LitRPG Podcast 073
LitRPG Podcast 073
October 13th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 73 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. This week I have 7 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Nova Sky: Titan Rising (38:03)
The Black Dragon: A Fantasy LitRPG (Dragon Kings of the New World Book 2)
Not reviewing, just not interested in the story. The thing with the author and his backstory being made up by the publisher just made the series less appealing too.
The Dead Fortress: A LitRPG Epic (World of Samar Book 3)
Same here. Books 1 and 2 already establish themselves as LitRPG, so little worry there. I just ran out of time. There are a couple good reviews on Amazon for the story and I did like the other two books in the series. But by now, you either like the series or you don’t.
(Play Music 2)
Trademark troubles - About a year ago (Oct. 2016) Aleron Kong filed for trademark rights to the term LitRPG. People got upset and were concerned. Many people felt that someone was trying to take ownership of something they loved. Aleron addressed it and stated the reasons for why he filed. Then the filing seemed like it it was abandoned.
In Aug 2017 a notice of abandonment was sent to the lawyers that handled the trademark.
In Sept 2017 the trademark was refilled by the attorneys that handled it initially and when people in the community found out about it, the same worries and anger came up again.
-Does this mean I can’t write LitRPG?
-Is the genre dead now if we have to ask someone for permission to use the term?
-I’ve already noticed some authors removing references in their book titles and descriptions to LitRPG.
I asked Aleron to make a statement to address the concerns of the community and he made two.
The first was a video that basically said that there are a lot of huge problems in the world that people should focus on instead of this drama and he encouraged people to donate to those causes.
While that video message had a great sentiment it didn’t actually address the questions people had about the re-filed trademark issue and he wrote a 2nd statement.
“A year ago I did file for the copyright.
There were two main reason I did it. Back in the day, as silly as this sounds, there was CONSTANT friction and strife between the various litrpg authors and companies. There was drama, lies, verbal attacks, fake accounts made to start flame wars... basically everything you saw today but on a larger scale smh
The number 1 reason I filed was so that no one would ever grab the LitRPG name and force me and other authors to not write in the genre. I had and have NO intention of doing that to others. One, it would just be a seriously dick move. And two, IT WOULDN'T WORK! lol
Anyone who understands anything about law would tell you it would be damn near impossible to enforce it! Also, it would just be a bone head move that would piss people off. Despite the fact that those points are obvious to me though, I know for a fact other authors and or publishing companies had that very idea. So I took steps to protect myself, and by extension, the genre, which is a focal part of my life. I LOVE LitRPG. It saved me in some very real ways. But I digress.
The second reason I did it is that I'm a business man. I see the potential in LitRPG, and if ever a movie is made, I'd like to be a voice in that room. A copyright might have, probably wouldn't have, but might have helped that happen. So I figured, why not?
Now, as for refiling, I honestly had no idea it was happening til this morning. Apparently the lawyer I hired a year ago to do it refilled. When I called to ask this morning, she said a refile was part of the service I'd paid for. Never occurred to me that the lawyer would do MORE work when I wasn't pestering her lol.”
There you go folks. A statement from Aleron Kong regarding this situation.
My own two cents, I believe the guy and from the conversations I’ve had with him online and in person after DragonCon I can’t imagine he ever had bad intentions by doing this. In full disclosure I also consider him a friend. So, take my sentiments with a grain of salt.
Personally, if it were me, I’d just drop the trademark application entirely but that might be more involved that I’m aware of. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about any changes in the situation.
Blaise Corvin released a new rap video to promote the upcoming release of Delvers LLC. Adventure Capital, which should be available about Oct. 15th. I’ll play you a sample.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Delvers LLC Book 3 (Oct. 15th, 2017)
Fantasy Online Polynya: A LitRPG Saga (Oct. 16th, 2017)
The Wizard (Dungeon Core Book 1) (Oct. 16th, 2017)
Nemesis: The Panguardia Online Saga Book 1 (Oct. 23rd, 2017)
The Pantheon Moves (Emerilia Book 10) (Oct. 24th, 2017)
Awaken Online: Retribution (Awaken Online- Side Story) (Oct. 31st, 2017)
The Greystone Chronicles: Book 1- IO (Jupiter's Moon) Online (Nov.1st, 2017)
Underworld - Level up or Die! (Nov. 6th)
Desert Born (Puatera Online Book 2) (Nov. 8th, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
The Airship: A Futuristic Dungeon Core (The Laboratory Book 2) (Nov. 17th, 2017)
Emerilia Book 11 (Nov. ??, 2017)
The Twilight Obelisk (Mirror World Book #4) (Dec. 4th, 2017)
Feralmancer: The Panguardia Online Saga Book 2 (Dec. 29th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series
The Empire is splitting at the seams. The Great Houses refuse to obey the Throne World and have begun to conduct increasingly independent politics. Sensing the weakness of the central government, even the most loyal star systems of the Imperial Core are refusing to take orders from above. Is this just a string of coincidences, or a coordinated campaign?
Can a disjointed humanity rally around a strong leader to deflect an alien invasion? Who of the many figures in intergalactic politics can rise to this challenge? And is there a basis to the creeping rumors that some influential aristocrats have joined forces with the enemy and allied with the aliens?
This book will be the last in the series and will give the readers the answers to all their questions, including the most important of all: "What is Perimeter Defense?"
My Opinion: 310 pages, $5.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased the book when it came out.
I have mixed feelings about the last book in the Perimeter Defense series. There’s way too much political intrigue in the story for my taste. The game mechanics of the story are still limited to informational notices of actions from the various houses in the Empire and reputation shifts from actions taken by the main character. There are small moments of action early in the story but you don’t get a space battle until the 23% mark. This is definitely the least action oriented novel in the series.
Yet, the last 10% of the novel is worth the price of the novel by itself, if you’re a fan of the series. I won’t spoil exactly what happens but I’ll say that it was absolutely unexpected and changes the way to you look at the series. It’s really good.
If you like political intrigue in your space opera, then you’ll like this story. If you’re looking for lots of space battles, then this isn’t going to fill that need. If you’re just a fan of the series and want to know how things end, then purchase this and just read the last 10% of the story. You’ll walk away happy.
Score: 7 out of 10
Syndicate Slayer: The Crystal Crusade Book 2
Dashiell is a rising star player of the Crystal Crusade, the most popular virtual reality RPG in the world. But to get sponsorship, he has to compete with gritty players from around the world.
His plan? Embark on dangerous and epic quests to boost viewership numbers.
Dashiell and his co-players travel to a monster-infested island where they confront a mysterious race that hates humans. Even worse, the arch-nemesis schemes a twisted plan…
During his fight for survival, Dashiell learns new skills, battles unique bosses and even allies with his worst enemies. The pressure explodes when the real world turns as dystopian as the mysterious lands of the Crystal Crusade…
My Opinion: 310 pages?, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased the book when it came out.
This is an enjoyable sequel to the Crystal Crusade. It has all the same game action with the addition of new power and new foes. Additionally, you get to see the world from the perspective of the Sunblood Syndicate, the bad guys from book 1. Learning about this perspective has some interesting real life consequences for the main character Dashiell/Boltzmann.
The real life storylines in this series have been great. Book 1 had a heart wrenching storyline about forced gaming addiction rehab. Book 2 explores what it means to be an internet celebrity (like YouTube star). It made the real life portion of the story interesting and incorporates the events of the game as an influence on Dash’s burgeoning pro-gamer career.
There’s also a good little discussion of morality in video games which I think will be a bigger part of book 3.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story. The in-game storyline doesn’t get really good until about the 20% mark, but it’s still a very entertaining read. The addition of a good real world storyline only adds to that.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Sicilian Defense: Epic LitRPG Adventure (Fayroll - Book 5)
Sicilian Defense is the fifth book of the epic Fayroll series. With each chapter, we approach the solution of many of the secrets with which the main character Hagen faced in the game and in life. Why is he being hunted? How do players know about his secret quests and deeds?
In reality, Harriton does not have time to solve all these new problems, as a new attractive and flirtatious journalist appears in his editorial office as a new employee, causing Kifs girlfriend Vika to show her teeth, then the "Consortium" appears - a powerful competitor to the Raidion bosses. These problems are beginning to mount up as life is becoming more complicated and Kif beings to live 2 lives. Hagen or Harriton? A game or a reality?
Fayroll is more than just an RPG game, in this world mysterious riddles of ancient legends are intertwined with the thirst for success and the vanity of high-level players, the search for treasures and legendary objects that are occupied by all newcomers without exception, but its interests are pursued not only by players, as big bets made in the real world. Luck is on the side of Hagen, but no one knows what awaits him in the next assignment because Fayroll is not just a game, events and decisions that the hero takes in virtual space, affect the real world. His unpredictable character, perseverance, and excitement attract the attention of powerful forces, the existence of which the hero does not even guess. He should be more careful, because this fantastic world, created for the best of cult games World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Lineage II, holds many dangers.
Can complete all his tasks and quests? Will he keep in touch with reality or choose to continue his epic quest in Fayroll? The answer to this question is waiting for you in this new part of the Fayroll series. A highly valued and recognized European bestseller is now available to readers around the world. Fayroll is so good that you can’t wait to choose your character and find out how the journey in this fantasy universe can turn out. Start your RPG journey together with the recognized master of LitRPG Andrey Vasiliev. You are about to begin the best quest in your life.
My Opinion: 359 pages, $6.95, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 18% of the novel feels slightly out of place. It’s entirely real world story dealing with the newspaper. There is drama as the newspaper expands and hires new employees. There’s an odd cultural posturing between the pretty girls. There’s also an introduction of a rival for the game company.
In the game, the main character (MC), Hagen, is on his own again and has a quest to bring back the gods. A lot of the in game story feels like a series of almost random quests that while related to the main quest, don't actually advance it. Much of the novel feels like filler or a setup for the next book.
There's no real end either. Instead there are things the MC plans to do in game but the story ends before anything actually happens and the reader is left hanging. Not my favorite story in the series.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The Builder's Pride (The Legendary Builder Book 3)
When Arthur defeated Mammon, he never expected Lucifer to awaken, and what’s more, she’s made Arthur an offer he can’t refuse. Join her in the fight against the Darkness or face the consequences.
On one hand, it’s a good deal. On the other, well, it’s Lucifer.
Worse, she’s not the only one who woke up.
Wrath has broken free. Envy is insane. And Lust? Well, Lust is just looking for a big strong man to… well, you know. To Death.
Still, if there’s one thing Arthur’s gotten good at, it’s dealing with cranky Archangels. There’s just one problem. Heaven’s about to fall, and when it does, the Darkness’s champion will march on Hell.
Guess Arthur better fix his sword. Fast.
My Opinion: 309 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Sexual themes and sex scenes in the story*
Lucifer, angel of pride, able to overpower Mammon is free. Instead of taking over or being the ultimate villain, she’s just another demon who wants to get into the MC’s pants. Then the novel is business as usual with the MC trying to get all the magical armaments that the author is using to extend the series.
RPG mechanics are limited to a few item descriptions of the armaments he gets.
Felt like a repetition of book 2. Book 2, bad ass demon princess arrives, MC has to convince her to give him an armament and her support, then at the very an even larger threat pop up and then cliffhanger.
Book 3 follows the same formula. It just does it with multiple demon princesses this time. Yes, there are still funny, action moments, but it felt like the same story. Plus this time there are fewer RPG mechanics.
Score: 6 out of 10. Or 4 out of 10 for not being LitRPG.
Desert Runner (Puatera Online Book 1)
An NPC story.
With her pain potions in short supply, Maddie accepts a deadly run, pick up a package in Trox City and cross the desert plains to Port Troli, the only issues – an unwanted passenger and Tromoal breeding season.
My Opinion: 107 pages, $1.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There’s a not much in the way of action in the novel. This is a journey story. Maddie is an NPC that’s aware that she’s programed to fall in love with the Visitors or PC players that come to her town. When she gets a quest to take a package across the desert she accepts because she needs the money to buy a healing potion for herself. Yet, when she gets the package, she finds that it’s a Visitor.
The journey across the desert is as much about facing dangerous obstacles as it is about Maddie struggling against her programing. Their both journeys.
Game mechanic wise, the story is set in some kind of VR game, but for all story purposes it is an independant world. The game mechanics in the story are almost entirely informational. Health %, item descriptions, etc. That doesn’t mean it’s not LitRPG but the story’s focus is definitely not the game itself, it’s more of a place that the story happens to take place. This will appeal to some readers and not others.
Overall, the story is well told, it just wasn’t engaging for me. The big quest is an escort mission after all. However, there is some good sci-fi speculation about what it would be like to be an NPC in a game world and know you’re an NPC.
Score: 6 out of 10
Nova Sky: Titan Rising
The great flood swept across the globe, sinking all of Earth's land masses deep underwater and leaving the last of humanity surviving on floating domed cities. Unsure when the waters would ever recede, the last remaining populace found themselves trapped with little hope of leaving their floating cities for dry land in their life times.
To bring a sense of purpose, hope and the need to be free; the domed city governments created a virtual space exploration game called Nova Sky. In the digital universe, the last remaining people of Earth can explore, build and live their lives in a simulated massive multi player game, no longer confined in their floating domes.
Evan Ward is a sixth generation child of the Oak Dome City. His existence outside of the game are only small moments in a city he has known all his life but in the game Nova Sky, he is an engineer of particular talent and proud member of the Azure Guild. Along with his family, they try to help those in Nova Sky who cannot help themselves while exploring the vastness of space and hunting down Titans.
When a strange discovery tips the balance of power in the guild, Evan must choose sides for the sake of family and those who will be crushed by the power shift. With a small band of renegade guild mates fighting for their lives, Evan joins them to hunt down Titans so we can help restore balance to the guild. The player will have his loyalty and skills tested if he is to survive Nova Sky.
My Opinion: 206 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a very enjoyable sci-fi story. There is a genuine attempt at making this a LitRPG story and the first 3% of the novel mentions levels, XP, class skills, and that the story is set in a game. There’s also a section (16-20% mark) were the real world backstory is told, there’s more character backstory, and a history of why people play this game. However, while well written and interesting it seems to exist solely to justify saying the rest of the story is in game. After this section you never return to the real world.
Most of the story presents as a straight up space action sci-fi story. If you were to remove just the 4% real world section, I don’t think readers would even be able to tell that this is supposed to be set in a game world. That’s because there are no game mechanics described in this world and only occasional uses of game phrases that are reminders that this story is supposed to be set in a game world. Even the levels and XP mentioned in the first 3% in the novel don't come up again until 77% mark when someone finally levels. But even then it’s more of a side note and doesn't seem to mean much. The character that levels doesn't upgrade their skills or change at all.
The story is good. The sci-fi world that is built by the author reminds me of the world of Mass Effect. There’s tons of aliens, action, and cool space stuff. The storyline is quick paced and interesting. But the novel just isn’t LitRPG. There are no game mechanics, much less RPG mechanics, in the story.
As a sci-fi story, this novel would easily get a 7 out of 10.
As a LitRPG story, which is what it’s advertised in Facebook groups as, it gets a 4 out of 10.
Shadow of the Rogue: A LitRPG Fantasy Adventure (Hearts Book 1)
Life in 2036 sucks!
Hi, my name is Cassie James. I live with my parents in what's left of Seattle. For a twenty year old girl, I'm pretty typical. To pay for my gaming habit, I work at the local supermarket. While the job is really tedious, it's better than unemployment.
Most nights you can find me plugged in. That's when I can get a moments peace from my parents drunken bickering. Still, my life was fairly boring, until I decided to try Odyssey Online! I'm super addicted to leveling Kira Nightwind, my Shadow Thief!
However, something's gone terribly wrong!
You see, an epic level NPC has grown self-aware. And Grymme is not a dragon to be trifled with! He has mind-napped over five-hundred people. Leaving them trapped in the game. He's also launched a massive offensive to take over Odyssey Online, one kingdom at a time. The only way to stop him, is to locate three legendary items. Each one containing an unlock that makes us players more powerful. The problem being Grymme has agents everywhere. And they are willing to do anything to win!
If that weren't enough, I'm developing a serious girl crush on Shauna, a very cute Elf healer. With the help of Leonidas the Paladin, Cairngorm the Wizard, and Yvir the Barbarian, we might just defeat Grymme and win our freedom!
My Opinion: 229 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
**There is a brief lesbian sex scene at the 67-68% mark. It’s not graphic.**
The first 1% of the story is the most interesting and original part of the story to me. The main character (MC), Cassie is a 20 year old gamer in the year 2036. She has to work a crappy job to pay for gaming habits while living at home with her parents. The world is becoming increasingly automated. She like many people escape into full immersion VR and Cassie just got a new game.
By the 2% mark, there’s a brief section that attempts to introduce some character creation stuff but it’s highly inconsistent. The novel describing the dwarven race in detail then just casually mentioning that there are other races. Then the main character chooses to be a human shadow thief and sort of ignores describing that there are even other classes. Then the story just skips to where the MC level 8 and she’s finishing a training quest through a maze.
At the 9% mark, after a brief logout, the MC logs back in and the story becomes super paint by number. When Cassie logs back in, she finds she’s not only lost all her items, but also lost levels, and is trapped in the game with the pain sensations turned on, and permadeath. Die in the game, die in real life. Then she’s saved by a Paladin from some PvP players and taken to a tavern where she’s introduced to a conveniently balanced group that just happens to know about a secret Emergency Exit option.
Turns out that the emergency exit is a super difficult quest to collect special items and then defeat a terribly difficult boss. Oh, and just for good measure a rogue AI is thrown into the mix.
The rest of the story is the group trying to recover the items they need while trying to be stopped by the rogue AI and the players that support it. Everything storywise was highly predictable.
The RPG game mechanics in the story are there throughout the story and there’s a lot of accurate game theory. So, the story it absolutely LitRPG. However, those mechanics aren’t very consistent. During combat there are sometimes damage notifications, but mostly not. Numbers given for things like character levels shift. All the game stuff is written in caps, so it looks like this:
A BLEEDING DOT HAS BEEN APPLIED TO YOU!
YOUR STEALTH HAS BEEN DEACTIVATED.
So, it feels like the novel is yelling at you a lot. Also, the game mechanics of the story that have been established, disappear at the drop of a hat if it’s convenient for the story.
Two examples: 1) When attacked by other players early in the story, the MC uses a never before revealed ability to instakill a high level player for 835. Yet only pages before she’s only done 50 damage max. 2) When escaping from a dungeon she hits a guard with her elbow in the head, knocking him out instantly, instead of starting combat. Again, no unarmed non-lethal skills were given to the MC it’s just added because the story needs it.
This happens through the story and really illustrates that the game stuff just isn't’ really important to the author.
Overall, the mediocre predictable story and inconsistent game mechanics made this a meh story for me.
Score: 5 out of 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!
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