Pangea Online

by SLRowland

Book 1: Death and Axes

Everything has a price. Pangea Online is no different.

Esil has spent the past year toiling in the mines of Pangea while the more wealthy traverse its myriad of gameworlds. His luck changes forever when he stumbles upon a legendary Developer's Chest, containing an invaluable Worldpass, which grants him unlimited travel to all gameworlds.

Now, Esil isn’t just stuck watching as others explore Pangea. He can finally level up.

But his in-game actions have real world consequences and failure online threatens everything he holds dear.

Book 2: Magic and Mayhem

Everything has a price. Pangea Online is no different.

After winning the Developer’s Tournament, Esil has a new life filled with opportunity. He’s the first person to test out their most innovative technology, full-immersion gameplay, in a brand new, unexplored gameworld. Magic and mayhem collide in ways he never thought possible and soon, he finds himself caught in a quest that may alter the course of the game for years to come.

As Esil experiences the grandeur of full-immersion and the line blurs between reality and the gameworld, the NPCs he meets feel more like friends than data. Tasked with defending a small town from dark forces, he must learn to protect its citizens from impending doom or risk losing them forever.

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A good story in need of revision

Note: I've enjoyed reading this piece, and would be happy to adjust my review once it's been through some polishing.

This is a fun romp. I like the way it's handled more than many other VR stories - the game world is just a game. It's the people that matter. Items are dropped on death, so death is only taken seriously when an important item might be hard to retrieve. Despite the insignificance of death, the stakes still feel high, and the tension is appropriate to the situation.

It can be an excellent story, with some work.

That said, there are some issues holding it back. All of the categories have issues to work on.

Specific issues will contain minor spoilers, so please read no further if that concerns you.

Style: There's some issues with certain aspects of presentation. A big one is an issue of precision. The amount of the prize is exactly as much as is needed. He found out the problem for which he needs money at pretty much exactly the same basic time as he got crazy lucky, and that the tournament was announced. Money and HP also end up feeling very exact.

I count this as style, not story, since this is something that can be adjusted without changing the plot. For instance, the medical thing could cost, say, 73k gold, and need a 1k per year treatment plan for the rest of the patient's life. And he could have known about it before the story starts. Things like that - adjusting timing so coincidence isn't strained to the point of seeming like Deus ex machina.

Beyond that, the stylistic skill of the author is quite good.

The story gets a 4 stars because it's good, but a little iffy in its focus. If the story is about the overt plot, then it's a little cliche feeling. It feels very predictable in that regard. If it's a story more about the characters, and their personal journey, then it's much higher caliber. I also believe that's what the story is ultimately going for - the overt plot is a mechanism to carry the real story. If that's the case, there's a great deal to work with. In that case, however, it needs a little more introspective grounding, to make the reader's focus more on the characters themselves and the emotional situation.

Grammar gets a 3 because while it's generally good and readable, the story is full of little errors. For instance, questions often end in periods instead of question marks.

Characters get 3 1/2 stars because it's reasonably clear what the author is going for, but the only character that does a good job of really expressing personality is a secondary character, Buzz. Another character, Grayson, gets a bit of real expression towards the end of what's currently written (ch. 18).

There's a lot of potential with the MC and another major character (the obvious love interest, at this stage), but so far, there's a lot of focus on what they're doing, and a bit of focus on how they feel about the things that are immediately happening, but not a great expression of who they really are.

On one hand, that's appropriate - it's quite clear that a big point of the story is the MC finding out who he is. But getting a better sense of who he is right now would be good.

For example, at one point he mentions he likes fantasy worlds, but he doesn't clarify what exactly appeals. Another, he says he doesn't like the types of games where you do the same thing over and over, that he preferred variation in plot. But that could be because he's easily bored, because he likes speculating, because he generally loves novelty, etc.

While these things are completely acceptable, they nonetheless are examples of opportunities to get a glimpse into the MC's soul. Many such opportunities are passed over. Some opportunities are absolutely taken, and insights are provided, but on the whole, it could use a little more depth.

All in all, I honestly enjoyed the story, and will be keeping an eye on it for more. Great work!