Ninelives [WIP] [DEMO]

Hi there! I’ve been reading interactive fiction for a while and writing even longer, so I thought I would try my hand at writing one of my own. This is my first time coding Choicescript, and I typically don’t write in this genre, so I would love to hear some feedback.

Description:

Your life is complicated. You’ve recently lost your job, you have parents who may or may not hate you for reasons you’re not clear on, and your brother refuses to leave you alone no matter how you feel about it. But things could be worse. And, oh, do they get worse when you learn you have a special ability that’s not all it’s cracked up to be. What’s more is, the wrong people find out about it. Now you have to figure out how to get them before they get you.

You play as a 25-year-old trying to get control of your extremely average but slowly spiraling life. You are a member of the Erickson family.

The Not-So Spoiler-Free Premise

Because I’m not great with synopses, especially spoiler-free ones. So here’s the spoiler-ridden one.

You are a normal person trying to go about their normal life with normal problems. Then you learn that, when you die, you have the nasty habit of coming back to life. The problem is, in a city with a mysterious group looking to study people like you, being unable to die isn’t going to help you much. Luckily, it seems like you aren’t the only one with powers. Your new friends might be just what you need to keep yourself and each other safe.

For those who like a sense of mystery, information about major characters gets updated on the stats page only as you learn it throughout the story. For those who want to know a little bit about what they’re getting into ahead of time, here are your major players.

The Family

Sun Erickson
Age: 34
Gender: Male
Appearance: Sun is about 6"1’ with a lithe build and light-beige skin. He has short black hair and brown eyes.
About: Love him or hate him, Sun is your overbearing older brother. He works as a therapist, specifically in grief counseling, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to apply his trade to his family. He constantly attempts to mediate the horrible relationship you have with your parents, not to much success. He always maintains an optimistic air, but there’s something sad and unspoken hiding just beneath the surface.

The parents are undergoing some changes at the moment, so their info will be added later.

The ROs

Alex Roben
Age: 29
Gender: Nonbinary
Sexuality: Bisexual
Appearance: Alex is 6’2" with an average build and tawny-beige skin. They have long dark hair which they usually keep up in a high bun. They have brown eyes and a light dusting of brown freckles on their nose.
About: Your one-and-only best friend (and maybe long-time crush). Alex is outgoing, outspoken, and confident. They somehow always manage to be supportive of you while keeping their nose out of your business. But Alex has a nasty side and is sometimes deserving of the title “Little Shit.” Still, there’s no one you would rather have as your bestie. Not that they would give you much choice.

Ansel
Age: 33
Gender: Trans-man / Genderqueer
Sexuality: Pansexual
Appearance: Ansel is 6’5". He is slim for his height and has white skin and golden-blond long hair that he frequently keeps tied up in a ponytail. He has heterochromia with one eye being brown and the other being blue. He is often seen wearing slim rectangular glasses, but no one can ever figure out if they are sunglasses or over-active transition lenses.
About: The very odd and somewhat eccentric owner of a small cafe called UNDER-COVER where you end up looking for a prospective job. Ansel has a flair for the dramatic, especially in how he talks, but he can be weirdly straight to the point when he wants to be. He has a slightly playful air about him, sometimes even in serious situations, that makes it impossible to guess his motives. It’ll be up to you whether or not to trust what he says.

Teagan White
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Sexuality: Bisexual demiromantic
Appearance: “Stuck somewhere between a scene-kid and a hip-hop artist.” Teagan is 5’8" with a slightly athletic build. His hair is short and bleached with a few green strands here and there. His eyes are green.
About: A young man who frequents the cafe, UNDER-COVER. Teagan is known for having a pretty bad attitude to strangers. He prefers direct conversation and plain honesty to sarcasm or harsh criticism and typically responds very poorly to the latter. Not easy to get close to, this one, but once he’s close enough to consider someone a friend, he would do pretty much anything for them.

Cherry Preston
Age: 25
Gender: Female
Sexuality: Questioning. She’s never been in a relationship, so she’s not sure. (For the purposes of gameplay, consider her pansexual)
Appearance: Cherry is 5’3" and chubby with pink skin that’s covered in red freckles. Her hair is short, ginger-red, and frizzy. Her eyes are green.
About: A shy young woman who works at the cafe, UNDER-COVER. Cherry is quiet and soft-spoken. Being around a lot of people, especially strangers, makes her uncomfortable, which makes her quiet and slow-paced job a good fit for her. Despite how timid she seems, Cherry is empathetic to a surprising degree. She has a really good sense of how people feel, even if she doesn’t always know what to say about it. She hates her name but goes by it anyway.

Lucia Davis-Vasquez
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Sexuality: Bisexual, but she’s only ever been with men
Appearance: Lucia is 5’10" and athletic with dark brown skin. Her hair is dark brown, coiled, and long. She often keeps it in braided updos. Her eyes are dark brown.
About: Lucia is the newest employee at the cafe UNDER-COVER. She’s cheerful, open-minded, and outgoing. She’s always looking to try new things and rarely spends a minute of the day idle. Her optimistic and outgoing attitude can sometimes get her in trouble with her more timid friends, whom she pushes to interact with people more than she should. Not easily daunted, Lucia is a good person to have at your side when the going gets tough.

Rene Michel
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Sexuality: Asexual panromantic
Appearance: Rene is 5’7" and skinny with dark brown skin. His natural hair color is black, though he often cycles through artificial colors. He typically keeps his hair styled in a twist mohawk. He wears oval-shaped glasses and has dark brown eyes.
About: One of the most understanding people you could ever meet. Rene is so kind and patient it should be illegal. He works several days a week leading group painting classes and teaches art classes to kids some weekends. He’s also quite a techie and spends a lot of time on the computer when he’s not working on his art. He’s a lot quicker than he lets on and is fluent in at least three languages. He might be too kind-hearted for his own good, but that doesn’t mean he’s a pushover.

Personality and Skills

You will have a run of the following opposed personality traits:

  • Cautious / Daring
  • Timid / Confident
  • Skeptical / Trusting
  • Taciturn / Open
  • Sincere / Sarcastic
  • Melancholy / Cheerful

Your personality might sometimes inform the way you react to certain (non-choice) situations and influence the way the other characters see you. It will also influence how well you are able to learn certain passive skills.

The following skills are passive skills that can influence certain paths of the story. These skills are currently intended to be hidden from the player.

  • Willpower
  • Perception
  • Intuition

In addition, there will be active skills that the player can cultivate throughout the course of the story. These skills have not been implemented yet. This section will be updated once they have.

Play the demo: [DEMO]

The current demo covers halfway through Chapter 4.

Average Playthrough Wordcount: 15k
Total Wordcount (including code): 32k

Known Issues
  • I only just recently expanded on the options for non-binary/trans options for the MC. I’m fairly certain I got most of them, but there may be a few places within the text that are not consistent with a trans/nb MC. If you find any of these situations, please report them to me and I will fix them ASAP.

  • It recently occurred to me that, of the personality options I have, there are not many opportunities to increase the Cheerful personality stat. (This probably says something unfortunate about me personally.) If you are feeling like your MC isn’t allowed to be Cheerful enough, that’s because you’re right! I need to go back and revamp some choices to give Cheerful a seat at the table. Rest assured, I am very aware that this is a problem.

I’m normally a fantasy-genre writer, and Ninelives definitely falls more within the scope of sci-fi/supernatural fiction. Whenever I write fiction taking place in the real world, I have a tendency to fall back on Postmodernism a lot. I don’t consider this a bad thing, but an unintended side-effect of me writing this way is that I struggle with detailed descriptions unless they are absolutely imperative to the atmosphere or understanding of a scene. So pay special attention to that. If you feel like there are some things lacking in description or like certain descriptions are forced or out of place, please do not hesitate to tell me. This is a special area of concern I have, and I’m always looking to improve it.

Please feel free to share any feedback, questions, bug reports, etc. on this topic. If you have other questions (especially the fun kind) or want to hear me generally blab about my progress, I also have a tumblr. (Note that I just recently made this tumblr for the purposes of writing IFs, so it’s pretty bare-bones right now.)

233 Likes

Really enjoyed reading this, and can’t wait to see what you have planned next!

And wow, can I just say the bickering with our parents really made my heart heavy. It was a very relatable moment that had me thinking about my relationship with my own parents, and I believe it’s something that a good chunk of us can relate to at times. Also, I can’t wait to hang out with Ansel more. :’)

Oh, and I can’t forget Sun!!!

5 Likes

Whoa, this is very damn interesting…

Definitely looking forward to more of this…

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The- the RO preference…
I don’t mean bad by it, but it’s the first I see someone doing that to their story. Wow, that’s new. Good luck :smiley:

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Looks good definitely waiting for the rest of this story :^)

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Descriptions were all good, and I enjoyed the more strained family relationships, it’s a nice change from what I usually see and it feels like a nice starting point for getting into everything else.

Also I do feel the need to point out that ‘trans-man’ is not a gender. Especially not when the alternative is just ‘male’

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I really liked the Demo so far, I found one little variable mistake. In the scene where Ansel comes back, Teagan is called that in the Text, before introduced, that my be caused by the switching boolean to known in that text. Might be better to change that from variable to normal Text, for that time

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I loved the demo, and I also loved sun, although there is something strange that makes me suspicious of ansel and the other guys, I know they are ro’s but it is very strange, it is like saying hey, you have powers, we too, you want to be an x men?, and Alex, it’s fun, but very common.

but the game is fantastic overall.

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Ooops! That is not supposed to say it that way, thank you so much for pointing that out. A product of sleep deprivation and copy and pasting some info from a document I think. I am not able to edit my my post for some reason (probably my posting level), but once I am, I will definitely fix that.

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Nope, that was just me being a fool. :sweat_smile:

Thanks for pointing it out. I found the error in question and it will be fixed in the next update.

I can definitely see how that would feel that way. The good news is, that is partially intentional and absolutely should make you suspicious! There are going to be a couple of mini-mysteries throughout the greater story, and that lends itself to one of them. By the time Chapter 4 is finished, if I do everything right, you should have a couple of opportunities to show a little skepticism or notice clues regarding this exact issue.

3 Likes

I’m not really sure what it is… But I’m really in love with your writing, like, in the beginning where you focus really hard on the ‘name motif’ and you can talk about it in like a poetic? way without sounding even remotely like pretentious or out-of-touch. Or the way you set up the hospital flashback/slash monologue (the reminds you of family one) with the counting of the times you went (even though its only two which can feel a little weird, if you can find to put a ‘trip’ in the middle of the appendicitis and the other one). And my absolute favorite line was “you make a small, desperate, sound” it’s just so perfect and visceral in the moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I would kind of like more nuanced options for whether or not you blame yourself (I don’t really have specifics but if I think of any I’ll edit it). Really looking forwards to seeing what comes next :slight_smile:

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Sounds interesting I’ll probably die nine times haha

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Thank you for the kind words, and thanks for the suggestion of more options for MC blaming themselves! I will take a look at that and see what I can do! Honestly, adding more options there is very likely, considering it will affect things between Sun and the parents later, so keep an eye out for it in the future!

I guess we’ll see, won’t we :smirk:

2 Likes

Oh, that’s a cool one!
I tend to not be a fan of the “resurrecting hero” , but so far I like how it’s done.

It’s a bit hard for me to delve deep into what I think about the story - I need to see the characters interact a bit more - but what I can say is that so far I like the RO’s introduced, as well as Sun.

I did notice only one error, but it has been pointed out by someone else already, so really… nothing more to say, aside from the fact I’ll be waiting for more. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I also tend not to be a fan of those, because too often it feels like there are really no stakes for characters like that, so, really, what’s stopping them? And yet here I am writing one. :rofl: I really wanted to pick something for MC that really kind of emphasized the feeling of “something people would probably be envious of, but in practice still leaves a person powerless in 99% of situations.” Building on that, there are some things that have yet to be established that should up the stakes for the MC in more ways than one. I should have gotten to at least one of these next time I update the demo, so hopefully that adds to the intrigue.

Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad you liked it!

3 Likes
I know the feeling - I also have a character who has a "kind-of-like-that-but-not-entirely" power in a tabletop RP I'm mastering!

Basically, he has the power of “saving” and “loading” in real life, so he can go back to a save he made, effectively going back in time, and if he dies, he returns to his last save too. He uses that in battle and helps his allies with that etc, but it has huge repercussions on him too (not to mention the psychological strain of seeing his friends die again and again in horrible ways until he finds the perfect moves to do, during hard fights).

Playing with that trope can be interesting! But well, more often than not, characters like that make a story dull, sadly.
And it’s even harder if it’s the main character, obviously. I can’t wait to see how you raise the stakes!

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Oi @springsalad


I don’t know if I’m taking the job yet.

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Good catch, thank you! I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read that scene and not noticed this. Will be fixed in the next update!

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Lol @springsalad had to go the third time to find that…


Can you please explain this?!?

Lol Are you sure this is Alex’ description?!? They gave the impression that they never stop keeping their nose in MC’ business and always poking around.

Just felt like that to me, like they’re too nosy.


I think it would be way better if it’s

Of the way they made you realize how much you need your brother in your life even if you hate him.

like this when went with complete distant and bad sibling relationship route with Sun.

Lol imo Sun is very damn annoying, reminds me of my mother. It’s very very annoying if the family members (however close they might be) don’t know the boundaries and they don’t want to accept that you’re an adult.