(WIP) The Bureau - Chapters 1-3+ (550k+ Total Words) UPDATED 03/14/2024

Update March 5th, 2024 - A Small Snippet + Next Week on Patreon!

Hey everyone, sorry I didn’t do this last week! It was a bit of a rough week for me, and to be honest, I was focusing on just having enough energy to get up and focus on the story and on the stuff for Patreon. Speaking of those two things, let’s go over some stuff!

First off, the story! The first half of the next chapter for The Bureau is ALMOST DONE! That’s super exciting because I know how different these paths can be, and how much variation they have, and will have, on the extra scenes that come after them. I’m so excited, in fact, that I decided to share a snippet of one of the extra scenes with you this time over on Patreon! Aside from that, I also added on more extra scene to work on for Chapter 4.5 as well.

I’m at the point where I’m not going to add anymore unless I view them as super important to the feel and story of the game, because 13 extra scenes is more than enough in my opinion. That being said, I’m not going to worry about getting every single one of those done before releasing the update, because I hate the idea of keeping people waiting. Besides, having extra scenes to unlock in the full game that weren’t in the beta will be part of the fun I think!

Now, as for the Patreon, this week we have Parts 4 and 5 of The Bureau Audiobook for you guys. Next week, however, will be the first part of a three or four part short story series about an original character, Guinevere Heartstead! It will obviously be taking place in a more fantasy based setting and there are a bunch of characters and moments I’d love to hear your opinions on. I love writing this stuff for you guys, so please be sure to check it out. It’s going to be 3.5k words of brand new content you won’t be getting anywhere else! As for the other day next week, I’m undecided at the moment! It’s either going to be Part 2 of the short story, or possibly an extra part of The Bureau Audiobook. Either way, you guys will be getting the regular scheduled content.

With all that being said, thank you to new and old patrons that have started/continue to support me, it really means a lot!

Stay Brilliant,
-Vi

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FIRST HALF OF CHAPTER 4 PART 4 IS UP!

Everyone, I’ve been working on this for months now, and the impressive and also sad part is; it’s only halfway done! But it’s also 60k words and brings the average playthrough of the demo to 65k words long, so I figured it was worth uploading. Can’t go too long without an update, right?

In this update, pair with Lance and Alvarez as you infiltrate the abandoned warehouse with the S.W.A.T. team on a mission to take down the suspects and end put a close on this case once and for all! There are a lot of different branches to this one. Like… maybe more than I realistically needed. But, I wanted people to be able to craft their own story and make sure they had something to come back to a second time around if they were so inclined. I may even go back and add a little more to parts of this scene before the official release, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Thank you all so much for supporting me, whether you’re a paid member or a free member, and I hope you all continue to enjoy the story I’m crafting!

You can check out my Patreon here for side stories, original short stories, audiobook readings and more! Morbeth Games | Creating Interactive Fiction | Patreon

Stay Brilliant,

-Vi

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ok guys im completely lost on the password for the laptop​:sob::sob: i FEEL LIKE IVE TRIED EVERYTHING :smiling_face_with_tear: i’ve already read through all of the tips, anymore?:disappointed::pray:

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Would you like more tips, or would you like me to link you the answer? I am more than happy to do either!

Edit: in case you were interested, the answer to the password is on this post (WIP) The Bureau - Chapters 1-3+ (600k+ Words) UPDATED 12/22/2023 - #739 by love4tae

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This is also another favorite of mine keep up the awesome work!! How many chapters do you plan on doing?

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Thank you for the kind words! I’m planning on doing Five Chapters, although there’s going to be an in between chapter (Chapter 4.5) that goes over some things and changes based on decisions you’ve made through the first 4 chapters. The fifth chapter is going to be pretty massive in terms of branching though, so there will still be plenty of content.

Really glad you’re enjoying it though! Very grateful to hear that!

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Thank you sooooo much!! lmfao thinking is a lot of work recently

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That moment when you realize Kris and Samuel are accidentally referred to as ‘mommy’ at one point in the story because the gender variables got mixed up :woman_facepalming: Some of the bug reports I get are hilarious I swear lmao

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I mean, S Ryder is baby girl regardless of their gender, so I’m not seeing a total error. :thinking:

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So, I thought I’d stop by here and be more transparent about wordcount and such with how I calculate it, how I code, etc. etc. I’ve just seen it come up in a few places and wanted to give an explanation to it. Note that this isn’t trying to deflect any of these criticisms, in fact it’s validating them if anything. BUT I also want to give pause to the idea that the word count for the story is actually something like, 150k.

Short Answer

I suck at coding.

Long Answer

I suck at coding, BUT ALSO THIS STUFF!

So, in order to calculate word count, properly, we need to know how I structure scenes in my game. The answer to that is ‘poorly’. Good thing is; I’m fully aware of this. If I could please direct the classes attention to the image below.
image
That is a picture of a single scene. Cindy Lou Who voice “But Vi, there’s two scenes there. Why are there two scene there?” Well let me explain why.

I suck at coding.

But the longer explanation is that I prioritize the fluidity of the writing process, or what is considered to be the fluidity of my writing process, more than I prioritize condensing the game.

The top one, chapter2p1, stands for Chapter 2 Part 1. The bottom one stands for Chapter 2 Part 1 Route B. The first scene is coded with gender variables for if the PC picks “Male” or “Female” preferences for sexual preference. The second scene is coded with gender variables for if the PC picks “Both” or “Neither” for sexual preferences. This means that I write an entire scene in the first part with the gender variables in that scene. THEN after the scene is completely finished, I copy and paste the entire scene to Route B and just change the gender variables as needed.

Very inefficient, I know. I’m a writer first and foremost though, not a coder, so I give myself a bit of leeway here. Luckily, I know all that when going to calculate total wordcount. It just means I have to do a bit of extra work when calculating said wordcount. So, I only count one of those scenes when calculating wordcount, not both. In the case for Chapter 1p5, I cut the word count of that chapter in half, essentially.

Now, let me show you what ChoiceScript says the word count actually is.

1,380,620 Words. Or so ChoiceScript IDE says. But that’s not really true. That’s counting all scenes. So instead of closing half the scenes of the game every time I want to check word count, I instead just divide the total word count by 2. That leaves 690,000 words, give or take. But, then again, that’s not right either, is it?

No, we need to slim it down even further, specifically due to one scene. One scene in particular that I am actually going to go back and condense.

Lance’s after Funeral Scene. In total, you can most likely take off about… 110k words from that scene. I realized this while thinking about my response to all this today, so in light of that, I’ve taken the word count title down to 550k words, as I think that’s a fair approximation.

Now, my dear Read-y Lou Who, you may be asking, “But the total wordcount of each playthrough is still only 60k. Isn’t that still 1/9th of the total wordcount?”

Yes.

“Surely there’s not that much branching in this story, since the story for the most part all ends up at the same place anyway.”

Wrong. I don’t know if anyone thinks this specific part, but I feel validated in my answer to absolutely, 100% say; wrong. There is that much branching. Even if you want to slim off another 50k worth of words for other text that may be repeated throughout the game, you are still only seeing 1/8th of everything this game has to offer. For the sake of this, I won’t even focus on flavor text. What higher stats let you see what different dialogue in certain scenes, etc.

You start the game. You go through Chapter 1. You enter Chapter 2 and there are 4 entirely different scenes to experience on the train. You can pick two of them. You are seeing half of that part. You immediately go into the next scene of the chapter; Crime Scene or Police Station. Two completely different scenes, which will lead to two completely sets of information. You are now seeing half of that part of the chapter. Skip the debrief at the station/explanation of remaining teammates mutations you haven’t already discovered because I haven’t written that part yet, you come to the next part of the chapter. You pick 1 out of 4 scenes to choose from. All of these scenes are literally entirely different. So you see 1/4th of what this part has to offer.

In that Chapter, there are 4 scenes you can potentially see out of 10 that are all, and I cannot stress this enough, completely different. The 4 conversations on the train, 2 different ways of investigation, 4 different scenes in the hotel rooms. That is 40% of that chapter give or take as it stands right now.

Chapter 3 has 6 scenes in total. You see 3 of them.

Chapter 4 when it’s finished will have you play through a total of about 6/9 scenes available, if I don’t add more variations to the second half of the warehouse scene than I’m already planning. Hell, as it stands, the warehouse scene adds 60k words in total, but only 5k words per playthrough. It has 6 different possible endings, and those are only the endings that are in the demo so far.

Spoilers for Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Warehouse Scene Layout for Lance and Alvarez Route
  • You can stay on the catwalk instead of falling which leads to:
  1. PC Killing the Suspect and badly injured.
  2. PC Killing the suspect and not badly injured.
  3. Lance Killing the Suspect/PC not badly injured
  • You can fall off the catwalk which can lead to:
  1. Alvarez killing the suspect and PC being badly injured
  2. PC killing suspect and not being badly injured.
  3. Lance killing suspect and PC not being badly injured
  4. Lance killing suspect and PC being badly injured

That’s not accounting for the different ways the PC approaches the situation and whether or not Lance’s hand ends up crushed in the fight.

Keep in mind, on top of all of this, the player is unlocking Extra Scenes at times depending on what dialogue options they pick.

There’s more under the hood I could go on and on about but I feel like this already is starting to sound like me being defensive, which I guess to be fair, I kind of am. I am adult enough to recognize and admit that. However, more than that, what I want to get across is this:

There is bloat. Absolutely. But I account for that when calculating my word count and advertising my game, and I like to think I’m very conscientious of it when setting up expectations for the experience people can have while playing my game. There is a lot of branching. It does take multiple playthroughs to see everything. That’s done by design. Is it the smartest move? No, probably not. A lot of people only play a game once then move on. But it also ensures every person’s playthrough can be tailored to them as much as possible.

Is the game 1,000,000 words long? No. Is it 600k words long? Not yet. Is it around 450-550k words long depending on how you want to do word count? Yes. Yes it is. It is not, indeed, 100-150k words long. If you want to see just how much changes, play the game more than once. Purposefully miss some of the important clues in the investigation scene. Play through all the solo scenes. Fiddle around with stats.

I love when people talk about my game, don’t get me wrong. It’s not one of the heavy hitters. It’s not Wayhaven, or Fallen Hero, or PoMA, or KaE. I don’t have a discord and I only make like, 40 bucks on my Patreon. But I do give my game the respect as if it was one of those big titles from other hard-working authors. I don’t advertise falsely and I don’t try to take the easy way out. This story means far, far too much to me, and I’m much too passionate about it to do something like that. Seriously, if you want to know why I started writing this story in the first place, listen to this. I made the first Podcast free for a very good reason. https://www.patreon.com/posts/behind-scenes-1-78650741

I’ll even give you all the timestamp for it. The explanation starts at 2:20. Listen until about 11 minutes.

It got a bit heavy here at the end, but anyone who frequents here knows I take criticism and sometimes change the game accordingly to it. The fact that people can talk to two people on the train and choose to sit by themselves is a testament to that. So this isn’t me trying to explain anything away, it’s me just setting the record straight. And again, if you want to know why I’m so damn stubborn on making sure people know it’s not just me trying to make my story more popular, and why I want people to know why I’m so emotionally invested in this series specifically, listen to the first ten minutes of the free episode on my Patreon. You don’t have to become a member or follow or anything afterwards; I just want you to hear where this story came from and why it came about.

So, that was… a lot that pretty much no one asked for. With all that in mind, I hope all the people who see this, who think this, don’t take it as some sort of jab or attack or anything. Genuinely, I was just wanting to explain myself, and now that it’s written down, anyone having the same thoughts can have a place to look for an explanation.

With that, I’m gonna go back to my writing cave now.

Stay Brilliant,
-Vi

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May I ask what kind of feedback you want at the moment? Only storywise, coding errors or grammar and spelling mistakes?

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Oh all kinds are welcome. The dreaded gender variable mistakes, grammar, spelling, and story. I take it all into account and try to do fixes between each update from what people post.

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OK I finished a first Run, choosing Carter for every interaction. The first mistake I found was at the policestation while waiting for the wife of victims one, before the Woman arrived there was a part of having ours, before she gets there, should be hours, I guess. Then at the house of Angelica, after seeing the Laptop and choosing to cry about the Things my Agent saw, when I put the hand on the nightstand, the were the words hand and one missing.
Today I got screenshots of Arthur and Carter switching their gender.



Started an Arthur run.
One thing that seems to be a bug: when I boarded the train in my first run, I chose to talk to Carter first, and then we were called by Arthur. In my second run I spoken with Arthur first, and afterwards was able to talk to someone else.

I chose to be big, but in several scenes I have to look up to Arthur, is this intended?

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Thank you for the bug reports! I shall add them to the list of things to add to the next update.

For this one, usually if the PC is looking down, even if they’re taller than the RO, I’ll say ‘I look back up at him’ because the PC’s gaze is currently towards the ground. However, if it was in a scene where that wasn’t the case and it did just mention looking up at him in general, that for sure will need to be fixed on my end.

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So I have finished all routes now.
I found several Things so let’s start with that.

Summary


Here is one thing with Arthur looking down one me.

And one he/she Bug

So now that 's done.

Other Things I noticed or found worth mentioning.

First Things first, your Story ist interesting, the writing is good and I don’t really understand why this thread is not more crowded.

You got supernaturals, Love and a MC who IS really good at their Job without being overpowered. The cast is lovely and I really feel like they are family.

So now I have reached the less desireable part of my critique. Please keep in mind, that all the things I will mention, are my Personal Feelings and how it felt to me, so since I do not know what you plan on doing in the other chapters and since it it just an opinion, I am not asking you to Change Things or demand something.

It’s just how I felt.

I would like more opportunities to interact with the team. Perhaps some Not one one one Meeting but with more than one Team member present, to deepen the friendship/ found Family path. With so few interaction I just chose the Team member I wanted to romance in the actual walkthrough.

I like the little changes, when Team member react concerned or caring towards the mc, but after reading four paths, I noticed that almost nothing changed, no Matter with which agent I spent my time. That’s a bit sad, since it feels like there is not much romance at all.

The pacing is good, maybe a little bit hasted for my taste. Personally I would like the different parts of the Job to connect a Bit more, atm you only know and react to Things you found Out during your scenes. I would love Meetings where you also learn what the other Team found about the Case, so that the reader would get more of the bigger picture. I still have no clue what the Killers did what they did.

So I hope you keep up the good Work and I could Help a little bit.

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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and the couple of bugs you found as well! I will put those on the menu for the next update.

Thank you for the kind words, they truly mean a lot!

I’m very glad these two things come across aptly in the story. I try to balance the things the MC can do with things the rest of the cast do on the assignment to make sure it seems like an even team effort, but still making sure the PC has the light they need to shine.

Nonsense, I thrive with critique! as long as that’s not all I ever get and there’s some nice things every now and again.

This is coming for sure! In the chapter 4.5 there’s going to be something like… 15 or so extra stories you can potentially pick from? At least half of them are going to be stories with more than one of the team in them, so you’ll get to see that found family dynamic even more in play!

This is a tricky one since, while the characters are based in certain tropes, I wanted them all to essentially act like just normal people. A lot of stories have the super shy one, or the extreme bad boy, or the extremely cold and closed off character, and because of that it’s much easier to differentiate character reactions. Or in other stories you might have characters with completely variable morals, but these characters are all ‘good aligned’ as it were, in one way or the other.

But more of the romance is also going to be in chapter 4.5, so you’ll have more of a time to do that if it’s something your character would be interested in as well!

Funnily enough, this is also something that’s going to be released for the full game! In between the first investigation sequence at the crime scene/police station and the hotel room choice, there’s going to be a scene where the team meets up to discuss what they found, and also to reveal the mutations of the team members that the PC wasn’t aware of yet.

Thank you again for your feedback, I always enjoy reading it when it’s something that’s actionable and helpful to aid me in building the best story possible! I’m very glad you read and enjoyed all four paths, and I only hope to continue to provide you with a story that you enjoy!

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Thank you, for answering. I look forward to future updates and the full game :+1:

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I found a scene I’m confused about:

I continue, “He called me a couple weeks ago asking if I could lend him money to get back on his feet.” My eyes drift down to the paper again, checking the date when his information was put into their system. Unsurprisingly, it was only a couple of days after that phone conversation. “But I know what it would’ve really gone toward… so he must’ve signed up here instead to earn some money to feed his habit.”

Here, my MC explained to Agents Hawks about the brother. But in this playthrough, I never answered the brother’s call. I selected the option to reject the call. My MC is correct that the brother called, but I rejected his call, and therefore the brother could not have asked money.

Edit: if, for plot reasons, the MC has to know that the brother is requesting money, perhaps the brother can send a message via SMS, or an email? That way, the MC will know the brother’s request for money?

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Very good catch! I will fix that for the next update for sure. Most likely to have the MC put two and two together and realize through the power of inference that he was probably calling about something relating to cash since he went there not long after. I appreciate the heads up!

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I planned on going through again. Last time was only one or two chapters?

Posting as a watcher, waiting, as i got to first mission last time and stopped.

When there are more ROs that i want to get with, makes it difficult to choose. Hence my hesitant behavior to wait for more chapters.

I still watch the progress. I may jump in again sooner than later after reading that one post.

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