Oblivion Online (complete)
Thanks for permission to use the cover by WanderingInPixels over on Deviant Art.
As of 12-15-18, the story is finished. I am planning to edit and will release the books as I finish in one big go, but there isn't a timeline on any of that.
Marty had a fairly easy life as a cook for Arctic Storm Entertainment headquarters when he gets an offer from the company to try out a new playstyle for their biggest VRMMORPG, Oblivion Online. Follow him as he makes his way through the game as one of the monster races trying to survive against the forces of light.
Author's note: I will update every Monday and Friday for sure, with the possibilities of bonus chapters through the week if I get extra writing done. I also did a disservice to several of my characters early on. I'm slowly working through a re-write, but it will be a while as I want to make sure I get it right this time around.
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You know when you sometimes read books/watch movies/listen to music that are objectively not that good but otherwise struck a chord with you and you enjoy it?
I think we all can agree that this is not the greatest of stories ever written for the obvious unbalance of the characters. Otherwise it's like the 80s/90s cop TV shows or an A team. I'm extremely sensitive to OPness of the characters (there needs to be something to balance it). In this case the obvious OPness is offset by the light tone of the whole book. It's not trying to establish a dark fantasy world with underlying epic plot, if it did it would be a flop. Instead it's like the aformentioned TV shows - EPISODIC and LIGHT. I don't know about conversations, as they did not struck me too odd to complain about.
EDIT: Changed to two stars because at the end it gets to the exact tropes I was glad it did not have. Trying to establish an underlying evil plot and stopped being episodic and light.
The Good: The premise is solid, the plot is interesting and makes sense, it's funny without trying too hard.
The Bad: The protagonist. Let's map it out:
-Everyone loves him, except his direct competitors, who grudgingly respect him
-He doesn't seem to have any actual character traits
-He lurches back and forth between brilliance and stupidity, from making (simple) traps that "no one has ever seen before" (rocks fall, everyone dies) to trying to stop a charging monster with a tripwire.
-He's smarter than the grandmaster alchemists, who don't understand the most basic of chemical principles, apparently
Overall, falls more into the traditional "Power Fantasy" litrpg than the more recent underdog stuff.
Style: Writing style is mostly fine, until it's time for dialogue. The dialogue feel like someone put together a montage of an actual conversation, giving the conclusions with none of the details or emotions. There's actually very little dialogue, which is by itself a product of the poor story, but does help to support the style score.
Grammar: Can't say anything about it's grammar, which means I never noticed any issues. If I don't notice, I can't complain.
Story: What story? "Bland character splattering noobs" is the best I can come up with. With broken mechanics. Oh, god, the mechanics. The author clearly has no undersanding of MMOs. There's so much wrong with the "game" mechanics I don't know where to begin. Am I honestly expected to believe nobody has ever thought to use pocket sand, and it's okay for it to be comparaable with an ability others can't use until level 35? A level 0 trash mob is allowed to make an undetectable trap that can literally splatter an entire party? Basic rocks can, with no crafting abilities, can be made in to grenades capable of wiping entire parites?
And the dungeon thing? Hooooooly shit the dungeon thing. The entire fucking idea that new monster players should be trapped for a week as glorified canon fodder, not allowed to explore, progress, or grow? That monsters need to be weaker than light races. NPCs need to be weaker than players, yes, because players are expected to win. But now the monsters are players. The monster players need to have fun, too (without cheating or abusing exploits, like the protagonist does).
The way races and classes are picked, and expected to be stuck with forever works only when all the options are available at the start. Not only are they not, making them unlock based on actions and having various raritys and power levels is such horrible game design I can't fathom how the idea manged to make it in to a chapter. I imagine people will be getting intimately familiar with all the low level aspects of the game as they remake character after character, trying to get one they're happy with.
Character: There's no main character. I mean, there's a... "person" we follow. But he has no character. There's not a single emotion to be felt anywhere from, no development. He's simply a vessel through which he explore just how broken this "game" can be. Between the other monster players and the GM, it seemed like there might have been hope for salvation. That salvation never came.
So after reading this story up till book 2 chapter 10 (and most of chp 11), i think i'm capable of writing a review, well as capable as any would be.
The story is written with love and imagination, and i have to give 1 star for effort, but the story is too filled with errors and holes for me to get any enjoyment from it anymore. There's so many brainfarts in the storyline that i have a hard time not making this review too excessively negative. *:WARNING: This review contains spoilers*
TL:DR: This is a huge review, and if you don't like reading this much, then i'm surprised you're even reading stories here on RRL.
First of all, the early chapters were really interesting, i liked the dungeon tutorial, and enjoyed seeing what new traps angus would make. But....
Side Characters and npcs:
Then came the side characters... *sigh* None of the characters in the story besides angus has held any interest for me. The 3 'friends' we keep hearing about in the cafe scenes are uninteresting, and imo completely unneeded. None of those 'scenes' has captured me at all, and i honestly don't see any reason for them having so much 'screen time' in the story. They're all lacking any exciting qualities, and their personalities come off as flat, and uninspired. I've found myself skipping almost all their backstories/cafe scenes (i've skimmed a little, but quickly lost any interest i had).
Khaliss is another character i simply don't like or understand; in the beginning he was a complete scrub npc that basically didn't have any skills or personality to relate to. And now he's suddenly mr. miyagi with spear skills, shadow manipulation, and knows everything and anything the mc needs to learn to be 'better'. He is never satisfied with anything the mc does, because he's the ultimate grandmaster-sensei-know-it-all. The same goes for almost any other 'teacher' npc.
Only the smith actually interests me, and the alchemy guildmaster; since they are the only ones with an realistic personality and could've had an exciting backstory to learn about. (if it wasn't for them being npc's in a game....)
Huge world building problems/plot holes: I'm aware that this story is all happening in an artificially constructed virtual reality world, and the fact that i know this, completely removes any tension the author tries to bring to the story. Simply knowing that no matter how grueling, death defying, traumatic and incredible/fantastical anything we read about is, the fact that none of it has ANY profound consequences in any way, simply removes any excitement i personally would've had for any developments that happen.
A thing that makes no sense to me at all: The mc can completely obliterate, decapitate, maim, liquify and use other types of extreme violence on sapient beings (artificial or not, if it's virtual reality it's supposed to be exactly like reality). WITHOUT having even the slightest bit of remorse, or adverse effect on his mental health?
He just goes to a 'cafe' and eats cake, plays with children and jokes around with his 'friends' after slaughtering and doing things that would leave basically anyone who isn't a complete psychopath/serial killer, mentally scared for life? The things he's done so far, would leave even the most battle hardened real life soldier mentally unstable for the rest of their life. And it literally breaks all conventions of realism or suspension of disbelief.
Also i get that he has skills that give him the ability to do stuff in game, but the way it's happening/written makes it seem like he's a veteran of thousands of wars and skirmishes. Almost like a true blue ultra marine from warhammer 40k. And now he's suddenly getting 'training' out of nowhere to improve his skills, which wasn't a necessity for most of the story untill now?
Also if all these skills get imprinted into his mind, and body, wouldn't that mean that basically any physical feat he learns/trains or masters in the 'game' would transfer over to his human body upon being disconnected from the capsule? or does his memory, muscle memory or otherwise get deleted ?
And all this poison training is another thing which makes absolutely no sense, and hasn't been explained properly AT ALL. How is he able to 'see' inside himself, and 'zoom' in on specific cells/membranes, and see how they work and all that? Even going so far as being able to mount a 'defense' (?) against an invading poison, as if he can control his own antibodies/white blood cells with the power of his mind? Yeah he uses his mana for it, but that makes even less sense, since that kind of fine manipulation would be impossible without a grossly expanded mental faculty/improvement to his basic mental capacities. Even if he can manipulate mana, how the H**l can he split his focus onto millions, upon billions of cells/bacteria? It's utter nonsense. It's almost like the story has gone over to xian xia with inner ki vision/spiritual sight or did i miss something?
Even the virtual reality capsule he uses to experience these things, seems incredibly unrealistically though of. This level of science would be impossible in the author's own frame of world building, since the mc worked in basically a modern day kitchen with no incredible sci-fi machines or anything you would expect from this type of setting.
What is the point of the story?:
I have still not found out what the point of the story is, it's about a person who does fantasy stuff in an virtual reality mmorpg. And then? There is no end goal, no point(s) of no return, no big mission to complete, no larger than life dream to be fufilled, no nothing. It's basically like playing an rpg without any point to anything that happens, you just play for the sake of playing, without having a goal.
I'm sorry this came off as such a negative review, but i honestly hope the author can use my critisism in a positive way to improve his writing. Some huge twists to progress the world/story as we know it (Something on the scale of the matrix). And i could see this story going places. But as it is now, none of what happens matters much.
The story is alright, but it feels too game-like (I know it's a game but still...) The dark races act no different than humans. The dialogue feels really stiff and artificial. The main character has a rather idiotic name. All in all I couldn't feel immersed into this story, and ultimately thats all that really matters to me.
So much potential, sadly it falls flat.
I found nothing wrong with the writing bar some spelling errors. Where this story fails is the fact it doesnt Use the whole monster angle. The city he lives in feels more like the shire than a kobold city.The innkeeper even calls him sir..
Bland fantasy litrpg that does nothing to stand out from the rest even with the monster twist.
Fun, steady VRMMO/litrpg adventure.
This story seems to do everything that it attempts pretty well but what sets it apart is that it seems to avoid all of the pitfalls that similar stories fall into.
There is no sinister, ridiculous real world conspiracy that dominates the story. There are hints of game balance and even corporate espionage issues but the out of game conent all seems to either be a positive addition to the story or a neutral addition and it never detracts from the story.
The other typical problems with similar stories (an overly angsty character falling into darkness, totally absurd evil guilds that operate more like clans in xianxia stories, etc.) are also avoided.
If you enjoy smooth, well-done VRMMO/litrpg stories then this is for you.
So far this is a great start to your story and I'm looking forward to reading more of it
Good/decent grammmar though paragraph spacing requires work. Sometimes you have these huge chunks of 400 words without a break
Good Storyline. imo an unoriginal backstory, but interesting premise to the "tutorial".
Style is weak. The dialogue is robotic and almost completely unnecessary. should have conversations with people IRL and see how unrealistic this sounds. Character can only do right. He can't fuck up. everyone in the world is dumb af, and exists to make the MC appear smarter.
Character. what MC? I don't remember anything about the guy because we're never told anything about him. he's not thought out at all. When you write a story you need to make your characters as well, not just think of the storyline . Give your characters motivations and backstories. This story lacks it
Be a player of monsters, begin in the Dungeon zone and level up. Some downsides to playing, but adaptive players can work this to their advantage. Excellent book, really liking how you evolve once you reach a set level and how you can become a variant.