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  • Writer's pictureCraig Norris

Part 2: He Who Fights with Monsters: Shirtaloon Talks about Isekai, LitRPG, and Media

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Episode 59 - With host Craig Norris, and special guest Travis Deverell (Shirtaloon) and Peter Wills.
First Broadcast on Edge Radio, 28 Jan 2021.


Part 1 is here.


In this episode (originally broadcast on 28 Jan 2021), we talk with Travis Deverell (Shirtaloon), the author of the creative fiction series He Who Fights With Monsters, and Peter Wills. Deverell shares his journey of taking his series from online platforms like Royalroad and Scribblehub to Amazon, where he worked with Podium to publish his audiobook and ebook versions. This was a pivotal moment for the series, which has since gained worldwide popularity and acclaim. You will learn how he made the transition to a wider and larger audience, and what advice he has for other authors who want to do the same. You will also discover how he adapted his book into a highly successful audiobook series that captivated listeners.





Note: This image has nothing to do with 'He Who Fights With Monsters' and does not represent the great artwork of this series; it's a group photo I took with the author that used an 'anime cyberpunk' filter, which I found too amusing not to use here.

Transcript

This is an AI-generated transcript of the audio and it may contain errors. We may update or correct this transcript in the future. Please contact us if you have any questions about the information in this transcript. The audio is the official record of this episode.


You are about to experience the knowledge and insights of the media mothership. You're about to. Listen to a blast from the past, a rare gem dug up from the media mothership archives. This episode goes by the show's launch name, media tackle. The original air date is in the show notes. But for now? Just sit back and enjoy this vintage treat.

CRAIG NORRIS

Anyway, I'm Craig Norris, PhD and I'm joined again by Travis, who can hear me, yes, and Peter back again for round two we we kind of had a number of really interesting ideas and topics that got discussed.

Speaker

G'day.

CRAIG NORRIS

Around Travis, your your piece that you've been writing your work, your magnum opus, your literary contribution to the sum total of popular fiction, your exploration into the world of fantasy and literature combined into live RPG called he who fights with monsters.

Speaker 2

And I want to. Bring you back in because there's been some.

CRAIG NORRIS

Heat breaking news about the the global success that's around the corner. What? What's happened? Travis, what's happened with with your creativity?

Speaker

I think.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

You may be quite heavily.

CRAIG NORRIS

I have to get close. To the mic, I think it might be quite.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Heavily overselling, and I'm excited. But no, basically I'm going from just online serialised fiction to. Ebook publication because it's super hard to get a book published on Amazon.

Speaker 1

It rains.

Speaker

Well, yeah, you so so.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, that's not.

Speaker 2

The Case No it.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Is not even vaguely the case. But there's also an audio book. Coming out with at the same time which is.

Speaker 2

I did want to.

CRAIG NORRIS

Ask some questions. About as well, alright, so we've got an audio book we've. Got ebook so at. The moment again as. You were saying you were. Inhabiting the world of online. E fiction, right? So it's the Royal Rd website. It's the squirrel hub and and these contain a lot of kind of people posting their chapters up and commentary and forums.

PETER WILLS

Scribble hub.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, yeah. There's lots of discussion forums and you know, it's a huge space where people are constantly putting up new chapters to their stories because it's completely accessible. It's completely free. Which you know, obviously makes it wildly accessible, but also makes it a very busy space and very hard to get noticed in.

CRAIG NORRIS

And also would you say compared? To Amazon and just getting a E book for your Kindle or any of the other online ebook sites Google Play and so forth, that that's more mainstream than the online. Royal Rd space.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I I don't have any hard numbers, but I have to imagine that it is. Yeah, because as many people as there are because, you know, it's the Internet, there's now a global audience. It's still sort of. Specialised corner of the literary world.

PETER WILLS

You can find a lot of people who don't know what scribble hub is. You'd be hard to find somebody. Who doesn't know what Amazon.

CRAIG NORRIS

Is. Yeah. So we're, we're now at the point of did you initiate the process of getting on to?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

No, actually what cause I've been quite like pretty much everyone who makes money. Just putting everything up for free. I've been making my money on Patreon. And I was quite happy with that. But I was actually contacted first by my audiobook publisher podium because there was another author that they work with.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right, so this is your audio book publisher your audio. Book publisher Palladium. Podium podium noticed the success of your piece on rural roads.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Actually they will recommend they will recommend. I was recommended.

Speaker

He referred.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

To them by another author who reads my work.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right. So it's a real network.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And yeah, and and they published his thing, and they and he said you need to go find this guy. So they came and found me. And I'm like, oh, I. Don't know. But you know, it's been really great.

CRAIG NORRIS

So is there a bit of a a club? Of other authors writing work like you are, do you get on a Skype chat every week or?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I I've I I've had some communication on and off. I'm sort of that sort of classically, you know, self isolating. Writer type though, so you know I'm not, you know, hugely social life, you know, exchanged some emails and whatnot, but.

CRAIG NORRIS

But nevertheless, you're you're getting referrals or or other authors who really enjoying your work are referring.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

It was, yeah, it was. Really. Yeah. Great for the old self esteem.

CRAIG NORRIS

That's huge, that is. Your congratulations. So the audio book company now has. Needed a drive to get your work. On to to Amazon.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. And since they were going through the effort of, you know, properly editing and whatnot, it seemed like a waste to not then release the ebook as well. So now I'm working with and and ebook publisher, and that's all gone. And so it's all going to be simultaneously released in March.

CRAIG NORRIS

So one of the things just before we move on from the audio book space. Is your main character has a distinctively Australian accent were. You involved at. All in the vetting of you is voicing your characters.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yes, they they sent some samples of voice actors. They were looking at people who've, you know, worked as Australian and. Peter and I sort of went through some of those, giving them a listen, and we weren't.

Speaker 2

Super. Sold on.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

A little like some would generally. OK.

PETER WILLS

A lot of the. A lot of Americans with very obvious Australian accents. I mean I've never said Aussie in my life.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. Well, I don't think we ever hit that one, but there are certain place names like Melbourne and Launceston where you as soon as they say one of those, you can go bang that's.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yes, because they they hit the R on. Melbourne. Yeah. Justin, how does Launceston sound sisters? Launceston, Launceston.

PETER WILLS

Lawns. Lawns.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, but eventually they actually got Australian guy named Heath Miller. And yeah, who is an actual Australian, so he sounds Australian. I mean, you know, he's a professional voice actor, so he can, you know, push it up and down, which actually works for my main character cause he also. Sort of modulates his accent.

Speaker

Now how?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

As many.

Speaker

Does this.

CRAIG NORRIS

So the audio book it's it's a straight audio book in terms of there's a. Narrator's voice. Yeah. And then there's a cast of people that have come in or.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

No, no. It's just just like most audio books is just one guy, right? For the whole thing. I haven't heard a lot. Of it yet. So I'm actually looking forward to getting a listen to the the the final pro because my work is very dialogue heavy as well, so.

CRAIG NORRIS

Very exciting, alright.

PETER WILLS

Certainly very interested to hear it and see whether I can differentiate the different characters to the different voices. But the guys are professional and he's done a lot of books, so probably he's done a really. Good job, I mean.

CRAIG NORRIS

It's it's such an exciting stage, I'd imagine to have written. A piece of work and then. And taking it into that, that next transmedia step of of adapting it into a completely new platform of audio and the. Yeah. Yeah, that nervousness of of are they going to be a custodian of this or not?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But yeah, so it's exciting.

PETER WILLS

A little.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Nervous about how it's going to go? I'm hoping. It goes well, obviously. So then we.

CRAIG NORRIS

Have the ebook space and you've mentioned that in mid RPG genre most of it doesn't have it. Online writing areas not as much on the ebook space.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

There is this sort of. My understanding is that there's sort of two major zones in which leader PG inhabits, one being the online serial space where I've existed thus far. And then there's the ebook space, especially around Kindle Unlimited.

PETER WILLS

As a Kindle unlimited reader, I can tell you that yeah, last in the last few years I have gotten notifications and read quite a few lit RPG.

CRAIG NORRIS

So it is a bit of an explosion. Yeah, on. Ebooks as well.

PETER WILLS

It it seems to be a lot more American authors having a go at the the subject. Then, and they're not as old at it as not as experienced at it. It's not their bad riders. It's the just the first time they've tried it to have a go at a different thing. Some of them work really well, and some of them not so well. But that's the same in the the literary space that you inhabit.

CRAIG NORRIS

And I think it's interesting that for some people, this is a genre that is really new to. Them and I'd not. Really known too much about the genre and I know last week in the discussion we went through the movies which people might be more familiar with and how those do and don't fit within the genres of Tron isn't quite a fit because the main protagonist, while he does travel into the game. World doesn't then exist within that game world with a matter knowledge in a way or a meta knowledge which is then part of the. Diegesis that that you see? It, like his, his, his. His interacting with the in operating system that has gained narrative code in it, which in Jumanji welcome to the Jungle. Does appear with the rock literally saying yeah.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, Tron is more of like the the isekai going to another world we're talking about. I think Tron has more in common with say like the witch and the wardrobe than something more lit RPG.

CRAIG NORRIS

'S and is lit. RPG A subgenre, then of the portal stuff or.

Speaker

Sort of started.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Paul, yeah.

PETER WILLS

That way, but now it's its own thing. It's sort of like urban fantasy started as almost romance.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, no. With RPG, isn't. Strictly, portal fantasy doesn't have to be. I mean, they mesh together a lot because there has to be some sort of change, but quite often with RPG's isn't about going to another world. It's about going into like an explicit game system. Like sort sort out online isn't going to another actual world. It's people putting on virtual reality headsets and getting immersed in this sort of digital space. And then there's that whole narrative around getting locked in. And if you you take off the helmet, you'll die kind of thing, but you're not actually transported into another world.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right. Yes, we're OK, right? Yeah. OK. I'm beginning to see the distinction and more clearly now.

PETER WILLS

Then you get the. A big sort of boogeyman in writing it, which is stakes. Why do you? Care about the fact that they don't get the sword in the game when it's just a game, so the hoops people jump through, some of them are small, some of them are very big, some of them is like ohh, this game will define the fate of the world or some of them will be you're locked in and you'll die. Others will just. Stories. I mean, it doesn't have to be world shattering to be important to that person, and if you're a good enough writer, you can make a person. You can make a reader care about what happens to the person, not that they're doing something that will affect the world. It's just they failed. But that's that.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

That's why I sought. Out online, for example, has the. The whole death game. Aspect where until like the the end boss of the game gets cleared, nobody's allowed to log out or they'll die because then there are stakes. Hmm. And another way they commonly do this, and I think this is quite common in sort of Korean. Top stories is the main character will start off with like a massive amount of debt. Their parents will be dead. They'll have a Pretty Little sister who's doing very well in university. Their grandmother will be in hospital. I'm being very specific because it's more or less always this.

Speaker 2

Yeah, it's yeah, it's, but.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But they end up with like a huge amount of debt from, like medical bills or their parents died under a huge amount of debt, that sort of thing.

PETER WILLS

And they'll be two. They'll be the only male of their family. So it's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

They need to go and.

PETER WILLS

Gotta be the. Grandmother, that's in hospital. And the sister that's. At university it can't be. Like the the older brother.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Or and they and they have to go and they're going to make money by playing this sort of pay to win style game where they they grind up massive items and then. Self to stupid rich people for hideous amounts of money.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yes. Yeah. So they again there. It reminds me a bit of sports movies where the sports match matters because you know, there's there's a a prize at the end which will help. What the Harry Happy Gilmore movie wasn't like?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, and or there's an evil guy who wants to tear down the community centre and they have to win a skiing cup. That sort. Of thing really.

CRAIG NORRIS

Player one type thing kind of evil corporations.

PETER WILLS

Yeah. So, yeah, big and small.

CRAIG NORRIS

So the RPG element of lit RPG is just that. Within the story there is an RPG thing going on. It could be the game that people are playing as an RPG game. Is that the case or?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, I mean the the look. Up, it really comes down to RPG video game style systems being an intrinsic and explicit and demonstrable part of the world. So. There there are arguments around what is and isn't lit RPG, but generally if you actually see video game elements like on the page or screen as it were. Then it'll generally be considered a lit RPG. So.

PETER WILLS

Also, there's a a sort of stylistic slash holistic version of it we were discussing off screen about the fact that games have rules and. What's that term that you use about fairness, absolute fair?

CRAIG NORRIS

They're kind of Fair sensitivity.

PETER WILLS

Objectivity object. Yeah. The more effort you put in, the more reward you get. It's it's natural, natural justice. That's it. There's a natural justice to the game. So no matter how behind they are in the real world with this massive debt and live in a tiny little shoebox with three other people or anything in the game, the effort they put in is the reward they get.

CRAIG NORRIS

You level up, yeah.

PETER WILLS

And they theoretically start at the same point that everyone else does.

CRAIG NORRIS

There's a certain transparency to the system which maybe in real life there isn't a transparency like why? Why?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, and and it's.

PETER WILLS

Yeah, it it's and it's not something you need to explain because we've played enough computer games to know I start at level one like everyone else. And if I level fast than everyone else, I'll be, like, more powerful. And the higher I go, the more.

Speaker

You know.

PETER WILLS

I get so it's.

CRAIG NORRIS

Sorry, why did this? Happen. Well, you know, you should have known this. From the character that you. Chose because that character has these.

Speaker

Ohh yeah.

PETER WILLS

Yeah, read read. The rules? They're all the races are balanced. Yeah, sort of thing.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

This this. Yeah. And and there's a a sense of. Like natural justice that gets played out in those scenarios, so if you've got a situation where in the real world someone has suffered under a large amount of misfortune and they use their transition into this world, that does have like rules and fairness and balance in order to redress. The imbalance in the.

CRAIG NORRIS

Real world and in a way that's one of those kind of meta. Cliches in movies where the. They'll, they'll they'll have characters which refer to it that like, Oh well, this isn't a video game or that only happens in the video game yet as we're. Talking about here one of. The appeals of genre lining in the RPG is that for. Many readers, it can be. Very satisfying to engage in. A well crafted bit of well. Building that the structure and system makes sense. And there were two points I want to raise there. One was and we had a really interesting discussion as we were leading into this off air. About a really extreme manifestation of that, where not only is it a comfort for many people to see very transparent rules that are explained within a little RPG piece they're reading, but then they want that really extremely manifested by I think.

Speaker 2

Peter, you were.

CRAIG NORRIS

Describing it as an Excel spreadsheet of data that they want to micro see. The the demonstration of how that rule works. How does I mean for many readers of literature, they'd be thinking, you know, gosh, am I reading a lot of maths formulas in these pieces. While I know Travis, this isn't the pieces you write. Well, how does that work within the RPG? The the maths and and Excel spreadsheet formula? Right.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Well, some some people really enjoy. That aspect of it, because a lit RPG. Isn't all that different from most fantasy works? All fantasy works will have a set of rules around the supernatural elements that exist.

CRAIG NORRIS

Like Star Wars, that's the.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

You know, right. Force. But like Dragons operate by these parameters. You know, magic spells operate by these parameters, and so on and so forth. What meat RPG? Does is sort of peeks behind the curtain? It's like OK, there are rules we a normal fantasy series sort of implies what they are. You sort of take it by inference. And it's what lit RPG does is, you know, it just brings them all out and lays them out in the open for people to see. And for certain kinds of readers who love some world building. They can really engage with.

CRAIG NORRIS

That it seems like. A very min Max drive, but like all I'm imagining here are like some video games that I play where I'll go on a forum to figure out how to beat a boss or something, or how. To get better. The game and you'll descend into these discussions of the matter. The current meta in the game is this. This is how the formula works. While it's, you know, kind of not what happened in real life, if you're playing a simulator. Nevertheless, this is the how this is just the matter this.

PETER WILLS

Is how the some of the game, some of the lit RPG's have this. Quite one of the tropes you mentioned, Travis last time was somebody travelling back in time. They've been hard done by to a point where they have to retire their character, but they got to like maximum level and then for some reason the universe will let them go again, so their cheat is that they know everything about the game and know the matter. There's when everyone else is starting and not. Knowing it great.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

There's an entire genre that sort of works like this. There will be someone who started the game late, but they were like, Super, super talented and they sort of finally caught up to all the people who were standing at the pinnacle of this game. And they had a really close friend and that friend. Betrayed them horribly, stabbed them in the back, usually literally. The character dies and there'll be some game where, like it'll be super ******** mode when your character dies, you'll lose all your stuff, whatever, but then they'll wake up and the universe has seen the incredible injustice of you being betrayed in a video game you were playing and. Has seen fit to send you back in time to right before the video game starts, so you get to start at the same time as everyone else. With all this for knowledge and you get to. Sort of get revenge on the people that wronged you. And as you make your way through the game and and and. Reach the top and the satisfaction is.

CRAIG NORRIS

I mean that that trope I guess exists in many wish fantasies of going back in time and doing it all over again. But the drive here is to do better. In the video game.

PETER WILLS

Yeah. Well, it's it's a little hard. Really, to relate to the and I'm gonna. Borrow lines like a special forces death machine. Who, who you know, has spent decades fighting. What? I mean, not many people do that, but. You can really. Really relate to hey, my level 60 died. I really wish. I could do that again.

CRAIG NORRIS

You know, and again has coincided this honour coincided. With the popularity of. Of games like World of Warcraft where?

PETER WILLS

To almost in.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Lockstep. Ohh yeah the.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The the models for the systems are very, very explicitly that sort of World of Warcraft multi massive multiplayer system, although they very frequently draw. More on the. Ones that are more popular in Asia. Because Asia has a lot of these MMO's and a lot of them are. Very much sort of pay for in game items. Not wildly balanced kind of thing. And that actually lends itself better to a storytelling system because when there is like an A level of unfairness and disparity. Which contrasts with what I was talking about earlier. It it gives characters more of something to overcome. So it's going.

CRAIG NORRIS

That is my characters you're talking about a a a piece. Of fiction you might. Write with a player engaging in this game.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, it's yeah, it it comes down to the concept of pay to win, which is common in games with microtransactions, where just by spending more money. You can become more powerful and again you'll get better items and all that stuff.

CRAIG NORRIS

Which is so. Unfair, right? I mean, yes, it.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

It is generally considered very, very, very bad game design, but it is frequently, especially if you're only looking to make sort of short term goals, good business.

Speaker

Sense it is good. Yeah, but.

CRAIG NORRIS

It's exploitative practises. It's where all those horrible news stories of mums. They find out that their credit. Card has been completely blown. Up by their kid. Who was playing a Smurf game or something and decided to buy? All the berries. Yeah. And and.

PETER WILLS

Once again, the outrage comes from how dare they break the social the justice of it.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, yeah. How? How?

PETER WILLS

Dare they break the natural justice of a? Game a game is meant to be.

CRAIG NORRIS

The three games. Shouldn't be predatory again, should be. Yeah, particularly for young gainers or yeah.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But there is. There is a debate around there because a lot of games are free. Like you can.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, it's free, so.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Just play them through. It up for free, but you know they have, you know, servers and programmers and market all this stuff that they need to pay for. So they're having game purchases. So you know, a lot of times the solution is just purely cosmetic items. New skins, whatnot.

PETER WILLS

A fortnight.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, Fortnite is doing quite well for itself.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah. So they're not game breaking. What you don't pay to. Win. You paid so much, yeah.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Just pay to look good, but then there's ideas around lootboxes.

CRAIG NORRIS

Hmm. And I know EA got a lot of negative press from their Star Wars multiplayer one because Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker I think were he to.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Ohh yeah, you could you. You. Yeah, you could. You could buy them.

CRAIG NORRIS

Play or.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Or you could.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, completely grind an unnatural lifeline.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I I think yeah, you could grind it up and it. It'll only take. About 14 months to get one. Of them, I think. It's it's fine.

CRAIG NORRIS

I mean, yes. Of moral outrage against that, that. Hey, you know, yeah, you're you're kind of building a Star Wars game and you know your player base wants to play these characters. Yeah. You're putting them on. A paywall, and that's the kind of moral.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. And I and and it was something like a $60.00 pay was. Like about this.

Speaker 2

Yeah. And I think the outrage was you. Had to pay for.

CRAIG NORRIS

The game as well you.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Ohh yeah cause. Yeah. And you had to. It was. A full price game.

PETER WILLS

And in art, imitating life games play on that too. The some of the outrage will be or the the character will be hard done by by that sort of thing, and so they will reference real life.

Speaker

So this.

CRAIG NORRIS

Is this is real fuel? For the lit RPG space, right, these kind of mould?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And this is this is where. Yeah. So that's. Where the narrative? Of the lidar PG. Like the actual narrative, and not just the system involved sort of differentiates from a classic fantasy in that it draws in these elements. I personally love that I love. I lit RPG that has little nods to the video game aspect like someone goes to cook and instead of like, you know, pulling in ingredients and stuff, you just get a little progression.

Speaker

What the hell was going?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And you know and like, NPC behaviour being a little. Bit off and. It depends on the individual story, but.

CRAIG NORRIS

I look, I think. It opens up such an interesting question about where people learn the rules of how to behave in life and media always has a really important role in in communicating. Rules to people. And it's hearing these this information it's I guess it's really not surprising to me that there's a real comfort to be found from understanding a game mechanic and then referring to that to understand how real life rule based experience go. Like cooking. Yeah. I find cooking difficult. And I find looking at YouTube explanations of how to cook kind of unhelpful. Yeah, I'd love to see a bar appear as kind of. You know the. Progress metre or something and the other things to add that that system? If I could see that in my head in a way in a little RPG way, yeah.

PETER WILLS

Well, I'd actually doing a thing in real life takes a lot of effort. Cooking is quite a lot of effort if you do it right. So.

CRAIG NORRIS

And sometimes you can get it wrong and it's.

PETER WILLS

So so yeah.

CRAIG NORRIS

Like how did I get? That wrong. I feel like the steps exactly something.

PETER WILLS

Like blacksmithing is. Really hard to. Learn yet if you just get a little progress bar because you've got like 13 points in blacksmithing, suddenly you can make yourself a.

Speaker 2

Little dagger but.

CRAIG NORRIS

That's that real disconnect, though, isn't it? Where you know, real world. Doesn't work that way. You can spend so much time investing into learning how to be a blacksmith. And the time you put in.

Speaker 2

You should be able to.

CRAIG NORRIS

Get further than maybe you have in reality, because something. You know you.

Speaker 2

Just and here.

PETER WILLS

You've just created a story. What if the guy who knows how to be a blacksmith goes in and does it for real, as opposed to does the combat, does the the progress bar thing that that could be. Your story and your conflict as opposed to he goes and fights monsters. He creates a better sword as he struggles to do it himself with a hammer and an anvil as opposed to the guy who. Cheating or just like levelling and there's your core. Conflict for your.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Story. Well, that's actually a major trope that it's explored in a lot of these because there's this idea, especially the ones that are explicitly inside a video game, because there's this idea around once a game become reaches a certain level. Of immersion to the point where you don't really grasp that it's any different from the reality experiencing our the matrix, which tends to be the case with most of these. Stories. Then there's that question of to what degree do real world skills translate into this video game space? If it's if the basic system is, you know, you get a progress bar for cooking, yeah, what does happen if you're that good at cooking?

CRAIG NORRIS

And by referencing the matrix, I think many. People remember those. Means where I guess countries cat goes back into the matrix and you know gets Kung Fu downloaded into his head and he's like oh, now, you know, I know kung.

PETER WILLS

Well, now you now you know sword fighting because you started a warrior character and he can sword fight. It's a it's a great shortcut. So you don't have to spend well. A actually say your character has sword fighting skills or B time who who has time to learn a mediaeval skill in modern day. Whereas you can go into the game. And then you can play a warrior. Now you can use a sword in game.

CRAIG NORRIS

Great. So is the matrix quite a good gateway film in terms of, you know, if you like that scene in the matrix where Keanu is character or Neo? You know, he wakes up and the real realises in the real and he's so much weaker and he can barely function and.

PETER WILLS

You know it's it's.

CRAIG NORRIS

He's kind of. Impoverished man. And then he goes back into the. Game space and he is. Empowered again, he can download stuff. He understands the mechanics, he can game the system.

PETER WILLS

It's a great it's a great shortcut visualisation for people, for authors to reference and people just instantly know what's going on.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

There, there's an element of that I think, but I think what's more common is when you've got. A setting where people can come in and out of the video game world as they like in a truly immersive one. You start seeing instances where the skills that they've been picking up. Playing these video games start to get translated into. The real world. So this is idea of is this video game reprogramming my brain?

CRAIG NORRIS

In a good way or a bad?

PETER WILLS

Well, it depends. Depends on your point of view.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Way. Well, that's the question, because if if you go in and you put a whole bunch of points into your sculpting and your character is really good at sculpting in the game and it's so immersive that you're actually doing this thing rather than a progress bar. If you then go out of the game, and even if just some of that skill has been translated. That means a video game has changed your, you know, intrinsic brain makeup. Which is like. It has an incredible potential, but it's also really terrifying.

PETER WILLS

What if they what if you choose to play a villain and it suddenly makes you all right with killing people? Does that when? When. Yeah. When?

CRAIG NORRIS

Which is very much reminds. Get at the Westworld.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. What happens if you join an organisation and you're not allowed to disobey members of that organisation and you come out of the game and then all of a sudden there's this sort of obedience programme into your mind?

CRAIG NORRIS

Yes, Siri, yeah.

Speaker 2

Look and there's yeah.

CRAIG NORRIS

There's two interesting points there. One is there. Doing some research, looking at how people playing games. Teams kind of have a bleed into into life. It was a really interesting research project here at the University of Tasmania, actually many years back from Roland Atkinson that the project on Grand Theft Auto do gamers that play a lot of Grand Theft Auto when they're driving around Hobart Streets see Hobart differently? And there were some really nice stories that came out of that in terms of saying. Yeah, they they love Grand Theft Auto. And through playing that so much, they began to recognise that Hobart actually does have aspects of a city that Hobart isn't just a backwater place. It actually has city like pieces which they recognise in the game. So this one guy was saying in his interview that he drove by Hungry Jacks and he saw some some kind of. You know, nefarious looking teenagers there, and suddenly the narrative of Grand Theft Auto kicked in in terms of saying, OK, the this is like GTA with the, the, the kind of subculture characters there.

PETER WILLS

Just fine until he starts looking for his assault.

CRAIG NORRIS

Rifle well and obviously the distinction between reality and fiction needs to be very clearly. Kind of understood here that he's he's not then deluding himself into saying, and therefore I will behave like Grand Theft Auto. But just that interestingly, it pivoted TAS or Hobart into a kind. Of trajectory of. Big city. Yeah, yeah. Happy danger. I'd put it as you know, this kind of like, you know, Grand Theft Auto is all about being able to partake in dangerous, immoral activity or boring activity for some right of being the street laws and so forth. Yeah, it was interesting in. The interviews that this research was conducting that. It can make the real world around you a little bit more special, a little less banal, you know, create a little bit of story behind it. But the the second space that I, I this interested me. 4 authors writing books. Where does this question take you for a narrative that what? Are the cliches that this typically resolves? Itself in in terms of a character sculpting guy playing the sculpting video game, getting points and then, you know, after the game, he starts being able to tinker and have confidence into actually doing real well. And then as a story right away. Would that be? Fuel to create an interesting point to or where does that form as a genre? Or a cliche.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Well, it's. I mean, story is ultimately about conflict. So it's the the points of conflict that really make it interesting. So rather than, you're coming out and you know this game can make you do things better rather than saying that's an absolute good or an. Absolute bad the. Question becomes the the the real driving force, so sort of following that. Thread the.

PETER WILLS

The game is changing your brain. Do you feel about that? What else is it changing?

Speaker

Yeah, it's, it's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And also and then then you start getting into sort of world building the the real world aspect because if you've got in game lit, you've got like a real world setting and you've got this. VR setting so you'll generally start off exploring the the digital space.

CRAIG NORRIS

So in your own novel. Yeah, the character goes into a kind of.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

That there's a. To create that in mind, mine doesn't actually have a digital space. My character is actually thrown into another world where he sort of experiences these, you know, RPG like elements, but eventually he does. So there's this concept. Of the real. Ordinary world. And then there's this magical world race experiencing all these things with the real world as. A point of differentiation like a a control. Group as it were, but eventually he does make his way back, and then he starts to realise that the world he left is not. Exactly the way you thought. It's not, uh. This sort of empty devoid of magic.

CRAIG NORRIS

Place it must have been a difficult decision to bring a character back from a fantasy world after readers engaging with this fantasy space. Were readers happy with your main character suddenly going back there? They say no. No, give me more of him in in, in fantasy.

PETER WILLS

Yes, not. Not even I was happy. And I'm just the guy who lives in the next room. Yeah, I I believe my specific words were. I don't know any of these people or care about them like I do. The other ones make me. He did, by the way.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

There was a lot of trepidation from the readership when this happened, but the response was very positive. Ultimately, I I think it helps that you know by that point I'd already been writing this for quite a long time, sort of developing those. Skills, as it were, and and it was kind of a reverse of how it went in the 1st place where. The first place when the story started, everything was new. You don't know the character, you don't know the setting. It's all. Up in the air, whereas this when it came back by that point, the the readers knew, you know, the character and there there was a lot of think ohh this is just going to be him going cause him going back and then going back to the magical world almost immediately which it wasn't. UM as sort of these layers of what he didn't know about his own world, it peeled back until it, you know, reaches the point where the world is like, sort of massively transformed as things come to light. I guess I don't wanna be too spoiler in case it. Actually wants to read it but.

PETER WILLS

And because it's a story, it's also about a personal journey. So what did he learn over there? And how is he applying it to coming?

CRAIG NORRIS

Back look, look in a way, you have that.

Speaker 2

What's the?

CRAIG NORRIS

Joseph Campbell's hero's return narrative, right the hero takes the quest. Goes through all those those challenges, and then there's always the hero returns with the boon of knowledge.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, I cause. There's very much the the the start of that section is very much, you know, coming back very changed into both personality and capability.

CRAIG NORRIS

Ready. Let's take a bit of a break and it's been fascinating hearing the exploration of the deeper dive into the world as well as the great news about the upcoming audio book and ebook. We'll take a quick break and we'll get some more details about when this might be available to to read. Alrighty. You're listening to Edge radio. This is media tech on that was a.

Speaker 2

Song rhymes to the east.

CRAIG NORRIS

By the band.

Speaker 2

That just look. Honestly, this system just drives me bonkers sometimes in terms of the song that plays disappears, it just disappears.

CRAIG NORRIS

Off the system, and unless I've written it down and I wrote down.

Speaker 2

Warm J. This is got anyway. You're listening. To Craig's PhD, I have a PhD.

CRAIG NORRIS

Which probably didn't sound like the PhD inness there, but I'm with Travis and Peter and. I want to conclude, so we're at. Near the top of the hour. So about 5 minutes. Left and we will. I want to talk. About this idea. Of who owns the text? Right there was a news out of close reading recently or a few years back about latest Star Trek movie and they were trying to figure out what. Type of knee cell. This Star Trek spaceship would have. And they went to Paramount Studios and Paramount didn't have an idea. And they just said go to the fan wiki. So the director and producers of the latest Star Trek movie said they found all the information on the fan wiki for Star Trek. It wasn't held in the paramount thought or anything. It was all online on the fan wiki. And those guys knew more about this text. And the INS and outs of it and were better custodians than paramount were now with your own text. Travis, what role does discord play to help, you know, a kind of fix and create the the wiki?

PETER WILLS

For your your.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Your world there actually is a.

CRAIG NORRIS

There is.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yes, you know some fans, but.

CRAIG NORRIS

So who made the wiki?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, there there is. An element of fan ownership of the system because they from the very start, people have been very engaged with it and. And it's a sort of almost a collaborative space where people will ask all of these questions and you know. A lot of times I'll, you know have the answer because I spent quite a lot of time developing this system, but periodically they'll throw out, you know, even if it's just a detail or some new concept. That's something that I've never. Developed before and it's like that's great and that's something we. Knowing and you know then I can stop and and take the time to figure out. Well, I need an answer. This has to fit. Have to get it right and then I'll come back and say OK. Here's the answer so within.

CRAIG NORRIS

Your system you have. What is it like? A5 power 4/4.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, sort of three core concepts that sort of. Combine into a fourth.

Speaker

So sorry.

CRAIG NORRIS

One and you introduced this narratively in terms of the characters discovering this as is in this fantasy space, but then the readers are reading it, and some of those readers. Then would want to. Know. OK, well, let's, let's let's take this. Further, you know or what happens if? I combine this and this. How did those discussions?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Well, very early on in. The life of the discord. There was a lot of questions that were explicitly that it's like. The the the the core concept they're called essences. So what happens if you add this essence and this essence and this essence? What do you get so like maybe say, you know, fire and lizard and something and you get salamander, that sort of thing. But yeah, that were just reams and reams of questions. So you.

Speaker 2

And it can be.

CRAIG NORRIS

Tracking, I mean, you're replying to most of these questions, but that's pretty exhausting. Right? And and I?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Eventually I actually did have to say OK. I only have so many hours in the day and I I didn't tell them to stop, but I asked them to sort of peel it back. So what I tend to do now. UM. These days is someone will ask about like a specific essence. Like crystal or whatever, whatever it might happen to be. And then rather than just list off. Some easy combinations. What I'll do is I'll sort of explore the underlying concept behind that particular thing. So the way it gets used, how the kind of powers it tends to produce and the impact that has on people. And then I'll have a few examples. Of the you know this plus this plus this equals whatever and it's sort of a more engaged and in-depth way of exploring it. So I don't get. As many of these sort of combinations out there, but the ones that do are a lot more meaningful.

PETER WILLS

The bot helped though.

Speaker 2

So what is the bot?

CRAIG NORRIS

There's that. Don't know. I mean, so this is on discord.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. So a. A reader, one of my readers made a bot for my discord. I think it's called Knowledge, Chan Knowledge Chan.

CRAIG NORRIS

The Discord bot on Travis's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yes. And anytime I put a a combination of things into. Either the discord or the story this reader adds them to the bot, so if somebody wants to know, does this and this and this add up to something? Has it ever been revealed they just ask the knowledge bot?

CRAIG NORRIS

And this was a fan. Yes, of your stories that was on discord that had the wherewithal to to put. Together, this little bot that then control through. All the the. The questions and the Q. And A's on on discord.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And and we'll come out the answers.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah. So you mentioned one about farms. Someone asked. About do you? Know yeah, there's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, a lot of, yeah. Like someone might. I actually got sent this weekend from, I think, a personal message on a Patreon where they dropped something like, OK, here are something like 12 or something. Combinations that are all. Based around the concept of farming can. You please go into. Depth in all of them and I'm. Because the discord is a much better space for it, because anything I reply to on discord is for everyone.

CRAIG NORRIS

And becomes Bible right? Cause everyone else sees it and it and it gets one answer that everyone sees.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And there's a there's a. There's a canonicity there. Yeah. Whereas you know, in a personal message. Not so much. So when I get those kind of things, which isn't so much anymore, I tend to say these are some great questions. I'm going to go to this court. And answer them. Feel free to check in there cause with the Patreon for example, one of the very common things that Patreon does is they'll integrate. Discord functionality right into their system, so if anyone becomes a patron of me, they get access to certain channels on my discord based to what tier they patronise me at. And that's so that, you know, free readers. Don't get spoiled. That kind of thing. But that that gets. Plugged like straight in, so as soon as you it's great to me if you jump on the discord, you'll be right there with the right roll. Your name will be. The right colour and it's such a good cleverness.

PETER WILLS

System. It should be pointed out that his essences are one word, so it's like sword essence via essence, and so he needed to make up. A lot of words.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

What? Amber? I didn't make up words, but.

Speaker

I did.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I had to sort of concede. That, yeah, yeah. The concepts around them so.

PETER WILLS

And and be very specific about them.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, you know, and and and for me, I I I mean again just to to to finish up it, it really does show. That the supportive system, the type of, you know, fan labour of love, labour of love. I guess that that that people then share in something you've created and then want it to succeed and do well and are happy to devote time to. Answering questions as.

PETER WILLS

The guy who's going through the corrections. At the moment he employed me to do so. It's very nice to see how they're engaged. Nobody really says hey, idiot, stop that or anything people will put like they there's a way to do it and people will like the first time they post, they won't do it that way and then they'll just be a nice person saying, hey. The rules are here and you missed this thing to to do it properly. Like please do it from now on nobody. Goes like don't. Do that. Everybody's quite nice, yeah.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Something like. If you're gonna put in a correction for an. Advanced chapter put in a spoiler box. That sort.

PETER WILLS

Of thing and and here's how. Yeah, you didn't. Here's how. So you don't just yell. Hey, you didn't put it in a spoiler box? No, it's like we do use. We use spoiler. Boxes here. Here's how. And it's just very polite. It's it's nice to see.

CRAIG NORRIS

Travis. Peter, it's been great having you on again this week and stay tuned. We've got more stuff coming. Around the corner, we've. Got the media? News journalism team coming on next. This is being media tackle with Craig Norris joined by Travis and Peter and enjoy the rest of your.

 

 

 

 



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