When Croteam quietly released the test demo of Serious Sam at the end of May, it didn't take long for gamers to speak out in praise of the shooter's fast-paced action. We took the opportunity to talk to Roman Ribaric, CEO of the Croatia-based studio Croteam, about plans for the full game and the team's recent outreach with the gaming community.
If you haven't tried the test version of Serious Sam, you can find it here.
GameSpot: Why do you think the gaming community has been so excited about Serious Sam since Croteam publicly released the compatibility test in late May?
Roman Ribaric: I would guess they are pleased with our effort to provide fast, frantic action and bright environments combined with good technology.
GS: Describe what sets Serious Sam apart from other recent shooters.
RR: A good combination of indoor and outdoor environments, a bright colorful look, and fighting with loads of enemies at the same time.
GS: Many shooters use darkly lit environments to create a sense of suspense and foreboding. What led you to decide on a brighter look?
RR: You mention the main reason why a dark environment is good. The other reason is to hide things that don't look so good. We decided for bright look, as our game is not horror-style - it's more action-oriented. I don't like to see movies where the action happens in dark places. That's why we all here are Star Wars fans.
GS: Apart from Egyptian settings of the demo level, what kinds of environments do you have planned for the final game?
RR: You will travel from Egypt to the Sirius solar system. There will be some planets with lava, ice, and water environments.
GS: What multiplayer modes are you building into the game?
RR: Along with the usual stuff like deathmatch and CTF, we will have co-op and scorematch.
GS: Can you tell us a little about scorematch?
RR: It's basically a deathmatch where you are collecting points. The way you do that is still in prototype phase. For now, anything more is top secret.
GS: Tell us a little about Croteam's background. What projects have the team's members worked on before?
RR: Croteam has ten good guys [who have been] working closely together since 1993. The majority of us were involved in developing two games: Football Glory [asoccer game released in Europe] and 5-A-Side Soccer [an indoor soccer game for the Amiga].
GS: How long has Croteam been working on the game?
RR: Since 1996, we have been working on the Serious Engine and Serious Sam.
GS: What is left before the game is complete?
RR: It's hard to say at this point. We have new enemies and weapons left to design and the ending is still uncertain. So, it's long process to finish it. Also, we are short of people in level design.
GS: Croteam is also developing the technology behind Serious Sam as a game engine to be licensed to third parties. How much of a part does that development play in the team's current efforts?
RR: Before we released the Serious Sam test, we received some disturbing comments from some of the publishers we contacted. So, we decided to try licensing the engine to get the funds to finish the game. But first we decided to take a risk and release the test on the Internet to get the reaction of gamers. Once we got great feedback, we knew we had to push for the finish and that the publishers would eventually come.
GS: Have you been talking with publishers about retail distribution of Serious Sam?
RR: We are in the middle of the negotiations. Can't say more, but hopefully we'll sign with one soon.
GS: When do you think gamers will be able to get their hands on more Serious Sam?
RR: In September we plan to release Serious Sam test 2 with multiplayer support.
GS: How has Croteam's recent contest to find catchphrases for Serious Sam's main character turned out?
RR: Davor Tomicic, our game/level designer, is still trying to look through them. But there are thousands of them, and he has very difficult job in looking for the top 100. There are lots of really excellent suggestions. I would say I like reading them all. We all have great time reading the quotes. [You can now find the initial selection of fan submitted quotes here.]
We are very satisfied with the results so far. Soon, we'll go in the second round of competition, where people comment on our picks. And then there is final round, with actual voting for the top quotes.
I would suggest to other developers to try listening the gamers and get them involved in some part of the game design. After all, we are all developing the game that we want people to buy. Anyhow, we'll definitely take that approach with some more competitions in the future.
GS: So, tell us, why is Sam so serious?
RR: Wouldn't you be serious wearing red shoes, blue jeans, and serious sign on your white work shirt?
GS: Thanks for taking time to talk to us about the game.
RR: Thanks - and stay serious.