Mars Maniacs (also later known as "Space Haste") was a 3D combat racing game that featured stylized 1950's era hotrods, in which players not only competed against their best times and other racers, but an ever-increasing velocity that would eventually go beyond human ability to control. The game was created by a small indie developer called the Church of Electronic Entertainment (which to this day is probably one of my favorite studio names of all time) and shares a lot of parallels with the popular Wipeout franchise on Playstation.

Mars Maniacs / Space Haste

Mars Maniacs / Space Haste - Developed by the Church of Electronic Entertainment
Mars Maniacs Title Screen.

Before I ever became a professional game designer, I was a beta tester. I wasn't even 20 years old when I got my first chance to try Space Haste and provide developer feedback from my experience. Back then I was also fairly ambitious, and asked as many questions as I could about game design, level design, and programming. I still hadn't figured out if I wanted to be a designer or artist at that point (I wouldn't make that leap for a few more years), but it was all magic to me. I was lucky enough to be in direct contact with one of the developers who was very accomodating in answering all of my questions. I rigorously played through the game dozens of times, trying new tweaks and balances to the controls, weapons, velocities, track layouts, interface, and reporting bugs whenever they would pop up. My feedback was instrumental in helping to polish the game and present it to publishers.

In return for all my effort, his small development team allowed me to include a texture for a trackside billboard in one of their demo downloads (which featured the classic "LDA Electric Eye" logo). The studio and I became friends, and what started as a simple beta testing gig turned into a long-distance internship. I continued to help with miscellaneous tasks such as translating the help file (my wife also helped with this task and is credited as well - you can see our names at the end of the demo under the "Help" title). It was an amazing time back then, where developers were a lot more open with the work that they did, and people were excited to collaborate online without the trust issues of today. I'll never forget that experience.

Note: These images were taken from the web, as I don't have the original archive of screenshots.