Thanks for the reply, @kpcollier.
I'm still having some issues with this, and I think it must be related to how I've structured the relationships and the content in each table. For example, when I try to implement AutoComplete, it still only accepts integers, not strings, which is the original problem. So, let explain a bit more about the structure of the data since that may be the root cause.
As you note, I have a central table where all the information is populated. As shown below, I've recorded each entry in a series of integers that correspond to the AutoNumber IDs in their respective tables. So, The Game_ID column links to the Game_Details table, the Developer_ID does the same in the Dev Table, and so forth.
Right now, I have this as a child table that links these numbers and displays the content in the cells as text from another column (as I outlined in the OP), like so:
When I make a search form using the dropdown form element, I'm able to identify specific fields to reference, as below:
but not if I switch to AutoComplete:
The filter AutoComplete by field only allows me to choose the Developer_ID field, but not reference the developer name text string. It's the same issue as before, which makes me think that I've structured my data and their relationships wrong. So, let me see if I can be a bit clearer about what I'm trying to do, as any advice would be appreciated. I'll use the image of the table with the data populated as text as an example.
What I'm looking to do is have a search field where users can input either 1) a game name, 2) a developer name, or 3) event name. The result page would show a list of the games, devs, or events that match that string. As I've said, I can't get the search to accept strings in the first place and is where I'm at now. Basically, those three categories are what I need to design the searchable features around.
In these results, I'd like a few other things. Since games can be at multiple events and have different versions, I'd really only like one instance of the game to show up -- when you click for details, it could show these different versions and where they were at. Currently, the Details table houses all the games and their various versions and events as separate items so performing a search using it as the base returns multiple hits in some cases.
As I said, I'm very new at this so any help and insight into how to organize the data or set up the search form would be appreciated...and thanks for the patience!
As a concrete example, say "3rd Eye" has been released at events A, B, and C with versions 1.0 and 1.1. Right now, each of these would be a discrete entry in the "Details" table, as below:
Game Dev Event Ver.
3rd Eye Dev X A 1.0
3rd Eye Dev X B 1.0
3rd Eye Dev X C 1.1
If I search by game or dev, I only want one result to appear. But in details it would show these variations. I suppose I could include the event information in the game and dev tables across multiple columns as child elements themselves...? But that still doesn't solve the original issue of searching by text string.
Again, thanks for any insights!