1. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Senior Member

    Jul 16, 2013
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    LitRPG: Introduction to a new genre

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by ToBeInspired, May 13, 2016.

    I've lately been seeing a trend in the newer genre of LitRPG. It can hold aspects of fantasy or science fiction, as long as pertaining to certain rules.

    LitRPG involves a character emerged into an alternate reality where characteristics of a role playing game are inherit. This could be from virtual reality, magic, or some other such plot device. The leading trend is for a character to be sent into a virtual game that becomes their reality. While some allow for their characters to "login" or "logout" at will, many elimate that option entirely. Not only are the characters forced in the game, but the virtual reality begins becoming reality in itself. NPCs (Non-Player Characters) may adapt an A.I. (artificial intelligence) personality matrix, previous game rules may become bypassed, sensations may become fully immersive (pain, hunger, etc.), and the list continues. The virtual worlds may still retain aspects of when it was still a game or may diverge more into the character's prior realm of reality.

    Examples (beware there are possible spoilers, though I will strive to limit doing such as much as possible):
    Book: Alterword
    Series: Play to Live #1
    Author: D. Rus
    Information: The premise of this series is that our character Max finds himself terminally ill. He learns of how "going perma" could potentially give him a new life. While being in an online capsule, if overused it's possible that a person's mind may become permanently integrated with their character. This causes the virtual world to stop being a game and become reality for that person. Benefits are immortality, so not a bad draw. Choosing AlterWorld, a fantasy based game, Max embarks on his adventure. This is a great example of Russian LitRPG, where characters skip tedious examples of grinding (Asian LitRPG tends to focus on that aspect) and instead find ways to level a character quickly. I favor this first book, though I'm not as impressed with some of the latest publishings.

    Book: Survival Quest
    Series: The Way of the Shaman
    Author: Vasily Mahanenko
    Information: The main character Mahan, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, is senteced to eight years of prison time. Virtual reality has taken on a major part of the economy in the basis of this series. As such, prisoners are forced to do manual virtual labor during the time of their sentence (foraging, mining, etc.). Mahan is sent to a mining camp where he has to reach a certain amount of reputation to reach the main virtual land or pay a penalty of 10 million gold (same equivalent in reality) to escape his sentence. Even once done with the internment part of his sentence, he would still be required to wear a red band signifying his status of a convict unless paying 1 million gold to have it removed. As typical in these form of novels, the main character is presented with opportunities or abilities that precede those of others. In this case, our main character is presented with crafting abilities that supercede those of others. With it he is able to make himself a leading force in a world that has taken control of the real world as well. The second book of the series was a push, in my opinion, but I found the first book vastly appealing.
    Book: The Land: Founding
    Series: Chaos Seeds
    Author: Aleron Kong
    Information: Our main character, Richter, is forced into a world which no longer becomes a game but is based on reality. As a Chaos Seed he has advantages over other humans. One is the fact he is able to respawn the other being inherit abilities and that he is awarded additional attribute points upon leveling. This world has limitations on the growth of a persons skills and leveling. A person may more gifted towards one form of magic or another. While maybe able to Master Air magic, they may be inept at Earth. Richter has the powerful abilities of Limitless and Gift of Tongue. This gives him the ability to learn anything without limtations and the ability to speak/read all languages (with a few exceptions). A lot of humor is imposed into the book, with modern references, while still retaining a few adult themes. When I saw the ability he was originally given I had assumed that the character would develop slowly instead of being a force of nature from the get go. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I still enjoyed the book, but it follows the lines of a single overpowered player.

    Book: End Online
    Series: End Online series
    Author: D. Wolfin
    Information: Our main character, Lost, has been in a crippling accident in real life. The doctor gives him a virtual reality set due to his condition. Virtual technology started off slow, but with the advent of End Online renewed interest is displayed. In this RPG, a higher level does not always mean a stronger character. Skill attributes determine factors more readily than anything else. A player with a higher agility will be faster than a player with a lower one. As such, that player would have a faster attack and movement speed. There are quite a few spelling and grammar issues. At times the book makes little sense and I could do without many aspects of it. What makes this book different is that it's composed of shorter novellas to make production quicker. It also starts the character off with a skill that is actually negative in nature, but turns out to be beneficial as time goes on. I had trouble staying interested after the first and second book.

    Book: Edge of Reality
    Series: Phantom Server
    Author Andrei Livadny
    Information: This game focuses on a main character who has made a profession from online gaming. The story begins with the displayed boredom of our m.c. completing the last quest available on the current most popular virtual game. He later finds out about something called the Phantom Server which is currently on beta testing. Excited about a game promising new immersion experiences, he forces a way into it. The game is set in space and faces real challenges. Unlimited death loops, imagine dying and respawning over and over in the vaccuum of space, are just one danger he faces. Implants are required to do almost anything in the game. Humanity is barely a speck and our main character is faced with many challenges. Not as overpowered as others, until later, but he never seems to have a lack of dire situations. I much preferred book one over book two, but a good read nonetheless.
    Book: NPCs
    Series: Spells, Swords, & Stealth
    Author: Drew Haynes
    Information: This one doesn't follow the traditional pattern as prior books. In this series a group of D&D type adventures find themselves dying in an inn with NPCs. Due to the players being on a mission from the king, the NPCs are forced to take over the mission or face potential extermination as unwarranted retribution from said king. Haven't actually read past a few chapters.
    Book: Start the Game
    Series: Galactogon
    Author: Vasily Mahanenko
    Information: Besides AlterWorld this is probably my favorite book so far. Our main character is selected with a group of other contestants for a competition in which the winner recieves a check for one billion dollars. Our prior fantasy main character jumps into a world of spacecrafts and aliens.. Unlike his previous game this one does not entail leveling in the traditional sense. Items have a grade and level, ranging from F to A 1-100, but characters do not. Due to the high level contest, each person must start off at level one. New plot lines are introduced to the game that were previously non-existant. Our main character takes advantange of one from the get-go and is presented with a head start that any player would be envious. While it does seem life is made too easy for our m.c., it is still very enjoyable to read. Especially since other contestants start dying one by one.
    Book: Otherlife Dreams The Selfless He
    Author: William D. Arand
    Information: Around 500,000 people aboard a spaceship are trapped into a game with their memories loss. As they level up, more memories are recovered. Our main character is designated as the admin, but has forgotten his password. His starting attributes are entirely devoted into a single non-combat attribute. The only thing he has going for him, besides being an admin, is that he has already unlocked every ability (regardless of being hidden or of class) and skill that is available in the game (level 1). His personality at times can get aggrievating, but it's a decent attempt at a first book.
    Book: Sector Eight
    Series: Perimeter Defense
    Author: Michael Atamanov
    Information: The story focuses on a player who uses his strategic skills in fleet battles to garner a living wage. He's offered a position to take over a rich employer's character in a game that is restricted to people of an elite class. I stopped about halfway and simply couldn't continue. May appeal to others.
    Book: Project Daily Grind
    Series: Mirror World
    Author: Alexey Osadchuk
    Information: Another one of my favorites, our main character's daughter is sick and therefore he needs money to fund her needed surgery. A rogue programmer creates a new race that he ends up choosing upon character selection. His mindset was to choose a profitable skill and focus on it. Choosing mining he ends up choosing a character with a skillset that allows him to level more quickly. However, our character is an incredibly driven hard worker who is only able to achieve rapid success through blood and tears. Unlike other series of this genre this series focuses on making the character advancement a little more linear in slope.

    LitRPG tends to be more focused on fantasy, though science fiction is emerging as well. The easiest way to imagine the future of this genre, for me, is to compare it to our current gaming society. Following the lines of KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic; based off the Star Wars Universe), Civilization (nation building), Resident Evil (horror survival), or strategy and defense games. It would be interesting to see a metahuman LitRPG done well.

    I tend to a lot of research and will read a lot of articles or books I only find interesting due to the subject matter. Throwing in easy to read fantasy books tends to be a bit of a breather for me. Deviating from my supernatural detective novels I've grown a liking to the idea of LitRPGs. Unfortunately the content isn't normally as high of quality as other genres. Russian authors are able to get published, but others aren't so lucky.

    I've always been interested in any book that stretches the imagination. Evolution has always been a fascination of mine. While I don't strictly adhere to reading fantasy and sci-fiction, I have to admit that most of my favorite books and authors come from those genres.

    Has anyone else become interested in this emerging genre? If so, what have you particulary liked/disliked about it? What would you like to see?
  2. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

    Sep 30, 2013
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    A Place with no History
    I had a desire to write something similar out of love of the manga that are in the genre.
    Never actually read novels with it so that's pretty cool others did it.
  3. agasfer

    agasfer Member

    Apr 29, 2016
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    If you like this genre (which is not so emerging; it's been around for a while), then I recommend Sergei Lukyanenko's Labyrinth of Reflections. You might have a hard time finding a good translation (the original is in Russian), so as second best, his Night Watch, which has been decently translated.
    ame_trine likes this.
  4. Lyrical

    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

    Jul 13, 2015
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    Hmm...is it sort of like Ready Player One?
  5. hi_daizy

    hi_daizy New Member

    Jun 15, 2017
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    As Lukyanenko's Labyrinth of Reflections was already recommended, I can also propose you to read "Fayroll" of Andrey Vasilyev. Also Russian thing, but even more interesting as for me. Strange Russian culture is described perfectly and virtual world is also unusual.
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I don't see how this is an emerging genre. The concept has been
    explored a lot in cinema, and I assume in novel form as well.
    Not that I have seen much in terms of the written form, it seems
    from the OP that it is gaining some steam. Which is interesting,
    but does not mean it is new by any measure.

    Well have fun with it, sounds like quite the challenge you have
    there. :)
  7. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

    May 16, 2017
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    Virginia, USA
    Or Tad Williams Otherland series. Another series that explores this concept.
  8. RWK

    RWK Member

    Jun 16, 2017
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    I am about to publish (through Amazon) the third book in a LitRPG trilogy. I stumbled upon the genre by accident, enjoyed the several books I read on it, and said to myself, "I could write that (genre)'.

    It wasn't as easy as it looked, but I think it is a genre that has a lot of potential because I believe that everyone who plays platform, PC, or tabletop games has at one time or another envisioned themselves in a RPG setting.
    Myrrdoch likes this.
  9. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

    Mar 15, 2016
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    It's been popular in Japan for awhile now. Sword Art Online (2009) popularized it, and there've been many, many lights novels and mangas in the years since.
  10. Technotuna

    Technotuna New Member

    Jul 13, 2017
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    Funny that this topic is raised, I'm new here and still pretty inexperienced as a writer. But I am a huge fan of world building and one of my largest ongoing projects is actually exactly this genre.

    I can say though that one problem I have with many of the entries in the genre that literally involve the character playing a game is the lack of an understanding/representation of the "gamer cultute"(if you can call what we have a culture).

    Aside from that, I certainly hope the popularity of this genre continues to rise.
  11. Mikaelo Fenner

    Mikaelo Fenner New Member

    Jul 21, 2017
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    I'm very interested in it as well. The cartoon pitch I'm working on now is sort of like it - there are RPG elements, some of which I'll use for comedy, but it's not explicitly "in a game" and doesn't hinge on those for story. If anything, it's more like the main characters are unimportant NPCs in someone else's game. I'm planning on using the RPG elements more as a framing device to look at elements of modern day things, like consumerism, career choice and so on. It's a lot more like Order of the Stick than say, Sword Art Online, in terms of feel.

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