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Serious Sam: The Second Interview
2001-04-03 Erik

Well, Serious Sam arrived in stores late last week, and the world's most trusted game sites have finally started to publish their reviews.   The verdict? Old Man Murray is the greatest!  To quote Daily Radar Editor-in-Chief Chris Kramer:

Once again, the entire gaming world owes Old Man Murray a debt of gratitude

I just want point out to Joe Robinson, Chairman and Founder of UGO Networks, that gratitude is not  an acceptable payment for your debt to us.

We're the only web site that cares about you.  And no matter how many times we point that out, it doesn't get any less true.  So I'm gonna be honest and tell you that I'm incapable of providing an objective review of Serious Sam.  I think it's a great game, but you really shouldn't trust me here, because, as Daily Radar points out, I pretty much wrote the thing myself. 

Luckily, Best Buy is selling Serious Sam for $14.99 this week, which  - adjusting for inflation and rounding down - works out to zero.  Since the game is free, you don't need a review anyway.  In fact, it'd be kind of a waste of my precious time to write one. 

Instead of a review, I've conducted a followup to our original interview with Croteam's Roman Ribaric.  We talk about a lot of things, including me, my feelings, and some problems I have with the final game.  Those of you who were worried that success might turn Roman soft will be pleased to learn that he's just as sassy as ever.  Only now, George Broussard has been added to the list of people who should have thought twice before pissing him off.

Roman Ribaric

Erik:  First of all, I just want to say that Serious Sam is great. If you smell smoke, that's because it's pouring out of the tiny part of my brain that's still capable of producing a non-ironic thought. And if the smoke tastes kind of tangy, that's the plastisizer in the PVC pipe they used to patch a hole in my head that I got after falling headfirst onto a nail when I was five. When heated, it emits a neurotoxin. So if I sometimes appear to be cynical and insincere, it's for your own safety. Hold your breath while I say it again: I love Serious Sam. In America, it's customary to now say something nice about me. So go ahead.

Roman: You are simply THE man. Hell, you even get the honour to have the biggest head in our 'Save our Fans' super mega secret located on the first level. And when you get killed, you die in style with chocking and hitting floor with a bang. However, having said that, I have to inform you that we revealed your biggest crate secret. I guess you haven't seen it yet, as it is hidden on secret level 'Secred Yards'. I am sure you'll take it as a man. I personally designed it and I'm taking full responsibility. This is from me saying thanks for the crate prank you pulled on me in our first interview. Thank you very much. I am still receiving emails from people explaining me what is a crate. I learned a lot. I now know that crate can have more than six sides. Excellent stuff.

Erik: Ohhh, I gotcha with my signature crate prank, didn't I?   When pampered American video game site of record Daily Radar reviewed id's Quake 3: Team Arena, they gave it a "Miss", their second to lowest score.   Yesterday, they reviewed Serious Sam, and gave it their coveted "Direct Hit!". By coveted I mean coveted by John Carmack. Though I'm sure he'd have been happy just to get a "Hit" for his last game, the empirically terrible, awful Quake 3: Team Arena. The general theme of Daily Radar's review is that Old Man Murray is pretty much directly responsible for everything that's good about Serious Sam. I decided to make a list of who should get the credit for your recent success. It's a rough draft, but I'm going to run it by you anyway:

1) Alen Ladavac / Me (tie)
2) You
3) Franjo Tudjman's cult of personality
4) Dinko Pavicic
5-999,999) Not yet assigned
1,000,000) GOD Games CEO Mike Wilson


Roman: I see you are still upset. Let's ignore the fact you put me on the second spot, but how the hell did Mike Wilson appear on your list? Are you sure we are talking the same Mike Wilson who said that Serious Sam is a simple game with no interactivity and it's nowhere near close to Duke Nukem Forever and it is not going to be sold more that Kiss and that Serious Sam is a crap name for a game?  Hm, wait, that was George 'Gnaar' Broussard.  [Note regarding feud: Broussard said some unflattering things about Serious Sam in this Planetcrap thread - ed.]  But, I am sure they are both behind all that 'interactivity-and-smart-AI-which-are-neccessary-for-every-FPS-fast-action-game' I've been reading for the last three years. Lucky for both, we didn't have time to create characters based on them for coop multiplay.   Though, it would be hilarious to play along Gnaar Broussard and Witch-Harpy Wilson with friendly fire turned on. I hope someone will create those with our Serious Tools which are included within the Serious Sam retail box.

George Broussard

French Fries

Erik: Well, huh.  I understand 'witch-harpy', because Wilson looks like a girl with his frilly hair.  I'll just assume 'Gnaar' is some kind of withering insult in Croatian.  You better hope Broussard doesn't send Brandon Reinhart over there to cry you to death.  A few months or years ago we interviewed maker of religious games, Ralph Bagley.  He told us Mike Wilson is definitely, 100% going to Hell.  The movie Rosemary's Baby is about a coven of satan-worshipping witches who impregnate Mia Farrow.  Then, in one of the most shocking scenes in motion picture history, she gives birth to a cracked-in-half Statue of Liberty.  I'm kidding. She gives birth to the Anti-Christ.  But still, a cracked in half Statue of Liberty would have been pretty terrifying too, right?

Roman: I think I didn't get the point.

Erik: Hold on...  That's because I forgot the most important part - in Rosemary's Baby, the head of the witch coven was named Roman.  Look, I don't know what kind of muddy bundle of twigs you people worship in Croatia, but in America anyone who isn't a left-wing voodoo nutcase believes in Jesus Christ.  OMM's done the journalism, and we've clearly established that Witch-Harpy has sold his soul to the Devil, the final boss monster of America's much-improved version of Islam.   Aren't you a little bit worried that your publishing deal with known-Satanist Mike Wilson might also grant him perpetual rights to publish your soul in Hell?  Followup: And Dinko Pavicic's?

Roman: Do I sound like I would sell my soul to someone with a long hair? What's with that long hair anyway? First John Romero, now Mike Wilson. Is this some sort of long hair conspiracy going on?

Erik: Yeah, well, very clever and whatnot.  I don't know.   I'll see you in Hell, Roman.  Of course, I'll be watching you on an infinitely huge television from Heaven.  Enough softball questions.

Roman: I agree.  Let's move on to some serious questions.

Erik: I know that every member of Croteam has experienced actual combat, unlike certain flabby American developers who I've taken the liberty of codenaming "All Of Them".  In honor of this fact, I'm going to lodge my first complaint using army slang.  The American military has an acronym called FUBAR that stands for "fucked up something something something". The point is, you say it when something gets fucked up. In our first interview, you promised me Serious Sam wouldn't have any sewers. I'd now like to point to People's exhibit Bravo, the title of Serious Sam level nine: "SEWERS". Who FUBAR'd that one, Roman?

Roman: I'll have to call on 5th for that. What? That can only be done in movies? Oh, alright. I'll just have to tell what really happened. Not long ago (actually it was two months ago), when Mike Wilson still didn't know Serious Sam is a great game, Mr. Broussard dropped by to our Serious Sam forum and posted his serious comment. He said he would stop saying bad things about Serious Sam for good, if our Serious Engine can allow for dark, closed, impossible-to-see-anything, sewerish levels. Also, he would take a nickname 'Gnaar' if we can somehow pull it off. So, you see it was simply worth to sacrifice one level for George to shut up.

Erik:  Well, that explains that then.  Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's book, "Horrors of War", contained enough anti-semitic remarks that he was eventually forced to rewrite it.  Later, he proposed building an ossuary for "all Croatian victims" right goddamn on top of the site of a Nazi concentration camp near Jasenovac. In much the same way, the announcement that Serious Sam would have only fifteen levels (rather than the originally promised forty) cost you guys a lot of good will.  It seems to me that there might be something in the Croatian character that makes these public relations nightmares almost inevitable.  Can you explain this to our readers in a way that puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of Mike Wilson?

Franjo Tudjman

Roman: Poor Mike. Let me try explaining without implicating him. Here is the deal. First time you play, you would play it on easy, normal or hard. That's first fifteen levels. Then you would go and find all the secrets. But, let's say you skip that and go directly to serious mode. Now, there is a LOT more action there with MUCH more enemies, different enemies appearing and faster and deadlier enemies. That's another fifteen levels of play. Then you play it on mental mode. That's another fifteen levels. Then you go and play cooperative with friends and repeat the procedure. In coop there are even more enemies and the enemy strength is proportional to the number of players involved. So, if my math is right, you can play ninety levels. And finally, as added extra we have one multiplayer map.

Is that good enough, eh? You didn't buy that. I didn't think you would. Oh well, now I see, you are right. Yes, Mike Wilson is fully responsible we only have fifteen levels. Now, thanks to him everyone is saying (but they are all wrong of course) that Serious Sam is shorter than other FPS games. Unbelievable, how much damage Witch-Harpy can do.

Erik: You sort of touched on this already, but I want some clarification.  Serious Sam has only *one* deathmatch level. I think you better explain that decision.  Are you going to release any more maps?

Roman: We just didn't have time to deal properly with deathmatch/scorematch/CTF aspect. It's much easier for Epic or id, as their last games were multiplayer games with singleplay as fun to play as our one multiplayer map. Followup: I think we'll do some more maps. We also released our Serious Editor and Serious Modeler, so people can create their own maps. There are already some great teams working on multiplayer maps. We want to see Internet community doing great maps and TCs (Total Conversions). That's why we included our tools inside the retail box.

Greenpeace Fun Fact:

Serious Sam supports four violence settings: Red Blood, Green Blood, No Blood, and "Hippie".

In "Hippie" mode, blood sprays are replaced with streams of flowers, and gibs become fruit, hamburgers, and lollipops.

Not only does it make an already bright game even more colorful, it's a stinging indictment of hippies.

Erik: George Broussard's deep feeling of resentment towards women manifested itself in Duke Nukem's almost singular focus on blowing up strippers. All allegedly.  Franjo Tudjman created an atmosphere of xenophobia in Croatia by exaggerating the international community's "conspiracy" to push Croatia into the Balkans.  Do you think your brainwashing at the bloody, soapy hands of Tudjman contributed to the fact that Serious Sam's enemies are all aliens?

Roman: I can see Mr. Tudjman is so close to your heart. It brings me tears to see him in just about your every question. I can also see someone brainwashed you thoroughly. I suspect you are surrounded by some greenpeace activists. I also suspect you are told to ask those questions just to provoke me. It seems to be working. It is creating a reverse effect in my brain. Now, I'm beggining to see that Franjo Tudjman is right. In fact, I see now where all our ideas for the enemies came from. Enemies are in fact not aliens, they are an image how we see you western punks. Isn't this great, releasing Serious Sam to US and spreading the disease. You are all enjoying the game and you are in fact killing yourself by killing enemies. You are all doomed, ha, ha, ha!

LOL!  Look out, you're gonna make Brandon Reinhart cry!  Harder, I mean.  Speaking of women, one of the several college degrees that my girlfriend received before we finally managed to get her one that actually qualifies her to perform work that people will pay her for is in political science. So when I have a question about history or current events, I turn to her. I asked her what role Yugoslavia played in World War 2. She said she didn't know. I expressed some dismay at this, and then described how disappointed I was that she couldn't answer such a simple question. She told me "Why don't you use your precious Internet to go ask Eleanor Clift?" and then she stormed out of the room. I had no idea who Eleanor Clift was, so I went and used the Internet to find out. It turns out she's a political analyst on the American TV show The McLaughlin Group. I'm not sure if my girlfriend is jealous of the Internet or Eleanor Clift or what. Are women crazy like this in Croatia?

A photo of Brandon Reinhart from his official 3D Realms bio

Roman: Your girl is smart to know that it's not worth bothering with Balcan history. Everyone has his own version of truth. Returning back to your point about crazy women. Women are all the same, no matter if they are from Croatia or US, black or white skinned, blonde or bruinette, busty or surfboard. No surprises here.

Erik: Well, it's a good thing you qualified that, because otherwise sensitive Americans might have thought you had something specifically against black women.   During the first year of OMM, my only experience with the female birth canal had been very early on when my whole body got squeezed through one. Sometimes I'd try to imagine what intercourse was like by reverse engineering sexual things the writers of Voodoo Extreme would say about video game screenshots. Can you say something sexual about Serious Sam that might help some of our young readers imagine what sex is like?

Roman: Let me quote our dear Sam Serious Stone: 'It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye'. I hope it helps.

Erik: I'm sure it will.  Okay, final question.  Doom 3 looks like it's going to have really amazing lighting. On its one monster at a time. Do you think developers will learn anything about Frantic Action Feeling from Serious Sam?

Roman: No, I don't think so. They are even telling that AI will improve! I have a suggestion. Why don't we have one enemy per level? Why bother putting thousands of enemies on a level, finding right spots for spawning enemies, waiting for the right moments to activate enemies. You just drop one enemy in the middle of a map and you are finished with it. That would be an epic fight with one really clever enemy, with you docking, jumping and hidding for hours fighting that superbot. Imagine the mutiple possibilities. You can jump left, right, backward or forward, hide behind doors, pick the best weapon, fire one bullet, fire another one. You can even have time to think what and how to do final kill. Possibilities are endless. Now, is that the Frantic Action Feeling or what?

Erik: Exactly.  You know who was scared by one monster? 

Roman: No.

Erik: My grandparents!

Roman: Yes, and also a baby.  Maybe George Broussard.

Thanks to Roman for the interview.  Now go pick up your free copy of Serious Sam.

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