Friday, January 13, 2017

Addressing Hell's Glitch Criticism

For a writer there is barely anything more frustrating than people who just don't understand your work or your work's intentions.  I have endured this with my first LitRPG, Hell's Glitch.  I'm hard pressed to find anything that stings more than a reviewer that cries "ripoff" and leaves a single star rating.  That stings because I put a lot of work and originality into HG.  It is derivative sure, purposely so, but I don't think people understand just how derivative the LitRPG genre is.  So I finally feel the need to address these criticisms publicly and attempt to debunk a vast majority of them.

Let's start off by telling you who I am.  I'm Belart Wright, a writer, a gamer, and a person who respects other creators and reveres their creative minds.  In 2014 I downloaded Dark Souls for free via Xbox Games for Gold.  I was never really interested in it because of how clunky it looked and once I played it for a bit, I didn't really like how "old" and slow it felt.  I think I stopped before I even escaped the first level.  I didn't pick it up again until a few weeks later and I can't even tell you why I did that.  I went from not thinking about it for all that time to suddenly wanting to play it.  This time something was different though.  This time I found myself more immersed in it and the controls became second nature and the world looked and felt more alive.  It was a world that attracted me, whispering to all my aesthetic desires.  I'm a huge fan of Legacy of Kain and this bleak, almost post apocalyptic tone reminded me of that.  So I was hooked on Dark Souls during my second play session.  The bleak tone and Firelink theme lured me in, but the emphasis on exploration, deliberate gameplay, and dire need for strategy and perception to survive each encounter was what ensured that this would be a favorite game of mine for years to come.

So what about Hell's Glitch?

Hell's Glitch came about while watching two different episodes of Sword Art Online.  Oddly enough it was during my playthrough of Dark Souls 1.  The episodes took place in season 1 and featured two boss fights.  The first was the fight with Gleam Eyes and the second was the fight with the Skull Reaper.  The soundtrack for those moments along with that feeling of despair when facing an impossible enemy with your life on the line, that reminded me of Dark Souls and the feeling stuck with me.  I thought of a personal joke that amused me at the time.  "What if this show, with its permadeath mode, took place in the Dark Souls universe?  Would anyone survive?"  Not long after that I read D. Rus' Alterworld, the first LitRPG I'd ever read (I think) and right then and there it all clicked and I decided to write a LitRPG based on that feeling of terror I had while watching SAO and thinking of Dark Souls.

So yes, Hell's Glitch was inspired by Dark Souls and Sword Art Online.  Probably .hack too, since I played the original series and G.U. during my teens, watched the anime too.  And that's okay.  Every LitRPG that you read was inspired by something else, a videogame, an anime, another book.  Mine's no different.  I chose a world more in line with the darkness of dark fantasy properties like Dark Souls than any other generic fantasy because that was what interests me more.

But did I rip it off?
No.  I wouldn't do that to a game that I like.  I wouldn't even do that to a game that I don't like.  No.  Hell's Glitch is just a derivative of something I like, just as most LitRPGs derive from things those authors like or do you really think that orcs, goblins, elves, skeleton warriors, evil wizards, and magic points are the most original concepts in the genre?  The heavy Dark Souls references and feel were in fact put there to deliberately give a nod to what inspired the book.  If anything, I wanted people to read my book then get fired up to play some Souls or perhaps even inspire the next Souls-like VR game in the future.

But is Hell's Glitch defined by its derivative nature?
Again, no.  There's more to my book than parries and backstabs.  I'm referencing both the combat and the other deeper concepts and plot points presented throughout the book to which most reviewers give me no credit for.  Do I deserve credit? Not really, but I would like those reviewers who call my book a "ripoff" to at least mention other things about it, maybe some of the many differences in stats, combat, enemies, NPCs, areas, bosses, or even the story transpiring outside the game.  But what do I know, I'm just a hack.  Not like I spent months tinkering with stats, stat growth, weapons, item descriptions, builds, abilities, maps, level design, and enemy design in order to make the game more authentic.  No, I just ripped it all from Dark Souls, that's what I did -__-.

So let's talk about derivatives.

Dark Souls is a derivative of Berserk, King's Field, Demon's Souls, and whatever English books Miyazaki read as a child (he admits) such as Fighting Fantasy.  FromSoftware owns two of those properties, but it shamelessly bites a lot including tone and aesthetics from the first most world renown property, Berserk.  It may have even derived some of its gameplay and/or tone from games like The Legend of Zelda, Onimusha, Devil May Cry, Shadow Tower, Shadow of the Colossus, Castlevania and Resident Evil.  With games, it's not usually such a sacrilegious act to bite some features from another, especially if it enhances your own (see third person shooters after RE4) and if you combine enough of them you can sometimes create something completely new (GTA) or something that feels uniquely derivative (Darksiders).

The LitRPG genre itself is loaded with derivatives.  Again, no LitRPG author created orcs or goblins or stone men or elves or reanimated skeleton men or dragons or frost giants, but they still use them.  Those things were created by others long ago.  They were just created so long ago that its now okay for everyone to use them.  I can't tell you how many LitRPG books I've read with the same classes, same enemy types, same weapons, same abilities.  And that's okay.  Even Dark Souls uses generic fantasy classes.  It's probably just meant to be familiar, so people can dive into the book/game more comfortably. Usually that doesn't interest me, because I'm not a huge fan of generic fantasy, but don't tell me that those aren't derivatives, because they are.

I still end up liking many of these books/games due to the ideas that the author/creator infuses into them.  Like with The Land: Founding, Aleron Kong uses tons of generic fantasy creatures, but he paints them in ways that make them actually threatening instead of fodder that you can't wait to move on from.  I makes them intriguing and gives his book a nice slow pace as Richter struggles to defeat them with clever strategies.  That feels fresh because of the author's own ideas and vision, how he treated those enemies differently than other authors.  Overall in the genre you'll find tons of derivative classes, spells, enemy types, races, areas, bosses, and even gameplay systems do to the nature of the genre and its authors.  It just so happens that my inspiration was DaS, not WoW or any other MMO.

Responding to reviews

I've decided to take the time to respond to many of the criticisms I've faced, below.  You should be able to get a feel for who I am and what Hell's Glitch is about by reading those and hopefully that'll put to rest this nonsense of Hell's Glitch having no original ideas of its own.

"I honestly couldn't recommend this book to any fan of the lit rpg genre.

This book is basically Dark souls the game. Character is in a vr mmo like other lit rpg. But honestly if you can make it past the part where he begins entering other players game world's and slaughtering them with the sole exception of 1 chick than you'll have done better than I did. Get over your Dark edginess. If you're going to right a dark book then do so but don't have you characters talk about how Dark and difficult it is like some backwards self congratulation.

And please be a bit more original. This is basically verbatim Dark souls with minor litrpg elements in it.

This is the most recent review I've received and as you can see the reviewer is upset at the similarities between my book and Dark Souls.  He/She even tells me to be more original at the end of it and says that I use "minor litrpg elements".  As far as that last criticism goes, LitRPG wasn't a completely defined genre when I started writing Hell's Glitch and so I don't know what the reviewer means by minor LitRPG elements since I reference stats, item and weapon descriptions as often as I can and as he mentioned, the book takes place in a virtual reality game.  Not sure how much more LitRPG I can get unless this person just wants page after page of player stats all the time.  I may have even done more stat and item descriptions than Alterworld, you know the supposed granddaddy of LitRPG.

That aside, this person seems upset that I have a mechanic of entering other people's game worlds for player vs. player or co-op and that I've referenced the game being dark and difficult.  To that first point, yes, there is a mechanic that allows players to interact with one another and it is similar (with minor differences) to Invasions in Dark Souls.  But that's what I was going for.  What this reviewer and other similar reviewers always fail to mention however is this section of the book:

"Now Sam knew what kind of game he was playing.  It was a Planes game, like he and Robert had hoped for.  This was some modern day version of one.  The term “Soul Intensity” and the way the stats were spread out gave it all away.  This stat distribution and the stats themselves reminded him closely of the Death Planes, a game he played to death about ten years ago.  Sam read the class’ description to himself, trying to remember what each stat stood for."

It's referenced several times in the beginning of the story that this alpha build of Project DH is similar to another game that was popular ten years ago before VR gained its popularity.  Sam even goes so far as to call the VR demo a "rip-off."

"Spirituality is for spellcrafte slots.  See!  I knew this game was a rip-off!  They even use the same terms!"

There's of course a reason behind this, but no reviewer ever mentions how I constantly have Sam refer to what he's playing as a derivative in-universe.  It's part tongue-in-cheek reference, part plot point.  Unfortunately, the plot point isn't addressed in this first volume, but believe me when I say that it is a major plot point to be revealed later.  I mention Death Planes roughly 30 times in the story and each of those times make reference to the game that came out nearly thirty years prior to the story that Milner and his team seem to be emulating.  I don't think I'd do that if I had any intention of stealing and not getting caught.

To the other point of the reviewer being upset that I reference the game being dark and difficult, well I can't really say anything because that's what I want it to be and that's what I designed it to be.  And this is where I can't understand this blind frustration I keep getting from fans of Souls.  There seems to be this bitter anger and desire to lash out at me with single star ratings.  If that's how they feel, its fine, but please give a solid explanation of why.  I suppose something being a ripoff is enough of a reason, but please take note of what else is presented in the story instead of just seeing a few references and deciding what my book is before you even get into it.  The thing is I'm also a fan of Souls and of course I want to protect it from thieves too and that's what people don't realize about me.  I'm probably a much bigger fan of Souls than many of these reviewers, seeing as how it inspired me to write a whole book and more.

"i read bout 22% of the book before i had enough. it's a fine book and i don't mind taking inspiration from games you like, but it's simply too much like Darm Souls. i can have the same experience watching some gameplay of DS. there wasn't any originality to the book that made me wanna keep reading.
if you love Dark Souls you might want to try it out, if not, then don't waste your money.

This reviewer gave me a two star, so at least he or she is more reasonable, giving me credit for, I don't know, something.  I could get behind this review if only the person were to provide more examples of where it's similar to Dark Souls and why that's so horrible to them.  I do take issue at the phrase "there wasn't any originality to the book" because there's so much more to the book than Dark Souls, but at least they mentioned that it just personally wasn't for them.  That I can understand.

So let's address the originality issue (with some possibly light spoilers ahead).  First off, my book isn't just VR, but VR that takes place in a dreamscape.  This is technology affecting a person's dreams, not sure anyone has done that before.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Next is the fact that there's some sort of militarized presence at the testing grounds and that something odd is happening to the bodies of the players where upon dying they become some sort of rage-zombies.  What the hell is up with that?  Then there's the player and designer connection that gives the player a sort of lifeline outside the game that they can contact whenever.  No LitRPG or any trapped in game scenario I've consumed has had that.  Though my game is inspired by Dark Souls, I've taken the time to craft the world, enemies, abilities, NPC's, quests, story, backstory, settings, item placement, stats, stat growth, weapon systems, items, and scenarios myself.  There may be a Rapier in both Dark Souls and Hell's Glitch, but only in one of those games can you get a Dragon Rapier +100 and it's not Dark Souls.  What you have to keep in mind too is that my Hell's Glitch was created strictly after playing Dark Souls 1.  I hadn't even touched DS2 or heard of DS3 when I created it, so my weapon crafting system and Soul Burning Techniques were even more original before the advent of weapon infusions and weapon arts in those respective games.  The way I do it is still unique of those systems so I just take that to mean great minds think alike, but that's just the tipping point.  There's stuff that I can't even reveal at this point for risk of ruining future books, but I've been working on this system for a few years now and have some cool surprises in store.

So overall, I give this review a three and a half out of five.  Good stuff and thank you for being rational!

"I really wanted to love this book, but its such a blatant rip off of the Dark Souls games it was hard to get into, frankly its so blatant I wouldnt be surprised if fromsoft sues him, combined with the pretty much copy paste plot I simply cant give this a high rating, moderately decent writing and grammar, but thats about it, I completed the novel, I doubt unfortunately I will get a second one."

I wouldn't call HG a blatant Dark Souls rip-off and the plot is certainly not copy-paste to any degree.  At worst you can draw similarities in the backstory of Project DH, which is only the length of a chapter, a small part of the game inside of the book but even that is completely different.  There's no gods, or dragons, or chaotic witches, or lord of death.  There are demons, pseudo-celestials, men, and a phoenix though, half of which aren't in Dark Souls.  This person also doesn't mention that the book takes place both in and outside the game either, as if it's all just one big tale of desecrated men becoming gods, destroying dragons, linking fires, and trying to save a doomed era.  My backstory has none of that.  I do have an immortality curse and game mechanics tied to that, though its origins are plainly different.  But my thanks for a reasonable review.

"Dead rip off of dark souls, I'd rather play the game than read it."

Again, just blatantly incorrect, failing to mention what Hell's Glitch is really about.  This sort of review seems like a knee-jerk reaction and this is mainly where my own frustration lies. I think people see this review and others similar to it, read the first few chapters which feature a lot of backstabs and parries, and then make up their minds about what my book is about before learning what it's really about. This review offers nothing really since it doesn't mention why or how this person arrived at his or her conclusions and of course it's a one star.

"Not fond of the story-line but overall a good book. I really disliked the MC as I am one of those PVE players that absolutely sucks at PVP giving me an intense dislike of gankers like the MC. This is just a personal preference in gaming but it tends to cross over to my LitRPG reading as well. So my problems with the book are all personal and do NOT relate to the quality of the book in any way. If you enjoy PVP and/or LitRPG then this should be a decent or better read for you."

This is the type of review I like a lot.  This person doesn't agree with my choices and rationally explains why. I can even understand the dislike for Sam and his tactics. That said, I wouldn't really call Sam a ganker.  In games like Dark Souls at least, I associate that term to mean something like 3v1 or 2v1.  Sam always goes in alone when he Encroaches.  He did gank one time though, now that I think of it, when that one guy was fighting the other guy, but that's the only time unless you count the time he used the enemies to his advantage too.

"The entire book is a Dark Souls rip off. It is to the point where it just has similarities, or was inspired by, but a complete and utter rip off"

This one's just like one of the above reviews, but there is a separate point here that I want to address.  This person says that its not just inspired by, but a "complete and utter rip off" of Dark Souls to which I have to respond that he or she doesn't know the difference.  At least I don't think they do.  Just as I mentioned above, there is no pantheon of gods, no dragons, no lord of death, no ancient chaos witch.  There is a war, there is light vs. dark, there are demons, but what fantasy story doesn't have that in some form or fashion.  Again, I was inspired by Dark Souls and there are some similarities between it and my backstory for Project DH that are clear as day (on purpose) such as the fact that a spark of fire was the catalyst to huge events, but to call it a complete and utter rip off is either dishonest or simply factually incorrect.  And to be honest, I've used spark of fire/world creation aspects in my stories going way back to 2008, long before Souls was even around.

I haven't yet addressed the combat system so I'll take the time to do that here.  Parrying and backstabs are featured heavily in the first part of the story.  They are the most basic actions to be learned along with blocking, attacking, and movement.  Just like in Dark Souls, parrying requires precise timing but rewards successful execution with a chance for big damage.  Along with Dark Souls; Onimusha, Devil Cry Cry, Final Fantasy Tactics and a whole host of fighting games have made use of parrying so Dark Souls doesn't command a monopoly or trademark on the act of parrying in a videogame.  Same goes for high critical backstabs which have been a fantasy staple for thief class characters since the early days of D&D.  Hell's Glitch uses these features because I was inspired by Dark Souls, but rarely do people ask, where the developers at FromSoftware got the idea from.  I'm sure it didn't just drop down from the celestial ether.  Anyways, in Hell's Glitch those gameplay features were important for players to master at the beginning, which is why you see Sam relying on them so much, but later the plan was to expand on that.  You can see some of that already presented in Volume 1 with the introduction of a few of the Soul Burning Techniques, but due to all the negativity I've nerfed parrying and backstabs in Volume 2 to make them virtually nonexistant.

"Has Dark Souls Elements along with a biblical background story with a few minor details tweaked."

This person gets it more than anyone.  If anything, I've ripped off the authors of the bible and you guys will see why in Volume 2.  Well, you can see some of it in Volume 1 as well when I rip-off the very names from the bible.  Names like Morningstar, oh the horror, oh the Humanity!

"TLDR:Unoriginal in each and every part of the story...

The game world is basically a direct rip of DarkSouls, only the names are changed enough for the author to avoid legal trouble with FromSoftware, The basic premise beyond that is incredibly unoriginal stuck in a game world and , you die in the game you die in real life. MC acts like a spoiled child incapable of controlling his emotions whenever he feels the game is "cheep/cheated" in some way (which no matter the reason is not fun at all).

I think this was my first negative review for Hell's Glitch, maybe even my very first for it.  So we've already addressed the points about originality above, how I crafted everything from the ground up.  The reviewer also mentions how "stuck in a game world" and permadeath are unoriginal.  To that I have to say, buddy, you're reading LitRPG.  In order to even be in this genre we are limiting ourselves to certain scenarios and for me to reach my envisioned goal of this piece, permadeath was a must.  So I'd love to see this person write a LitRPG book that is completely original in each and every aspect including how they get into the game and I'd like to see them design completely original gameplay systems, weapons, enemies, game worlds and bosses and keep all that coherent and fun and have a compelling reason for readers to go from chapter to chapter.  Don't worry, I'll wait for it.  What really irks me is that 17 other people somehow found this helpful, sheesh!

To the second point about feeling Sam is a spoiled baby incapable of controlling his emotions.  I kinda sympathize with the reviewer, only because I've read books where I've liked the concept, world, and other characters, and couldn't stand the main character.  But I think their assessment is slightly misleading.  Sam mostly handles challenges with a "can do" attitude where he's willing to try different strategies and get his hands dirty to win.  He's played these types of games his whole life and is a huge fan of them so he kinda knows what to expect as far a difficulty goes.  The reviewer may be referencing Sam's attempt at fighting the main boss of the area, which he was legitimately cheated on a few times.  He did have a tirade, if you will, but it was intended to show a bit of a character flaw that he, like many other gamers, may have.  Most gamers I know have their moments of legitimate frustrations that they must simply vocalize.  I'm no exception and neither is Sam, though he sometimes does whine more than I do.  I didn't think it would be any fun to have a character that didn't voice his frustrations.  Again, that's really just one sequence though and he was legitimately cheated.

Now the next review is a positive one, but I want to display it because the reviewer shows that he or she is perceptive, patient, and understands what LitRPG truly is.

"I find this LitRPG game mechanics to be based on the concepts of Dark Souls which is truly obvious. But, I believe that using concepts from games is the core of LitRPG as a genera. That being said borrowing concepts to heavily from a game can make a books look like a copy and for it to have an uncreative author. Looking at this story and its characters shows that this it is a true LitRPG experience that pulls heavily from Dark Souls which is an extremely unique RPG with very unique game mechanics. Unfortunately it is being ostracized for the coping of game said mechanics. I read LitRPG to experience a story told in a game world or universe with some twists and innovation. This story does have those and foreshadows some more interesting concepts that I hope to be realized in a sequel. I hope this book is given a chance and for people to look past some of the less than stellar reviews. Just remember if we get upset for every Author that used game mechanics from actual games we would never have had a genera such as LitRPG.
Done Ranting.
Few key points of the book:
Death Game,
Dark Fantasy,
Alpha/Beta Tester,
Full immersion,
Expected Twist,
Intelligent NPC,
Secret Organization

So this person addresses much of what I've addressed above in a neat little review.  Yes, I pull heavily from Dark Souls and yes, it's on purpose, but you can't deny the level of creativity I've put in throughout.  If you see this as a complete Dark Souls rip-off then I can't help but feel that its what you want to see it as. 

"Not a bad book. Did not play the game that he derived the play mechanics from so it was all new to me. He clearly points to where his inspiration comes from and makes a joke out of it. Definitely does not deserve the 1 star that one of the reviewers gave it. As far as the character being a baby, anyone who has been in the moment of intense play and than to suddenly have it end, for whatever reason, can completely understand the character throwing a fit at that moment."

This reviewer certainly gets where I was coming from.  It shows me that I did succeed where I wanted to and that only a few didn't really see what I was aiming for with this book.  Otherwise I'd be completely worried about it.

"This is a good book. Yes it's clearly about Dark Souls the video game. The thing is it doesn't take a brilliant mind to figure that out since he says it multiple time in the book although he calls it a Death Planes game, presumably for copyright reason. He clearly lays out a scenario where it's a remake or sequel of one of those games. Why did he design his story around that game you ask? Well it's simply one of the hardest game series ever. Imagine being a character in a game where everything wants you dead and everything is pretty good at mKing sure you die a lot. To the people whining about it being a copy of the game series I gotta ask, why does it matter? Also what I am posting now is a direct quote from his letter to the reader at the end of the book. "I just wanted to take this time to address a few things. Hell’s Glitch proudly wears its inspirations on its sleeve. If you read through a sizable portion of the book, you can easily identify what those inspirations are. My intent isn’t to rip anyone off, or steal in any way, but to pay homage to something I really like and that greatly inspired me.""

Kudos to this person for going out of their way to defend me and my book.  And I'm just posting it to show that a few people completely understood what I wanted from this book.  Doesn't the concept of being trapped in a game as difficult as Dark Souls just terrify and thrill you?  It does for me and this reviewer.  Another kudos for posting my end of book message about Hell's Glitch's inspirations.

Below is just a small amount of the legwork I did for the stats and systems in Project DH.  I have folders upon folders of documents detailing stats, characters, locations, progression, and much much more.

VIT (health, stamina, *increases equipment burden*)
DEF (defense vs physical attacks, heavy composure [1 in 5], *percentage lowers armor's weight value)
RES (resistance to poison, dust, and bleedout, increased stamina [1 in 5 - 100max], *regeneration*)
STR (STR-based weapon damage, moderate composure [1 in 10], increases equipment burden, *hand to hand damage*, TECH slots)
DEX (DEX-based weapon damage, off hand weapon damage, *critical hit damage* ranged damage and range, TECH Slots, shaky-hand reduction)
INT (magic damage, spell level, increases SP, increases magic resistence [1 in 2], increases Lightning resistence [1 in 5])
SPD (attack speed increase [1 in 20], dodge speed and range (5, 15, 25, 50) *hand to hand damage and speed*)
SPT (spirituality, grants more spellcrafte slots, stamina, increases SP, magic resistence [1 in 5], fire resistence [1 in 5])
BLF (belief, powers divine and occult weapons and spellcraftes, increases resistence to divine and occult spells and weapons, *increases item discovery*)
PCP (perceptiveness, affects item discovery rate, visual range, accuracy range, shot range, *allows you to meet hidden spirit characters at high levels*)

Burden (The sum total weight of your equipped items and the affect it has on you, affects stamina drain and movement speed)
0-15 (0) Unburdened | 15-24 (1) Quick | 25-40 (2) 40-49 (3) Mid | 50-59 (4) 60-74(5) Heavy | 75-89 (6) 90-100 (7) Crawl | 100+ (8) Immovable

Dodge - A value that is calculated by the SPD and Burden Stat.  More SPD means a faster and further range.  Max Dodge stat maxes out at 6, the default level is 3.  Each level of Burden is subtracted from MAX Dodge to determine dodge speed.  Max Dodge - Burden Level = Dodge
8: Fastest and furthest dodge. (50)
7: Fast dodge speed and further range. (25)
6: Quicker dodge speed and further range. (15)
5: Default dodge speed and range.
4: Less than average dodge speed and range.
3: Slower dodge speed and lower range.
2: Slow dodge speed and low range.
0-1: Can't dodge.

An example of stat growth I created:
(Shaky Hand Reduction, and Critical Multipliers are Hidden Statistics.  Gain 4 Technique only Skill Slots)
1: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction
2: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction
3: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction
4: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction
5: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage (+5, +10%, +5%, +2%)

10: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage, +1 Technique Slot (+10, +20%, +10%, +5%, +1)

15: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage (+15, +30%, +15%, +7.5%, +1)
19: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction (+19, +38%, +19%,+7.5%, +1)
20: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage,(+20, +40%, +20%, +10%, +1)
21: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction (+21, +42%, +21%, +10%, +1)
25: +1 DEX, +2% Off-Hand Penalty, 1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage, +1 Technique Slot  (+25, +50%, +25%, +12.5%, +2)
30: +1 DEX, +1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage (+30, +50%, +30%, +15%, +2)
40: +1 DEX, +1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage (+40, +50%, +40%, +20%)
50: +1 DEX, +1% Shaky Hand Reduction, 2.5% Critical Hit Damage, +1 Technique Slot (+50, +50%, +50%, +25%, +3)
100: +1 DEX, +1 Technique Slot (+100, +50%, +50%, +50%, +5)

Example of Soul Intensity growth thresholds created by me:
Souls Needed
SI 1: 525        SI 26: 3150
SI 2: 535        SI 27: 3400
SI 3: 550        SI 28: 3670
SI 4: 570        SI 29: 3940
SI 5: 590        SI 30: 4240
SI 6: 610        SI 31: 4540
SI 7: 640        SI 32: 4860
SI 8: 670        SI 33: 5180
SI 9: 710        SI 34: 5530
SI 10: 750      SI 35: 5880
SI 11: 1000    SI 36: 6250
SI 12: 1050    SI 37: 6620
SI 13: 1100    SI 38: 6990
SI 14: 1200    SI 39: 7390
SI 15: 1300    SI 40: 7790
SI 16: 1420    SI 41: 8210
SI 17: 1540    SI 42: 8630
SI 18: 1690    SI 43: 9080
SI 19: 1840    SI 44: 9530
SI 20: 2000    SI 45: 9900
SI 21: 2160    SI 46: 10370
SI 22: 2330    SI 47: 10870
SI 23: 2500    SI 48: 11370
SI 24: 2700    SI 49: 11890
SI 25: 2900    SI 50: 12410

Example of Weapon Systems created by me:
Each weapon starts at Level 1.  Ex. Long Sword lvl 1.
A weapon's leveling potential increases with every enemy and boss you kill.  A starting level weapon has the potential to be upgraded to lvl 3 without any kills but can't be leveled any further.  By killing normal enemies the weapon can be increased to a certain level without killing the boss.  The Weapon's level is again capped until a boss is killed.  Once the area boss is killed the weapon's level cap is further increased, usually by 10 but balanced to each area so that game progression is balanced.

To reforge a weapon, the base level of it has to at least be 10.  Shields can be reforged from the start.

A weapon can be leveled up with souls its gained in combat, infusing it with your own souls, or refining it with various ores.  Each weapon level takes more and more souls to get to the next and eventually becomes almost impossibly high which is where the ores come in.  Weapon's must be manually leveled up like the player.  The options are as follows:

Awaken - use weapon souls
Soul Drain - use player souls
Reinforcement - use ore

A weapon that you use absorbs 33% percent of the souls you do, so for every 150 souls you gain for killing an enemy, the weapon gains 50 of those souls and stores it for leveling up.  Weapons can be leveled up at a Soul Beacon, but can only be reforged by a blacksmith. 

The Enemies Defeated stat is used to calculate the weapon level cap.  Another stat displays what types of enemies the player has defeated along with the percentages.

Even if a weapon's level is capped, it can still collect souls and use them later when the cap is lifted.

Weapons gain temperaments as they are used and leveled up.  They tend to be greatly affected by the player's choices, style of combat, and type of enemies it has killed.  For instance, when demons are repeatedly killed by the weapon it opens it up to the demon upgrade path.  The earlier a weapon is reinforced, the more likely it is to be opened to a desired upgrade path.

Raw Glass Weapons cannot absorb souls and have no Temperament. They can only be leveled up to a limited degree with ore.

Using ore on a weapon both increases its level and modifies its properties.  Some ore alters status damage.  Blightstone, for instance modifies the base damage of a weapon by giving it an increased P RATE (poison rating).  A P RATE of 4 converts 4% of the weapon's damage to poison gauge damage while the remaining 96% of the damage is whatever else the weapon specializes in (typically physical).

Weapon Scaling:
S = Whole stat value + 120%
A+ = Whole stat value + 110%
A = Whole stat value + 100%
B+ = Whole stat value + 90%
B = Whole stat value + 80%
C+ = Whole stat value + 70%
C = Whole stat value + 60%
D+ = Whole stat value + 50%
D = Whole stat value + 40%
E+ = Whole stat value + 30%
E = Whole stat value + 20%
F = No stat value

Light Attacks do 50% of a weapon's total damage.
Heavy Attacks do 100% of a weapon's total damage.
Charged Attacks do 150% of a weapon's total damage.

As those of you familiar with Dark Souls can see, my weapon system is distinct from that game.  There are some similar ideas, but I've created this thing from the ground up and scaled it according to my stats system and preferences.

I even had my own bestiary that you can see here:
Forest Barker
HP 600
Drop: 400 Souls, Wooden Mask (Rare)

Rose Duelist
HP: 250
Drop: 300 Souls, Forest Muletta (Rare), Thorn Saber (Rare)

Cutthroat Grunt
HP: 300
PDEF: 35
MDEF: 12
Drop: 600 Souls, Twilight Set (Armor, Leggings, Hood, Boots, Gloves)(Rare)

Cutthroat Advanced Revenant
Drop: 2000 Souls, Dagger (Rare), Throwing Knives (Rare)

Cutthroat Grunt Revenant (Starter Revenant)
HP: 140
PDEF: 35
MDEF: 12
Drop: 300 Souls, Deflector (Rare)

Warrior Revenant (Starter Revenant)
Drop: 300 Souls, Longsword (Rare), Heater-Shaped Shield (Rare)

Naked Revenant
HP: 100
Drop: 100 Souls

HP: 60
PDEF: 60 (Shell), 10 (Flesh)
MDEF: 60 (Shell), 10 (Flesh)
Drop: 200 Souls, Stim Plant, Tree Shell Helm (Very Rare)

Undead Brown Bear
HP: 1200
PDEF: 30
MDEF: 22
FDEF: -10
DDEF: -20
Drop: 1500 Souls, Quintessence (Item) (Rare)

The Will of the Forest
HP: 6000 (Body), 1000 (Each Leg)
PDEF: 20 (Body), 40 (Each Leg)
MDEF: 30 (Body), 40 (Each Leg)
FDEF: -20 (Body), -20 (Each Leg)
DDEF: 10 (Body), 10 (Each Leg)
Drop: 10000 Souls, Soul of the Willful Guardian

Then there's the boss.  If you don't care about anything I've said so far, at least give me credit for the neat multistage boss that I designed:

The Will of the Forest
A giant green plantlike serpent that stands on 4 towering brown legs.  The legs are each covered in a thick bark and the serpent can root itself into the ground in order to regenerate its health.  The creature has a tail that it attacks with.  The tail is a large fly trap that instinctively acts on its own.

1st Phase

It drops down immediately when the player enters the battlefield.  It follows up the drop down attack with a lingering poison cloud breath attack which does enough damage to kill anyone who survives the surprise attack.

Its body is inaccessible at this stage, meaning players will be forced to damage its legs or use ranged combat.

Those who avoid its first two attacks will be attacked by quick tongue lashes and slow stomping attacks.  When Players get too close to the legs of the Dragon, it attacks with extendable spikes from the legs.  Players have to predict and time these while they strike at its legs.

If under the beast, it splashes down with all its weight causing an instant kill to unlucky players.

It also attacks with its tail, a downward chomp attack for players near its rear

When its health lowers to a third, the Forest Dragon will plant its legs into the ground and root them.  It absorbs nutrients from the soil and heals itself to full.  It's healing rate is far greater than most players damage output.

2nd Phase

The only way to trigger the second phase of the fight is to destroy the creatures legs.

1 Skinny Limb - The creature attacks faster with said limb

2 Skinny Limbs - The creature moves and attacks faster with both said limbs

3 Skinny Limbs - The creature moves and attacks a little more faster, dragging its large limb behind it.

4 Skinny Limbs - The creature now jumps around and attacks very swiftly.  It's a more dangerous opponent like this.  Swift and large, with a unassailable body and a potential healing factor.

1 Destroyed Limb - The creature will lean on its remaining limbs but will not impede its progress

2 Destroyed Limbs - The creature will be hampered considerably.  Different levels of hampering for different combination of destroyed limbs.

3 Destroyed Limbs - The creature is hardly able to move and easier to prey upon, though it can still attack with its tongue and tail.  It will try to crush players by falling on them (instant kill).  It can still heal itself by planting its limb into the ground, though it can't regenerate lost limbs.

4 Destroyed Limbs - Initiates the third phase.

3rd Phase

The Will of the Forest is actually more snakelike than anything.  It writhes around and can roll onto its opponents.  Its body alone can do mid damage and knockdown when it charges into a player.  It also slashes out with its long tongue and its fanged tail can cause poison if it bites.

And that's just a small portion.  So you can see that I put a lot of forethought into my game world.  These are ideas that I thought up in my head and in some cases even took the time to draw or map out.  Hell's Glitch has been my labor of love for a few years now and to have all that work written off as nothing more than an unoriginal ripoff is more than an insult, it's a lie and I'll always stand by that.  Til' next time everyone.  Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, and take care.


  1. Dude, that's a LOT of legwork! I'd be irked by the rviews too, espiecially those you've pinpointed in this post. I haven't read that many books in the LitRPG genre, but even I can tell they're all a derivative of something else, as are almost all creative properties in some form or fashion. Just keep at it man. HG is most undeserving of most of those low rated reviews.

    P.S. All that legwork you showed might have scared me off of doing a LitRPG haha...ha..ha.

  2. Thanks, Donte! Yeah, you should see my network of folders and files for HG. It's pretty insane. And I'm fine with low ratings. I just want some acknowledgement of SOMETHING that I created, lol, or at least a rational explanation of what they felt my failures were. I can improve from that at least.

    And no need to be intimidated by the genre, lol. I'm just a freak who loves that kind of design work. As you can see, most of that stuff doesn't even make it into the book. I mean, I track all that data, but I don't really want to bog readers down with all that. So really it's pointless, but it makes it feel a little more authentic to me.

  3. Thanks for this book, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Looking forward to the next one.

    I'm new to reading LitRPG but one thing I've noticed is that a lot of reviewers in the various books are complete jerks that remind me of so many elitist posters in various gaming forums. Gaming forums are a cesspool of hate and elitism. Evidently LitRPG reviews attract it too. I'm learning to just ignore all that crap.

    1. Thank you, so very much! The next book will be arriving in just a few months. I'm hoping for a March release.

      I hear you about the elitism is forums and completely agree. It's one of the reasons I never stick around in those, only briefly browse and move on from them. And ignoring it is the best tactic. I'm only responding here for the sake of setting the record straight.

      Again, thanks for being reasonable and supporting my work. It means a lot to me.

  4. Didn't realise how much work went into the book nice job!

    1. Thank you very much! Thanks for supporting the series!