WIP 58th State

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Yuli Ban, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The second of three LitRPG/GameLit ideas I have on the brain. This one's less "to-market" than Astral Falls and it's more like a fusion of a cartoon with a video game.
    [​IMG]


    Whereas Astral Falls is a broody and cerebral story, like if someone recreated Shadowrun to Radiohead and Daft Punk songs, I've always envisioned this story being complete unrestrained 16-bit cyberdelia.
    I also decided to go with AF for NaNoWriMo because I wanted my first LitRPG novel to at least get my foot in the door and learn the ins and outs of the genre by fire. It would have been even better if I played it perfectly safe and went the Cyberpunk Real World/High Fantasy VRMMORPG route, but again, I want to play it safe and it seems like there's been a bit of pushback to the dominance of the High Fantasy VRMMORPG route. The more reviews I read, the more I see "Ugh, another generic fantasy world!" in increasing numbers. And since Yahtzee Croshaw lamented about how doublethink the concept of "standard fantasy" really is, I figured that I didn't want to start off on a broken step.

    But 58th State is something that's definitely not a rational call if you want it to be your first LitRPG novel. Much like Astral Falls, the maypole of the plot is the end of the world. But in this case, the end of the world is more like a time limit (think Majora's Mask) than the "fight to save yourself" in AF. Also, this EOTW is purely in-game, not something that's happening in real life.

    Now I want you to try to follow me on this one, because it gets stupid.

    The world is completely f**k't because some race of aliens (name withheld for now) has turned a supercluster of galaxies into supermassive black holes by accident. Because of this, reality is falling apart. Cause and effect become unchained, and the impossible starts becoming the impossible and reality. It's like quantum physics on a macro scale at times. Magic becomes possible. The video game actually becomes like a video game, if that makes any sense (the game explaining why it's a game, essentially).
    Because the world is definitely doomed, a group of doomsday dealers decided to live it up. Except it's possible that these same fools might have the key to reversing the apocalypse. That's entirely up to you to find out if you so wish. Or you could just go to the end game and win your freedom.

    That's the other thing: IRL, the players are kidnapped outcasted youths at risk of death if they fail, allthewhile their game is being broadcast to the world under the much lighter pretense of them competing to win a special prize. Naturally when they're introduced to the game, they're completely freaked out and frantically trying to get out of there, but since there's no escape, they have to get used to their new "lives". It's actually somewhat easy to get invested because the nature of the game rewards petty acts of criminality.



    I somewhat hesitate to even call this "LitRPG", but that's for the exact same reason as people have been debating— is 'LitRPG' essentially just RPGs? Because this story, while it has RPG elements (a lot of leveling up and different classes), it bears just as much in common with platformers. In fact, a lot like Astral Falls. Except it's drawing inspiration from a few particular platformers— namely Jet Set Radio Future. I imagined this story as having the art style of Scott Pilgrim and various conventions of JSR/JSRF. Among other games, of course.

    The character in my avatar is also one of the main characters from this story, in fact. And as with Astral Falls, I do have a subreddit up.



    Holy hell, that went on too long! Yeah, I guess you can say I'm a bit invested in this concept.

    This one is also already being planned, though I prolly won't get around to it this year.
     
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  2. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    umm didnt have the time to read all of that but you know because of physics they would more then likely only be one supermassive black hole

    The sooner the dominance of high fantasy LitRPG ends the happyer I will be I keep seeing titles that look super cool thinking there epic fantasy and then read the title and its (online online online dragons online) and get so mad because I know it wont be about how cool a world with dragons will be and instead about some characters quest to be lvl 9001
     
  3. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I love high fantasy but a lot of authors are totally slacking on worldbuilding, they just throw some goblins and basic medieval villages in there and think they're good to go, there's no sense of a cohesive or unique setting. Like playing D&D with the world's least imaginative DM. I want to write one for nano this year but I'm using the time before to come up with a decent map, some original creatures, lore and suchlike.

    Anyways, tho, your idea looks pretty damn cool and definitely something different!
     
  4. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    It's more of a gag backstory, but it's something that will get explained in the story itself.

    That's what's meant by "pseudo-medieval." Medieval Fantasy does indeed exist, but there's a reason why we use 'Pseudo-Medieval Fantasy' more often than not. And I said it somewhere else (I think even on this very forum), but people keep coming back to generic fantasy because the set-up is already simple. You don't need to create a rich, complex world since so much of the world is already created for you.

    There's a funny little image atop /r/Worldbuilding explaining this in detail:
    [​IMG]

    Delete the names and replace with Ye Olde English, Pseudo-Scandinavian, or Pseudo-Celtic names as you please.
    When you do it right, no one minds. The draw of this set-up is that it's like a different world from our own, but much more mystical, magical, and romantic. We already know the Middle Ages were not the idealized time we "remember" them as being, that any actual adventurer leaving his feudal lord's estate in Warwickshire in the Midlands would have actually gotten his head turned into pulp by the Black Death or even just a casual venereal disease before he came across any bandits or evil knights. But that realism is one of the reasons why pseudo-medieval fantasy is so popular, because you can remove yourself from that or even build off of that to create a cooler, manlier, more epic hero in a time that's not anywhere near as overtly flawed.
    Sure, most medieval princesses wouldn't have been dainty porcelain-skinned high-cheekboned goddesses in the flesh as much as they would've been chubby privileged fops destined to be sold via marriage, but you don't have to worry about that since this is fantasy. At least, not unless you want to. Either way, you'll have fans who like your epic escapism or your historical realism.

    I think that's why I like it. Considering I'm such a Singularitarian, the draw of an idealized medieval era seems like an alluring escape.


    But the thing is, it's like writing a story about real life in the real world. Many writers will set their stories in, say, London or New York but won't do much more than describe some of the scenery, food, and landmarks. Because that's all they need to do. Going in-depth, capturing the individual essence of these cities and towns is more of a pleasantry, especially considering most don't live in these places.
    People react the same way to standard fantasy settings nowadays. Here's the capital "empire" city; here's the outlying townships and hamlets; here's the impenetrable desert; here's the snowcapped mountains; here's the bandit trails; here's the ruins of an old mighty somewhat mysterious civilization; here's the exotic Arabia/India expy; here's the exotic China/Japan expy; here's the dark caves; here's the hellscape; etc. It's essentially built for you like real life, so many writers don't feel the need to go in-depth explaining it since it's a given that many people already know what's there. Even people who aren't fans of any particular style of fantasy.


    And there I go again, explaining in 1,000 words what 50 could've done. Eh, I just like explaining things in depth.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  5. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Yah, did you ever read "Tough Guide to Fantasyland"? Pretty much a takedown of overused fantasy cliches. Obviously an author doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, but some variety and thoughtfulness would go a long way.
     
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  6. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I haven't read it recently, but I know I did in 2005-2006 or so. At that time, I wasn't into fantasy at all, so a lot of what was written was either lost on me, intrigued me (ironically considering the point of the book), or made me think fantasy wasn't a good genre. If I decide to read through it again, it would do well to make sure I don't make a fool of myself come the time to write my first Hero's Journey fantasy story, whenever that may be.

    I think that's the thing that also kept me from immediately deciding to use these two stories as LitRPGs, whereas the third one is blatantly bog-standard science-fantasy just to be as safe as possible (which is why I'm least excited for that one and haven't even posted a thread on it). I was so intimidated by the sheer dominance of fantasy in the genre that even now I have reservations about the thought that LitRPG can even grow or change away from that without becoming an entirely separate genre. Even Astral Falls, which is already at least partly-fantasy.

    Trust me, I already know that names can be psychological teases. You know that futuristic realism thing I keep talking about in the Tavern? The original name for that was "Sci-Fi Realism." But the definition wasn't any different. Despite this, there were members on the subreddit who would go to war with me or anyone else who posted things from real life or which weren't explicitly science fiction. And they often confused the name with "Hard Sci-Fi" and "Gritty Sci-Fi".
    Same thing's happening here, I think.

    No, not even "I think." That's exactly what's going on with the whole trademarking issue with Aleron Kong. He has his idea of what LitRPG "is" and he's trying to muscle out others from that niche.
    Part of me wonders if either of these stories are LitRPG, even though I've read the genre and determined they are, because I still just have so many more questions about what can be done.



    I've already answered the Golden Question that should determine what genre in which they lie (i.e. "do the video game mechanics add to or clash with the story?"), but I think my problem is that AF is very heavily based off of an atypical RPG that did not have explicit classes or races and thus it feels strange to include them— not to mention it also was always meant from the beginning to have a large, open-world sandbox feel— while this one is based off of a modern RPG fused with another niche of funky action platformers. By itself, that shouldn't be a problem. They're both video game stories, through and through. But they just lack so many things that seem to define 'traditional' LitRPGs, starting off with the setting itself and filtering down from there.

    To put it another way, video game logic and mechanics (even RPG logic and mechanics) are how these stories work at all, but not explicitly dungeon crawler/D&D/Ultima Online/WoW logic and mechanics. And considering the rarity of any story that does defy this and still considers itself LitRPG, that's giving me anxiety.

    If the hammer comes down ruling that a story has to have D&D/WoW logic and mechanics to qualify as LitRPG, then that's definitely not gonna work out well for that proposed Nineteen Eighty-Four styled LitRPG concept I've been toying with. Okay, maybe that one's a joke. With Astral Falls, I could probably remove the video game mechanics and still have a functional story if I did a bit of rewriting. But for the likes of 58th State, removing them simply won't work at all because they're built into the story. Yet whenever I think of this story, it's not like any LitRPG I've ever read. It's too... platformery? You could say? It's not fantasy, and it has cyberpunk trappings and conventions but it's aesthetics come from elsewhere. Like if OASIS sent Watts into the result of mixing Jet Set Radio with 1920s-era Metropolis if it were repainted by the members of Strawberry Alarm Clock at their most tripped, populated by some unholy fusion of the gangs from The Warriors wearing fashions from The Fifth Element, set up like you're playing an exceptionally funkadelic remix of River City Ransom meets Sonic the Hedgehog, rebuilt by...




    Sigh.

    You know, I should probably just write this and hope someone likes it enough to buy it instead of worrying if I'm following the beats well enough to shift units.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
  7. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    LitRPG is inherantly sci fan games arent just fantasy especialy not mmos *cough cough* warframe *cough cough
     
  8. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    Wait does Kong own the trademark for LitRPG? I thought it was in the public domain

    PS my advice for authors unshure if there book is LitRPG is to look at steampunk some of the books are verry losely steampunk but as long as they get that feel across its not a problem
     
  9. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    I think the trick is to steal races from D&D if an author wants to be lazy at this point I feel you basically cant write a book I will love with the standard elves and dwarves any more no matter how good the writing is(unless its a parody). One of my favorite books of all time is brimstone angels and that series is literally a D&D and it feels incredibly diverse its clear why it works because the cannon has been added onto and enriched for decades now by many accomplished authors (of course im not advertising IP theft but useing them as an inspiration races in books)
     
  10. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    You know, I realized the real problem I had with this. 58th State isn't LitRPG— it's GameLit, but the RPG elements are just that. Elements. It bears far too much in common with platform games. The plot is basically River City Ransom/Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but with a Jet Set Radio aesthetic.
     
  11. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    So the other day, I was looking over my notes when I rediscovered some of my own ideas for this story. Coincidentally, I was listening to exactly the right music for the occasion. Now that I've gotten my feet wet with litRPG publishing, I figured that it's high time to begin shuffling all my best cards and prepare to play them as I see fit.
    Of course, I've already stated my intention to first gain some financial security through the haremlit avenue, hence why I've been doing two harem stories at once. The complete failure of Ghosts of Smoke and my lack of funds to save it reinforced that. Until I'm consistently bringing in enough each month, I'll be focusing on writing all the harem ideas I created (all of which were created in a single burst of inspiration back in June, might I add).
    That said, I can't say when 58th State will see a proper release. I can't imagine I'd write it before I'm finished with Lady Wukong vs. The World. It's even likely that I'll take it to RoyalRoad first. Out of any story I've created, it's probably best suited for that site, and the whole reason I'm even posting this is to show you what I mean.


    Here's what the first act of the story looks like, a straight copy-and-paste of a three-year-old Word doc:







    Episode One: She Happens Like A War…

    Stage 1.0: Welcome to 58th State, Belle Grand-Mär
    Stage 1.1: Beat School Zone: Art Class
    Stage 1.2: Beat School Zone: Music Club
    Stage 1.3: The City That Sings: Azura Meco BOSS
    Stage 1.4: Prizes and Stats!

    Episode Two: Dance Along The Star-Brick Road

    Stage 2.0: City of Dreams
    Stage 2.1: Spiral City Zone: Port Yox
    Stage 2.2: Spiral City Zone: Grooves
    Stage 2.3: Catastrophony of the Streets: Spitfire BOSS
    Stage 2.4: Prizes and Stats! II
    Stage 2.5: Radio City Blues
    Stage 2.6: Star-Brick Road Zone: 23rd Street
    Stage 2.7: Star-Brick Road Zone: Uphill Brawl
    Stage 2.8: Neon Rainbow Road: Jet & Hawx BOSS
    Stage 2.9: Prizes and Stats! III

    Episode Three: The Girl Can’t Help It

    Stage 3.0: Son Of A Twitch
    Stage 3.1: Frypan Grill Zone: Steakhouse
    Stage 3.2: Frypan Grill Zone: Neon Mafia Den
    Stage 3.3: Dragons: Guitar BOSS
    Stage 3.4: Prizes and Stats! IV
    Stage 3.5: Cyberdelic Wonderland
    Stage 3.6: Makyo Square Zone: Starlight Carnival
    Stage 3.7: Makyo Square Zone: Demon Tree
    Stage 3.8: Sons of the Demon Tree: X-Jet BOSS
    Stage 3.9: Prizes and Stats! V

    Episode Four: Heaven’s Vengeance

    Stage 4.0: La Princesa de los Muertos
    Stage 4.1: Gravity Highway Zone: Skyway
    Stage 4.2: Gravity Highway Zone: River Walk
    Stage 4.3: Reaper Girl: La Bomba BOSS
    Stage 4.4: Prizes and Stats! VI
    Stage 4.5: Bomb la Bomb
    Stage 4.6: Raven Forest Zone: Universe Park
    Stage 4.7: Raven Forest Zone: Verdant Fields
    Stage 4.8: Dead God’s Path: La Bomba BOSS Pt. 2
    Stage 4.9: Prizes and Stats! VII

    Episode Five: Take One After Two

    Stage 5.0: Mechanical Imaginarium
    Stage 5.1: Sunday After Expo Zone: Rocket Tower
    Stage 5.2: Sunday After Expo Zone: Cloud Web
    Stage 5.3: Dreamland: Rockette BOSS
    Stage 5.4: Prizes and Stats! VIII
    Stage 5.5: Double Down
    Stage 5.6: Sunday After Expo Redux Zone: Hidden Rooms
    Stage 5.7: Sunday After Expo Redux Zone: Underground
    Stage 5.8: Fire In The Night: DüLemmy BOSS
    Stage 5.9: Prizes and Stats! IX

    Episode Six: Another World Awaits

    Stage 6.0: Children Born As Ghosts
    Stage 6.1: Undercity Zone: Albion
    Stage 6.2: Undercity Zone: Muriel’s Library
    Stage 6.3: She’s Not Your Cute Woman: Pentagram BOSS
    Stage 6.4: Prizes and Stats! X
    Stage 6.5: 15 Steps
    Stage 6.6: Miyakuro Zone: Challenge
    Stage 6.7: Miyakuro Zone: Ramen Shops
    Stage 6.8: Lunacy: The Mayo-Man BOSS
    Stage 6.9: Prizes and Stats! XI

    Episode Seven: Diamonds In The Sky

    Stage 7.0: The Other Side On High
    Stage 7.1: SXG Zone: Freerunner’s Paradise
    Stage 7.2: SXG Zone: Blox
    Stage 7.3: Downhill Jam: Mito Bito BOSS
    Stage 7.4: Prizes and Stats! XII
    Stage 7.5: Kindling A Dead Fire
    Stage 7.6: Starscraper Zone: Trinity Hyperloop
    Stage 7.7: Starscraper Zone: Edge of Space
    Stage 7.8: Ride On Shooting Stars: La Bomba & Sync BOSS
    Stage 7.9: Prizes and Stats! XII



    Fun fact: I came up with the fundamental story for 58th State in early/mid 2012. Back then, it was actually a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction (hence the use of 'Zone') that was deliberately styled as an arcade beat-em-up platformer in literary form (again, taking up from River City Ransom and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World— the fanfiction name was even Sonic and Amy vs. the World). I never did much with it outside write a few unsatisfying chapters and post them to FFN, now long since lost.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  12. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Main character: Belle Grand-Mär
    [​IMG]

    Design not totally finalized— I've been thinking of going with white hair and a generally blue-and-white design. She's basically a mute ninja. Why is she mute? Because I wanted to see if I could create a story about a character who never speaks. No dialogue from her whatsoever.


    Her rival: Bomb, or La Bomba
    [​IMG]

    She used to be French, but I've decided to make her Spanish. She's also dead and basically a part-time Grim Reaper.
     
  13. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Maybe Ghosts of Smoke needs a sexed up cover?
     
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  14. Gryphon

    Gryphon Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I think there's a crown for this.
     
  15. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I'm honestly not that torn about its failure. As has been mentioned, it was always meant to be more of a "let's write a challenging story with a litRPG plot attached" than a money maker.
     
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  16. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The storyline in the OP? Yeah, completely ignore that until I update it.
    I've also been creating a solid aesthetic for the story. It's so colorful, it tastes like diabetes. That's one reason why I want to recolor BGM white and blue, to make her stand out a bit more like Bomb.
    It's crazy how a focus on only three colors nevertheless makes everything feel colorful. The aesthetics of 58th State are pretty much "Red + Yellow + Blue". Remember how the 80s and early 90s were pink, orange, and cyan? This story's red, yellow, and blue and pink, orange, and cyan. But red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors (no pun intended.)



    And it obviously can't come through in literary form, but there's also a lot of 16-bit and 32-bit cyberdelia inspiration to go along with that dreamy chiptune and funk-punk. If I could, I'd get Paul Robertson to do the cover.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  17. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    But wait, there's more!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There's already a de facto theme song:


    Another other such tracks:



     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  18. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    And a bit more:
    [​IMG]
    More music for your ears




     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  19. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Revamped Belle and Bomb!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Here's some fanart of the characters! Not commissioned.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018




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