Sharing LitRPG tips and Tricks.

Hi people!

I know that everyone has different preferences on the type of LitRPG they read and/or write. This thread is made simply for sharing of tips and tricks that we have found to work, pointing out common issues that are issues in general to LitRPGs on RRL and things we tend to do while writing LitRPGs. Please leave any negative opinions out of this thread. ANY excessively negative posts on this thread shall be deleted by me if I can delete posts on my own thread. Constructive feedback on particular tricks and calm, mutually beneficial discussion of various aspects of LitRPGs, their systems and writing style of LitRPGs are encouraged.
I shall also be updating this Starter Post of the thread with new tips and modifications to old tips as new information, points and examples are made to show a tip to be too vague, absolute, excessive, etc. Now onto the post.

Before I start writing the introduction. I want to say, yes I know I don't have many stories or even any over 10 chapters (all abandoned pretty sure). This is simply some tips and tricks as a reader and as someone who spends days writing ideas for VRMMO game systems and such. So feel free to correct me and to be honest, the whole point of this forum is to discuss and improve people’s knowledge of writing LitRPGs and allow more amazing stories like "The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound" and "The New World" to be on this site which is already well known amongst the web novel community for its fantasy and LitRPG focus. Now to the Intro...
 So I am currently writing a LitRPG and I am actually making it so I can see how a game idea would go for if I ever decide to make a game. This means I have to end up making sure the game's content in the book is balanced. It also means a lot of hard work coming up with a lot of word documents and spreadsheets with formula's just to get the game completely solidified so I don't write about something that turns out to be a massive exploit that commenters on the book would point out.
Now, I have spent a total of around 12+ hours just on typing up the system, not including the large number of hours my brain wasn't letting me sleep due to imagining the world this game idea would be in or about the main character's adventures and personality and shit. All this led to me today realizing something. The amount of time to write a LitRPG is pretty massive because apart from making a world different to modern society, we have to design a world around a game system and also vice versa; make the game system suit the world and then make the characters and plot fit into this.
Overall, LitRPG authors spend a pretty ridiculous amount of time doing all this and very few LitRPG's actually become successful or enjoyed on the sight due to problems with the actual conversion of a game idea into a living and breathing story and the world made of words. So, I decided to make this forum and put all the things I have learned through reading LitRPG's both successful and unsuccessful; and all the time I have spent writing game idea's and their systems and such; onto this forum and request others do the same. 
This forum is to help the unfortunate who spend hours upon hours creating their ideas and have them end up burning in flames due to either poor writing, a writing style unsuited to what they were writing about or a badly made game that can't keep up with the multitude of ideas, plotlines and amazing fight scenes the author wants to put in his book.
This post will have 2 sections. One of the Mistakes I often see in the books themselves and one with tips and tricks I have for creating a system.
So to the advice/tips, I guess.
Tips and Tricks for the Writing of LitRPG's
Tip 1:  Characters and the game system are more important in the beginning than the plot.
This is one thing I have noticed on LitRPG's that aren't successful. They all focus on the plot and just make unoriginal characters and a boring game system that is generic. Remember, games in real life all have an objective no matter what it is, but at the same time, the ultimate goal of the game is to have fun. Don't make the most convoluted plot in existence then say "I cant be  F***** writing decent Character development and a good game system!"; because that just leaves a lackluster game and characters, the two most important things in a LitRPG, eating the dust of a convoluted plot. Take a look at every LitRPG that is successful on RRL. They all focus on character development and game system and plot tend to be debatable depending on the story. Using the 3 most popular "classic" LitRPG I know.
"The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound" focuses primarily on character development while keeping the game system and plot hand in hand in terms of development.
"The New World" focused on the main character and game system early on. After around chapter 20 or so the plot started finally rolling and everyone loved the book.
"The Arcane Emperor" is the same, focus early on the characters like Rainer, Luna, the demonic Wolf chick (forget her name lol) and Gunther with the system as well. The plot starts really rolling at around chapter 40 or so where it picks up after the system has been explained properly.
This is a trend I notice in every single successful LitRPG on RRL. Character and System early until the system is explained adequately. Then Character and Plot with the plot revealing more about the system as time goes on. 
Tip 2: Don't Info Dump your readers at every opportunity.
This is another thing I notice in LitRPG books. People tend to info dump the system's information unnecessarily at every opportunity. This is a bad habit of many authors, even published and professional authors info dump and it's hard to avoid. The problem is, info-dumping is fine; it is how you do it that really matters. I tend to info dump via dialogue myself.
To be honest, people don't need to know how every aspect of the system of your game works by chapter 10. In fact, most good LitRPG still leaves people in the dark about some things for the whole book. For example, the unnecessary information like the formulae used to calculate stats with all your gear equipped and such should either 1) not be written or 2) if you must add it, do it in an author note or a chapter titled "Formula's and lardy dardy da" or something. 
Tip 3: Don't leave readers completely in the dark.
This one is very rare, but I have seen authors leave readers in the dark so much that we don't even know their current level if it's a LitRPG. Like leaving out how much health and mana they have out of their status screens or whatever. Show the results, don't show the methods to get that in the chapter, only show if they ask or you enjoy writing spreadsheets and feel the need to share them in an independent chapter.
Tip 4: Stay as Short and Concise as possible, but still become descriptive when necessary.
Keep your explanations short and concise. this is something that should be kept in mind no matter what you are writing about because no one likes an info dump on how mysterious, cold, damp and dark a cave the MC is walking through is when you could just say something like "As I walked through the cave, I shivered at the cold, damp feeling that permeated the dark and mysterious cave."
See, that single complicated sentence was short, concise and reads fluently. Keep the short and concise in mind and check over your descriptions of the system especially since most people tend to go overboard with the description of their cool system. Cos who doesn't like showing off their brainchild?
But remember, some things will require several sentences or a paragraph to adequately explain to the readers. If this is so, do it in an interesting way like via dialogue with several "breaks" during the explanation like interruptions and jokes between characters to keep the readers from just skipping over it (I am guilty of skipping over an info dump and getting confused AF 3 chapters later because it became relevant).
Tip 5: Remember the underlying theme of your story is always. Remember the underlying theme and what the books is about at its heart.
There are several types of LitRPG's. Some like "The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound" and "The New World" are about a system changing their world. Those types of LitRPG's are, at their heart, about learning to survive and thrive in the face of the new challenges and changes the world has become. Or stories like "The True Endgame" is all about exploring the new game and having fun while fighting only when required. Keep in mind the core theme or goal of your story because otherwise, your story will stray from what it was made to be.
Tips and Tricks for Creating a Game System
Tip One: Have something that is interesting or unique to your game idea alone.
This one is crucial. The amount of generic game ideas I read in LitRPG's is pretty much a 1:1 ratio for original and interesting to Boring and unoriginal. That is just on the game idea itself, not on the way that the game system is presented as above. This is such an easy thing to fix in-game ideas, but it is still the most common thing which turns me away from a LitRPG. You could have the coolest characters and an epic plotline which could get you an award by some famous review association, but if your game system isn't interesting or at least not boring, then I guarantee that you will have 20% or so of the people who read the first 3 chapters go away due to the generic game system. It isn't hard to do either, just think of something like it having a high percentage of pain or making it hyper-realistic or being able to take your knowledge from in game, and apply it to real life (an example for a modern themed game). I am sure there are even some people who publish this kinda free idea's on RRL as a book or on the forums.
Tip 2: Make sure your game makes sense. Don't have something like a bear attacking the MC for no reason; have an aggro range or something on the bear that the MC entered.
This isn't often seen in LitRPG's on RRL, but it is still a big deal-breaker for most who enjoy LitRPG's. If your MC won because of an exploit, then explain it while keeping it concise. Not making your game make sense is like saying "f*** logic and coding. This game runs on chaos". remember that if it is a game or it has a system, then it is going to have an order to it. Everything in a LitRPG should be explainable if a reader asks about it, whether you can tell them or cannot tell them due to it revealing future aspects of the system/game.
Tip 3: Games are based on Mathematics, Logic and Common Sense (to gamers at least). Don't be afraid to have formulae in formulae and make sure every modifier on your stats has a priority.

Note: This tip is only for those who want to have the game system be as realistic (to modern games) as possible.

This is something some people seem to forget. Games and systems are based on logic, which is related to mathematics. So make formulae, even if it's as something as simple as: 
( Level * 100 ) + ( 10 * Vitality ) = Maximum HP
or as complicated as:
( ( Level * 100 ) * ClassLevelHpModifier ) + ( ( Vitality * 10 ) * ClassVitalityModifier ) = Maximum HP".
Don't be afraid to make crazily complicated formulae like the second one which will cause wildly varying results just because you think that saying a level 100 Rogue character should match a level 68 Warrior character because he has a level advantage. That's just bullshit, a rogue would never invest in vitality and a warrior would usually invest in vitality as one of his main stats regardless if he is doing a Vit-Str-End or a plain old Vit-End build. This is why gamer nerds tend to write the best formulae for games because they know shit like this. 
Once you get to the point where gear will add a % based bonus like "+12.5% Vitality" or your racial traits come in with "+20% vitality" for something like an orc or dwarf, then you usually need to use formulae inside of formulae and have each have a priority. For example, below is what I would do for a calculation of a level 100 tank would maybe look like. I have placed spaces between everything to make it look clear but when you use it you would have no spaces. Formula stuff is between the dotted lines for those who want to skip it. I couldn’t figure out how to do spoilers with coding (If someone knows can they post the code so I can edit this post please?).
{ [ ( Level * 100 ) * Classmodbonus% ] + [ Vitality * ( 10 * ArmourBonus% ) ] + ArmourBonusHP } * ( 1 + RacialBonus% ) = Total HP.

Now I am sure this all looks crazy complicated and I will admit that I made this on the spot (took 10 minutes too.. Was still editing while writing the example Wink ). Using the formula above I will calculate the maximum HP a level 100 Orc Warrior will have the information under “Stats”. Note: standard brackets ( ) show the bonus in % while the value outside the brackets is the decimal equivalent factoring in whether we want to add or subtract that percentage in the equation.


[ Level 100 ] - [ Classbonus% = 1.1 (+10%) ] - [ Vitality = 225 ] - [ ArmourBonus% = 1.25 (+25%) ] - [ ArmourBonusHP = 1,000 (flat value) ] - [ RacialBonus% = 1.2 (+20%) ]

Guide on how to use
The bonuses above would all go into the formula for total HP that is in italic above like this:

{ [ ( 100 * 100 ) * 1.1 ] + [ 225 * ( 10 * 1.25 ) ] + 1,000 } * 1.2 = Maximum HP

Ok now using the order of ( ) being solved first from left to right, it will become:

{ [ 10,000 * 1.1] +[ 225 * 12.5 ] + 1,000 } * 1.2 = Maximum HP

Next, we solve the [ ] from left to right. That will make it:

{ 11,000 + 2,812.5 + 1,000 } * 1.2 = Maximum HP

Finally we solve what’s in the { }. That will make it:
14,812.5 * 1.2 =  which equals "17,775 Maximum HP"

Although that all looks complicated, in actual fact it is quite easy once you get used to it. I haven't tried, but I am pretty sure if you do it right using variables, you can make it completely automated on excel by simply entering the required values and using the functions excel comes with. I have done similar things with lists for assignments, only simple adding and multiplication I admit but I am pretty sure this would be easy if you learn how; considering that excel was made for the numerical horror know as financial charts, tables, and equations.


Tip 4: Give the Races and their NPC's Raciality and Individuality respectively.
This is very important to do. I see people do stuff like have wood-elves speak and act like an urban resident of modern day life would. That is WRONG! Make your wood-elf speak like a wood-elf would in your imagination. For me, that wood-elf would be all airy-fairy and start praising Mother Nature's beauty whenever the topic crops up. It will make the book much more immersive if you make every NPC in the game act like they should be acting according to their race, class, culture and religion/values. I mean, you would never visit an NPC human priest that teaches you how to summon a demonic servant, would you? No that wouldn't make sense. These things may seem small, but often the small stuff is what really makes people abandon books due to these small inconsistencies that pile up and make the book feel weird and hard to immerse yourself in.

Well. Either way that's just some stuff I have learned from reading LitRPG's and helping friends design their games they will never make and such on rainy days. Feel free to correct me and make a point if you think there are exceptions or I am wrong. Also would appreciate if people post on what they have learned in their writing and reading of LitRPG's so whenever someone comes onto the RRL forums and needs advice, there is a comprehensive thread to help them create their next story.

RE: Sharing LitRPG tips and Tricks.

I take it you're a fan of stat points and spread sheets (understandable because you wanted to design a game I guess).

Tip 5: You don't need to spend hours designing a game. The story itself doesn't have to mention numbers or stats. If the theme of the story is adventure in a game-world or something non-game related, then make the lvl up system and skill-stuff a minor thing, only mentioned here or there~
•"What does this skill do?" *Uses skill*
•"Oh, cool, I levelled up! Toss all points on speed!"
•"Run away! It's too high a level for us!"

RE: Sharing LitRPG tips and Tricks.

4/16/2018 2:53:31 PMChiisutofupuru Wrote: [ -> ]I take it you're a fan of stat points and spread sheets (understandable because you wanted to design a game I guess).

Tip 5: You don't need to spend hours designing a game. The story itself doesn't have to mention numbers or stats. If the theme of the story is adventure in a game-world or something non-game related, then make the lvl up system and skill-stuff a minor thing, only mentioned here or there~
•"What does this skill do?" *Uses skill*
•"Oh, cool, I levelled up! Toss all points on speed!"
•"Run away! It's too high a level for us!"

Yeah. I was focusing on the whole system changes the world like "The New World" and the LitRPG where it focuses on someone actually playing a game like ah "No Longer a Game", which went pretty in-depth into the system. My tip was sorta for nerds like me who feel the need to make the game system really complicated/fun to invent new builds. 

I myself am actually going to try make a basic Top-Down RPG and maybe make it MMO at some point. Due to the fact that the gameplay itself would basic like Mouse to look, WASD to move and certain buttons use certain skills; I would have to design an immersive and complicated system behind it that really inspires creativity and thinking outside the box of generic RPG builds. This forum post was written when I needed a break from writing the game idea/design (not coding. Still gotta learn that) and read LitRPGs and watch youtube videos on RPGs which had interesting quirks.

So yeah. I will edit my post and will add your tip in as well add a disclaimer that everyone has a different opinion on how LitRPGs should be like and only use the tips on this post if it relates to how you want your LitRPG story to go.

RE: Sharing LitRPG tips and Tricks.

Great thread!

Perhaps I could add on extra few pointers to help those budding writers of LitRPG.

1. If you are afraid of numbers, use a software that will help you instead. One software I used without fail is the RPG Maker MV. I'd been making my own game using the software previously. It helped me massively concerning few things. 
i. Leveling gains for each of my characters.
ii. Creating a class and making sure the growth is both logical and make sense. 
iii. Stats calculations.
iv. Skill (both passive and active)

I know the software I used is not free, but its well worth the investment. Or if you want, just take some ideas from famous games and mix and match with yours. It takes a little more effort but in the long run, either way you will understand your own system better.

2. Write a story and create a game in that story of yours that will make readers say "Hey, if this was a game, I would definitely play this!" Nothing bores the reader more than a game that is so generic and 'not-fun'. The staying power of most gamers are very low nowadays due to power to make choices within their hands. If you are a game maker, what aspect that would entice people to play your game? How would you make people spend their hard-earned money to play it often. As an author, if you can get this right, then you are nearly there.

3. Do not forget about updates. For me, there are way too little of games in the market that has no version updates. Every players love a version updates to the game. It makes old games better, improve playability and the added new contents will often bring people together. Too many authors forget about this. All modern games are not final. They keep on improving, adding up new contents, changing the system etc. Spice things up often. 

4. Mix with something that readers are familiar with plus your own novelty. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. If people were to ask, what is so special about your LitRPG compared to thousands of others, then your answer will be very important indeed. Readers had been exposed to lots of LitRPGs in recent times. So, when they see a new LitRPG on the shelves, they had a benchmark and will definitely compare you to others. Mine was taking a first few chapters of what made RRL existed and put it a little spin (though I did that on a behest of my dear personal friend). 

5. Play with what ifs. Example, what if a magic user meet a monster that is immune to all magic damage? What if the MC has to be in 10 places at one time to stop the world from going to self-destruct? What if all the skills are reversed? What if the magic weapons are cursed and would need the MC/wielder to kill other players to recharge it. What ifs the MC gained a legendary class but is actually pretty much out-of-the favour class? Like a sculptor instead of a knight or a farmer instead of a healer.

6. Remember the gaming ecosystem. If you are a gamer, you will understand this. If the MC breaks the game ecosystem, most readers will get turned off. Unfortunately, this is not something most authors are well aware of. I can name three ecosystems that will get the juice flowing. The players ecosystem, the developer-user ecosystem and the world ecosystem. 

7. Last but not least, make it fun. For all there is to LitRPG, it must be fun and interesting. Add in quirky spells, funny classes, weird NPCs, etc. As an author, have fun with your work.
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