Age of Gods - A VRMMO Story
Darren is just an average guy, not rich, not poor, not too fat, not too thin, just about everything regarding him is in the 'Goldilocks Zone'. He spends his leisure time playing VRMMO's, but he isn't the righteous hero or conniving villain, instead, he spends his time hunting down the rarest resources to craft the most powerful items he can. Today Karonite Industries newest VRMMO is launching and Darren is ready to play. Join Darren in a new world on his adventures in Age of Gods!
I had previously started writing this story but became dissatisfied because of my lack of experience. Now, Age of Gods is relaunching with the same premise but many many changes. I hope you will all enjoy this journey with me!
(Just a quick note, any reviews dated before 12/10/2018 are for the previous version of this story.)
I did not make the cover if the owner of the art wants me to take the image down please just send me a message and I will comply immediately.
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I'll go down the list here, beginning with style and ending in my overall impression, as of Volume 3, Chapter 15.
I think that there's room to improve with regard to the amount of sensory detail and scene description provided. While there isn't necessarily a deficit of such detail right now, it feels like some of that is either redundant, uninformative, or both. Take Thomas' bedtime as an example:
Almost every time he increases his stats before sleeping, it's written in some variation of "He was lulled into sleep by the unspeakable comfort." Alternatively, when he grinds his skills before sleeping, it'll be "He used Serenity to fall asleep."
Not only that, most of his days in-game seem to follow a format. From waking up, to going to work, to a chronicle of gains (in terms of exp, skill ranks, or items) and then back to the inn for a meal and some sleep.
Lastly, Age of Gods is written is from Thomas' point of view, which means that we, as readers, are privy to his thoughts and desires. Unfortunately, the narration often gets caught up in his thoughts, and neglects his observations.
So far, our image of his starting city includes nothing besides a temple, a bank, an adventurer's guild, a dungeon, and the artisan's street where Thomas works through his brief apprenticeships, with some street stalls scattered about. It isn't exactly a setting that screams "vitality" or "inhabited." There's been no mention of the NPCs' culture, their personal lives, social customs, etc.
Thomas doesn't leave the starting town for several weeks in-game. He spends all that time grinding several professions to rank 25 in order to receive teachings in magitech engineering. He doesn't take many trips outside the city or into the dungeon. That's due to change once he leaves for the capital, though.
Whether you enjoy the story or not is probably going to be heavily influenced by whether you like the concept of the game world or not. Of course, it's difficult to pin down a concrete concept for the world since there hasn't been much information regarding it thus far, but it won't stay that way forever. Hopefully.
I do wish there was more on his life outside the game, though. Maybe his experiences in the world of the game will motivate him to become a more active member of society in real life.
No complaints from me. There are some minor issues here and there, like improper usage of punctuation, but grammatical errors don't pervade the chapters. If you're a good reader then you should point out any that you notice, so that the author can fix them.
Oh, boy. I don't want to say that Thomas is a cardboard cutout, but at the same time, he doesn't exactly tick all the boxes for interesting personal traits. A lot of what he says and does is minimalistic, or utilitarian in nature. "Robotic" is how I'd describe it in a single word. Since Thomas doesn't have much of a personal life outside of gaming, and since he hasn't really met up with any of his friends yet, we don't know what kinds of people he enjoys being around. Some people might like that the decisions he makes are generally based off of logic, rather than a passing whim or emotion. Personally, I think it makes him feel less like a human being, but we've only spent 8 or 9 days in real life (in-universe) with him, so maybe that's to be expected.
It might be worth your time, depending on how much you value your time.
Edit: Changed overall, story, and style scores to better reflect my current opinion. There's definitely a lot of room for improvement. I left the discord server after realizing that the author would rather rationalize subpar writing than listen to constructive criticism. Sucks, but hey, if he reads this review now maybe he'll go back and look at some of the things I said.
Considering the amount of shit on this site, this story is a decent breath of slightly stale but still technically breathable air.
This review will go into spoiler territory. Read it at your own discretion.
Style: It’s ok, no glaring flaws but sometimes falls into a “MC did this, then he did that” sorta feeling. Nothing too bad. But nothing worth complimenting either.
Story: The story is not wholly original, the idea of a guy playing a VRMMORPG is almost done to death at this point, the fact that the mc focuses on crafting for most of the story so far is new but depending on how you see it it could be considered bad writing.
The entire first ‘arc’ where the mc has to actually work to get a good skill/profession is nice, considering that all to often it is just handed to an mc of such a story on a silver platter with a harem just for good measure, or the ‘work’ is glossed over so incredibly quickly you forget about it in two chapters.
However it raises the problem of the first arc being very long winded and boring. The author seems to notice this which is nice however it slightly tests my suspension of disbelief when the mc took a whole week to master blacksmithing, the craft he’s supposed to know a shit ton about and has mastered over several games, when it took him a few days to learn alchemy and enchanting which the mc admits to being worried about. However it isn’t that much of plot hole as the mc has several skills which boost his ability to work in those crafts and he managed to recreate a revolutionary method of creating magic weapons so it sorta balances out. Though it teeters a bit too much on author convenience for my tastes.
It's predictable and slow at the beginning and sometimes the author creates possible plot holes to move the story along quicker but I guess its not his fault for planning out an incredibly boring slog of 2-3 volumes. (3 volumes contain pretty much 80% grinding. I know this is supposed to be a VRMMO but there should be a limit to it if only for the purpose of story telling.)
Grammar is fine, no annoying or glaring problems to warrant much of a notice.
Character wise most characters seem to have some amount of thought put into them which aren’t expressly mentioned, which provides for some good theory crafting (running theory that the girl at the blacksmith shop has a muscle fetish). Though sometimes the author tries to give us character ‘hints’ to the characters backstory which are so glaringly obvious I’ll need to get sunglasses. The characters are ok, nothing that’ll wow you but decent enough to 2.5 stars.
Now onto my only real complaints for this story. There is no real measure of power for the MC. Up till now his combat encounters involve punching a boar so hard it exploded, easily rushing through the beginner dungeon and soloing the boss on impossible difficulty. I admit that he’s supposed to be overleveled for the area, since he spent the entire time grinding crafting skills which made his stats pretty dang high. However we have no one to compare these feats with. If someone else soloed the goblin boss on impossible difficulty around the same time as him I wouldn’t care about this matter. Other people can do it so the mc isn’t someone stupidly OP.
What I want is to know that there exists other players who are stronger than him. While I do expect him to be above the common normies in terms of pure stats and game knowledge due to his playtime. There are bound to be other people who play as much as him and have focused only on combat and can thus completely wreck the mc in a 1v1. He’s supposed to be the crafter, yet in combat encounters we have only seen him winning like he’s some OP badass. OP characters aren’t necessarily bad writing, Overlord and OPM already prove this. However the author seems to want the MC to not come off as an OP character, giving explainations in story and in authors notes. Depending on how you see this, it can come off as the author trying to give excuses for why the MC is so disproportionately powerful. However since most of the explainations are actually valid and make sense, it’s not that big a deal.
However I want to see the other side of the game. Don’t tell us he’s not OP, actually fucking show it. Players who’ve played just as much as the MC but has focused mostly on combat. Like the MC but inversed. This can ground the power level of the main character and finally give him an incentive to craft better and stronger gear. Given how the system works, the mc will probably have similar stats to a character that has focused entirely on combat and that’s fine. So long as the disparity between the two is stressed by the skills they each have. The MC should be able to at least react to a player like this, however he should be beaten because the other person has a lot more combat skills. If the authors goal is to have the MC NOT seem OP, this may be the best way to do it. And finally, if this does happen then the MC SHOULD NOT then grind nothing but combat skills and suddenly be able to beat this person. As long as both characters still continue to improve at the same rate, the MC should not be able to quickly pass this person in combat skills because the other has several weeks worth of playtime as a head start.
Another thing, players have affinity with all types of magic, that makes sense since it allows players the degree of freedom they want. However if the authors goal is to not make the MC seem OP, don’t frame the moment we discover this revelation as something special. The reveal had a cliffhanger to build it up, and several gobstomped wizards proclaiming how great it is. Sure it’s special amongst the NPCs but there are literally tens of thousands of players who have the exact same thing. Which pretty much sums up my entire and only criticism with this story. The MC has been doing nothing but stomping over beginner NPCs, mobs and low level characters. Of course he’ll seem OP! Show that powerful players actually exist in story to balance this shit out.
Edit: The best way to put it, the most glaring problem of the author is that he tends to ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’. Sometimes, what he is showing goes against what he is telling. He tells us of the mcs skill in blacksmithing, yet it is one of his longest crafts to master and his only achievement we’ve seen is from him doing completely basic techniques. The author tells us that the mc isn’t op, yet all combat encounters and NPC interactions seem to suggest otherwise. Another thing is that it sometimes feels like the author is stroking his ego a little bit much and teeters on annoying, however that is purely subjective on my part and hasn't been factored into the review.
Overall, I’ll say that this story is above average for RRL, nothing too great but decent enough that you probably wouldn’t die of cringe while reading it. Though, above average for RRL isn't that great an achievement.
Review updated after the rewrite, as of vol. 2, chapter 1.
The rewrite did the story good, but currently I don't have enough time for a proper review, so details coming later.
For the sake of history, I kept the original review in spoiler tags.
- Overall: 2
- Style: 5
- Story: 1.5
- Grammar: 5
- Character: 1.5
At the point of writing this review, I got to chapter 13. Out of 33. There's a really limited chance that I'll read further and even in that case I don't expect to see anything that will change my opinion, as most of my complaints are about the author's attitude towards the story, as shown in the actual chapters, as well as directly expressed in the comments.
First, if you are just looking for a casual read that you don't really want to put too much thought into, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this story. It has a really good flow, the style just grabs you from the first moment and is easy to enjoy, given the level of grammar it displays - I mean, I didn't catch more than two or three typos in 13 chapters, so no problems there.
Where there are problems though are the details. If you take more than a cursory look, you'll see lots of choices, lots of events that happened some specific way just to suit the author's needs to express some idea or another, or, even worse, create circumstances that are easier for him to work with.
Most of these I already mentioned in a series of comments, but for the sake of easy access, here are some of the highlights:
Character creation. Point based, MC got a whole lot of extra points for being one of the first players. Hurrah.
First choice, race. MC goes with a human/vampire hybrid - a race that does not give him anything that actually helps his stated goal of becoming a crafter. All the while there are a lot of potential drawbacks - not expressly stated at that point in the story, but implied, like how the general public may break out the pitchforks for him. And none of his reasoning is shown, the decision just sits there, orphaned. Can't help but think how an angry mob makes a good plot device.
Next, we have stat bonuses, perks and the like. Supposedly an intimidatingly large selection of these. Yet we are, again, shown little of this, just told about it. Then the MC starts picking stuff, blowing just over half his available points on per level stat bonuses - without settling priorities. All his stats will get the same - significant - amount. None are deemed less important. Never is it considered how even the frankly astronomical seeming amount of points he had may not be enough to get everything he may want. No, he forges ahead, finalizing choices before looking at all his options. If he was a noob, I could sort of understand it, but the MC is supposedly a veteran of 70 years in MMORPGs, and, as explained, but never really showed, good at them.
Then he gets a perk to stave off the regular drawback of his race (hunger for blood) and a really bad bargain of a perk, that allows him to pick up new skills much easier - but which makes leveling them that much harder. For five times the amount of points he would have had without his early access extras. Not a rational purchase that an experienced player should make.
Then there is the question of mana. After he got access to his character sheet, he decided to get extra mana. But left his mana regen alone. When just half a thought and a smidgen of math could have told him how much downtime waiting for his mana to come back would mean. Again, we can only guess, that he assumed mana potions to be prevalent, affordable and not limited by say, a hard limit of how much one can consume in a given amount of time. I still don't know if he was right, but I assume so just given the author's known tendencies. And again, this is not a compliment.
Next we have inconsistencies and lots of bad choices during the tutorial.
The MC is an experienced player and the established king of crafters. This should imply a number of things, some of which we see, but aren't explained - say, his knife fighting skills. Totally logical that he managed to pick them up in 70 years, but not a single mention that he actually knows what he is doing with a blade and not just waving it around, pulling lucky vital strikes in a consistent manner. Then he makes himself a bow. Something he supposedly has zero experience with. If he never shot a bow in 70 years of playing, then that has a reason. Yet he still goes for this completely unknown weapon, that requires the creation of separate ammunition for extra cost. And with no training besides two random shots into the ground, he goes off to hunt kobolds - with it being his only permanent weapon (he can spend mana to create temporary things, but those are expensive), without waiting for his mana to regenerate. He literally has the skills to arm and equip himself spending nothing but a bit of time, yet he wanders in, unprepared. Trusting that he can take a couple of pushover kobols with subpar equipment. Yet he still shows wariness during the actual hunt. Fits oh so perfectly, right?
Especially when it later turns out that the author needed the MC to be done with his tutorial in record time.
That comes into play when the MC is confronted by a situation that has him facing some kind of overly fabulous wolf. Behind bars. Talking. That he is enamored by. And has to kill in a moment of instantly built up drama. And he does. Taking in its kid.
My breaking point for this story was actually the author's answer to a comment when a reader called him out on his heavy handed approach.
He said that the MC didn't go the logical, from his point of view morally good decision of contacting the admins before killing the wolf because - here it comes - then he couldn't have had his perfect little moment of drama that was supposed to showcase how his story would have dark moments later on. And how he couldn't have given the MC his special snowflake of a pet in that case.
Perfectly sound arguments, right?
Tl;dr: although the author has talent in creating enjoyable text to read, he believes that a story needs no more internal consistency than your average Hollywood B movie, taking out the enjoyment for everyone that actually thinks while they read.
Edit, as of the end of the 3rd volume.
Conclusion: a return to bad habits by the author.
In the first version of the story, my main complaint was the author's attitude to subvert logical progression of his story just to force his imagined plotline, even if he had to be heavy handed about it.
At first, it looked like he got over this approach in the rewrite, but the author's notes from the 4th volume's prologue proved otherwise: he reacted to some mass complaints by his readers. And his only actual reason for his actions was "this is helpful for me to more easily create new plotlines". At least, he admits it. Even if he sounds arrogant and indignant instead of apologetic when he does it.
The thing that a lot of readers - including me - had a problem with was the game taking away a major choice from the player, leaving him to cope with long term consequences that were forced onto him without any choice, or for that matter chance to prevent it on his side.
The problem with this comes from the setting: he is playing a game, one that isn't a monopoly, but has serious competition. A game that was shown to have quite a few elements that actively catered to the standard expectations of players. A game that should aim to be the best commercial success it can be. As such it just doesn't make any sense for it to create my way or the highway situations: statistics say that even if the person that the story centers on won't leave the game in such a situation, others will. And these others would presumably be rather loud in their discontent of the game, leading to bad publicity in addition to directly lost profits. Seems like a good business choice, right?
And this all came on top of a full volume of ratber uninspired grinding, and you have a pretty good recipe for mass goodbyes from the readers. As the writing itself is otherwise solid, I am thinking of giving the story another chance, but I don't really have much of a hope for anything substantial anymore.
(Review as of Vol4, chapter 51)
The story starts out nicely, he has a goal, learns stuff, makes stuff, the normal crafting way. The further you progress in this story however you notice that there isn't anything major happening, no more progress, no more fun things, little experimentation. I mean, he has those eyes, high rank skill... and it just gathers dusts. Make it detect mana, make it see forcefields, passive buff, anything! But no, it's just 2 basic functions now, and it bothers me.
10 chapters about 1 item is also overkill, even more is just pain to read. Last 20-30 chapters I just glanced over and I don't feel like I missed anything. Start making unique-ish stuff already. It's fantasy, not reality. Why stick to the known? Instead of a gun make a magic crystal grenade launcher orso.
I feel like this story is dragging something out, but I dont know what, and it's just getting boring. We will see if any progress has been made in the next month.
Above average still but if it continues with this trend it will fall hard.
(sorry if rambling, just had high hopes and nothing came of it)
The fundamental problem with this story, for me, is that I feel I'm more reading a monologue of a person's 'adventure' rather than a story. You have far too much detail on the most mundane of things. You spent five paragraphs explaining how your character killed four goblins after using one paragraph to kill 16 and a goblin chief. You spent 12 chapters on a tutorial to justify his pet.
You focus on the most boring parts of the crafting process without giving any sort of satisfaction with the product. I mean, we're 30 chapters in and he hasn't even sold anything. Hell he hasn't even built anything beyond the barest of beginner clothing.
I enjoy a lot of inexperienced authors works because while their writing is all over the place and their story misshapen, they have great creativity and pure excitement and joy that they put into their story. They always make me smile. I don't really feel that here.
I'm sorry for being blunt, but this story just doesn't come together at all for me. However people enjoy it so you shouldn't be discouraged from my opinion. I could just be wrong. My best advice to you is to focus on your premise. A good crafting/merchant story. Most beginner writers biggest mistake is always throwing in new things for no reason. Keep it simple.
It takes an interesting aproach to a genre that's truly over saturated and both the game's system as well as how the main character interacts with it mesh well enough.
Sadly it falls back onto the miriad of tropes and cliches that litRPGs are known for and it sufers for it in the later chapters.
One of my first reviews but I have to say that this story is strong and we'll thought out so far. The primary character makes logical choices based on his limited knowledge. Granted the main character is overpowered but acknowledges the in game repercussions of abusing his abilities.
Overall it's solid writing for royal road that's a great story to pickup. Sadly it seems the àuthor is on hiatus hoping they return to it soon!
I enjoyed it until the constant grinding got less interesting, I think the smithing skill is more interesting than the magitech aspect because it's less technical.
However while I got burnt out, it was still enjoyable for what it is, and I will not whinge about a story focused on grinding to be bad due to grinding.
Well worth it, will come back when I feel like it, but not a good story to constantly binge more than a day or two.
This novel fits a niche in the LITRPG community like few others.
Having read the entirety of what's posted so far, I can see that this novel fills a much-needed gap. Where there are many, many action-adventure LITRPG books out there, there are few that focus on crafting. Especially as heavily as this book does.
And that might not be everyone's cup of tea. Many folks crave the thrill that goes along with someone's epic fight for survival in a new world with levels and skills. But when folks crave the nitty-gritty crafting side of the litrpg experience, where do they go? What book would you recommend to a fan of the genre who says 'I want to read about a crafter main character!' My answer is this book right here.
And if that's not to your liking? No worries.
I could go on further to describe the plot, the character, the scene-setting, but I won't. I will say (and, hopefully, these words reach the author just as much as they reach any readers) that I would be disheartened to find that the author stopped writing before this story is finished. I look forward to each new chapter.
Keep up the good work.
I love the focus and detail on crafting and the innovative character sheet. The way players are from a 'hero summoning gone wrong' is a small detail that I think goes a long way. One of my favorite points of the story is the difference between manually learning skills and going to a trainer. The only issues I have is the little use of Darren's racial abilities but that doesn't really affect the quality of the story.
Looking forwards to new chapters!