Escape from MiniMars Postmortem & Extras

Posted by (twitter: @radhesion)
April 29th, 2012 8:11 pm

(quick game link for reference:

Since ours was a team-based jam entry we got 3 postmortems for ya. spacemars/mroushey’s first:

Just finished up my second Ludum Dare, and my first time in the jam version of the competition. Myself and two other darer’s ( adhesion, and emarcotte ) joined forces to take on LD23′s theme: Tiny World. Pretty much all of the first day was spent coming up with ideas. After 4 hours of tossing ideas around we boiled it down to “Escape from MiniMars”.

You are a robot that finds himself on the surface of mars (well, minimars… but its the same damned thing :P ) and must escape. For all intents and purposes it is a mario style platformer. We loved the idea however, that there would be tons of tiny people in this tiny world that love the shit out of robots. They chase after you and jump on so they can hug you! Killing them was to be incredibly easy as youre… a goddamn giant robot. The difficulty is such that the people can never really kill you (except in maybe one or 2 areas) so its more of a way to kinda color the world and just make you chuckle a little bit whist mowing all these tiny dudes down with supercharged eye-lazers.

Now since this was a JAM entry, we had a team. Emarcotte adhesion and I all programmed it up.  (although they did most of the work, I just tweaked jump arcs and stuff like that XD ) While Adhesion rocked his chiptune magic and I was free to spend pretty much the entire weekend making art assets.


For the art and level design I used a combination of Photoshop, Graphics Gale (, and Tiled ( The game was programmed using MelonJS ( (a html5 canvas game engine).

I really can’t say enough about Tiled. It’s a map editor thats incredibly easy to use and can export data in a buncha different formats, one of them being XML.

All you do is import your tileset, and start to paint. You can have multiple layers of map tiles, setup entities within the level, as well as setup your collision maps. Flash’s Flixel and MelonJS both have native support for this guy. It’s a must in my opinion.

Graphics Gale is a pretty nice freeware pixel animation app. The interface is a bit clunky, and the Layer stuff can be a bit annoying, but It works really well for animation.

Photoshop is an obvious choice, but it pretty much blows for animation. XD If Graphics Gale’s UI was better id never close it~

MelonJS is pretty easy to work with.  You can make a platformer basically out of the box. The engine is pretty high level though, I found that you have to hack in even the most basic of additional features.  I also have some pretty large complaints about html/js games and javascript in general, but that is a rant that will go on and on and on forever. :/


Last LD I did the compo and I must say, it was brutal. I didn’t get to put as much time as i wanted into either programming, art or.. cough cough sound. (if you saw my last game, the music was actually playing a randomized selection of notes. ) With the jam, you get more time, and more manpower. I really do like both, but I think the jam comes out a little bit ahead in my book. I got to work on art to my heart’s content (and drawing arm’s discontent) and got what i feel to be quite a bit of stuff done. I think i will do the compo for my next LD competition, but the JAM was damned fun.

and now adhesion’s postmortem:

I’m very pleased with how this LD went overall – we made a solid game, didn’t overextend too much, and learned quite a bit about HTML5 game engine issues & melonJS. I’m super proud of what we accomplished.

what went right:
Music/sound – I was really happy with how both came out. I was so pumped to actually hear them in game; audio just makes a massive difference in the overall experience. I ended up doing the music in 2 separate chunks of time (thanks to the extra time of the jam), which felt a lot better than the one giant slog when I did the LD22 compo – that got a bit frustrating at the end. The tools I used, Ableton Live & bfxr, worked great as expected. I focused more on FM synths for the music which made it all the more awesome.

Graphics – I obviously can’t take credit, but I have to point out how much of an intense badass roushey is, and as such his art is amazing as usual.

Coding (mostly) – Despite being not all that familiar with Javascript, and despite all the horror stories I’ve heard about its awful innards, I found it quite easy to use – didn’t have any huge (core JS-related) bugs, and I was able to figure out the built-in data structures and such without too much trouble.

what went wrong:
Time management, again – was an intense rush at the end to get the final polish done, particularly the RADMARS intro screen (waaaay worth it though :D). It was also hard to be productive on saturday before a lot of the art assets were done, which is kind of a weird side effect of melonJS providing a lot of the core gameplay functionality very easily. Plus, I had to work on the Monday the jam ends and ended up miscalculating how much time I would have to work on it that day which didn’t help.

Code framework, a little – had some major memory/memory leak issues right at the end which was really frustrating to deal with. (Wish I caught that earlier, it kinda drove me insane for a while.) I managed to fix it but more familiarity with Javascript, melonJS & browser debugging tools would’ve definitely helped. Struggled with a multiple collision issue for a while too – in retrospect it was pretty obvious, hopefully I’ll wise up to this stuff as I do more game dev stuff. Otherwise I’m pretty satisfied with melonJS in general.

Whew! Overall LD was a great experience again. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do this sort of challenge and have something awesome to show for it at the end. See you in August!

and emarcotte’s:

– Dedicated time would definitely help, coming in and out of the project is frustrating and anti productive
– flexibility of javascript makes time very productive, melon’s tool integration is also very flexible and simple.
– asset pipeline is still a mystery to me, roushey just does magic and we consume it…
– polish is 90% of the battle. the rest is easy.

Extra bonus stuffs!!:


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