LitRPG Podcast 086
LitRPG Podcast 086
Dec. 15th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 86 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 8 new LitRPG reviews for you.
A quick mention, we have a nice LitRPG community member that appreciates the work we do and donated to the podcast recently but asked to remain anonymous. They just asked that I wear a Christmas hat on the show the rest of the month. Thank you supporters.
New Releases and Reviews:
The Hope Engine - Royal Road Story
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Daniel Schinhofen announced this week that he’s already found a narrator for his latest novel Apocalypse Gate. He’s decided to use the voice talents of Andrea Parsnaeu. She has 6 narration credits on Audible, including Dominion of Blades.
If you’ve read Super Sales on Super Heroes you know it’s a good book. However, there will be a change with its audiobook edition. The author, William D. Arand, has decided to give the rights to book 2 and 3 to Podium. They’ve arranged to have Nick Podehl do the narration. So, Jeff Hays won’t be returning to the series unfortunately.
Vasiliy Mahanenko recently wrote a couple articles on writing a LitRPG story. The most recent article titled “Game mechanics. Part 1. Getting started.” It’s a nice little article about the importance of creating your game world and defining what can and cannot be done. Also, the importance of understanding that unlike normal fantasy, if something happens in the story that breaks those rules or breaks game logic, the fans will absolutely notice. It’s a nice read.
Robert Bevan has created a funny and entertaining holiday poem story. Caverns and Creatures Night Before Christmas was originally published December 20, 2015 but he’s recently shown off an animated like music video for the poem.
Also in Critical Failure news, there’s apparently a mobile game based on the Caverns and Creatures world called Cooper Pooper. It’s being offered as a reward for supporting the Critical Failure TV show Indiegogo campaign.
I just want to thank everyone that has read Project Alpha, you’ve made it a great launch week. The buys and read through rates have been steady and while I’ve gotten a few critical notes from readers for the most part the reviews have been positive. So, thank you everyone that read the novel and left a review it really does mean a lot. Those reviews help with the Amazon algorithms and get the novel shown to more people. Really, on Amazon best sellers rank, the novel launch was a bit rough but it went from #1000 to #700s once we got about 10 reviews in. Now at 36 reviews the novel is in the #200s on Amazon best sellers rank.
Thank you again everyone.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
(Dec. 18th, 2017)
Depths of Camlan: A LitRPG Adventure (Camlan Realm Book 2) (Dec. 21st, 2017)
One Life (Dec. 22nd, 2017)
Camelot Defiant: An Arthurian LitRPG (Camelot LitRPG Book 4) (Dec. 26th, 2017)
The Dungeon’s Burden (Slime Dungeon Chronicles Book Book 4) (Dec. ??, 2017)
The Land: Predators (Chaos Seeds: Book 7) (Dec. ??, 2017)
Press Start (Jan. 5th, 2018)
Sigil Online: Hellions (Jan. 7th, 2018)
A Trap for the Potentate (The Dark Herbalist Book #3) LitRPG series (Jan.17th, 2017)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Halcyon Rising: Breaking Ground
My skill set brings all the girls to the yard.
And by yard, I mean, the temple of a young goddess who's using me to build a fortified city around herself before the god of war can finish slaying every deity in the heavens.
He'd better not find us before we're ready. Spoiler: We're far from ready.
But hey, I get a cool skill out of it. The goddess allows me to view anyone's strength, vivacity, and other attributes as though they were numbers on a menu, and then use their life experiences to make them stronger. I can unlock their special skills too, and it's all stuff no one else can see.
Hence the girls: A beastkin builder, a negotiatrix made of slime, a half-elf gypsy that charms snakes — and more — seeking safe refuge and a place to belong.
Think our ragtag group can survive a divine onslaught of apocalyptic proportions? I know what I think. Come on in and find out.
My Opinion: 233 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a fantasy harem LitRPG novel where the main character has upgrade powers. He can see his and others character sheets and upgrade their stats and abilities using their accumulated XP. The RPG stuff is interesting, though I’ve read other stories that do it better. Still, not bad.
However, the rest of the story is not as entertaining. Combat is decent. There are some town building aspects of the story but the show up towards the end of the novel. The rest is mostly about collecting a harem of beautiful women that the main character gets to sleep with.
Overall, an ok story with good RPG mechanics. However, there are better LitRPG stories with a main character with upgrade powers. The Super Sales on Super Hero series and the 1st book in The Legendary Builder series.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Keeper's World: The Case of the Mad Monk
Most people can live a peaceful life, not in fear of the monsters of the outside world. Most people don't have to worry about what goes bump in the night. For others, there are the watchmen, the police of the ancient age who wander the streets at night. And when the watchmen are not enough, there are the Hunters, those who will pursue the greatest of villains across any border.
Join Hunter Theol as he hunts down the greatest killer known, the Mad Monk.
The Case of the Mad Monk is the second short story in the Keeper's World series, based within the world of the World Keeper books. There will be information and references within these short stories that will not be entirely understood without reading the associated book.
My Opinion: 60 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A story set in the world keeper universe. The RPG elements are light and mostly depend on you already understanding stuff from the main series.
A murder mystery! OK more like murderer hunt. The MC is a hunter on the trail of a murderer named the Mad Monk. There’s a bit of a procedural elements to it too. A really enjoyable short story.
Score: 7 out of 10
City of Champions Online: Issue II: Rising Up
It is a dark time for the city of Atlanta.
In the world of City of Champions Online, a group of white supremacists have taken over the city of Atlanta and are holding the city hostage as they attempt to usurp control of the government. Southern Pride, the local team of 'heroes' have proven to be plants by the villains, using their position to try and give the takeover a look of legitimacy. Those who would stand against them have been declared villains, and are being hunted.
But not everyone has given up on Atlanta. Vampyra and the Misfits helped many heroes and civilians to escape the city during the initial chaos. Now, they're taking the fight to Southern Pride, and rallying anyone they can to their side, because the Battle of Atlanta is just getting started.
My Opinion: 125 pages, $0.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
If you liked book 1, you’ll enjoy book 2. Superheroes fighting in a VRMMO. The bad guys are still racist Nazi types but they're starting to fight more intelligently so things are harder for the MC and her group. The team of rogue heroines has a plan to win but nothing ever goes according to plan.
Overall, an enjoyable read that is a bit lighter on the RPG stuff than the author’s other works. Though there are a bunch of detailed character sheets and power descriptions at the end of the novel (the entire last 15%).
Score: 7 out of 10
The Spectral City of Cathella is shrouded in strange magic of a powerful artifact. Krian must face the Great Dragons of Pangea, an impossible quest on the Ancient Paths, transformed by the Twice Cursed God, a journey through an endless graveyard, the smile of the Goddess of Stealth… And rage. Infinite rage. The path to the higher plane never seems to end, too much for any man to overcome… But not for an Elder Demon. And so he soldiers on, after the black crow and toward the red moon hanging over the valleys of Karn.
My Opinion: 239 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Don’t worry. Even though the story begins with Max, most of it is told from the perspective of Krian. This is a multi-phase dungeon dive with the ultimate purpose of finally reuniting Krian with his sister and his friend Max. The action and adventure is all here. If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a must read. However, $5.99 for 239 pages is a bit expensive otherwise.
Score: 7 out of 10
Empire Burning (Emerilia Book 11)
Pandora’s Box has been opened. The Pantheon of Emerilia has gone through tremendous changes the event of Myths and Legends suppressed.
Warships now move in the stars, made of soul gem constructs, built by mages and engineers, crewed by those that lived on Emerilia or within Earth’s Simulation.
The Deq’ual system stands with Emerilia, their brothers and sisters, their family and fellow human descendants.
The Jukal Empire will not let Emerilia rise peacefully. As Empires grow, so too can they be toppled. Only one can remain, in their biggest gamble yet, they must pass through the fires of war, Empire against Empire.
My Opinion: 302 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is it folks. The end of the series. It’s an action filled send off too where the Terran Alliance squares off against the Jukal Empire. There are space battles galore and more. Unfortunately, what there isn’t are RPG mechanics. Which is sad but not unexpected. As the series has gone on more and more of the RPG game stuff has fallen away and with most of this story taking place in space, it’s no surprise all the game stuff is left on Emerilia. There are only 5 place in the entire story with with anything game related (6.87%, 53%,78%, 90%, 98%). The first place is the last recapp of Dave’s character sheet, the rest are quest or title notifications.
This doesn’t take away from the grand ending to the series but that does mean the story isn’t LitRPG. Still, it is a good enjoyable read that ties up the series well and may even make some readers get the sniffles at the very end.
As space opera sci-fi it would get a score of 7 out of 10.
As LitRPG, it gets a 4 out of 10.
Desert Storm (Puatera Online Book 3)
Forging a new quest, Maddie and Alex unite the desert runners in order to find enough food to feed the Tromoal through their birthing. But there’s descent into chaos at the mayor’s farm on the discovery of a stolen Tromoal egg and the fact he’s hoarding zombie cattle. Maddie's choices are limited, but her fight isn’t.
My Opinion: 124 pages, $1.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author has a link to the podcast in the back of the short story.
The started reading this short story very impressed. Finally, the main character (MC) gets a character sheet and the ability to change her stats. I thought that this was going to be the one in the series to finally get that 7 or 8 out of 10. There was a promised huge war coming and I fully expected to see some big battle by the end of the story since this is the final book in this trilogy.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. From the 28-75% mark, the story instead takes some out of left field plot turns that feel like filler. Then even after the 75% mark, the story never delivers on that promised war that was made such a big deal about at the end of book 2 and the beginning of this story.
I’ll give more specific details below but they’re a bit spoilery. Suffice it to say that while the middle scenes in the story were interesting they just didn’t make sense and had little to no setup.
The biggest issue I had with the story is that the middle (28-75%) feels unnecessary. You could skip the whole section and you wouldn’t lose much. Additionally, it adds a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t make sense and just seems to come from nowhere. Stuff like a vampire that’s cured of vampirism, portals to other dimensions, time travel, the MC is suddenly an alien, the MC has matrix powers to see the code of the game.
Each of these elements is just introduced without any setup. It felt like, *Poof* ‘Hey I’m a rouge that discovered portals in this game that let people visit the past on earth.’ *Poof* ‘I’m a vampire that has a portal under his castle. Want to go through and kill the guy you fell in love with last book?’ *Poof* ‘Hey MC, did you know you’re an alien?’
I may be exaggerating a bit but not by a lot.
I also expected the last 25% of the novel to have that promised war that had been talked about so much. Instead, the MC decides that killing Dale, who gets his own weird plot twist, is the way to go. Then the MC jumps through a portal and the story ends. That’s it.
I’m not saying the story it bad. Each scene is well written and is interesting in its own way. Also, this story does have the most RPG mechanics in the series. However, the story just took many turns that didn’t make sense to me and had little to no setup. That coupled with the unfulfilled expectations left me feeling disappointed.
Score: 6 out of 10
Desert Storm (Puatera Online Book 3) (Dec. 13th, 2017)
Ok. Normally I don’t review really old novels that say they’re suddenly LitRPG or stuff from the Royal Road. Most Royal Road stuff is unfinished and unedited and I don’t think it’s fair to judge a story in that state. Plus I usually have 8-10 novels from Amazon to read every week. But I promised these guys I would if I ever had a week where I didn’t have a full review schedule, and this just happens to be that week.
Now to be 100% clear. Both of these authors asked me repeatedly for reviews. So here we go.
The HOPE Engine
When a game has the power to bring peace to the planet, you're damn right everyone plays. Every person on the planet can choose if they want to live their life in the physical world or the digital, and Quentin has been waiting for his chance to go all digital.
Once in the game, he chooses a powerful caster, but quickly finds out just how fragile he is. His advisor is a little girl, the village he builds is filled with raving lunatics, and the only edible food for miles around is poisonous to humans. But hey, his friends seem nice.
High level players are fleeing from their towns, beaten by a great force in the East. Will Quentin rise to the challenge and fight these evil forces? Will he pledge his allegiance to them instead? Will he find a meal that doesn't make him sick?
Find out in The HOPE Engine!
My Opinion: As of this article, 17 chapters, but the author publishes about 1 chapter a week.
Andrew Lynch has a couple novels under his belt. He’s published two on Amazon. Demi Heros and Sanctuary Fiend but this is his first attempt at writing a LitRPG novel. He’s testing the waters with the genre by on the Royal Road putting out on average a chapter a week.
There are some interesting things happening with this story but its biggest issue is that it’s trying to be too many things at once. Especially early on in the story.
It’s not until the story gets to chapter 8 that it feels like it’s starting to find its voice. There the MC explores how to build his first buildings, manage his minions, and other resources. Then the MC creates a portal in his town that lets him participates in ‘scenarios’, or stand alone adventures where he can gain more XP, loot, and resources. It’s a nice way to seperate the straight action scenes from the resource management part.
When you read the beginning of the story you can tell the author is trying to figure out what kind of game world he wants to use. It starts out as a standard fantasy VRMMO but also hints at possibly mixing in sci-fi later on with a cross MMO update. Then after character creation, the story mixes a single player tutorial with sci-fi elements of all the NPCs being self aware. Then it introduces base building and resource management. Then later, real time strategy elements.
It’s great that the author has experience with these games. However, RTS, Resource Management, MMOs, and Single Player games are all different and each focuses on different gaming elements. Trying to mix everything in the same story not only requires a big info dump for each type of game but the story loses focus when the game jumps between so many types of games.
There are also random story elements that aren’t consistently implemented. For example, early in the story there’s the revelation that all the NPCs in the game are self aware and know that they’re in a game. But a chapter later, the MC recruits NPCs that are dumb and totally unaware of the game. Then shortly later, more self aware NPCs.
Then there are things that feel like they’re dropped in without setup. For example,the introduction of a digital to physical virus called N-Plague. Something never mentioned before.
It’s like the story wants to have all these different types of game elements but also wants to be an action story, an AI story, and a sci-fi medical plague story.
I think the story has the potential to be good. I was very entertained by the resource management aspects of the novel and the scenario system attached to it. But all that other stuff just cluttered things for me. The story needs to decide what it wants to be and stick to that.
Score: 6 out of 10
Fountellion in The Spiral: The Nature of the Game & Progression One (GameLit)
A gateway to a long-awaited VRMMO game-world has opened for those who have a key. This includes Dan Harvester, a guy who lives in a run-down apartment with his cat and runs a gaming channel. He's almost through playing and testing VR games, but is this his one last chance to – really – level-up? What can it promise to him, and its first 'Beta-pioneers'?
'Fountellion' is a nature-world full of artificial life that mimics the laws of 'the Source', our own nature with its force of evolution. It promises to be more than an 'adventure survival experience', for there are six 'Insights' scattered within its 'super-fabric' and every player can find their own path to them. How much will Dan be changed?
There is only one way to find out, and that's to tune into and experience his 'avalogs'. For only by completing them, together with fragments from its ambitious development, can you too discover the vision and legacy of 'Fountellion'.
The Spiral series unfolds with the mystery of Progression One... What is the nature of the game, both for its developers and for its players?
My Opinion: 236 pages, $1.75, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Ok. Brutal truth. I don’t like this novel. I first came across the novel early in the year and it was almost impossible to read. The way the novel was written was almost like free form poetry in it’s format. It also had no RPG stuff in it. There was stuff about a game but it was more like floating without a body VR exploration and the story was about experiencing different existences. Not a big deal, it didn’t say anything in the description at the time about being LitRPG, I’d just picked it up because it mentioned a game and VR.
Then the author contacted me and said that he’d published that as an experimental version of the story but that he’d heavily modified it and wanted to get a review. So, I try to re-read it and while it’s more understandable, it’s still difficult to read. I’ve picked it up off and on for 6 months trying to get through it.
There are RPGish game mechanics but from what I remember from the 1st addition it feels like they were inserted into the story. The actual descriptions of the main character are more in line with platforming mechanics. For example, he gets a super jump and the ability to transform into other creatures. The transformation aspects of the story are meant to be used to explore different ways of existing. But it’s pretty clear that the ability has been gamified, explanations for it as a game mechanic have been added in.
The story is technically LitRPG. In its current form it has clearly defined game mechanics that progress but it feels like the story was heavily adapted to try to make it more appealing to the LitRPG audience. That’s not bad in itself but the story feels like something that was adapted instead of being written specifically for the LitRPG audience which ruins the originality that may have been part of the original version.
Score: 4 out of 10
That’s it everyone!
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