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Interview: We chat with Croteam's co-founder about Serious Sam 3

The past year or so have seen developer Croteam come back into gamers' minds with the release of the graphically enhanced versions of the team's first two Serious Sam first person shooter games. The games, which used Croteam's third major version of its own in-house Serious Engine technology, are currently on sale for 90 percent off today only on Steam (and 75 percent off the rest of the week).

But Croteam, along with its publishing partner Devolver Digital, isn't just remaking its older games. It's also working hard on its long awaited next game in the series, Serious Sam 3, Big Download got Croteam co-founder Alen Ladavac to give us a little more info on what they have planned for "Serious" Sam Stone in his next adventure.

First, the release of both Serious Sam HD games were big successes. Did the graphical revamps do better than what the development team thought?

Well, it is always hard to live up to expectations when remaking the classics, but we think we did very well. We initially considered just converting the content over to the new engine and upping the resolution of textures. But when we saw how good it can look, we couldn't resist making that extra effort to take advantage of at least some pieces of the new tech. So we've reworked content quite a bit visually, with a lot of remade textures, fresh architectural and lighting work on most places, updated enemy and weapon models and similar. Plus we've added features like achievements, leaderboards, better netcode, as well as a ton of new game modes. So you get much better looks with a lot of new features - a totally new game in a way... while still retaining exactly the same playability, as all parameters, all enemy placements and fight scripts have been faithfully reproduced. We were very satisfied with the results when we released that, and the customer satisfaction shows it was worth the extra work.

Oh, by the way... all Serious Sam are 75 percent off on Steam Holiday Sale. You can get SSHD: Gold Edition for under $10.

How hard was it to revamp the games with the new Serious Engine 3 technology?

Most of the groundwork was done by automatic conversion tools we wrote, which regenerated exactly the same levels and parameters as they were in the classics. Then the artists manually went through and reworked most models, textures, lighting, animation, etc. It was a huge chunk of work, but with Serious Editor 3, it is a very streamlined work flow. Everything is WYSIWYG in real time, immediately when created, and even the radiosity and GI calculations are done in a matter of seconds or minutes.

For Serious Sam 3, what can we expect in terms of graphical features? Will it support DirectX 11 effects like tesselation and other features?

Certainly even much more than with the HD remakes. They both run on the same base engine, but there are three factors contributing to SS3 looking even better: First of all, the engine was further improved in the mean time, and it is still being improved during the development. Then, there is this artistic limitation of pre-determined content in HD games. Since we wanted to faithfully reproduce the gameplay, we couldn't change the architectural layouts, which limited what could have been done visually with the levels, including lighting and immersiveness of the environment. Finally, of course, we've learned a lot in the process, so we now know how to create even better looking environments.

Ironically, Serious Sam 3 is supposed to be more "serious" in terms of its look. Why change the art style to look more realistic?

Actually, there was no change in the art style. Not effectively, at least. We aim to make Sam 3 have the looks that, in contemporary terms, mean exactly the same as what TFE's looks meant ten years ago when it was created. Back then, TFE had "colorfully realistic" looks, and it was all about killing loads of terrifying alien monsters in huge good looking environments. We are still leaving the colorfully realistic looks with up-to-date tech including radiosity, real linear-space HDR lighting and other features that make screenshots look like real photos. But like real photos of a nice sunny day, or of a beautiful sunrise, or sunset. Ironically, the ugly monsters "fit in" much better when the earth environments they appear in look realistic. And... worry not... Sam himself will not lose his humor, his witty one-liners nor his seriously mean attitude.

When can we expect to actually see Serious Sam 3 in action?

Sorry, but I cannot reveal that at this point.

Will there be a "tech demo" of the game released?

We have some museum levels under works that are similar to those in the classic TFE, but whether we will be using the same pre-release tech demo approach as back then, that is yet to be decided.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Serious Sam 3 at this stage?

Yeah. That we absolutely love how it is shaping up!

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