Almost immediately after beginning the evidence pass I realized I needed to check the thing I alluded to before: what would happen after I tried to gather more than 3-4 things? Would the UI explode?
This is one of the harder aspects about having a personal project that takes a long time (years, in this case). You forget how things work. I was pretty worried about what would happen once the player acquired many pieces of evidence, so I decided to stop my pass mid-stream to test it. Sure enough: it failed to display more than five pieces of evidence.
Thankfully, it was pretty easy to fix this. I just needed to make more slots, and fiddle with the settings in the uniform grid widget in Unreal to get them to display properly. Then I noticed that all the new slots displayed the wrong information when examined! Yikes! Again, fortunately, an easy fix. Each slot gets assigned a number, and I forgot to do that for the new slots (since it had been about ten million years since I looked at this). Another easy fix.
I’m not exactly sure what is gonna happen when I run out of rows, if that happens (I have no idea if the uniform grid panel does a scroll wheel thing or not), so I’m not out of things to worry about. But this is still quite a relief to know that this isn’t going to be a massive problem, yet!
For my student devs reading this, the main reason why this turned out well is a classic case of not fighting your technology (aka “going with the grain,” as Chris Crawford says in his classic text, The Art of Computer Game Design). Instead of being arrogant and rolling my own inventory system, I just found Unreal’s tutorials and followed that. Turns out when you make something in the same way as the creators of the engine you end up with a robust system that is easy to fix or expand upon.
One nice feeling I had when testing these features: I got that warm fuzzy feeling of playing a video game. This is not something you experience all that much when slaving away on your own work (as odd as it is to say that). It actually felt good to play these chapters, even though they are still pretty bereft of substantive play (no stat balancing, lots of missing elements and such).
Now to keep on making crappy evidence art! Until next time, detectives…