When I first started working on Mello about this time last year, I had no idea how difficult it would be. I mean, I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. If it was easy to make a game, skilled developers wouldn’t be paid as well as they are.
It was a difficult process, even though I had a solid team working with me and great instructors and tutors. Sometimes it was a technical problem or question, sometimes it was logistical- a “who, when, and what” kind of question. Most often though, I was plagued by a far more difficult problem to tackle- motivation.
Keeping your nose to the grindstone on a long-term project is almost never easy for me, even on a project that I enjoy working on, such as Mello. If it had just been up to me to finish development and publishing of Mello, I wouldn’t have made it. There were just too many days when I didn’t want to work or wanted to work on something else, or any number of things other than working on this project.
The most important thing I learned while working on Mello was how to overcome this “developer’s block.” My best solution? Have immovable deadlines and someone (or someone-s) to keep me on track. That doesn’t mean hurt yourself over arbitrary deadlines- there’s (almost) always some leeway that should be left in the margins of a good schedule. However, it does mean that having an immovable date to get something done by gave me a solid enough reason to work on the project most days. Having good accountability from peers and mentors has also been incredibly helpful. There were plenty of days when I was encouraged (or shamed in a friendly way) into working by tutors, teammates, professors, or even just friends who knew about the project.
That’s not to say it’s all been difficult though. The joys of successfully solving a game logic issue, seeing an animation in motion, and, of course, seeing your page on the steam store are all plentiful and worth all the pain and annoyance that can come with game development.
The other thing that I discovered in the process of developing Mello is that a game doesn’t have to be perfect from the get-go. It’s called game development for a reason. There are going to be trials and plenty, plenty of errors along the way. But figuring out how to solve those errors- discovering what’s possible and what’s not- finding the best solution to a given problem and figuring out what people like and don’t like are all part of the process. Ultimately, all these things have made Mello a much better game, and they’ve made me a much better developer.
Mello may still be rough around the edges in many places. It may not ever be the perfect game I want it to be, but I intend to keep working, keep developing it and working on it until I get it as close to perfect as I can.
Check out our game on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1619830/Mello/