GamesBeat Interview Roundup: Croteam and indie developers discuss new titles in the Serious Sam universe April 28, 2011 2:32 PM Louis Garcia This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff. I recently chatted with the parties involved in the three indie titles coming out to expand upon the world of Serious Sam. Read on to find out how the partnerships were formed and how much leeway each team had with the shenanigans they could put Sam into. First, I spoke with Roman Ribaric, CEO of Croatian developer Croteam. Why have these developers create indie games set in the Serious Sam universe? Roman Ribaric: Croteam has always been a small, independent studio making the games we want to make, and Serious Sam was born from this indie spirit. We and Devolver Digital, our publishing partner, played for a while with an idea that it might be fun to reach out to some of the smaller indie developers that are fans of the series and offer them the chance to make a Serious Sam game of their own. There was a fantastic response from our initial inquiries and these developers were really psyched to create a Serious Sam game in their own style. I guess in the end it is a way to help other indie developers showcase their incredible talents and give the Serious Sam fans something very unique to enjoy before Serious Sam 3: BFE comes out this summer. How did you choose which developers would work on the titles? RR: We sought out independent developers that were creating games with genuinely unique ideas and had similar sensibilities that would naturally work with Serious Sam. Explosive action, humor and a sense for weird was what we were looking for and I think that Vlambeer, Mommy's Best Games, and Be-Rad Entertainment exhibit all those qualities. The other things we looked at were their previous games, and each one has a fantastic track record of creativity and innovation with each release. Once we got all their initial pitches for a Serious Sam game, we knew we had something special in the works! How will these titles add to the Serious Sam experience? RR: Serious Sam is built on a few key characteristics and I think fans will love to see how these are brought to life in different genres like a side-scrolling shooter, a mobile platformer, and a turn-based role-playing game. As weird as it sounds, when fans play each of these games they'll immediately notice the trademark Serious Sam humor and action. One of the titles comes from Nathan Fouts, president of Mommy's Best Games. He is known for Shoot 1UP, Explosionade, and Weapon of Choice — the game that Serious Sam: Double D has been modeled after. Serious Sam: Double D will be released for PC first, and for the Xbox 360 a little bit later. The release date is scheduled for summer. The price is still up in the air, but Fouts expects it to be between $7 and $10. How did you get to develop one of the indie games set in the Serious Sam universe, and why did you decide to do so? Nathan Fouts: Croteam and Devolver Digital contacted me after seeing our first game, Weapon of Choice. They said they wanted some crazy “Contra on acid” stuff for Serious Sam and thought we could pull off a great 2D version. As for why, I played and loved the original Serious Sam titles when they came out over a decade ago. I’ve kept up with them pretty well, playing some co-op and such on the original Xbox, and enjoying the new XBLA releases. I love the humor, the difficulty, and the massive enemies! When they asked what I would make, I gave them the proposal for Serious Sam: Double D with a prototype image and specs for the gun stacker, and they said, “Make this right now!” What can people expect from the game aside from crazy chimps? NF: We can’t go into too much detail about all the new enemies, but one other that we’ve announced is the Femikaze. She’s like the headless, screaming kamikaze from the original game, but she covers her chest with her bombs, and is rather Amazonian in size. We’re adding several other new funny enemies, lots of secrets, and new time periods Sam’s never been to before. In Serious Sam: Double D, you’ll be playing in 2D, so there will be more jumping, but you’ll also have a portable jump pad which you can use as much as necessary to jump up high cliffs or even straight over big enemies’ heads! What is the weapon stacking system all about? NF: A big addition we’re making to the Serious Sam universe and run-n-guns in general is the gun stacker. This system allows you to stack multiple guns together at once with tiny, robotic arms that control the aiming and firing. You’ll be able to customize which guns get stacked, so you can create your perfect death-dealing configuration. Is the game mainly built with the Weapon of Choice framework? It looks very similar to it. NF: Serious Sam: Double D is built on an updated and improved version of the Weapon of Choice engine and editors. It supports a faster framerate, it's able to spawn more objects, and it has a better dynamic camera, among other little improvements. What do you like about working in the Serious Sam game world? NF: I love the freedom they’ve created for enemies which can be funny or deadly or both. It’s also great to push the zoom of the camera on a 2D game and see how far we can go, and how big we can make the enemies. I actually created the gun stacker and the jump pad system simply because I knew we’d be making enemies so big you’d need some bigger firepower! Have there been any creative restrictions, or have you been able to put Sam in whatever shenanigans you can think of? NF: We've come up with some pretty silly things so far, and Croteam has been loving them! They’ve been great to work with — excited but hands-off. Check out page two to hear from Brad Johnson of Be-Rad Entertainment and Rami Ismail, creator of Super Crate Box, about their takes on the Serious Sam franchise. Brad Johnson, founder of Be-Rad Entertainment, had the chance to make a game for the indie series thanks to his superb mobile game, Lame Castle, bringing attention to his design prowess. Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack! will be released on iOS and Android devices along with a playable web demo. A PC, Mac and HD iPad version may come to fruition as well. No set price has been targeted, and the game is expected to release in early May. So, how did you get involved with the Serious Sam universe, and why did you decide to do so? Brad Johnson: I made a mobile game called Lame Castle, and a few gaming sites wrote stories on it because of the name. The name was used in a PlayStation Portable ad mocking iPhone gaming. In the ad, a fake game called Lame Castle is shown on what appears to be an iPhone. Once I saw the ad, I knew I had to make the game, so I grabbed the iPhone name and started plugging away. Devolver Digital saw Lame Castle and contacted me about working with the Serious Sam license. Having the opportunity to make a sweet game in the Serious Sam universe was a no-brainer so I accepted. What can people expect from your game? Each developer seems to be taking a different route with genre and even the main character. BJ: People can expect a solid mobile gaming experience where you can pick it up and play for a few minutes at anytime, anywhere. In Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack! you get to play as the headless kamikaze with the goal of blowing up Sam. There are plenty of levels to explode through, and we included a leveling-up system, so you can upgrade your character. This really helps extend the life and re-playability of the game. We're also putting in a bunch of achievements and global high score leaderboards. What do you like about working in the Serious Sam game world? BJ: I like how pretty much anything goes. The Serious Sam games have a lot of crazy and out-of-this-world stuff in them, so we didn't really have any restrictions on what we could or couldn't do in our game. Have you faced any creative restrictions, or have you been able to put to paper any and all ideas? BJ: We had one bit of feedback on the look of Sam, but that was it. Devolver Digital and Croteam let us do pretty much whatever we wanted. They even gave us a ton of great ideas for the game. Rami Ismail, developer at Vlambeer, is the creator of award winning PC game, Super Crate Box. He is developing the third indie game in this series — Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. The game is planned for a May release, but Ismail doesn't know which platforms it will release on. Please tell us how you got involved with the Serious Sam universe. Rami Ismail: Digital Devolver, the publisher of Serious Sam 3: BFE, contacted us after we created Super Crate Box. They said they loved the game and asked us to create one of the games in the Serious Sam indie series. With us at Vlambeer having fond memories of the original Serious Sam games, we didn't really think too much about it and jumped at the opportunity. It's amazing to be able to work with something you wasted days if not weeks on back in the days. What can people expect from your game? Each developer seems to have their own take. RI: The approach we took is seeing what Serious Sam is, what it stands for and then taking the genre that is furthest away from that with the intention of turning it into a Serious Sam game. Since Serious Sam is all about speed, reflexes and swarms of enemies, we decided the classic turn-based RPG might be the way to go. We toyed a bit with the idea, prototyped a few things. It turned out it was really fun to play and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter was born. In the game, players take control of Sam and his friends to stop Mental by battling through hordes of enemies in turn-based battles against hundreds of enemies at a time. It's pretty much unlike anything we've played before. What do you like about working in the Serious Sam game world? RI: Serious Sam is all about hordes of enemies, huge numbers and — for any human being that is not Serious Sam himself — impossible odds. It is also about heavy weaponry, running backwards while strafing and one-liners. It's what shooters should be about: shooting. Basically, what is there to dislike? Have you been restricted creatively at all during this project? RI: No, there have been no creative restrictions. It's one of the things that helped us decide whether to work on this or not. Digital Devolver and Croteam are amazingly cool people that appreciate and encourage freedom of creativity. At Vlambeer, if we don't have the freedom to do what we want, we simply don't do it. Originally published on Digitalhippos.com.