between full book releases the author also writes short 25-30 page stories with the same characters. Potty Mouth, is without a doubt the only one of these stories that I’d also classify as political satire. It also has an amazing number of pee jokes for only 26 pages. Robert Bevan has also stated that “All profits earned from Potty Mouth will be donated to the ACLU.” So even if you don’t like the political bent of this short story the profits go to a good cause.
Also, all four volumes of Critical Failures are on sale right now for $0.99
More Than a Game (Fayroll book 1)
Voted Book of the Year by Russian readers. At long last available in English. The future is already here, and Harry has been given a chance to experience it first-hand. He, of all people, knows that VR can become larger than life—and a computer game can be More Than a Game.
Being a society columnist means mixing with all elements of humanity—except that now, Harriton Nikiforov (a.k.a. Hagen the Warrior) is busy updating his day planner with the names of elves, orcs, goblins, and other out-of-this-world MMORPG characters. Instead of free champagne, this time around, he is given unlimited playtime in Fayroll, a virtual reality game.
He is also given explicit orders to write a series of fluff pieces on the game and its developers. He grudgingly accepts the assignment, but soon finds himself enthralled by the virtual fantasy world and its amazing quests, unpredictable challenges, and nearly endless possibilities. Will he still dare to claim that…it's all just a game? And will his real life ever be the same again?
My Opinion: 322 pages, $6.95, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Andrey Vasilyev has a 11 books written in the Fayroll series in Russia and the 1st one has been translated into English. It’s an expensive process from what other Russian authors have told me and I’m glad that he’s taken the gamble that English reading LitRPG fans will like his work.
Having said that I did get an early release copy of the novel but have purchased it at the almost $7 price tag when it was released. It’s rather expensive for me but it’s only fair since I want to support more translation work. I also want to acknowledge that there were a couple sentences that weren't translated in an early edition but that has been corrected.
Ok. The review. The short version: It’s ok. Then it gets better.
Harriton is a reporter that gets assigned to write a series of articles on the latest full immersion VR game, Fayroll.
He plays the VR tourist in the first 30% of the story as a way to explain of how the game mechanics of the world work. He gets power leveled by a guild he lucks into joining. There are PVP fights, and PVE fights but he mostly gets lucky connecting with players willing to help him out as a new player.
After the 30% mark Harriton/Hagen the warrior goes off on his own and explores the game world. This is where the story gets more interesting to me since as a solo player he has to depend on his own skills and gets more interesting and unique quests like: Fighting undead landlords, witches and witchers, marrying vilas, and more.
Occasionally the main character has to leave the VR world, though the only thing in the real world that Harriton has to deal with are the articles he has to write, a jealous girlfriend, and a demanding editor. There’s a promising thread about powerful guilds looking for him after he gets a super rare quest but that doesn’t go anywhere in this book.
As I was reading the last 40% of the novel I kept getting the nagging feeling that I’d read this story somewhere before but couldn’t find anything online or on Amazon. I asked the translation team but they confirmed that it hadn’t appeared anywhere else that they were aware of.
Maybe I’ve just read so much LitRPG that I’m starting to confusing them all? Who knows.
This is not some epic story to save trapped players or a journey to free self aware A.I.. It’s simply a story about a reporter that goes on some interesting, fun quests for a story he has to right but falls in love with the game. There’s plenty of story threads that might be pulled in future books that might lead to some more epic quests or storylines and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
If it weren’t for the slower beginning with the power leveling it would get a better score but as is, I give it 7 out 10.
That’s it everyone!
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Thanks for hanging out with me today. Until we can hangout again, remember to go read some LitRPG!
"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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