Nevada Dev Log: Journalin’

Yes, this is a strange game.

A big reason why I wanted to blog again was to write about the indie game I’m making, called Nevada. I started this in the summer of 2020 as a completely solo endeavor. Just me, Unreal 4.26, and whatever I could scrounge from the asset store. The vision? To create a kind of detective noir experience in the Nevada desert. I was inspired by two things: driving through the beautiful desolation of the Nevada desert and by some music I had recorded (available here). Well, that and I love Columbo and detective dramas on television (but especially Columbo).

So anyway, the purpose of these posts is to update everyone on my progress. This one is going to be a little longer since it is the first. Let’s get some quick facts out of the way:

Current State of the Game: Approaching a rough alpha. All game chapters are playable (15 chapters!), but much of this is just placeholder content. The game environment is more or less complete. Most of the work is making the gameplay itself, which is very strange (a sort of Final Fantasy approach to interrogations).

How Long to Finish: Utterly clueless. I hope to hit something resembling an Alpha by the end of this summer.

Much of my game’s content is like this, which is very amusing but not real yet!

So with that set, today’s progress: I started the journal pass!

Many games benefit from some kind of journal system, and fortunately the Unreal asset store has a really good one that isn’t very expensive: the component journal. Seriously, get it. Just have it in your library. It is one of the best tools in the entire store. It uses simple to manage data tables and can be pretty easily customized.

My game works roughly like this: you win an interrogation; you get a new journal entry. The journal entries slowly unlock the story. With all the game chapters (kind of like “missions” in an RPG) set, I need to do a broad pass to get all of the basic journal entries in. Not all of them, just the ones that you get for completing a chapter (some journal entries require doing other things to get).

This is a murder mystery game, so I have to keep the story straight. This is *way* harder than I thought. I really admire the writers of all the Columbo episodes. I think my story is, like, ok. Not great, just fine. I hope the gameplay makes up for it! Anyway, to keep things straight, I have a story doc that I use to remind myself of what goes where (I have other docs that sketch the story in prose form, which I can blog about later).

Spoilers abound in these posts, of course.

Finally, here is a result of a successful journal entry being triggered.

Thing I’m proud of: the font is my own crappy handwriting!

That’s it for now- I hope to write these almost any time I sit down and make progress on the game. Expect most of these to be shorter. Until next time, detectives!