Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#1
I don't hate stories that have a "system" of one kind or another, but is it really needed? Does it actually add anything to the story? 

Maybe I have just read a few too many at this point, but it feels so horribly generic. The same tropes regurgitated over and over again.

Same old blue box introduction spam and handwaving of whatever convoluted setting the author came up with.
And all the storytelling problems that never get addressed... why isn't there an immortal level 1000 tyrant enslaving everyone? Where are all the super high-level people and what are they doing? What would the social structures really look like if you could quantify a person's value like that? How would the economy look like if skills are a thing? How come the system hasn't been fully mapped out and documented by now? (especially for non-combat classes) Why are there no exploits that get abused? e.g. gaining resistance through exposure etc.

It causes so many plot holes in pretty much every aspect of the story if not thought out properly.

Also, numbers going up on a spreadsheet != meaningful character development or plot progression
Rarely has it added any depth to the story, it just seems to be there for the sweet instant gratification of seeing those numbers climb higher and higher.

At the end of the day, people should write whatever they enjoy writing. It's their story and I imagine it's nice to have a guaranteed audience just by including litRPG in the title, but common... don't just slap a generic system onto it and call it a day.

DrakanWine

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#2

Slippery.John Wrote: I don't hate stories that have a "system" of one kind or another, but is it really needed? Does it actually add anything to the story? 

Maybe I have just read a few too many at this point, but it feels so horribly generic. The same tropes regurgitated over and over again.

Same old blue box introduction spam and handwaving of whatever convoluted setting the author came up with.
And all the storytelling problems that never get addressed... why isn't there an immortal level 1000 tyrant enslaving everyone? Where are all the super high-level people and what are they doing? What would the social structures really look like if you could quantify a person's value like that? How would the economy look like if skills are a thing? How come the system hasn't been fully mapped out and documented by now? (especially for non-combat classes) Why are there no exploits that get abused? e.g. gaining resistance through exposure etc.

It causes so many plot holes in pretty much every aspect of the story if not thought out properly.

Also, numbers going up on a spreadsheet != meaningful character development or plot progression
Rarely has it added any depth to the story, it just seems to be there for the sweet instant gratification of seeing those numbers climb higher and higher.

At the end of the day, people should write whatever they enjoy writing. It's their story and I imagine it's nice to have a guaranteed audience just by including litRPG in the title, but common... don't just slap a generic system onto it and call it a day.

DrakanWine
Yeah the whole thing about systems, if it isn't exclusive to the protagonist, then why haven't high level overlord types sealed off farming locations for certain rare materials? Also why haven't there been any type of cultural revolution in worlds where systems are common? 

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#3
I think that the main reason the System exists is to give an explanation to the meteoric rise in power of the MC and to give the readers a feeling of progression every time a number goes up even though nothing really changed in the story.
 
Of course, as you have said, a lot of potential plot holes are created by the System.
 
Why is the MC usually the only one progressing at that pace and no one else? Usually, the answer to that question is that they do something really dangerous to gain power that fast, but other characters don’t have power of the plot armor on their side to help them along.
 
The problem with established powers in the world, I think, is because the authors don’t really think about how that world functioned before the MC showed up. They look at the medieval Earth and just throw magic and monsters in the mix without trying to figure out how it would spice things up. They sometimes create a powerful villain or an ally that would help the MC in the beginning but not much else. I think that it’s a problem of bad world building not something inherently related to LitRPG as a genre.
 
I think that the knowledge of the System is limited because the MC needs to either be on the same level as everyone else or have an advantage. Of course, most protagonists are gamers so that must be enough for them to understand enough to not fall behind everyone else. It doesn’t make sense why everyone else in the world needs to be an idiot, but without it the MC could never surpass them.
 
A lot of younger and inexperienced authors look at the most popular stories and try to emulate them, but in their inexperience, they create bad facsimiles. Sometimes they might succeed and then they get copied as well, and the circle of bad LitRPG books is created.
 
RR is filled with amateur authors. I think that I can list the authors that are ways above the rest on one hand, from the books that I have read on RR. The same problems that are present in LitRPGs are present in almost every other book on this site, it’s just that there are a lot of LitRPGs here. You don’t need a status page for godlike entities to exist in a book. Cultivation, even normal fantasies are filled with awful books.
 
But all of that doesn’t mean that there are not good LitRPGs. Well, good could be a stretch in some cases, just LitRPGs that I have enjoyed reading.

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#4
Lots of LitRPG right now because they are popular, and many authors on RR are writing what they like to read. 

The popularity goes back to the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons. Videogames and MMO took their early cues from DnD. 

Look at a typical campaign. A group starts out at level 1 fighting rats, ends up a year later at level 20 at the toughest thing in the world. The world stayed static. 

A lot of people like this sort of progression. It's popular. So we get a lot of litrpg. Doesn't matter that you can poke holes in the story. You can poke holes in nearly everything written.

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#6
I think there are a few factors in why LitRPG stories are so popular at the moment.

1. We're used to thinking about games.

We're a generation that has grown up playing video games. From Zelda, to Final Fantasy, to World of Warcraft and Diablo... we're used to thinking about games. That's a lot of hours thinking "If I were in this game, I'd..."  "It would be so cool if games could..." "This game would be better if..." 

2. It speaks to the feeling of powerlessness common in our generation.

We're used to massive systems, but they're rarely systems we can affect, and they generally disempower us rather than empower us. How many of us are working longer hours for less return than our parents? How many of us are vaccinated and wearing masks, but still dealing with outbreaks in the area as others aren't, or are having events cancelled because others aren't? It's nice to read or write about a world where hard work and intelligent action helps you grow in strength and achieve success. It's nice to read about people having the power to change the bad things around them.

3. There's a lot of bad, popular, LitRPG out there.

"Why would bad LitRPG make people want to write it?" Easy! You have something recommended to you, check it out, and think to yourself, "This is popular? Really? I mean... I guess it's kind of okay, but gosh, I can write better than this." So, then you give it your best shot... Maybe you're right, and you make the genre a little better! Maybe... maybe you're not, and you add to the mass of unpolished works.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Just started writing LitRPG myself after reading it almost exclusively during this pandemic, so I suppose I'd count in all of these groups to some extent.

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#7

Snakefist Wrote: The problem with established powers in the world, I think, is because the authors don’t really think about how that world functioned before the MC showed up. They look at the medieval Earth and just throw magic and monsters in the mix without trying to figure out how it would spice things up. They sometimes create a powerful villain or an ally that would help the MC in the beginning but not much else. I think that it’s a problem of bad world building not something inherently related to LitRPG as a genre.


It's not exclusive to LitRPG, but definitely inherent to them. If only for the reason that there is a lot more material to draw 'inspiration' from for other genres. Want to write an Epic fantasy? Have a look at LotR and hundreds of other critically acclaimed books. The same goes for Scifi space operas etc. None of these genres change things around on such a fundamental level as LitRPGs do either.

Also, there is something to be said about a System being as 'hard' of a magic system as it gets. So you better have everything planned out beforehand, because any inconsistencies really stick out down the line. Some books get around this by having a sentient system which is a fairly elegant solution to the problem I guess. (Outcast in Another World for example.)

All this is not to say that there are no strengths. The Wandering Inn had some wild storylines that I would be hardpressed to imagine replicated without a system in place. With your bases covered it definitely allows for more creative freedom than pretty much any other genre. Dragon's Dilemma comes to mind there. 

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#9
Litrpg's have systems because that's literally the whole point of a Litrpg... To have "RPG" or "Role Playing Game" elements. Quests, level ups, skills, attribute points are common in other RPG type content like MMORPGs or Table Top RPGs. That is the entire point of a Litrpg, is to have recognizable RPG elements, and a system is a very basic and easy way to add that in. Litrpgs don't need systems, but can they really be called Litrpgs if they have zero RPG elements at all? They just become regular fantasy stories at that point.

As far as there being so many badly written ones, it's because it's a popular genre. There were a surge of poorly written vampire romance stories when Twilight was popular, and dystopia type stories when Divergent and Hunger Games were the flavor the younger audiences preferred. Same for Litrpgs now. Young inexperienced writers read something new they like and try their hands at it.

On the flip side, there are plenty of great Litrpgs that have systems and do things well, and those are the ones that are inspiring all the less practiced writers to try their own version of it. It's a cycle that feeds itself.

DrakanPopcorn

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#13
I once described a LitRPG System as a box. The author can create that box to be as big or small as they want, but once they create it, doing something outside of the limits of that box is very obvious. The simplest explanation would be, if we know what the mana cost of a spell is and we know the mana pool and mana regen, then we know how many spells they can cast. It’s very difficult to explain how they managed to surpass that limit, and if they can’t it’s even easier for me to drop those books.
 
That is very difficult with soft magic. It’s usually author writing that they are at their limit and exhausted at one chapter, but they somehow keep going chapter after chapter. And I have no idea if there is an explanation to how they keep going beyond their limits. There might be or there might not. The same character can have different limits in different situation in order to keep the tension high with no explanation of why. Or the author can put their characters in an unwinnable situation and at the climax pull some sort of deus ex machina that might be explainable, but it just ruins those stories for me. It might be some sort of hidden power that they can access in their time of need or there might be no explanation at all. It’s just magic and you have to accept it.
 
I can’t stand books like that.
 
But saying that if your book is not LitRPG no one is going to read it on RR is simply untrue. Out of 20 most popular this week books, first page, there are 6 that are not LitRPG. On the home page in the best completed 6 out of 10 are not LitRPGs. In best ongoing there are 7 out of 10 non LitRPGs.


Yes, LitRPGs are among the most popular here, but that doesn’t mean that other genres are not present, especially if you look at best rated category.

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#14
Writing a LITRPG world is like writing one with magic. Why would a reader want to read a story with magic? The protagonist just magics its problems away.
Litrpg is just a frame. Why not blame the amateurs for being incapable instead of blaming the genre. 

Why would I read a Fantasy novel?  Why haven't Undead, Vampires, or Licantropes already converted humanity? Most of the time they are up against sticks and stones where they just need to scratch them.

A story's integrity or coherence is not weighed down by the genre. You could spend half a chapter explaining interest rates and showing me how the world is real. Then, just as you finished, one of the protagonist's family members dies. Ohh, he "cries", struggles and grieves a lot, because the description and the author say so, but not even a few hours and he is cracking jokes with the belle he's trying to fawn. Tell me if having a coherent world was worth it at the end of the day?

It is the author that makes it rain or shine. Not the genre. At most Litrpg helps in keeping track of progress and helps in understanding why someone can do something, instead of having adversities and struggles overcome with sudden/bouts "power of friendship".

Re: Why does everything have to be a litRPG? (rant)

#15

Landi Wrote: Litrpg is just a frame. Why not blame the amateurs for being incapable instead of blaming the genre. Writing a LITRPG world is like writing one with magic. Why would a reader want to read a story with magic? The protagonist just magics its problems away.

Why would I read a Fantasy novel?  Why haven't Undead, Vampires, or Licantropes already converted humanity? Most of the time they are up against sticks and stones where they just need to scratch them.



A fantasy setting is far more selective about what it changes. A farmer is still just a farmer and a stonemason is still just a stonemason (most of the time). As a reader, we can infer a lot of ins and outs of the world just by looking at our own history. The same goes for most fantastical creatures and races to some degree. Everyone knows what a dragon do. If the author wants to then flesh them out even more? Great! But it's not needed to make the world feel coherent. 

There still is a decent amount of world-building to be done by the author, eg. "Why haven't Undead, Vampires, or Licantropes already converted humanity", but that's nothing compared to your standard litrpg world. There the only references for the reader are what? MMORPGs and DnD? Yeah, that doesn't exactly transfer over nearly as well. So it takes much more effort from the author to make it all work without having the huge exposition dumps you mentioned. 



Landi Wrote: A story's integrity or coherence is not weighed down by the genre. You could spend half a chapter explaining interest rates and showing me how the world is real. Then, just as you finished, one of the protagonist's family members dies. Ohh, he "cries", struggles and grieves a lot, because the description and the author say so, but not even a few hours and he is cracking jokes with the belle he's trying to fawn. Tell me if having a coherent world was worth it at the end of the day?



Back to when I said that maybe not everything needs to be a LitRPG. Is it doing the actual story any good that a large chunk of the first few chapters are just a bunch of skill descriptions and messing with the System? Probably not. I think the danger of good character development getting drowned out by System-related stuff is far more real than by an overly eager attempt at world building. 


Landi Wrote: It is the author that makes it rain or shine. Not the genre. At most Litrpg helps in keeping track of progress and helps in understanding why someone can do something, instead of having adversities and struggles overcome with sudden/bouts "power of friendship".


That's the ironic thing. LitRPGs very much play by "the rule of cool". Understandably so, it would be kinda boring if every interaction would be predetermined after all. 

Of course, at the end of the day, a good author will write a good story no matter the genre, but litRPG is just more difficult to write well.