Rotten Cartridge
Based in Montreal, Quebec

Release date:

PC / Mac
Apple App Store


Regular Price:



Time Trials is a game about agriculture, the human condition, and the first children born on Mars. It will be split into two parts. As of March 2014, Part 1 is currently in development.


We knew early on that Earthbound would be the inspiration for our next game. Despite its cult popularity, not many (are there any?) games have been created in the spirit of Earthbound's whimsical style. We fell in love with Earthbound's memorable characters, narrative scope, and brilliant writing, and goggled over Mother 3's surprisingly dramatic moments. Time Trials began as a harmless doodle of a plant growing on a red square. From there, and with the inspiration of Earthbound, it evolved to include a multi-ethnic cast of characters. Well-designed narratives are hard to come by in games. A few recent titles (Kentucky Route Zero, Gone Home) contain engrossing narratives, but these gems are far from the norm. Whether this is due to the lack of writers in independent games, a plethora of early access titles, an overwhelming focus on graphics, or the cliche's perpetuated by AAA-games, we can never know for sure. We did know that we wanted Time Trials to be an impeccably written game, and that is what we set out to do. Two years were spent on the narrative while Ian finished his undergrad. From lengthy discussions with Jeremy over episodes of Buffy and tennis we designed a sprawling epic filled with love, loss, questions like — "What would children think about growing up on Mars?" (answer: they wouldn't know any better) — and an argument about the human condition. The end result is that the universe of Time Trials is not that different from our own. The timeframes suggested for colonization of Mars are realistic and in line with the planned Mars One and Space X missions. Time Trials is especially inspired by Mars One: the early colony participated in a 24 / 7 reality TV show that broadcasted daily life from the surface of Mars. Scientific plausability continues to be an important aspect of development. We wanted the gameplay of Time Trials to not be describable in terms of any other game. The terraforming mechanic needed to be inseparable from the narrative, in line with Ian Bogost's argument for procedural rhetoric. For us, Braid was a heavily influential game on this front. In summer 2014 we began experimenting with the plant-growing mechanic in Unity 2D. We realized quickly that growing a single plant, a la Minecraft, is uninteresting, and moved toward an approach where the plants took on lives of their own — spreading out as far as they could. Like Conway's Game of Life, this ecological (emergent) gameplay is fraught with unknowns. We are currently prodding this unexplored territory while keeping an eye for simplicity.


  • A vibrant cast of characters (yeah, everyone says that, but seriously we have like 40+ characters)
  • Terraforming gameplay
  • Whimsical audio design
  • Focus on narrative
  • ART



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About Rotten Cartridge

Rotten Cartridge is a Montreal independent game studio made up of Ian Arawjo and Jeremy Fiume. We make games against our will.

More information
More information on Rotten Cartridge, our logo & relevant media are available here.

Time Trials Credits

Ian Arawjo
Art, Programming, Design

Jeremy Fiume

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Apply if you'd like to get involved! :)

presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks