The Level Up Stat-O-meter

Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by Conor Kostick, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. Conor Kostick

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

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    Ladies and Gentleman, I give you... drum roll ... the Level Up Stat-O-meter!

    One positive to come out of some otherwise discouraging exchanges about what is LitRPG over in the Facebook page is the idea that the imprint Level Up, which is going to publish LitRPG/GameLit with a focus on retail sales, should be clear to its potential readers in what the books are like. In particular, where they sit on the GameLit-LitRPG spectrum (if you make that distinction, which it seems more and more people do). I take the point that no one wants to buy the wrong kind of book for their tastes. So what do you think of the idea that I should give each book a rating somehow (e.g. on the back jacket / blurb). I'd appreciate some constructive feedback here, in particular: a) do you like the general idea and b) can you improve the definitions. Note that they have to be concise.

    Thanks

    upload_2018-9-19_0-43-48.png
     
  2. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Not a bad start, imho. I'll sit back and see what the readers think. They're the most important.
     
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  3. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    It's interesting and I rather like the idea. @Windfall is a good one to talk to about it. They've been working on tags and such a lot to try and categorize LitRPG stories. @Herko Kerghans as well!
     
  4. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Sorry. I'm traveling extensively these two weeks so these are just quickie answers I can type up on my phone.

    I like the scale. And it's a cool idea -- like shampoo. You see one, it's whatever. You see variations of flavors, you start to want them. So having something like this will be really cool!

    I didn't really go into the details if GameLit vs LitRPG much in my various attempts to define useful tags, and our current version only has degrees for 'game text' (from none to light to medium to heavy). I don't think it's very good, but personally I don't think I've read enough to clarify what exactly it is that makes LitRPG... LitRPG.

    Off the top of my head, though, and this is entirely personal: I just make a personal distinction in my head between 'being' in a game world and 'playing'. So, to me all portal LitRPGs feel in one camp (Delvers and the Land feel kinda the same to me), and VRMMORPGs feel similar. Then there's a second layer of 'balance'. All game-breaking chosen one-ness doesn't feel balanced. The Way of the Shaman, even when the MC is special in some way (through exceptional intuition, etc) feels balanced.

    Then there's also these stories with 'emergent' gameplay, which I personally don't like, because they don't feel like a real video game, but more straight fantasy.

    But then again I suspect that it's all in the presentation.

    I think a good way to go about it is to categorize existing stories and see if the scale works?
     
  5. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Could you go into more detail about what you mean by this (when you have the time)? Are you talking about stories where the characters have stats that measure their power, but these don't specifically affect what they're capable of, versus stories where the action is specifically bounded by the rules/power options that the characters have?
     
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  6. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I think my question on this scale is where you draw the lines. Really it's the delineation between 4 and 5 that I'm not sure of— though that may be because I'm still new to LitRPG, so I haven't read enough to see the finer distinctions.
     
  7. Simon Fiasco

    Simon Fiasco Bringer of the Avocadopocalypse LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    You eat your shampoo?
     
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  8. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    You don’t drink of the forbidden hair juice?
     
  9. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Hold on a minute. You guys DON'T eat your shampoo?! ;p

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Back on topic, I think five "steps" is the right amount. Not too many but enough to make a difference.
     
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  11. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Hrm. Could maybe refer to them as...

    LITRPG 1
    LITRPG 2
    LITRPG 3
    LITRPG 4
    LITRPG 5

    ...on the cover? I could see this spreading behind just your books, @Conor Kostick ...
     
  12. Conor Kostick

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

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    That's well observed. I don't think I have enough delineation between them. They both share the quality that updated stats are essential to the story. That's ok and marks them off from 1-3. Then I've mixed two ideas, not very successfully. One is that in 5, we see stat tables in a kind of outside voice that has nothing to do with the character pov voices. But I don't think that works to differentiate it from 4, because 4 could have the same. So really the difference could be in terms of the amount of stat updates. 4 'regular' and 5 'constant' or 'heavy'. A score of 5 might be a bit off-putting, it might suggest padding. Hmmm. Help wanted. I think @Windfall 's idea of using real cases to clarify the distinction is a good one.
     
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  13. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Just to spanner the works further— who’s the target audience for this system? Is it existing LitRPG readers who want to be able to pick their preferred sub-style quickly, or is it newbies to the genre who pick up a book off the shelf and need help understanding what it’s about?

    (Or both?)
     
  14. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Hey, with something like caramel honey it's hard to resist! :p
     
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  15. Conor Kostick

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

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    Good question. I think it more important for existing LitRPG readers. I want to avoid a situation where someone says, 'this isn't LitRPG' and feels cheated because there wasn't stat progression. If there's a one or a two on the score, then maybe the book isn't for them (how many readers are this particular, I'm not sure, but even if it's just a few, I'm happy to cater to them).
     
  16. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Yeah, it wouldn't be a deciding factor for me, though I tend to prefer less stats all other things being equal, but I know a lot of readers (or at least the vocal ones) are VERY vocal about whether they like their books crunchy or not.
     
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  17. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I guess I'm talking about 'sloppy' skill systems that don't seem like they could exist in a real multi-player game, like how one player can change the fate of the world, etc., which feels very standard fantasy to me. So, I can understand that if it's a open-ended Skyrim kind of thing, you don't have to worry about balancing, and therefore all these quests are unique to your character and the skills/builds can be anything you like. But this would make a rather terrible multi-player game, because... not everyone can be special. Or if everyone is special, no one is, so the story has to feel that way.

    But then again (and I'm in the minority here, I think): I want to read a story about a game world because I want a fair world. When the world in the story doesn't seem balanced, I'd rather go read standard fantasy. So, yeah, I guess I like games that feel closer to real games that we have today, and I really, really like tangible, explicit rules. No "You have unlocked some XYZ rare skill because of whatever you just did".
     
  18. RedCulver

    RedCulver Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    @Windfall Aha, that makes total sense. Thanks!
     
  19. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Personally, I'm not bothered at all by whether something is "LitRPG" enough. And I think this is a rather complicated category with several concepts tied into one. Again, I'm typing off the top of my head right now, so I apologize for the lack of refinement.

    Things that make stories feel 'LitRPG' (or game-like)
    - Are there numbers?
    - How much of the numbers are presented explicitly (via stat tables, etc. -- authors can have a very solid system written somewhere in their secret spreadsheet but choose not to show everything)
    - Do the numbers actually mean anything to the plot/story?
    - Are there actual character stats (like Strength, Intellect, etc.) -- some stories are based on 'skill trees' and people get different ranks of skills. For some, this is not "LitRPG" enough
    - Do game mechanics play a part in the story?

    Personally, I only care about the last one: or, more explicitly... hard rules.
     
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  20. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    The inevitable result of honey-flavored shampoo:

    [​IMG]
     




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