Re: Advice on game like aspects in novels.

#1
I've been writing a novel for over a month now and was wondering how people go about writing systems, levels, skills, missions. I've added a game like aspect into my novel and was a little worried that it might be a bit too complicated for readers who don't read these type of novels too often. How would I simplify or make it a little easier for new readers but still keep it. Thank you for the help!

Re: Advice on game like aspects in novels.

#2
Hm, I think you need definite rules for sure. Exploring the system slowly is also a good idea to avoid huge info-dumps.

That part is a bit paradoxical though. Unless you straight up tell some readers exactly how everything works right off the bat, they automatically begin making assumptions or wrong conclusions. Had a lot of issues with this in my own novel. Especially since I like to make some descriptions and details vague on purpose.

But I would say that the most important thing is to remember that the system is there to serve the story, the story is not there to serve the system.

Re: Advice on game like aspects in novels.

#3
As the above post said, the system should facilitate the story, not the other way around. You can get away with a lot of vagueness in the system text, such as 'a slight increase' and 'a minor increase' and let chat talk about what's better, you can have the MC or someone test it a bit later.

And that's my advice. Whenever possible, have your characters figure out the rules on their own. Maybe with hints from others, but the basis should be some trial and error if you want to go deeper into the mechanics and specifics. That way you can avoid info-dumps

Re: Advice on game like aspects in novels.

#4

Matotam Wrote: I've been writing a novel for over a month now and was wondering how people go about writing systems, levels, skills, missions. I've added a game like aspect into my novel and was a little worried that it might be a bit too complicated for readers who don't read these type of novels too often. How would I simplify or make it a little easier for new readers but still keep it. Thank you for the help!



This is extremely variable. What you're describing is something like LitRPG or Gamelit. LitRPG tends to have explicit stat blocks and the like, whereas Gamelit might be less explicit about it but follows the same vein.

I've seen authors run the gamut on how detailed they go. Some systems are fairly loose and only develop as the series goes on based on the needs of the story and audience. Others are incredibly detailed right out of the gate.

The best answer is really to find the balance that you want and build your audience around that. Either way will please the readers who like your specific approach. However, if you want to niche down hard and develop a cult following of people who adore you for something specific, which is really what gets those sales numbers up, you might consider going a little more in-depth so the intense system fans will have more to love. Watering it down might cater to more generic readers outside the genre but that runs afoul of trying to compete with every genre instead of just one niche.

Re: Advice on game like aspects in novels.

#6
Hey Matotam, if you're still around, I kind of have a recommendation for you, having read a lotta litrpg.

I've actually kind of found a fundamental principle in the litrpg genre to run fairly parallel to a discussion brought up by Brandon Sanderson's hard and soft magic system scale. Really, you can get away with some vagueness in the system if you set up the 'randomness' in the game system to promote that. If you think of it this way- if your system takes into account different limbs being hit dealing varying amounts of damage, you've set up a dynamic system that is closer to the 'soft' side of magic, where each hit necessarily doesn't have fixed amount damage dealt. Or you could construct a system where every hit deals -15 hp, which is a lot closer to the 'hard' side of magic. 

Personally, I think running a little closer to a softer magic system in gamelit or litrpg is easier, since if you don't you have to deal with something that could potentially derail or cause headaches in your future, and that is actual game design. With this genre in particular, the closer you get to a hard magic system the closer you have to deal with actual aspects of game design and balance, if you throw those out of whack it might jarr a reader out of the story.

Game balance can get a little whacky when you add a plethora of classes or a quest-based gold reward economy to your story, when you look at MMO's there's a reason that some of them only offer up 6-10 class options, and that being that balancing a game is actually a pretty difficult task. 

If by chance you haven't heard of the magic scale as explained by Brandon, I'll throw down a link to his site to check out. It's an interesting read if you like writing fantasy. https://www.brandonsanderson.com/sandersons-first-law/