Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#1
I mean this for the LitRPG crowd, though anyone knowledgeable even in the slightest might have some sort of insight into this conundrum of mine.

So, my rant. Initially, whoever was badass in a MMO of RPG was dependent on how high your stats were, thus a higher level meant you were stronger. Their were and likely have always been exceptions where people who are naturally better at something, might still win even with level/stats difference. Like a level 25 defeats a level 30 or at most 35. Nothing crazy though like 25 beats 50 because...well the stats make up for that lack of skill on the level 50 guy. This is perfect. This is fine. I see no problem with this setup. You do more work, you get higher level, you upgrade your stats. Its about as fair as it gets. If you aren't willing to work for it, you won't improve.

Nowadays though, LItRPG's are getting overly complicated. Everyone I read nowadays, stats mean practically nothing. Everyone is mixing Daos into it, which apparently can offset a weakness in stats by gifting you a power move that blows everyone else out of the water regardless of your obvious baseline weakness in comparison. Or like Randidly Ghosthoud, not the best example, but his stories thing is "Images", which is in a sense, like a separate power source unrelated to stats, that make stats totally irrelevent in the grand scheme. You are level 500? Okay. Guy that is level 60 but has a "potent" image will still beat your ass. Thats bullshit and I don't understand it no matter how it is explained because it still should not be possible no matter how you word it. It's sheer plot armor and nothing else. NOTHING ELSE.

And man don't even get me started on Dao's. That's such a varied and complex issue though it can be used to complement stats, it's usually used to power boost people who are weaker in level/stats to be stronger than they should.

So anyway, my point in this, (hoping I made my point/rant even halfway understandable) is that, when did stats/level not become enough? Games, not all, but the vast majority, still follow this point. MMORPG's for the most part, except for a select few, base strength on your level and stats. Level 15 will get their arse whooped by level 30 or 40 or 50 and being "naturally better" will only do so much to bridge that gap in level and stats.

So, my LitRPG fans, when did stats not become enough?

My LitRPG, or similarity, that I'm working on, strength will be based on stats. The only addition will the possibility of a power move, something akin to "Goku learning Kamehameha Wave or the Spirit Bomb". But it won't be the sort of thing that makes you unbeateable as long as you can land it. It'll only complement and/or sharpen/enhance what you already have.

So again, when did stats stop being enough even though they are the fairest, and most typical way it's handled even now?

FYI, please, no one bring up people who "Pay To Win" because that's a separate issue that expands my topic further than I intend for it to go.







Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#2
I would think a lot was born from people's wish for a better underdog story. Having your mc who is x level weaker win through those means can give some satisfaction to people.

I do disagree though for many LitRpg's AND wuxia/xanxia's usages of that. I feel it cheapens the story's system and makes it irrelevant. I do not mind the same event happening through a similar yet different approach that can be explained without a huge deus ex-ness. And even then it must be to certain limits or otherwise what would happen, which I saw in many stories, is that you reach a point where the entire system barely makes any sense. Yes, this guy is of this stage or level and can fight x levels about his level but another guy of this other level and can fight y levels about his own level. But this guy's image is bla bla bla.

The only way to answer that is to either use less defined stages or levels (which doesn't work for litRPGs but can work for Xanxias) which is what I did in my story. So, yes, a much higher level guy would almost always if not always win the fight. But it is not a linear system where A is always bigger/better than B.

As for LitRPGs I would find it would be much more exciting if winning with a difference was something that came at a cost. That difficulity is what makes it actually fun.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#3
Sometimes they smush together game genres that are built on opposing archetypes and thus don't work when merged. Sometimes they just make something up that sounds cool for a single character without thinking about the fact that 99% of other builds would be frustrating to play. And mostly, it's because game balance is hard and writers aren't used to thinking about it.

And even when you do think about it, it's hard. Words are so much easier to keep track of than an entire world's stats. I spend as much time balancing spreadsheets as I do writing prose, as much time running combat simulations as translating them to a readable scene. It's a lot of work, and not everyone wants to do that work. Lots of people just want the veneer of a game, like the difference between scifi as an extrapolation of science, vs scifi as an aesthetic or setting. A lot of litRPG isn't actually litRPG, it's gamefantasy.

At least that's my read on it. I could be mistaken. But I know for myself, I could write my story a whole lot quicker if I used the numbers as window dressing instead of a foundation.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#4


@ZZZX


Like for Randidly Ghosthound....those stats he used in the  first part of the story....have absolutely no bearing on ANYTHING anymore. With Images....they can "control the space and area around them" so no matter if the other guy has stats overwhelmingly higher than yours, the fact that your "Image" is potent means you'll still kick his arse. Nevermind how higher your level is. His Image means he is God despite being Level 2. The System in that story is so fundamentally flawed and broken...and he's just doubling down on it. Tripling even.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#5
If we're gonna stick to an actual MMO ruleset for our story, I hard agree that if you are going to have a level 20 character, they shouldn't be stomping a lv30 or higher unless it's a DPS vs. a true utility/healer support or something unbalanced like that.

The issue is that a lot of LitRPGs (or at least the ones I've read) don't use a true MMO system. The best I can call most of what I've read is a SP system thrown into an MP setting with no regard to balancing. The MC gets all sorts of goodies and powerups or cheats, but no one else in the story's world gets to use them. We have a word for this type of relationship: 1 player in a sea of NPCs.

A true MMO system has a lot of potential for interesting story and plot architecture. The story I'm working on does use a true MMO system as the basis. And I do mean a true one, no SP gimmicks that are MC-only. If something is mentioned in my story, assume someone else who meets the requirements can do the same thing (okay, there is a bit of a cheat, but the designer of the system did it, so that's the pass). Stats actually have an impact; a level 30 player actually cannot initiate combat with a player 10 levels below them. That level 20 or below would have to initiate the combat (but why would they?)

My rant is a little off topic, sorry, but this thread's issue is a symptom of the problem of no one in the LitRPG community doing the MMO genre proper justice.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#6
Sounds like you read a lot of stories I don't go near with a ten foot pole.  Randidly Ghosthound I did struggle through the first 200 chapters I believe. I honestly don't know how he's kept it going after a thousand chapters now.  

You are basically describing bad OP and blatant wish fulfillment.  Maybe you're only just realizing how horribly written some of the stuff on RRL truly is. Adding this other stuff is just someone's poorly thought out idea on how to be different.  

Honestly though, stats are done horribly by almost everyone who uses them.  Legendary Moonlight Sculptor is the only series that did a good job of stats and that's because he made each stat increase relevant and important to the plot. The author there went SO SLOWLY and carefully, nothing like what everyone else does. 

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#7
I think imagination and the freedom to 'go wild' play a key part in some of it. Stats take a backseat to a certain 'rarity' level of an MC's [Skills]; how important is STR when youre transmigrated to a new world with a Legendary Skill or tool that has various uses never seen before? in games, there are certain rules or guidelines that are followed with very little room to deviate much (not always true, but if youre looking at a triple-A experience then there are certain conventions that these companies know work). here on RR, authors are free to do basically anything they want and stats usually take the first hit, because you can go literally anywhere, do anything, see anything as long as it's well written and explained.

it's different from a video game because there is a balance involved, if there isn't then the company is going to receive serious backlash from their community of actual PLAYERS. this is a lot harder for me to explain than I initially expected haah.

it's like it becomes different once we step away from a community of active players to a community of individuals all experiencing the same path? hmmm, that's not quite it but I think it gets the gist of what I'm trying to say across.

I think I'll leave it there, a lot of what I said is intrinsic in this regard, a feeling if you will.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#9
Stats become "Not Enough" when the system is crumbling on itself because either the author didn't put much thought in it, yet tries to have everything revolve around it, but the solution they come up with to patch up the problem is in the opposite direction, or when the writing and story actually don't have anything to do with the system in the first place and at one point the difference is so blatant that the system is now irrelevant and/or trash because it is hindering any progress instead of being the core of it and there are so many things thrown in that it is not a proper mix of balances, but a mess.

Power Creep basically, it is not only about litrpg, games too and not only about stat systems even, and if it is going that way it is tricky to counter properly to not leave bad vibes.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#10
If the good guy entered the game late as a level 1 player and the arrogant bad dude bullied him on the first day. The hero should check the bad guy's level who is level 30, and the fact that he is known to play the gave almost 18 hours a day. Following that logic, the good guy should either just quit the game or just take it like a bitch, since there is no way he will ever surpass the enemy in a "true" MMO.

I love LitRPG, but the stats have always been not enough to tell a story. It is just a background setting. The same way that military SciFi space opera normally happens in, well, space. If I want to watch "True MMO," then I'll just go to switch and watch pro players doing their thing. But I read books, including LitRPG, because of the protagonist's adventure and the what-if scenarios.

If the author is good, then you go, Whoah! If he is subtle enough, you go "ookay...," and if he is not, then you simply roll your eyes and go to the next book.

Cheers Everybody! Stay safe and keep reading!

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#11

batotit Wrote: If the good guy entered the game late as a level 1 player and the arrogant bad dude bullied him on the first day. The hero should check the bad guy's level who is level 30, and the fact that he is known to play the gave almost 18 hours a day. Following that logic, the good guy should either just quit the game or just take it like a bitch, since there is no way he will ever surpass the enemy in a "true" MMO.

I love LitRPG, but the stats have always been not enough to tell a story. It is just a background setting. The same way that military SciFi space opera normally happens in, well, space. If I want to watch "True MMO," then I'll just go to switch and watch pro players doing their thing. But I read books, including LitRPG, because of the protagonist's adventure and the what-if scenarios.

If the author is good, then you go, Whoah! If he is subtle enough, you go "ookay...," and if he is not, then you simply roll your eyes and go to the next book.

Cheers Everybody! Stay safe and keep reading!



You can always have the tried and true method of having fortunate encounters that cause his level and stats to go up faster or something similar. LMS (Legendary moonlight sculptor) describes that exact situation and dealt with it brilliantly.

But I do agree there is a lot that depends on the authors skill on making things convincing.

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#13
I would say that there are several contributing factors to this issue.

Firstly is Multiplier and exponential effects. The stats themselves usually don’t actually do anything directly and first need to be “translated” through abilities or [Skills] which could be affected by anything from your level, equipment, location, supporting allies, and how many chilly dogs you ate last night. The stats aren’t just transferred into effects, but have multipliers and algorithms and various other possible things applied that make the eventual output a lot more complicated than the simplistic input. One skill might do 2x damage compared to a different skill, and there might be balancing attempts such as cool-downs, drawbacks, trade-offs, etc, but that gets complicated and even author who care probably mess it up somewhere because it ALWAYS gets messed up somewhere and true balance is categorically impossible.

Another thing to consider is what I’ll call Tier difference. Party of level 5 adventurers face off against an appropriately leveled monster who is also level 5 and it’s an epic fight basically 50/50 chances who will win?!?! In other words, five levels in one case =/= five levels in another case. A level 1 Uber Cataclysm Void Dragon will wipe the floor with a level 10 Wretched Drug Addict in its sleep.

So even in legit good games stats and levels might not be totally equivalent across characters, though there wipe be some attempts at balancing, hopefully (depending on the game.) And more than that games that release new content regularly over time have their older content become gradually super OP compared to the more reasonably balanced newer content or the reverse in that old content is basically redundant trash you’d only use if for some reason you were restricted to using them in an old school zone or whatever.

The different generations of content create power gaps between them, since how they were made changes over time and that mean how they were balanced also differs. This could actually be an interesting thing if Power was tied to the Age the abilities originated from so unlocking abilities that were preserved from old dungeons and such might be lore and plot relevant, as a way of tying unbalanced power tiers into the story instead of shattering the story with it.

And there’s more.

From a writing perspective all of this boils down to what is usually referred to as a Magic System, or why the lore and plot is BS and gets away with it. There are Hard and Soft magic systems, of which Soft magic systems are always clearly superior. *cough*. LitRPG tend to give off the impression of being a Hard magic system most of the time. The gist of it is that Hard magic systems justify the reason for everything, and will describe in detail the exact mechanism to turn BS into a flying machine with marshmallow laser eyes. LitRPGs all seem like Hard magic systems, and they mostly are, but under the hood almost all of the important stuff is made up on the spot unexplained, unjustified, soft magic BS. (Which is the superior BS on all fronts of course).

The reason for this is simple, and other people have touched on these reasons already. We want underdog level 1 to win, and we want them to keep winning even when they’re underdog level 500 and the bad guys always have to be at least 2*lvl*lvl+10 as strong as our protagonist. So we need a reason to, at will, turn 5 strength into the most OP BS the world has ever seen. The power of the characters are subject to the whims of the plot and nothing else matters. The ultimate conclusion of this is Deus Ex Machina and everyone hates it.

Another reason is Power Creep, as must be obvious by now, as the conflict our Hero Protagonist must be up against (in order to entertain us) must always be greater than ever before. They will be stronger, then they will be a lot stronger, then they will be ridiculously stronger, then they will be absurdly stronger, then they will be impossibly stronger endlessly because they have to get stronger, faster, in order for this nonsense not to get old for as long as possible. The problem is that these kinds of Battle Maniac stories have the most linear exponential blunt force concept of power as a tool for conflict. There is no nuance, no weak guy with plan threatening the world, no reason that anything other than power escalation can ever be the cause of conflict. It’s not about restraint, it’s not about two places at once, strategy, trade-offs, or anything like that, it’s about who can make their stick the biggest stick and the only source of plot is the continuous embiggening of sticks. In the face of this all other things start to break down. The old LitRPG Systems becomes redundant because we need to increase the ways in which we increase in power and the old methods are too weak now, the old currency is reaching hyperinflation and where bringing in a new high tier currency to cut that in half. It’s like the old system but we’ve recoloured it and we’ve made vague and abstract so no one can game the system and we can make changes in power levels in vague ways and claim nothing had been altered while no one can complain because they have no idea what’s going on.

It’s a pyramid scheme of power leveling, it’s all nonsense, and it only keeps working because people have no idea what’s happening and follow the hype train because it seems to know where it’s going. Soft magic systems and power creep.

Of course, the other reason is that Stats are used everywhere and it’s getting old, there’s little interesting variation to them and they’re often arbitrary to the actual story, and they’re categorically boring nerd stuff that no one cares about compared to what we really care about, cool legendary 9th level Skills that make mountains explode by winking. Stuff you can actually pour Creativity into. This is pretty much why Wandering Inn has no stats other than Class levels, which are largely irrelevant other than for looking at when your Class progression bonuses come in, since what really matters is Skills and how well you can use them, though that story has a great way of making each increase in level stay relevant. It’s a soft magic system and it doesn’t pretend otherwise, which means it doesn’t have to distract you with meaningless stat increases all the time to keep the story going, which means that it only increases character levels when it wants to and each one is epic.

Because I’ll tell you this, if you put in the work Hard magic systems are hard to do but easy to do well, but Soft magic systems are easy to do but hard to do well. Soft magic systems bend tk the whims of the author and the plot, so they are much more flexible and can be tailored exactly to a story much better than most Hard magic systems can, but it also means you can mess up a lot easier. A good soft magic system is better than a hard one any time. Hard magic systems make it easier to make the story after you figure out the system tho, because it isn’t easy justifying logic in reverse. Qualitative change trumps Quantitative change any time. This is the hill I will die on.
DrakanPotato

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#14
I guess it depends on your preferences as a reader. 

Say two people are playing the same full-dive VR game. One is an MMA champion and has fought on a professional level for years, and only recently created their avatar. They're a newb, so they still have shit stats. They get into a bar fight with someone who has played the game for a few months and have a much higher strength stat. Who's gonna win - the higher leveled guy, or the person who might've spent their whole life perfecting the technique behind a punch? I'd much rather see the MMA guy win, or at least have a fair chance. 


But how do you measure that? In simple enough mathematics that average people with a high school education can follow it? Lol IDK. There's a bunch of stuff like that. Like, staying with the strength stat for a moment, what about slow strength vs explosive strength? Just because you can lift a bunch of iron doesn't mean you have the explosive strength needed to throw a fast and hard punch, and vice versa. And we can look at strength in men vs women, women usually have higher lower body strength compared to men, who have higher upper body strength on average. So in a fighting setting, that average woman can probably kick harder than she can punch, how do you measure that difference in numbers? Now I'm just ranting, I'll stop, I'm sure you see my point. 

Anyway I do agree with you to an extent. The dao thing is kinda weird, falling neither into the category of stats OR user skill. And there should be a very clear measurable difference between two people a hundred levels apart, that needs to be overcome with actual skill. 

Still, I don't dislike stories that go for the approach of skill vs game-given stats. 

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#15

ZZZX Wrote: I would think a lot was born from people's wish for a better underdog story. Having your mc who is x level weaker win through those means can give some satisfaction to people.




I think you've got something there. I've looked at several LitRPG stories, and I generally don't get the feeling that the author is trying to tell us: "Take this novel as a strategy guide on how to become the most successful player in a typical MMORPG, where your character starts from scratch with the same sort of stats and equipment as everyone else."

No, more often I suspect it began this way. The future author was grinding away in his favorite MMORPG, and thinking wistfully, "If only my character had some special advantage which would allow him to leap-frog over the competition and quickly become one of the most dangerous entities in the world!" (Or some variation on that theme.) Then he starts writing about what he wishes his MMORPG experience could be like (assuming full-immersion VR and so forth). 

He may throw in some variations, such as solemnly assuring us at the start that the protagonist has been taken to a "real planet" where the local natural laws just happen to bear an incredible resemblance to what us Earthbound mortals would expect to see if we woke up inside a super-sophisticated VR MMORPG one day. (Aleron Kong's "Chaos Seeds" series of novels works on that assumption.) But the point is that the author is taking the framework of an MMORPG, and then tinkering with it as he sees fit in order to explore a wish-fulfillment fantasy, rather than having his protagonist be bound by exactly the same limitations as any other low-level character just getting started. 

(On a similar note, whenever I watch a James Bond action movie, I don't think the screenwriters seriously expect me to believe that if only I had signed up with MI6 or the CIA or some other intelligence agency in the real world, I too could have that same exciting lifestyle, each and every week of the year. All I'd have to do would be to imitate 007's unique style, and I would single-handedly save the world on a regular basis without getting killed by automatic weapons fire the first time I tried? Yeah, right.) 

Personally, one of the things I like to see in a game-based story is a protagonist who wins conspicuous victories without "cheating." That is to say, it is not that he is miraculously the sole exception to a bunch of inconvenient rules which handicap everyone else who is trying to get ahead in that world -- it's just that he is the first one to spot certain ways to "creatively apply" the existing rules in order to do something that nobody else would have thought he'd be able to do. In theory, his unorthodox approach could have worked for anyone else, any time in the last few years before he came along, if only they had thought of it first

(The novel The Two-Year Emperor by David Storrs was full of that sort of thing. The narrator was not a deadly swordsman or a powerful mage as the story started; and by the final chapter, he still wasn't. Instead, he was a terrestrial web developer, suddenly trapped in a world where the natural laws strongly resembled D&D rules. So he was constantly looking for ways to exploit those rules to get remarkable results no one had ever gotten before. Even the gods of that world started whining about the things the narrator was doing that could "break" the way it was all "supposed" to work -- but then, to hear the narrator tell it, those gods were a rather petty bunch to begin with.) 

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#17

DarkD Wrote: You guys seriously need to simplify your answers.  How many of you actually bother reading the walls of text everyone is writing?  This will help in your writing too.  If you're wordy here, I can't imagine it'll be different in your fictions.



I will start by answering your question. I read all of the previous posts in this thread before I posted any thoughts of my own. 

I'm surprised by the way you seem to assume that many of the people who hang out on this forum wouldn't have the willpower to read a post that's more than a couple of paragraphs in length. (Or wherever you draw the line?) Let's remember that the whole point of this forum is to compare notes on various aspects of the writing process. And people usually are in here because they are writing, or want to write, a lengthy story of their own. If someone doesn't even have the attention span to let him read, let's say, a 600-word post that explains someone's thoughts about a particular subject, then what are the chances that he'll ever manage to stay focused on a creative writing project long enough to crank out some tens of thousands of words' worth of prose fiction and call it his first online novel?

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#18

Lorendiac Wrote:
DarkD Wrote: You guys seriously need to simplify your answers.  How many of you actually bother reading the walls of text everyone is writing?  This will help in your writing too.  If you're wordy here, I can't imagine it'll be different in your fictions.



I will start by answering your question. I read all of the previous posts in this thread before I posted any thoughts of my own. 

I'm surprised by the way you seem to assume that many of the people who hang out on this forum wouldn't have the willpower to read a post that's more than a couple of paragraphs in length. (Or wherever you draw the line?) Let's remember that the whole point of this forum is to compare notes on various aspects of the writing process. And people usually are in here because they are writing, or want to write, a lengthy story of their own. If someone doesn't even have the attention span to let him read, let's say, a 600-word post that explains someone's thoughts about a particular subject, then what are the chances that he'll ever manage to stay focused on a creative writing project long enough to crank out some tens of thousands of words' worth of prose fiction and call it his first online novel?


Me: Uh, yes, officers. it's this one right here.

Officer: >@[email protected]#^$%$?

Me: Yup, I was standing right here, and right over there is where the murder occurred.

Officer: *Incomprehensible garble*

Me: No, I'm not crazy! I have no idea where the body is!

Officer: ma-mah-maaah mehmehemehmeh!

Me: All I know is I opened up my door and a flash of judgment eviscerated a man! Leave me be!

Officer: 10-4 we got a roger over. want hamburger, fries, and milkshake on our way to the loony bin, Ernie?

Ernie: eh, what tha fuck ya gonna do?

Re: When Did Stats Become "Not Enough" ? (LItRPG-centered)

#20
Stats never mattered.

Go back 20 years and any D&D player can tell you that the only hit point that matters is your last one. The only mana point or spell slot that matters is the one you wasted.

Look at D&D. Look at Warhammer. These are both games that have entire teams dedicating years of their lives to making the rules as balanced as possible. And then they change because the balance can't be maintained.

Then read the books.

There are no stats. There are no [brackets] highlighting spell names. There is only prose. Why? It's not because the rules change. It's because It's because LitRPG is one of the most unnecessary subgenres ever created. Nine times out of ten, any LitRPG can be told just as well without any of the LitRPG elements.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if Drizzt Do'Urden spent his time brooding over his THACO or skill point distribution rather than the emo bullshit we all loved him for? It would have sucked!

Would Sherlock Holmes have been as interesting if he had a Skill that solved the mysteries for him? Hell no!

Nine times out of ten, the amount of time spent on The System is indirectly proportional to the quality of the story. More stats = Less story.

Delve  is a good example. Delve is a decent LiTRPG. I dropped it after 30 chapters, but its author has some damn good writing in there. But there's no point in spending an entire chapter of watching the MC agonize over min-maxing his stats if all of that becomes irrelevant five chapters later. Leveling up does not equal character development!

LitRPG should be seen as a trope rather than a subgenre. All tropes are tools, but stats are used, far to often, as a core theme of a story rather than something that can add to the story.

I'm biased. I'll admit that. I have an abject hatred of LitRPGs. I've loved several stories that are LitRPGs, but I've never liked a story because it's a LitRPG. Why? Because I'm tired of seeing half a chapter spent on boxes that will be rendered meaningless within a few clicks of the "Next Chapter" button.