LitRPG Podcast 112
LitRPG Podcast 112
May 11th, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 112 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have an update on one novel and 8 reviews just for you.
I want to give a shout out to Marc Carlson, out latest Patreon subscriber. Thank you for your support.
New Releases and Reviews:
update Not LitRPG but author relabeled
http://amzn.to/2HFfS60 update Not LitRPG but author relabeled
War Aeternus 2: Sacrifices (20:52)
Good entertaining balance of Gladiator Action, Crafting, and Story
Disappointing reunion, but lots of epic action
Lots of fights, little purpose, bored. Score: 5/10
Questmaster: A LitRPG Novella (36:20)
Set in an MMO, but not LitRPG. Score: 4/10
World of Cats with RPG stuff. Not my thing though. Score: 6/10
More Sci-fi/fantasy portal fiction than LitRPG. Score: 6/10
New Life Online: A LitRPG Novel (54:26)
Dry storytelling, lots of technical issues. Score: 4/10
Monster Hunter NYC (01:00:12)
Monster capturing with RPG mechanics. Good. Score: 7.2/10
(Play Music 2)
Blaise Corvin recently did a Live Steam on Facebook. It was very entertaining to watch, especially if you’ve ever wondered how much he loves his knife collection. There are also some juicy details about his upcoming writing schedule. Go watch it.
He’s also put the 1st book in the Delvers LLC series on sale for $0.99 for the next week, if you want to go get that now I’ll wait here.
Delvers LLC: Welcome to Ludus https://amzn.to/2rzhpV1
Charles Dean just released the 2nd book in his War Aeternus series this week. To celebrate he’s holding a YouTube event with some of his beta readers, editors, and he’s inviting all the readers to come watch and comment in chat. Go subscribe to his page and you’ll see when it come on. It currently scheduled for Saturday May 12th, 7pm est.
Another wave of e-mails from Amazon went out this week telling authors that “We are reaching out to you because we detected reading or borrow activity for your books originating from accounts attempting to manipulate Kindle services. You will receive royalties associated with legitimate or paid sales; however, we will not pay for reading activity related to illegitimate activity.”
Then there is the usual inference that 3rd party marketing services may be to blame but that “any additional violation of our Terms and Conditions – including a violation caused by any marketing services you, or others on your behalf, may have used – could result in account-level actions, up to and including termination of your KDP account.”
It seems like an automated thing where these page read services are hiding their activities by also reading other novels that didn’t pay for their services.
This most recent wave has affected more LitRPG authors: GR Cooper, Leto Spirit Blackman, Zachariah Dracoulis, Tom Hansen, RJ Castiglione, Aj Chaudhury, and even me. I’m honestly surprised to be hit because I don’t run ads or really even do marketing. I know it’s impacted a variety of authors differently, some losing hundreds of dollars worth of KU page reads, and some even losing all their page reads for the month.
The hardest hit this time have been GR Cooper (Omegaverse series), Leto Spirit Blackman, Tom Hansen (Enter The louVRe series), and Jeff Sproul (Sigil Online) who have their access to their books suspended. Which means their books may not be available on Amazon until they have their accounts reinstated or just have them removed from the KU program, and possibly have any pre-orders setup canceled. This happened last time with Matt Dinniman, author of Dominion of Blades series, but thankfully he had his account reinstated days later.
Many authors are choosing to remove their titles from KU rather than take the chance of getting their accounts closed because of what some shady page reader service has done to them without their knowledge or consent.
Remember to support your favorite authors when you can. They don’t write without your support and love.
If you want to let Amazon know that you don’t like what they’re doing as a customer or just need to contact them here are a few contact points.
Send Amazon Feedback:
Customer Service 1 (888) 280-4331
Daniel Schinhofen has gone full time. He’s put in his resignation letter at work and will be a fully fledged full time author come May 20th. I just want to congratulate him on making that leap and wish him the best. I’m a big fan of his work and have enjoyed every single conversation and author interview I’ve ever had with the guy.
He also has a patreon page if you want to support him that way too.
Written by Vasily Mahanenko and Eugenia Dmitrieva. The two recently published a short story together in You’re In Game Book 2.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook version: http://litrpgpodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/12/7/super-sales-on-super-sales-2
Our review of the ebook version:
Our review of the ebook version:
Warrior Academy - Tournament of Hiroes Episode 3 (May 11th, 2018)
World of Karik 2: (The First Crusade) The LitRPG series (May 17th, 2018)
Gestation (Project Chrysalis Book 1) (May 22nd, 2018)
God Mode (AlterGame Book #3) LitRPG Series (May 24th, 2018)
Kingdom Level Five: LitRPG (May 27th, 2018)
Defenders of the Realm (Greystone Chronicles - Book 4) (May 29th, 2018)
The Dead Rogue (An NPC's Path Book #1) LitRPG Series (May 30th, 2018)
Pangea Online Book Two: Magic and Mayhem (May 31st, 2018)
Atlas Reign: A LitRPG Saga (The Binding Book 1) (May31st, 2018)
Restart (Level Up Book #1) LitRPG Series (July 10th, 2018)
External Threat (Reality Benders Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 23rd, 2018)
Death March (Euphoria Online - Book 1) (Aug. 7th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
***Small update for this title***
Blind Gambit: A GameLit LitRPG novel
This is a kind of coming of age story for a visually impaired young man who has to deal with the duality of being able to see in the VR game he plays and being blind in real life. The real life storyline is honestly much better than the game training/hacker one.
It was originally published with the descriptors “A GameLit LitRPG novel”on both the cover and in the Amazon title. I read the novel and while I liked it, it’s not LitRPG. Part of the story is set in a VR world and there’s a kind of shooter game element to the story, there is no RPG progression.
Rather than just give a novel I actually enjoyed a bad review for what seemed to me like a mislabel, I contacted the author who said he’d originally intended to publish it as just GameLit. We both agreed that labeling it as LitRPG would setup reader expectations that the novel just wasn’t going to fulfill and the author said he’d change it to just GameLit.
Good story, just mislabeled as LitRPG.
War Aeternus 2: Sacrifices
Desperate to save as many people as he can from a horrible fate in the cruel game of the gods, Lee and his small group of friends abandon the relative safety of Satterfield for the great city of Kirshtein. Tensions within the city have reached a breaking point after the arrival of an enemy Herald, and Lee is soon caught up in the struggle for power. Captured, imprisoned, and forced to fight for his life on the blood-soaked sands of the Kirshtein arena, Lee has to figure out how to survive long enough to mend the rifts in the broken city before it falls apart completely. Armed with new skills, joined by new allies, and up against his most dangerous enemy yet, Lee's bid for survival in the War of Eternity takes on even higher stakes as he learns the what true leadership requires. Now, with an ominous new threat looming in the distance and an army on the horizon, Lee has to answer one question: Can he pay the price of victory?
My Opinion: 350 pages??, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
War Aeternus 2 picks up shortly after the end of book 1, with the core team trying to collect bounties to raise funds for their home village. Then they get to a new town and things don’t go well for them. The novel is really an introduction to the larger world where humans aren’t the dominant species and are looked down upon. There’s lots of good fights, leveling, and some magical crafting.
But for me, some of the best moments in the story didn’t happen in a fight. Instead, they were the ones that made me feel connected to the characters. Whether it’s the fumbling romance of Lee in the real world, or touching background stories from the other members of the core team in the game world, those moments are my favorites.
Overall, I really liked this story. It’s a good balance of action, RPG advancement, character development, and story.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
The Mists of Erantia (Realm of Arkon Book 7)
Roman was never supposed to escape the locked plane that was his prison. And yet, somehow the impossible task became possible with the help of new friends, and despite the tricks of old enemies. Too intrepid was the demon driven by the fury of battle, the sorrow of defeat, the bonds of unbreakable friendship and the longing for his beloved…
But when gods themselves join the fray, the chances of victory fall from slim to none. Just don’t tell that to Roman, better known as Krian the Prince of Craedia, or to his friends, for their will to fight for the realm they now call home is inexhaustible, and fight they will to the bitter end…
My Opinion: 303 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
If you’re a fan of this series this is a must read. I wish the story was in KU but it’s really not one of those series you can pick up midway through anyways. Also be aware that this one seems to have more technical writing/translation errors than the ones before it.
Roman, Max, and the sister finally reunite but that reunion wasn’t as sweet as i thought it would be. There’s a little time the three spend together, but then they’re almost immediately back on the trail questing. Which is where the story does shine. Epic fights with some really good loot. Good, interesting questlines, that make you want to turn the page well into the night. I’m sort of curious just how much more epic the quests can get though in future books.
Overall, a good action filled story with an epic ending. There’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, but nothing that ruins the story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
New Generation (Maelstrom Book 1)
A single look changed everything.
It might have been the sight of blood on Kaden's hands.
It might have been when he laid eyes on the woman haunting his dreams.
Forced against their will into a new world, Kaden and Laney will have to serve a wicked god and fight for survival. Every. Single. Day.
An old foe to god Bardos appears and offers them salvation. Will his offer save or kill them?
This is Maelstrom. Prepare to be changed.
My Opinion: 269 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Note: There are many technical writing issues with the story. I recommend downloading a sample to see if they will bother you.*
Basically this is a series of fights and dungeon dives held together with a super vague plot to distract an evil god long enough to make him mortal.
This is LitRPG. There is RPG advancement with characters leveling choosing new powers as they level. But it’s a very loose RPG system that almost seems to be made up on the spot as the story goes on. For example, early in the story it’s established that players spend skill points they earn as they level to learn spells or abilities related to their class. The MC, Kaden, does this choosing some cool ice powers. Then a short time later, through sheer imagination and an act of will he creates a whole new spell. So, he never really needed those skill points, I guess? Additionally, it never feels like there’s a whole system that was created in advance of the story, more like it was being made up as the story was written.
On the story side, there really isn’t one. The novel starts out with an awkward transported to a game world beginning then drops the main characters into a battle, where they kill, level up, get new abilities and kill some more. That’s really what the story is throughout. There is an attempt to put a sort of story in place between fights with flashbacks and a plot to bring down the evil god that sent the MC to the world, but honestly it’s just an excuse to get to the next fight.
One of the biggest issues for me, was the sheer number of consistent technical mistakes in the novel. My brain naturally adjusts to ignore them, but there are a lot of consistent mistakes. Additionally, the writing style and dialogue are awkward as all heck. It’s really going to bother some people.
Overall, I was sort of bored for a lot of the novel. The fights, which are a major portion of the novel are decently written. The movement, tactics, and spell are interesting from a technical level. But over all, the fights lack purpose which makes them a bit boring and skippable for me. I tested it out actually. After reading up to a major lull with flashbacks and plot, I went back and found last place before some fights and then skipped to the ‘story’ and found no real loss of context. If you are in the mood for something that throws fight after fight at you in a serial style storytelling, you might enjoy this if you can look past the technical issues.
Score: 5 out of 10
Questmaster: A LitRPG Novella
An island adrift in a world gone to Hell becomes an even smaller place when the weight of its future lands on one person’s shoulders. None of the chosen in our recorded history have ever found a way off of the island. This year, the task will fall to a new questmaster.
“Curing the corruptions shouldn’t cost us our humanity.” – Tier’an Bai
My Opinion: 100 pg??, $2.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is super over priced. $2.99 for something likely less than 100 pages and not on KU.
According to the front matter in the story, this was originally published as part of a fantasy and speculative story box set in 2017. I doubt that it was written as LitRPG since there are no RPG mechanics in the entire story. Rather it feels like a speculative story that asks the question: what would happen if you trapped a group of people in an MMO for six generations? How would the culture develop after so much time? And for the most part that’s what this is.
However, that’s the meta concept. Reading the story feels much more like you’re watching someone play a fantasy MMO. Only there’s no leveling, stats, item descriptions, class details, or any other kind of progression. Just people fighting, questing, and throwing out a whole lot of gamer speak as they do so.
Overall, not a bad story, but it’s also not LitRPG.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Catmaster Online: A LitRPG Series
Meet Kitty… a cat in a VRMMORPG
What would it be like if you were left with only 1% of your memory?
Kitty is about to find out. After being betrayed by a close friend, Kitty is down to level one with no knowledge of his past life. With the aid of a cat princess, he’ll need to fight his way up the ladder to get to the final boss and save the world. More importantly, he must save his master.
Along the way he’ll learn new spells, deal with mobs, go on epic quests… and level up!
My Opinion: 309 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a slice of life LitRPG story set in a game world where anthropomorphised animals rule. If you’ve ever read the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, then you’ll have an idea of what this story is like. In this world though it’s cats and dogs that walk on two legs, talk, and fight. The main character is a cat named Kitty who has a character sheet, gets XP from quests and killing monsters, and basically just goes on adventures and eventually tries to help a cat princess.
Overall, there are some good fights, the game mechanics are decent but not particularly innovative. However, other than the characters being anthropomorphised animals there wasn’t much to set this story apart from other slice of life adventure stories. It didn’t really land for me, but if you’re tired of reading about the same old human characters, you might enjoy the change of pace here.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Endless Online: Oblivion's Blade: A LitRPG Adventure - Book 1
Val had returned from his latest tour of duty scarred in body and soul. Barely able to walk and drugged to the gills for pain, he thought his killing days were finally behind him.
He couldn't have been more wrong.
Endless Online, a hyper futuristic game where players could truly live another life.
Val loved the idea of starting over in virtual reality. But when someone he cares about turns up missing after chasing that same dream, Val quickly learns that Endless is no simple game.
And if Val can't figure out the dark secrets behind this realm of wizards, warriors, and intergalactic conquest, then it's game over. For everyone.
My Opinion: 330 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
I’m not sure if this is serial story or if it’s just one long story but it’s one that’s definitely been broken up into pieces and has a very abrupt ending that’s picked up in the next book. That bothers some people, so just an FYI.
The novel has a bit of an unusual beginning and the premise of the story shifts around alot. It starts out as a character development for an injured soldier who is a gamer. Then it shifts to cyber thriller. Then most of it plays out as portal fiction in a sci-fi/fantasy universe with RPG element that feel like they don’t matter to the story.
Now having said that, I also think that this is a well developed story. There’s lots of character development for the MC before he transports to the new world. There are scenes that do this in flashback form later but they really interrupt the flow of the sci-fi/fantasy world storyline. The sci-fi/fantasy world has deep lore with politics, histories, and defined relationships between magic and technology. Each of the secondary characters have interesting and unique personalities that make them memorable. The action in the story is also very well done.
But because the RPG mechanics don’t really feel like they have an impact on the story, it lessened my enjoyment of it as LitRPG. You can read more specifics on what I mean below if you don’t mind some spoilers.
Shifting premise and story
The beginning of the story starts out with a scene where the main character, Val, is playing an MMO with his friends. It’s fairly long scene and in the context rest of the story is meaningless but establishes two things. 1) Establishes the main characters gaming cred. Which is also meaningless since he never plays any other games or uses gamer logic or skills he used from the game again. 2) It establishes a connection to a girl that goes missing and is the focus of the first part of the novel. Which is why the beginning of this novel feels a lot like a cyber thriller. It’s sort of setup that way, with the MC being recruited to locate this missing girl by infiltrating the game company like only a gamer can.
Up until the 27% mark, that’s how this plays out. There are some really unexpected twists in the infiltration part that I thought were cool and a bit Jason Bourne. But what’s really a twist, is that this turns into slice of life portal sci-fi/fantasy fiction. That’s right, there’s a huge switch from Endless Online being a full immersion VR game to being a multiverse portal world and not even one ruled by RPG mechanics. Once on the new planet or in the new universe, the MC hooks up with a crew of mercenaries/tomb raiders that explain how their universe works and the group goes on some adventures through some caves and kills some stuff till the abrupt ending. I’m intentionally being vague about those adventure details because in their own rights are still good stories with good world building that I don’t want to spoil.
RPG Game mechanics
Once the MC gets to the ‘game world’ it really just reads like a science fiction/fantasy story with game notifications and breaks for leveling up that’s never acknowledged in much of the larger story. Now, to be clear, this is LitRPG. There are levels gained, skills learned, skill increases, and stats that go up after leveling. So minimum requirements met, I guess. But all that stuff feels like it’s an add on to this portal science fiction/fantasy story. The notifications and game stuff are all completely reactionary. What I mean by that is that they show up after the main character (MC) has done something notable, like magically learned psionic powers or a spell without any training or guidance. They’re fairly regular and even lengthy game notifications, so the author put a lot of effort into creating them. But it still feels like, to me at least, like the author wrote a good sci-fi/fantasy story and then went back to add game notifications to important moments. There’s not any application of these RPG mechanics to anyone other than the MC and the story doesn’t even acknowledge the concept for anyone else in the story till the very end, when he finally mentions something about leveling up to the people he’s spent most of the novel with.
Overall, I actually liked the portal fiction part of the story. I also liked the cyber thriller part of the beginning. I thought it was confusing and weird as heck that they’re in the same story though. But weird as that transition is, overall it’s an entertaining read, if you think of it as sci-fi/fantasy portal fiction.
When i thought of it in the context of LitRPG, overall there wasn't the same satisfaction. What I liked about the story wasn’t related to the RPG stuff, which sometime felt tacked on.
As portal fiction or sci-fi/fantasy, it would get an 7 out of 10.
As LitRPG, it just didn’t give me that same satisfaction. If you like your LitRPG stories with RPG mechanics that don’t impact the story or just light ones, or you’re looking for an interesting sci-fi/fantasy portal fiction story, this may work better for you.
Score: 6 out of 10
New Life Online: A LitRPG Novel
If you lose in the game, other people will die in real life.
Would you play it safe?
Finn’s life sucks. He spends his days in the world’s most advanced VR game, chopping wood in a wealthy player’s basecamp for a few copper coins a week. Levelling up is the last thing on his mind.
When Selene, the girl he’s grown to love like a sister, mysteriously disappears both in real life and in the game, Finn is finally shaken into action. He is determined to find her. If only his character weren’t so damn useless…
The Developers’ Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time. It offers a new life in a new world. But there is a catch. The standard rules of the game don’t apply and only three things are certain:
Everyone starts at Level 1
The monsters are unlike anything any player has ever seen
Death comes at a higher cost.
My Opinion: 560 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
You can tell from the very first sentence in the story that this novel is going to have technical writing issues. There are immediate issues with inconsistent tenses, incomplete sentences, and generally awkwardly phrased sentences.
You have to push to get through the first 20% of the story. The author describes things the MC saw or factually experienced, maybe some factual thoughts. There’s rarely any exploration into the other senses let alone emotional descriptions about how the character feels. The story is mostly ‘I did this, then I saw that, then I did this. She did this, then she said that, etc.’
After that the writing does improve, but never gets good.
The game stuff is pretty standard. Levels, stats, health %, item descriptions. That’s kind of it. No real depth or innovation.
Storywise, the MC and his friend live in a kind of dystopian future where they work to pay of inherited debt and have jobs as hirelings in an MMO working for a jerk. They log into the game with their low level characters and do stuff for their boss. Chop wood, kill boars, things like that. One day the two get a chance to use their bosses high level character to make some purchases for him. Only the MC makes an unauthorised purchase which lands him in a game contest with the stakes being his friend’s life. From there it’s this puzzle solving adventure.
Overall, the story was work to get through. The dry storytelling, plus the consistent technical writing issues made the story hard to like. The very wand wavy ending is also a bit much and earns the MC a reward he doesn’t deserve and a twist that has no foreshadowing in the last 2% of the story.
Score: 4 out of 10
Monster Hunter NYC
There were other broke musicians in New York City, but at least those ones had their dignity.
It was my bandmate, Iris, who gave me the code that unlocked the illegal Monster Hunt app. Tears in her eyes, Iris said the app would help us fix our ravaged musical equipment, make money, and live better lives.
The Monster Hunt app made me the Alpha of two powerful Huntresses, one a half-dragon female fond of combat and banter, the other a cute warrior fond of reading spell books and wielding two blades.
Our goal? Hunt mythological creatures in the parks, rooftops, and back alleys of New York City; build a fighting party to compete in brawls and tournaments; earn some seriously needed cash; and try our damndest not to get arrested.
My Opinion: 300 pages??, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Storywise, this novel is pretty straightforward. The main character (MC) gets access to an app that lets him capture monsters and train them for use in a tournament where he can win lots of money to further his music career. He’s joined by his friend ris and his two hunters, Aya and Lady C. It’s really a bunch of fights and some light resource management stuff until the tournament. Then it’s just fighting. There’s a little bit of a story and interpersonal relationship stuff but it’s mostly about the monster capturing.
Game mechanic wise the story pulls from the monster capture games that came before it. In an augmented reality like Pokemon Go setting, hunters or huntresses weaken monsters then players capture them. Monsters can be trained for tournament fighting with other players. The RPG side comes in with levels, attack and defense values, as well as HP. Everyone has special abilities or spell they can use. As the player levels from capturing, so does everyone else. There are more monster capture mechanics, but learning about them and seeing them play out is half the fun.
There’s also an experimental musical component to the audiobook and songs that were created specifically for this novel.
Overall, a good read. An interesting story that brings in Pokemon type monster capturing and tournament battling. A little haremy but no sex, but some flirting and joking.
Score: 7.2 out of 10
That’s it everyone!
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"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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