PC Interview

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Ferrago.co.uk chat to Croteam on their next chapter in the story of 'Sam'.

Ferrago.co.uk chat with the Croteam team on Serious Sam's next outing; his second encounter...

What was your feedback from Sam's first outing, and how have you taken this onboard with the sequel?

Davor Tomicic (Designer): We received a lot of feedback, the most of them from the people who loved our game. Actually, many were pleasantly surprised that the game with old school gameplay, made by the unknown team from Croatia, can be so entertaining and fun. Funny, but it seems that old school gameplay of SS:FE, delivered a nice fresh breath in stagnant FPS genre. Of course I'm talking about number of enemies on screen at once which was about ten times higher than in other contemporary FPS games (50+ in the wildest battles). SS:FE was our first major project and it certainly has its flaws. Large feedback on SS:FE certainly helped us to avoid certain mistakes, and I'm absolutely sure that SS:SE will be even better game.

What is the premise of the new game, and how does it follow-on from the original?

Davor Tomicic (Designer): We will completely change a concept for SS:SE. There will be a HL type of story, although much deeper and with many surprising twists. Completely without jokes and oneliners. It will be a really serious story. We will cut out all of the colorful outside areas, and focus all our efforts to make plausible claustrophobic dark dungeons with perfectly realistic sense of fear. Then we will cut a number of enemies ten times, down to max. 4-6 of them. But, beware, they will be very smart - even smarter than the average bear! They will even know how to belch and make obscene sounds with their armpits ;) Well, just kidding :) We will keep the same concept for SS:SE, because it proved to be very successful and well accepted by gaming community. So, SS:SE will be made on the strong foundations of the original game, but this time with even more extraordinary gameplay and visual elements!

What new and hateful foes will Sam be battling in his next adventure, and what brutes survive from the original?

Davor Tomicic (Designer): All the nasties were well accepted, so we kept them all for SS:SE, but also we added a seven new brutes, three of them completely unique Bosses. We didn't want just to make a high count of the new species and brag with it as a marketing trick. We added enemies with behavior that SS:FE lacked so that we can produce more interesting variations in battles. When it comes to the design of the new enemies, we have a really high standards and only the best ideas can come through. Good and average is not good enough for us. So, even a six headed badger with devilish smile and bad digestion was left out :)

Will there be any new and dazzling weaponry for Sam to get to grips with?

Davor Tomicic (Designer): Of course ;) Again, main criteria was the variety to the existing weaponry. We didn't want just different look and effect with the same or similar impact. We fitted three new weapons that will allow even more playing tactics to defeat evil hordes. Those three are chainsaw, flamethrower and sniper, classics of this genre. We are the most pleasantly surprised with sniper, for which we (and many of our fans) thought that it wouldn't fit our frantic action, but now that I can play with it, I think it fitted perfectly. Now, I can't imagine playing SS without sniper :) Life is full of surprises!

What exotic locales / environments will Sam be battling his way through this time?

Davor Tomicic (Designer): SS:SE will feature three new exotic environments, which will offer a lot more variety to player than it was a case in SS:FE ;) Those three are Northern Egypt, Southern Egypt and Nile River. Oh, no, sorry that was my idea for a SS:SE, but then someone said it would be cool to make a game placed in South America, Persia and Medieval. Unfortunately, that other proposition is accepted, so you will have those. But my idea was far better, don't you think so?

What changes have been made to the general gameplay of the original; any modifications / improvements you felt would make the sequel even better?

Nikola Mosettig (Programmer): - The first thing that springs to mind are those 3 new weapons we added. It might not seem like much at first, but it affects the gameplay in a great degree. The player now has a much greater range of battle tactics; for instance, the new flamethrower's got some awesome firepower *heh*, and will clear large groups of enemies very effectively. The other two weapons have their own distinct advantages and without them the game would probably be significantly harder.

We also added tactics to the game, which means that the enemies won't run in the straight line towards you any more (well, at least not always), and this will make shooting them a bit harder. Finally we feel that our new enemies will also make a significant difference in the gameplay - they all have their unique new advantages which will force the player to think of new ways of destroying them. For instance, you'll notice that when you find yourself confronted with a large number of Zorg's, air will become filled with their laser projectiles, and you could very easily find yourself loosing serious amounts of blood a few hundred years away from the nearest blood bank. But then again, Serious Sam always has some serious toys hidden in his, well, rather large pocket.

Multiplayer. What will Serious Sam: The Second Encounter have for us on this front, and what have been your objectives with this portion of the game.

Nikola Mosettig (Programmer): - We did a lot of work on improving the network code. That alone should make the multiplayer experience much more enjoyable for many of our players, but that's not all. We have also arranged to have the Seriously Warped Deathmatch mod included with the game. This mod is being developed by the guys at 'A Few Screws Loose', and they came up with some really interesting ideas. You'll see classics like 'capture the flag', and some new play modes. Well, at least I think they're new... I really haven't had enough time to keep up with the outer world since we started this project.

Anyway, we tested their levels a bit and found them very entertaining. I really think other people will like them, too.

And you're all probably asking yourselves about the deathmatch maps. Well, we had SO much to do with the single player game, that we're still not sure about the number of deathmatch levels that we'll included with the game. Just recently I saw some maps Tome made, and they seem like so much fun... but they still need some work.

I myself am toying with a thought of a trap infested level, I have many ideas written down, and the only question is if I'll have enough time to actually build it. Other guys here also have their own ideas, prototypes, and - almost no free time. Maybe we'll take some single player levels and make them into deathmatch maps.

Oh, and about the cooperative mode (silly me, I almost forgot): It's as great as ever. It's so much fun that everybody here want's to playtest it. The action is frantic, especially when you need to relax and not worry about getting killed (a convenient option in multiplayer, don't you think?).

Graphics now. What improvements and enhancements have been made, and what has this allowed for in terms of design?

Nikola Mosettig (Programmer): We made some improvements to the rendering engine, which will make the effects and the overall appearance even better. I won't go into details, but some things you'll immediately notice: fake reflections on world polygons, transparent polygons, improved particle system (just watch that grass!) and so on. Many interesting features. Dean (our graphics guru) also added the support for Direct3D rendering, made it possible for people to control the graphic quality of the game in more detail, and included even more things which I can't think of right now (sorry!).

- because - Our guys at the art department - that room behind my back where everyone is screaming right now - did such a great job with the new textures and models and skins that even if we changed nothing in the engine, the game would still look magnificent. Combined with the new more complex level architecture, the game looks great. But it's really not for me to say, let's wait and see how people react.

When will this next installment be out, and what will the future hold for Serious Sam afterwards?

Nikola Mosettig (Programmer): When it's done.
Oh, just kidding.
It's coming out really soon. Christmas sounds good... but I really can't say for sure. I know that we're in the final stages right now, and that means that the release can't be far off. And what does future hold for our Serious hero? He'll continue to kick -er-... rear parts, he's developed a really subtle and perky personality, and it's expected that soon enemies will start dropping dead just because of his witty remarks. In general? His New Year resolutions tell it all:
1) Save the world
2) Write a book entitled 'The Gentle Art of Minigun'
3) Appear on Oprah in a 'Weapon lovers special edition' show
4) Finally clean his minigun
5) Start attending MAA meetings (minigun addicts anonymous)

Finally, what are your aims with Sam2; what will make it an essential purchase for fans of the FPS genre?

Nikola Mosettig (Programmer): I hope you're thinking about the Second Encounter, becuse we don't technically call it Serious Sam 2.

Anyway, you've got to play it because the adrenaline rush got even better, and Sam is funnier than ever. While the action continues, I think we made it really non-monotonous. Add to this some action puzzles, three all new shiny bosses, beautiful worlds, fabulous music, never-before-seen-in-a-game effects, and you have a winner. (uh, I hope this wasn't too much). And of course, absolutely amazing outro credits. Never leave game without them.

Thanks for your time. Best of luck with completing the game!

Article
We need to talk... about 'gamers'
Because that term has a much wider definition than it used to.