Dylan is your average nerd. He works downtown for an architecture firm during the day and enjoys all manner of games and media in his spare time. But while Dylan likes all forms of sci-fi and fantasy, he really likes the genre of superheroes.
So when an indie company releases a virtual reality MMO where players choose to play as heroes or villains, Dylan immediately buys into it. He has a specific type of character he really enjoys watching, something that always makes his inner child laugh in delight. The Saturday morning cartoon villain.
Yes, those inept, bungling, yet highly dangerous villains found in so many of Dylan's cartoons as a child. He loves how they always come up with strange ways to conquer the world and how they get thwarted every weekend. He remembered laughing at every silly antic, every cliched shout of "Curses! Foiled again!" He loves it so much he decides to take this idea into the MMO.
But to grab a playerbase, the company has announced a promotion that players with a high enough reputation can get contacted to become permanent raid bosses in the game. Those chosen will be paid as if employees of the company. Serious players all hoping to live the dream of playing videogames all day rush to purchase copies of World of Supers!
What will happen when Dylan, someone playing the game for fun, clashes with these overly serious players?
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This is a story that understands the appeal of alternate-world stories better than any other story on Royal Road:
The stakes are minimal, in fact almost literally zero, because it's a story about a game, and even if money or internet fame is at stake, it's being played by a functional adult with a real job in his spare time. The author has confidence that the characters and story can hold our interest without any cheap soap opera inflated stakes, and he's correct.
The story doesn't address any of Dylan's real life beyond what someone in game would know (oh, man, I couldn't play because it was a long week at work, let's go do some gaming now) because for once the author has actually played a video game in his life and doesn't feel the need to make it a speculative fiction novel written by an alien about the mechanics of your hew-monn gam-ezz and how numbers work and such. He's telling a story about Dylan using the game to create a persona and mischief, and trusts that to stand on its own... and it does.
There are no deep insecurities or tangled motivations intentionally concealed for dramatic reveals: Dylan wants to build the ultimate classic villain in the snidely whiplash / bond villain mode and execute convoluted schemes until his hubris is his downfall, that's what he does, and that's what the story is built on. Again, the author trusts his premise and the clear, stated motivation of the protagonist to hold up the story, and is again completely correct to do so because it works amazingly.
As for the story built upon one protagonist and his one desire overcoming the obstacles in the way, I can only say that the trend of the author trusting in his ideas enough to let them play out continues to pan out. Every character has their own distinct deal going on, even the NPCs, all clearly defined and not overcomplicated. Dr Zlo's approach to everything is delightfully loopy and indirect in keeping with Dylan's goals, the schemes themselves and the fallout is always creating new encounters that show us interesting facets of the world or show us new characters with interesting deals, and most of all it's all SUPER funny in a way that trusts the reader to get the joke instead of holding their hand through it.
The video game humor, especially, is something done really well here that's apparently surprisingly hard for most litrpgs to manage. The fact that the company has the most amazing graphics ever invented and technical expertise to implement features beyond the realm of science fiction, but can't do actual game design to save their lives and are continually overlooking basic things like the physical size of interface boxes making some features not work and having to desperately patch them in post launch may be the most realistic and hilarious depiction of an MMO in prose ever.
Tl;dr: it's good and you should read it, whether or not litrpg is your thing.
An entire story from an old school villain's point of view is an amazing premise. It's a story of Whacky hijinks, absurd plots, and cackling laughter that bring back fond memores of Saturday morning cartoons. It's a premise that could be a lot fun, the equivalent of literary candy. For the most part, it is fun, but the writing style is distracting enough that it's hard to sink into those fun moments.
Stuff It Does Well:
Easy-going: For a story like this, it is imperitive to keep things light and fun. Vaudevillain does a great job of that. There aren't any stakes, and there shouldn't be. It's like a slice of life novel that's set in a "monster of the week" saturday morning cartoon.
Unbounded Silliness: The world runs on 7 year old make-believe logic, and it's a delight. If everything is intentionally hand-waived, then it is easier to sit back enjoy the ride. I don't have to worry about something making sense, because it's not supposed to.
Caricatures: This is another story where I would be honestly disappointed to find out that somebody had complex motivations and a serious backstory. The story is based on the idea that old school mustache twirling villains are great in their own right, and it delivers on that point. You don't need depth when you've got style.
Bone-Dry Action: The action scenes in this story are lacking punch. They tend to read as list of descriptions and don't flow very well. Scene descriptions are always tricky, but action scenes benefit from more impressionistic writing. Additionally, certain verbs are getting overused, such as "connected." More dynamic verbs may help as well.
Conservation of Detail: In general, this story focuses too much on insignificant details. Unless its important to understanding the character or the story, the reader doesn't need to know it. Gettting caught up in stuff like the main character's favorite sandwhich just bogs the story down. That's not to say that details need to be cut entirely, but they need to be used with intention. Plenty of small character actions can help me understand them better; it's just a matter of discerning what's important and what isn't.
Overly-analytical Descriptions: This one ties into my above point. The majority of the descriptions talk about every facet of the object. It's good to try to flesh out the environment, but at a certain point it becomes white noise. Using similes and trimming out unnecessary info can streamline descriptions and make reading flow easier.
I desperately wanted to enjoy this story. I like the central concept, and the story struck me as the sort of light-hearted fun that I needed. I did find a lot of the story fun, but I also found it a slog to get through. The writing style got a little bit better as the story went on, but not enough that I wasn't constantly dragged out of the story. There's a lot of promise here, but I'm going to have to drop it for now.
A well written, MMO supervillain romp. No heavy-handed "If They Disconnect From The Game They Will Die!" here.
I feel like the villainous Dr Zlo would be a fun guy to share a cup of tea with.
The story is well written but doesn't take itself overly seriously (so far), or at least the mc doesn't which is a breath of fresh air on RR. In my opinion it gives the impression of a something very fun to read and the characters while not significantly fleshed out as of yet, are far from two dimensional. On the whole, the story is highly enjoyable and i'm very excited to see where it is going :)
I love the name
Honestly, the setting and premise of the story is really cool, but i think you'd do better focusing on the light hearted and comedic aspect of the story. While trying to include serious elements like the conflict might be good to include depth to the story, it comes out quite...clunky and awkward.
I can fully recommend this novel
The antics Dr. Zlo gets up to are incredible combined with the creative apporoach that he takes for every mission leaves a fantastic impression. The other side characters all have their own distinct personality making them each memorable.
The setting is a sprawling VRMMO world of the modern era with numerous superheroes and supervillians duking it out over who will win control. What stands out is the fact that is an entirely believeable VRMMO, there are bugs, some NPC's didn't get the same polish as others, mechanics get tweaked this isn't just a LITRPG with a coat of VRMMO lacquer over it this is a faithful rendition of a VRMMO world.
The style and grammar are both top notch. For grammar I've only found one error (granted I'm not the best at grammar myslef) and this was a fairly minor one. The style though is outstanding it truly makes you feel like you're reading about the life and times of that devious villian and the man who plays him.
Overall this isn't just a good VRMMO or LITRPG novel this is just a good novel of quality that I would argue deserves at least a 3 chapter read to see if you like it or not.
I've read up to chapter 23 so far (the end of the first arc).
Well, many reviews already said most of the things this story did right and some pointed out what it did wrong, but I'll try to add something new.
If you want to read a serious story about a true villain, then you should ignore this one as it'll make you disappointed. It is closer to a sitcom comedy rather than a serious story with a complex plot. It would be a hit or miss depending on if you like the humor or not.
The power system is really arbitrary and isn't well thought out, the world-building is weak as well. "World of Supers" doesn't feel like a real game. It just feels hollow and not well-thought-out, more like an alpha version. Usually, MMORPG games are supposed to have a rather slow and ever-growing progression to make people interested in playing it for years. Here, people are already at B rank (with S being the highest) of reputation in about two weeks. A perfect way to make people bored with a game in less than a month. And more than that - the reputation system barely gives them any benefits! It is also raised in a rather uninteresting way (at least for most players). How the hell you can be considered as a "protector of a small nation" after catching 10 thieves? Another thing - there is no real power progression for most types of power, while MCs power is progressed mostly by earning money (which he actually does worse than most other players, lol). Of course, there is no any resemblance of balance either. Somehow, in less than 2-3 weeks, one of the players created a whole powerful organization with an underwater research base and supposed "end-game" items in it.
Simply put, it isn't a power-progression story unlike most of the other stories on RR. It isn't a plot-progression story either. As one of the other reviewers said - it is like everything exists to create certain funny situations, a performance of some sort. It isn't a bad thing and it seems many people enjoy it. But it isn't the type of story that can make you invested enough to binge-reading 1000 pages of it. It is the type of story that you just read to relax after a hard day at work/school. A lighthearted sitcom-comedy without any stakes, fun for the sake of fun.
I really liked it and I would recommend it without a doubt.
The concept behind the story is really fun : the story is structured around the building of a fictional character, Dr. Zlo, made to be the most stereotypical villain (in a fun way) in a VR game where a player can be either a hero or a villain. The style is neat, simple and I say that in good way, because it's more difficult to say more with less words than the opposite. It's just super easy to read without feeling rushed. And I love the fact that the MC has a job, and I love that he's just playing casually, because it feels very new (and way more realistic too). You can feel that the author is having fun, and that's maybe the best about it in the end.
OK, so that's it for the positive. Now I'm ranting.
I don't think I have major problems with that story. I don't see like one huge issue with it that could become so annoying that it could succeed into making me drop it. But I do have issues with the way the characters are portrayed. Dr. Zlo is great, I like him, he can stay as he is. But if we admit that he's very much a caricature, why does every other character feels like a caricature ? It's even weirder when you compare the interactions in game to the interactions the MC has with his friend John, which I actually love because they feel real. There seems to be a distinction made between the players that roleplay and the ones that don't. But I feel like everyone is kind of a cliche, to be honest. Now it sounds super harsh, and I'm sorry, first review, I'm trying my best. But every time they interact with Dr. Zlo, they end up reacting in the same way he does, kind of cartoonishly. And I don't think I would mind it if you didn't have Dylan sometimes reacting to things in a calmer manner, which creates the contrast. I think what I'm trying to say is that if you could see more clearly the difference between the way Dylan plays Dr. Zlo and the way others play, like two worlds colliding, it would give more personality to both sides. Because to be honest, the character I love the most is the hatbot that stared at a tree out of despair. He's the one I relate to in this story. Because I don't know much about the others, even the MC. I see them playing around, and that's fun, but like what does Heroic do except yelling ? How Dylan deals with failure ? Sure, the stakes aren't very high and he's trying to lose on purpose, but what if he loses before he has decided to lose ? How does he react to that ? What does he think of his minions ? John said at one point, that if the minions die, they die. Am I the only one that is concerned about that ? Like maybe, I would be scared of them dying or I would be "well, they die, they die" ? He created minions that fit his taste, and they're fun, but we barely know anything about the way he interacts daily with them, or if that relationship is based on something else than roleplay. Like I can talk to a wall, so maybe you don't have to count me in for those statistics, but those NPCs are super realistic. I would feel inclined to develop feelings of friendship towards them. Except for his friendship with John, he feels, at least to me, like a very lonely character.
The other thing that bogs me out is the action scenes. I understand what's happening in them and just for that, props to the author. But why does he keep pulling out deus ex machinas out of his sleeves ? What the heck ? It feels like watching a Totally Spies episode. But in Totally Spies, you see Jerry giving out the gadgets and sure, they fit perfectly into the episode but at least, you know about the gadgets. Like you see them use a laser lipstick and you're like : so that's how they were going to use the laser lisptick, interesting. I don't know how many gadgets Dr. Zlo has until he pulls them all out. Sometimes I don't even know what's in his cane. And it would be fine if he was not the main character, because that's what villains do in stories, they keep surprising you. But we're supposed to follow him, so I think we at least are supposed to know what he's doing. But we don't, and so he solves problems with solutions we didn't know existed until he magically made them appear. To go further, I feel like there should be a follow up on how much money the guy really has. I mean, he keeps buying stuff. The dynamic is literally : buy ingredients, make stuff, which I'm fine with. But we don't see him paying the price of all those inventions. In one line sometimes, he gets every ingredient he needs and that's it. Combined to the fact that sometimes the gadgets appear out of thin air, it just feels magical to me. And I don't think the author needs to dive deep here. I would take the most shallow justification possible, anything except : it didn't take long to get everything ready, and here we go. At least a follow up on the money, I don't know. I want to see finance management. OK I'm losing it, but something to feel impact. So when he does sometimes, when he pulls out a laser lipstick, I'm like : ah ah ! That's so smart of him to do that ! And he spent only 10 dollars to create that thing ! I know it, because I saw him prepare for it because it's the MC and making me participate into the process before giving me the end makes me more prone to enjoy the fight scene and realize how well planned the dynamic behind it truly is !
In conclusion, I would say I like this because it's a light and fun read and I find fault in the fact that sometimes the read gets too light.
Overall it's great, sorry for the rant (had to talk to someone else than a wall).
A quirky and lovable MC who enjoys roleplaying as a villain makes for a comedic read. However, the MC's quirkiness is insufficient to explain his successes and popularity despite his shortedsightness and lack of planning, unless the reader suspend their logic while reading. More character growth and plot planning would be helpful to make the story less chaotic, and make the MC's successes more attributable to him rather than luck.
This story is surprisingly likeable despite the fact that it has a Villainous Lead tag. Generally speaking, I try to avoid stories which feature villanous leads. I feel uncomfortable reading in detail about characters who hurt others simply due to outside circumstances or think it is ok to do evil things if there is someone who is even more evil. For me, I want to read stories that feature characters who rise above their circumstances, not conform to them. As such, it is extremely rare that I read any stories with the Villanous Lead tag. This story is the rare exception since I was looking for a new story to read, it was listed in the Best Rated section and the description intrigued me (aka the character did not sound like a douche or was trying to give excuses to abandon common decency). As a result, I have found a story, morever a Villanous Lead story, that I truly like.
To begin with, although it has a Villanous Lead tag, it is not like we are reading about an evil character. I do not mean that the lead randomly once in a while does an act of kindness out of nowhere like in other villanous lead stories to show that the character is "good" at heart. Rather, in this story, the lead is simply pretending to be "evil" and a very innocent "evil" at that. Like it said in the description, the main character is simply playing a character in imitation of those old cartoon villains like Snidely Whiplash. The main character purposefully enacts silly schemes and actually wants to lose at times.
Furthermore, the game in this story really does feel like a game. It contains regular game updates, certain game mechanics like selling loot or building are very generic/simplistic, and most of the NPC's really feel like simple game characters instead of making the reader question whether they have souls. All in all, the purposeful "fakeness" cultivated makes it feel like the character simply is in a game. While this might be a negative in a different story, the exact opposite is true here. If it simply is a game, any remaining moral hesitations are removed for a character like Dr. Zlo.
Rather than reading about someone who I can't root for due to the evil acts they conduct, the reader is instead blessed with the comedic roleplayer Dr. Zlo whc wants to make the game more fun in his own silly, nostalgic way. He is simply playing and does no real/permanent harm to people. Whether they be the few questionably sentient NPC's or his fellow players. He is simply having fun and I am enjoying the ride.
P.S. Spread the word about this great story and write plenty of comments/reviews. Perhaps we can peer pressure the author to write even MORE chapters per day. MWHAHAHAHAHA (twirls curly evil mustache here).