Everyone Loves Min-maxing
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Daniel hates min-maxing. While other players are trying to speed run the tutorial of Edenquest Online as fast as they can to min-max time wasted in the tutorial, Daniel discovers an error in the tutorial...
This is a story about a merchant class main character who has curveballs thrown at him left and right, and must make on-the-fly decisions under pressure with incomplete information.
Sometimes his decisions are right, sometimes his decisions are wrong...
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The narrative voice of this book comes across to me as angry and a more than a little arogant in a way that I found quite offputting. After reading a whole chapter explaining that this whole story is a reaction to a negative review the author got on another book this impression was only strengthened.
Overall the MC comes across as very anti minmaxer, not so much for good reasons, but because all those OTHER minmaxers are minmaxing the wrong way. To be clear, the MC is just as much of a munchkin as the rest. He just happens to be using a different strategy than everyone else, a strategy that I am sure will be proven superior as the story progresses.
For example, take his approach to stat distribution:
A merchant distributing stat points to mana… the min-maxers howled with rage on the forums. How utterly disgraceful of him to do so. How sacrilegious. How vile and uncouth. But seriously… how did he know that he wasn’t going to need it in the future? Did he have some kind of scrying orb that could forecast the future?
This gives me the strong feeling that the story will reveal that this was the right decision all along when in actuality his strategy of blindly distributing his stats evenly is just kind of... stupid. It's not a strategy. It's a lack of a strategy. It's based on this strange logic than because he was able to move around normally on the loading screen that physical stats don't matter.
His approach to selecting a class is just as stupid. He selects merchant because it is calling to him, and because in his mind mechants are the most flexible class. This isn't backed up with anything other than his assumptions and feelings.
So yea, I don't like the main character very much, but an unlikeable MC can be overcome. Unfortunately every other character we have met so far is a caricature of a minmaxer. People who just want to go kill things and skip the tutorial. One of the friends he is going to play with immediately states that he is playing a warrior no matter what. I got the impression that by portraying everyone else as stupid the MC is supposed to come off as brilliant by comparison.
Then I got to the tutorial chapters and I dropped it. I was expecting some kind of intelligent exploit from reading the blurb. Perhaps because you cant die in the tutorial you can kill yourself over and over for increased resistances or something like that. Instead the 'error' that is mentioned is the fact that the MC notices some pigs are acting strangely and somehow deduces that the fairy leading the tutorial is secretly the bad guy, and that the pigs are really the good guys. Which is just stupid. It doesn't come across as smart by the MC, it comes across as an asspull by the author to make the MC seem smarter than he is.
edit: i read a little ahead and read this was the MC's reward for talking to the pigs:
"Divine mandate scroll. Binds the familiar [Knight], an ancient guardian with limitless growth potential and fierce loyalty to its master. Unique. "
I suppose he didnt evely distribute his stats after all, seems like he dumped them all in dumb luck
The basic idea is that min-maxing might be based upon faulty assumptions. Which is an interesting twist on the genre.
But that is also were the issues begin. While in the real world that is true, in games, that tends to be not true. Or rather, not completely true.
In games it tends to be based on incomplete assumptions. The assumptions are correct, if you do that this will happen (nice thing about games is that true randomness is rare, and if it exists, it is still something you can expect (example: pokemon: you go through high grass, and at some point you will meet a wild, random pokemon (although taken from. A known list)).)
So here, all the "min-maxers" (which are, by the way everyone else of a hundred million people) are stupid and use assumptions of earlier games. Would not happen in real life. But maybe that will be solved somehow. It is, after all, early enough in the story that some kind of answer for that problem might appear.
But the thing that is nearly unsolvable is that on launch day of a Dark Soul type game more than a hundred million people waited to start. Not even had bough the game, or something like that, but waited for the servers to open. 5 minutes before that happened. Which is mostly inconceivable (it might be conceivable if the popualtion is significantly higher than ours and everyone has easy (and cheap) access to the game and necessary speciality hardware. Which would mean it is an online game with ftl communication inbuilt, because you cannot fit that many humans on earth, not really at least. We are speaking here about a population in the high trillions...
But that are the negatives. Lets get to the positives:
1. Grammar and style are decent to very good. Which is always a plus and can transform a decent story into a good one, or a bad one intop a decent one. Which is whats happening here.
2. Characters. They seem interesting with a lot of potential (although we cannot really tell much about them currently, which is why my rating is so bad. It could go into any direction.)
Overall, it is a decent read, but nothing really good. The story currently is mostly setup (although with some interesting twists later), but the execution of a good basic idea is horrific. I will follow it, but currently it looks like it will end up in 3-10 chapters in my followed but not touched fiction pile. I have a few of them...
Still, the potential is there. It might never be realized, but one shall always hope. There are a few issues with out of character knowledge, but to date they are only minor and mostly exposition, so easily excused.
Not necessarily a fair review as I only read five chapters but I can't be bothered to read further. MC just has too much contempt for others and then joins his bros who don't come off much better.
Possibly good writing practice for the author but not particularly readable right now because I just can't care what happens to these characters.
I'm honestly interested in continuing to read this. I find it enjoyable even if the author really loves to hammer home the mc's almost pathological aversion to minmaxing.
Seems like its going to be an enjoyable read even if there is no reason for this to be labled litrpg.
4.5 stars for excellent grammar and a not too tropey mess.
I loved the intro, like really really loved it, hilarious but it makes sense. And how it was serious yet funny at the same time is really impressive. Hands down one of the best intro's to any book I've ever read... and I've read over a thousand. I'm writing this almost a week after I read it and I still remember it clearly.
As the author acknowledged - this book is an ironic take on the gamers' "min-maxing" mentality. But what exactly that encompasses and how it will influence the story is (yet) unclear.
The start of the story is not absolutely innovate, but the MC's worldview is quite daring (almost extreme) and catches the eye. He is a skeptic man and is trying to avoid preconceptions, he also has great self-confidence. And so he starts the game with sub-optimal (it would seem) class, but great (delusional) plans for the future. Then, thanks to an eye for detail and a tad of randomness, his game-experience starts a little different, than for most players...
It is not an entirely new concept, but it is written in a good style. Definitely interesting, although I am still not sure which parts I should treat as a parodic exaggeration.
The chapters are short. Even if updates are frequent, it will take some time for the story to build up.
The author states the premise of the novel is to point out how absurd and unreasonable it is to worship the idea of being overspecialized or min-maxing, and I think they have done a fantastic at proving that point. The reason why I think this novel deserves a five star is that even while proving that point it doesn't sacrifice the other components of the story. Here's the breakdown:
While we haven't had a lot to read at the time of writing this what we have read is fantastic. Well placed plot hints that direct the reader towards the next beat in the plot while not feeling so far ahead of the characters that you feel they are being stupid, Natural dialogue that helps reveal character motivation as well as push the plot forwards, and a well-placed character motivation from the beginning.
I love the litrpg VRMMO genre for a couple of reasons. It provides an easy in for direct tampering from an actively present 'omnipotent' system. This allows the author to be able to modify things without risking breaking the world. I enjoy the idea of a reactive and organic class and skill system because it's fun to see the character power-up. The last little tidbit is that it is very attractive because you can easily tell when a character grows by how much a single or a set of numbers changed. It's addictive because it's easy to read.
There isn't a ton for me to say here but I do properly enjoy the style of the novel so far. The author focuses emphasis on characters rather than stat blocks which is always a nice thing to say. In my personal opinion, when you get too caught up in the numbers with litrpgs you run into the same problem the games themselves run into, and that's power creep. By divesting the attention from the numbers and into the characters allows a deeper sense of connection with the story.
This section is the hardest to write about without more time to get to know the characters. At first glance, there are parts of Daniel's behavior that seems minorly contradictory (Avoiding spoilers) but upon further consideration, it makes little sense to assume that I know how a character should respond to any given situation when I've had barely 20 chapters to get to know them (In a novel about analyzing and questioning preconceived certainties and assumptions). What I can say is that each character has a little bit of color already. You can tell that they have a personality. Though there are of course background characters that feel less fleshed out I'm okay with that. The backdrop doesn't need names otherwise it would take away from the cast.
Here is where my first bit of scruples comes up and it's purely because of my preferences. Let me get this clear first, however, the story is good. The world so far doesn't have massive holes in it that I can see, there is plenty of room to wiggle and necessary exception because at the end of the day it is a video game. But there are somethings that I wasn't stoked about but I still know will turn into an interesting story. The worldbuilding is minimal because Daniel's perception and ability to view the said world is minimal, and I don't have any idea how this world works so I can't say if things make sense in it or don't. The only thing I can say is whether I liked the way something happened or didn't, and it's simply because that's how preference is.