[6/1/2019] Istoria Online: Square One (2nd Ed.), by Vic Connor & H. Kerghans

Discussion in '2019 LitRPG Books' started by Herko Kerghans, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Choices are tough b!tches. Even when you have someone worth fighting for.

    I'm Jake Russel, and good luck doesn’t knock on my door often. I live in a world without angels or demons, miracles or magic—born with a genetic disease, I lost the use of my legs a few years ago. And now, I need exactly $657,800 to save someone I love. Someone who made a few bad decisions.

    That's why I signed up for ISTORIA ONLINE, the biggest video game competition of all time. To win the jackpot.

    I knew the catch: The game devs would test their avant-garde, premium capsule on me. Hardcore setting. Full immersion. Maximum pain levels. And a chance for a medical breakthrough I so desperately need.

    Starting in a Single-player campaign, I must gather my warband and survive in the harsh world of piracy, tribal warfare, and slave trading... not to mention ISTORIA's cruel mind games.

    Some choices are easy. Others—not so much. Will I choose right under pressure? Will I survive long enough to advance to Multi-player and compete for the main prize?

    Cover - shrunk lots.jpg

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SLPLHSL

    ***

    This is the (greatly overhauled!) 2nd edition. The 1st edition got okay-ish reviews on GoodReads (3.88, as seen here), and rather harsh reviews on Amazon (below 3 stars on average). In particular, @Conor Kostick reviewed the 1st ed. on reddit (here) and noted "Despite this excellence in craft, I wasn't particularly engaged by the book."

    Time permitting, I'll put together a more detailed post about the changes made (specially about the topics that seemed like good idea, but clearly weren't... since science demands it! =), but in short the 2nd. Edition attempts to keep the "well written" part while addressing the "yet boring" complaints

    Some parameters, to help potential readers decide if this is their cup of tea:
    > This is a VR-MMO story; the begining sticks to the usual tropes of this sub-subgenre (cash-strapped MC joins game hoping to win a lot of money), although it avoids a couple of others (nobody is trapped in-game, dying in-game does not mean death out-of-game, etc). Having said that, except the first chapter the whole story happens while the MC is logged in (i.e. the MC has strong out-of-game motivations, which affect the plot, but the story takes place while the MC is logged).
    > First person; mixes present and past tense for a specific narrative purpose (one of the things that earned the 1st edition a "well done!" from Conor)
    > No harems, although the 2nd ed. ramped up the sexual tension when compared with the 1st.
    > MC is not OP, although the 2nd ed. MC is stronger and more assertive (also a bit more jaded and cynical) when compared with the 1st (since this was one of the main gripes of most critical reviews on Amazon).
     
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  2. Conor Kostick

    Conor Kostick Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen

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    In particular, @Conor Kostick reviewed the 1st ed. on reddit (here) and noted "Despite this excellence in craft, I wasn't particularly engaged by the book."

    Hi @Herko Kerghans. I also said this: "When it comes to plotting, the depth of the characters and the quality of the prose, Istoria Online is first class. Vic Connor really knows what he's doing as a writer. There's even a smart use of present tense and past tense to help distinguish the experiences of the character in game and out of it (something which was subtly managed and I only noticed half way through)."

    And I was very happy to recommend the first edition, so the fact you've taken the trouble to respond to your reviews (not that I would give too much weight to Amazon reviews, there are all sorts of issues with those) and improved it means that I'm sure no one in this forum will regret picking up the second.
     
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  3. Yuli Ban

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

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    Reading through it, I just noticed that some of the plot points are similar to my own Tournament of Titans story. Primarily the crippled main character fighting to earn a hefty sum of money (the requirement is almost the same: $750,000 in mine) in a video game competition. Did I inadvertently rip you off without realizing it??
     
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  4. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Thanks for your kind words, mate, and yeah, I took the liberty to quote that same passage in the announcement post over at the LitRPG subreddit. Still, it has to be said that yours was one of the most generous reviews we got; some of the reviews on Amazon were much worse, and they all pointed more or less in the same direction (not engaging enough, MC a bit too passive, etc).

    Truth be told, it was extremely encouraging reading your review back at the time (Vic had already decided to remove the 1st edition at that point, and he was already working improving those issues). Things like the dialog choices, for example, was something that seemed to us like a really good idea when we implemented it, but nobody liked, so... begone they are!



    Naahh... it's just that great minds think alike!! =)

    On a serious note: in my opinion, one of the hardest things to gauge right now in our young genre is how much (or how little) to stick to the usual tropes, and in that case, how much you need to explain things. It's a balancing act between being too obvious (for readers that are well-versed in the genre) and too obscure (for readers that may be new).

    In this case, for better or worse, Istoria goes with a first chapter in which we pretty much tried to cram most of the tropes we were happy to follow without reinventing the wheel (MC needs cash, is willing to participate in an untested game to make some cash) while, fingers crossed, the original ideas start coming in the following chapters (for example, once Jake logs in, he's still a cripple in-game). The cripple-in-game idea is not new, and I bet you everything that it will keep coming (for example, Kit Falbo does something like that with a secondary character in his excellent "Crafting of Chess")
     
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