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How to Design a LitRPG System

Discussion in 'Original Fiction Discussion' started by BTT, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Right right - I get it. But even in that case still no traditional publishers.

    I’m not arguing that these stories aren’t legit and aren’t doing super well - they are. I can’t wait to read Red Mage as a good example of the genre.

    But it sounds like NO ONE is going traditional publishing with the genre and I find that fascinating. Interesting. And very curious.

    Also loved the ‘hoovering’ description for the top shelf audio book makers, lol.

    Off to read the first five chapters of Red Mage (still up on Royal road!)
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  2. sildet

    sildet Fifth Year

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    Didn't love Red Mage. It's alright, but really a meh story.

    I remember liking Tao Wong's Life in the North series, but it gets bogged down in the later books (It's pretty generic, but I liked it more than Red Mage). His other novel, A Thousand Li is a xianxia novel that's pretty decent.

    Towers of Heaven by Cameron Milan is a pretty good one.

    Reborn: Apocalypse by L M Kerr I remember liking quite a bit. The audiobook narrator was annoying with some of the voices though, but mostly okay.

    The Land series by Aleron Kong is one that people like, but I kind of hate.

    Cradle by Will Wight isn't LitRPG, but hits the same progression fantasy vibes from the genre.


    Most of what I've read for this genre is like an action movie that you can have on in the background while you do other things. It's not incredible, but it's entertaining. Like if you're listening to the audiobook, and you miss some stuff because you're doing something else, it's not hard to get sucked back in and not miss much.
     
  3. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I hated Life in the North. I remember the MC feeling like he was written by a teenage angst monster. I got like to the second book, and from memory he was just constantly raging and showing no character growth. I peaced out there.
     
  4. Otters

    Otters Fourth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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  5. sildet

    sildet Fifth Year

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    Feels odd to me that someone could like one and hate the other as I found that they're both pretty similar lol, but to each their own. I think I just liked the level up system more in Life of the North. I didn't like the spell interweaving in Red Mage as much. It got confusing to me.

    None of the published ones are amazing, which is why I hope Cxjenious was being truthful on the last page haha.
     
  6. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Whether I like a story or not hinges entirely on the protagonist. Like, ninety percent of it is that.

    I read books, especially litRPGs, for escapism. The second I stop vibing with the protagonist, I'm out. It's almost like I start to de-sync with the character in the book and everything starts falling apart. I start to cringe and turn on the character to the point where I just have to drop the book, that's what happened with me in LitN.

    The mechanics of the litRPG mean very little to me as long as they're sensible and written by a person who's actually played a video game before.

    I didn't really go into this though because the OP specifically mentioned designing a litRPG system.

    Protagonist > Dialogue > World > Supporting Cast > Story > Mechanics, in that order, for me.
     
  7. Reign

    Reign Fourth Year

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    levelup.pub has a page explaining LitRPG/GameLit, how to write a litRPG and an example story. There is also an 'all time best' for each category but that's ridiculously subjective especially for this genre.

    Also, I noticed there isn't a LitRPG recommendation thread. Am I the only one hesitating in its creation because its going to be full of crap?
     
  8. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    There’s a bunch of specific Rec threads in the original fiction section.
    https://forums.darklordpotter.net/forums/original-fiction.143/
     
  9. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    To get us back on topic...

    How to design a LitRPG system.

    I haven't read as many of these as @Gengar but I might still be able to offer insight.

    My favorite so far is Seaborn because I think it's the best story of the ones I've read. But a few things it does right in terms of the system so help.

    I like the idea of skills combining. Here's a quote:
    Practicing skills feels useful but not OP. New skills can be created as you do things but it's not constant. Typically the system supports the story but the story does not rely on it. Otherwise I feel this story is straightforward with it. There are quests. The system is built into the world and fully integrated for everyone.

    Life of a Skill Trainer focuses on the system itself in a way that I haven't seen others do. In my opinion the exploration of the system itself is carrying the story (though apparently some people are invested in the romance subplot). The main character has so devoted his life to learning all sorts of skills and how to teach them to others, and in the story he discovers some skills that others want kept secret. For all that I find this story interesting I can't say it did this part right, since (for me) I'm only reading out of curiosity about their system. But it's still important to have the system itself be interesting, otherwise it's clutter.

    I think Red Mage got that part right, though I didn't like the story much (sorry Gengar, bit much of a male fantasy power wank for me). If it had been free though instead of 5$ I'd recommend it.

    Anyway - in Red Mage the author created a somewhat unique system. It's a little like materia in a way, though instead of slotting Mana gems into your weapons or armor you slot them into your own personal grid. Find a 'fireball' gem? Slot it and now you can cast it!

    This was neat. And gems could be inserted such that they linked up to combine into new skills, etc.

    Another thing that Red Mage did that I thought worked fairly well was give spells a cooldown but that's the only barrier to casting. There's no Mana pool to run low on, etc. You can cast cast cast if you chain cooldowns.

    One thing in terms of the litRPG genre that I think that story struggled with was with the level of difficulty. Dude gets lots of useful spells really quickly, can cast all of them perfectly without training/practice, and continually seems to upgrade his use of them (using many at once, one from each finger, etc) without issue on the first try in combat.

    It was too easy for me to feel invested. The challenges (mental, emotional, combat or otherwise) all felt tacked on rather than real. It's like the author said COOL STUFF and just skipped past any challenges with learning it.

    I've read others but those three stood out to me of the ones I've read so far in terms of having something to discuss on HOW to do this well.
     
  10. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I think you can tie a lot of it back into these authors wanting to get over the 'boring' bits, not realizing their destination becomes all the more unfulfilling if you skip the journey.

    Like I said earlier, I am very much a proponent of Less is More. Someone should write a story where the main character has Frostbolt (insert any other standard spell/skill you so choose), and that's it. Work around how such a 'character' would be able to survive and win. Get creative, have fun with it.

    Too many authors rush for the endorphin highs of LOOT and SKILL GAINS that they forget to full explore and enjoy the ones they already have. I mentioned it earlier, it's what triggers me about 'blink strike' in so many of these stories - you don't NEED more than that one ability to make a fascinating story, and instead they add on ten more because it's 'cool.'

    Ultimately that's what I find the biggest problem in this genre. Too many of these authors feel like they've come straight from their DnD campaigns, or watching anime, and just write what they think sounds cool in their heads without thinking it through - some sounds like they've even come straight from being ganked in WoW hilariously, given how they react to PKers (who calls it that?!).

    As I said, none of these are masterworks. Not even close. I'm still addicted to them though.

    The bard one is more to my tastes. A local, contained mystery, a limited set of bardic skills and an interesting 'profession' in Lorekeeper (or something to that effect) where the main character is compelled to explore the mysteries of the hamlet around him by both experience gains and just simple curiosity.

    The second one was a bit shit, unfortunately.

    It often feels like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to LitRPG (often might be an understatement). It has been getting a lot more popular though. I'm biding my time until the good shit comes.

    Maybe I'll even pull my finger out one day and give it a go myself... @Jon and I certainly talk about it enough...
     
  11. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    More on what works / doesn't work in various litRPGs (which I think is more related to this thread than others).

    I can't say that I've been loving Randidly Ghosthound, but I am enjoying it. It does some things right and some wrong, but two things it does that I liked are as follows:

    1. The area that the MC is in dictates (to a large extent) where he's the "super badass most powerful person around" stereotype or the "talented upcoming youth" stereotype. It does this by alternating the 'world' that the MC is in - on Earth he's a big badass, but on the other world he is talented and powerful but (at least at first) mostly a skilled youth that the real badasses of the world would eat for lunch.

    This worked because I still got that rush of "aw yeah we're badass" but every other arc we'd be back at "gotta work hard to grow / no pain no gain / my life is on the line."

    I think this might even out soon (I'm not caught up on the story), but this is one thing it did well in my opinion.

    2. The idea of "paths" was neat, though the rest of the leveling / points system I wasn't a big fan of. But 'Paths' in this story made it feel like the MC had real, valid choices on which direction to take his skills and implied that you can't do everything. Not really. It made choices with regards to the system feel somewhat meaningful.

    There were issues as well - with the MC getting hundreds of points at a time so none of them felt like they meant much - but that's a separate issue. This thread is more about the "right" things to do when designing a litRPG, and the rest can go for a review thread.

    Cheers.
     
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