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Serious Sam: The Interview
2000-06-09 Erik Page 1 Page 2

Please note that unlike certain other things you may have read somewhere else on this site, this interview is 100% legitimate.   We actually love Serious Sam, we actually contacted Roman Ribaric, and he actually responded.

Erik: This is my first interview. I'm a little bit nervous.

Roman: That was supposed to be my line here.

Erik: In 1996, U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's plane crashed right into Croatia, killing him and thirty-four less important people. The crash was officially attributed to "mystery", but Americans knew it was a clear act of aggression by the Croats.  Ron Brown was not only Secretary of Commerce, he was America's beloved mascot of commerce. Yet our increasingly impotent government did nothing. Four years later, you've released a demo of your incredible game Serious Sam, and it's better than any game Americans have made in the last seven years. Has America lost its edge? Does Croatia plan to remove its big army boot from America's ass any time soon? Is Croatia, in fact, the new America?

Roman:  First let me say I am realy sorry about Mr. Ron Brown. I thought your government wanted to drop us some bombs because of that. We clearly saw the stealth planes coming above and we looked for cover. Fortunatelly, they missed the target by some 300 miles to the east. It wouldn't be the first time, as Chinese guys might say. BTW, you made first good thing in a long time, by splitting Bill in half. I hope the same effect happens to Bullfrog, too. Oh, I forgot EA sliced them in pieces.

Erik: Well, much like your Government, you didn't really answer any of my questions about Ron Brown.  Let's try an easy one:  How many people comprise Croteam?

Roman:  All together, there are nine guys, now. Six of us working full time, two guys work in spare time (studying) and one guy is serving in the Croatian army. We have some guys who left. They thought working 10 hours for free for 4 years is not a good option and that they can make more money elsewhere.

Erik: Did you know that Ion Storm has a bigger staff than that devoted just to brushing John Romero's hair? Followup: To what do you attribute the fact that the Serious Sam Alpha Test version 0.06 is clearly 1000 times better than Daikatana?

Roman: Are you sure he still has his hair in place. Looking at the Daikatana, my guess someone brushed too hard and did him a serious haricut, thus taking away his special media powers. As one croatian journalist said, Daikatana is his favorite game of the year for 1997.

Erik: Yes, the Daikatana sucks.  Please name three things that Serious Sam does better than any other game.

Roman: First, everything is bright, sunny, big and beautiful.
Second, gibbing loads of enemies at the same time gives even more decoration to this environment.
And third,
frantic action feeling.

Erik: Tell me about it.  Someone oughtta reintroduce American game designers to the concept of frantic action feeling.  Okay, now we talk serious:  We sent a letter to the Hotmail account of one John Carmack and informed him that Croteam's Alen Ladavac was the new John Carmack. He sent us mail back saying "He's the John Carmack - of Croatia! LOL!" Pretty sarcastic for a guy who's about to become even pastier than he already is thanks to a lack of sunlight caused by having to stand in Alen Ladavac's giant shadow. Don't you think?

Roman: Alen doesn't like us to talk dirty to Mr. John Carmack. So, I will pass on that.

Erik:  And I will pass on commenting on that response.  Those exploding beheaded kamikaze guys that run at you while screaming at the top of their lungs are destined to become the most talked about enemy in any game ever. It is a truly brilliant creation. Who thought that up? Followup: Was it Dinko Pavicic?

Roman:  I admit I was responsible for that one, along with Davor Hunski. Actually, two of us designed all enemies. Majority of guys thought they all sucked, so we knew we are on the right track :) . Dinko Pavicic has joined us recently, as he saw the posibility to eat and drink for free. Actually, he is responsible for all skins in the game.

Erik: How big is Old Man Murray in Croatia?

Roman:  Hmm, very big?

Erik: That doesn't sound too encouraging.  Let's put it this way:  We're bigger than the Mushroom, right? Specifically, we're bigger than the Mushroom's most idiotic idiot, Rob Budrick?

Roman:  I guess. Seems I lost the point here.

Erik:  That's close enough.  Thanks to the Internet, I've been able to make a man in Croatia seriously contemplate what a moron Rob Budrick is.   The level design in Serious Sam is refreshingly open and bright. Was that on purpose? I mean, I know it wasn't an accident, but are you going to keep that general style for the final game? There won't be any levels that take place in a sewer, right?

Roman: No, no dark areas. Among others, we'll have Lava Planet, Water Planet and Ice Planet. So, it's all bright and colorful. Also, we'll have some cyber ones, but you definitely won't go for brightness/contrast buttons, or your money back guaranteed.

Erik: Hmmm.  Water planet, Ice planet, Lava planet, and Cyber planet.   Maybe we should drop this subject.  Do you plan on having any crates in the final game?

Roman: If I got this crate word, you mean vehicles. Yes, we plan to have space crate in last game section where you aproach Sirius city and the Mental's palace.

Erik: It warms my heart that you don't know what crates are.  Now for a difficult two-part question:

a) We contacted a very famous pampered American webmaster and asked him for his thoughts on Serious Sam. He was pretty dismissive, and he said that Serious Sam seemed "unprofessional". Do you have assholes like that in Croatia?

Roman: First, something about Croatian mentality. There is a saying here. Rough translation goes like this: "It's not important that my cow is dying, as long as my neighbour's cow dies, too". I don't know where we got this one, though. Explaining that, majority over here in Croatia think that Sam is ok, but it's nowhere near UT or Q3. Also, they think engine is not so good. In our newsgroups we are loosing to the Daikatana. They like to compare our test with it and they even give some better points in Serious Sam. BTW, best part is that all those people I mentioned didn't yet downloaded the test, nor did they see the engine. What to say than it's time for bed kids, cartoons are over. So, your webmaster shoud fit in that category, too.

b) Uh huh.  Yesterday, pampered American game developer Mark Dochtermann updated his plan and said some very nice things about Serious Sam. But at the end he added "The game certainly has its weak points". Did you know Mark Dochtermann was partially responsible for Sin? He's not one to talk, is he?

Roman:  No. Let's talk about coop play.

Erik:  Sure.  Will any sort of multiplayer coop be included in the final release of Serious Sam?

Roman:  Lot's of people want coop. We anticipated that, so Alen designed that in advance. Also, we'll have multiplay and also, up to 4 split-screen (more of engine feature; not enough keys for 4 players on one keyboard).

Erik:  In the technology level, there's this amazingly cool effect where there's an undulating, reflective blob floating in the air. Alan Ladavac certainly outdid himself on that one. What is that called? Do you think John Carmack would even know how to start programming something like that?

Roman:  I don't know how this top-secret "Mental's eyedrop" got there. I know John already figured how this is done, as Alen did with his "real" curved surfaces.

Erik: Would you hire Paul Steed?

Roman: Yes, as he looks like born goalkeeper, as we all like to play soccer. However, he'll have to pass our fitness test by modeling some 30 non-human characters and getting hit in his head by a ball at the same time.

Erik: To clear that up for our readers, Roman meant "no".  Okay, Roman, here's the question that's currently tearing Usenet apart:  Doom 3 doesn't have any chance of being better than the Serious Sam alpha test version 0.06, does it?

Roman:  Looking at the number of people at id who are still there, I doubt they are able to make Doom 1. I would suggest they license our engine and build mission pack for Serious Sam, instead. For this, they have right ammount of people.

Erik:  Jesus, that's really harsh.  You're our favorite game developer.   I bet the Japanese would like to get their hands on the Serious Sam technology. What do you think they'd do with it other than make violent rape games? Would Croteam ever license the Serious Sam engine to the Japanese? What about for a million dollars?

Roman:  Actually, Beheaded Kamikaze was designed to scream "banzaiiiii!", however we thought of licensing the technology to Japanese, so I removed that (as CEO I was working on the soundfx in my spare time, while I was in college and recently serving in CRO army for 10 months). BTW, all guys here were studying and after that went to the army, and meanwhile we all worked on Serious Sam and Serious engine. I lost the topic. Yes, we would like to license the engine, but not for that manga anime stuff. Million you say? Where should I sign?

Erik: Once again, to clarify: Roman would consider selling his technology to the Japanese as long as they didn't use it for making entertainment about rape.  So you'll probably never see a Japanese game utilizing the Serious  Engine.  Unless they offer Roman a million dollars.  Roman, speaking of that, how much does it cost to license the Serious Sam Engine?

Roman:  We are looking for $ 50,000 to $ 200,000, plus royalties. It might look expensive. However, we'll release the tools on the Internet within a month and people could load our test and play with it. There won't be any waiting for the game to come out. This thing with finding a publisher could drag us through this year, so there will be no waiting for final game to get the tools.

Erik:  Two ideas.  First, if I owned a Balkan greeting card company, I'd have a line of cards called "congratulations on your ethnic cleansing!"   Two:  I'm going to have a Serious Sam clan and all of our names are going to start with "serious". Serious Erik, for instance. What do you think about that?

Roman: Be quick, otherwise people would register the domain before you do. We called our technology that way, Serious Engine, Serious Editor and Serious Modeler. And, of course, along with Serious Sam comes Serious Sammy (multiplay character).

Erik:  I thought it was a pretty cool idea, too. Thank you for your time. Go Croteam!

Roman:  Thank you. Stay serious.


So that wraps that up.  Croteam is as sassy as development teams get.  Remember when Roman said "Looking at the number of people at id who are still there, I doubt they are able to make Doom 1"?  That was great.  To experience that "frantic action feeling" for yourself, download the demo.  Oh yeah, here's your exclusive screenshots:

Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3

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