I had the honor and the pleasure of sitting down with Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games recently to discuss his new title, Serious Sam: Double D. Officially licensed by Croteam, the title is shaping up to be a beautiful combination of violence and absurdism. Here Nathan shares his knowledge about why Double D is the best of the original 2001 title and more.
1) So, let’s start with Mommy’s Best Games. How did you come into this world? Was there always homemade pie?
Then there was a great, shining pie on the horizon which warmed the world. Then there were 2D sprites to worship this pie. And shortly thereafter, sweet, tightly controlled gameplay came to follow. I think all of this happened around 2007, but I’d have to check the stone tablets to be certain.
2) What were your goals for game development? Did you have a clear vision in mind?
I like to take existing genres and sub-genres and build upon those. See Death-brushing in our first game Weapon of Choice on XBLIG and the ship system in our second game Shoot 1UP.
3) Did you ever expect to get the chance to work on something like Serious Sam?
Nope! It was like a dream come true but a dream I’d never had. I’d played a lot of Serious Sam when it was first released on the PC back in 2001. I’d even followed stories about it on Old Man Murray. But to have Devolver Digital (publisher for Croteam) contact us and say they’d like a crazy side-scroller version was amazing!
4) Double D exists in a grey region in terms of genre. How do you feel about smaller licensed-games based off of popular franchises?
I think it’s very cool as long as they can tap into something interesting and different that the mother-version of the game did not explore. Wayforward Tech does a great job with this. Their new Alien Infestation looks awesome.
For Mommy’s Best Games, we added to Serious Sam Double D with the Gun Stacker system.
5) Did you choose the side-scrolling shooter for any particular reason?
It’s my favorite and most comfortable genre. I think there’s plenty of interesting things to do and create within it.
6) I am, to this day, a massive Metal Slug fan. What kind of games influenced you for this one?
Metal Slug is definitely great! The sprite art and animation to this day are still stunning. Some other games that influence me are Ranger X, Granada, Gaiares, Actraiser, Contra Hard Corps, Bangai-O, and Sin and Punishment.
7) Would you say that the Gun Stacker is the crowning feature of Double D?
Yes, the ability to interactively stack your weapons as you see fit, customizing this giant pile of guns based on the action ahead is extremely handy. The screen is a button tap away, you can reconfigure the guns anytime you like up to 6 guns high, and can create multiple stacks.
I’ll say though that the jump pad in the game is very cool too. I’ve never seen it before–the character can at anytime throw a constantly-replenished jump pad down, stick it to anything and launch the player or enemies into the air. It even reflects bullets!
8) Could you explain the thought process that went behind developing it?
The Gun Stacker was a way for me to address the existing weapons in the game, and not throw everything away, alienating the large base of existing Sam fans. The system was much simpler originally too.
At first it was just an option “have all guns stacked up” or “use each gun individually”. But happily it evolved. Once we decided to let the player find and collect up to 4 guns of each type (there’s 4 shotguns hidden around the game, 4 laser guns, etc), things got really interesting.
We made the editing screen, and soon you had 32 possible guns to reconfigure.
9) All of the MBG games have a very unique art style. Do you think your art style worked well for Sam?
Yes, I like the gritty, over bright colors and style. I think Serious Sam games benefit from intense colors as it adds to the surreal feeling of the game.
10) Any comments on the plethora of unique and bizarre giant monster bosses spread throughout the game?
I had a lot of fun making up new enemies—nearly 20 new weirdo creatures! I think some of the best are the Vuvuzelator, an evil stack of pancakes with vuvuzelas sticking from beneath the pancake layers and the Chimputee, which is an amputated chimpanzee with a grenade launcher, battle axe, and jetpacks attached to his limbs.
We also created a boss that is the pet of Mental (the main Sam bad guy). The creature is a massive, 6-legged mutant hamster. He’s cute but terrifying all in one.
11) Did Croteam give you a lot of leeway in the development process?
Croteam’s been a dream to work with, they’ve got this amazing IP and have been really nice and open to how we expand on it for Double D.
12) Are there any plans to make more indie games based off of other franchises?
For MBG we’re open to it, but we have our own games in mind after this.
13) What are your other future projects looking like at this point in time?
We have several games going after Serious Sam Double D in wraps.
14) You’ve had an insane amount of experience when it comes to developing games. How have those experiences lended themselves in your creations?
The game development experience definitely makes creating games a lot faster and smoother. We don’t often have more than 1 or 2 programmers working on any game and we’re able to ship things within a year most of the time.
15) Having worked for both publishers and independently, which do you ultimately prefer? Will you ever go back to the mainstream?
I don’t plan to go back to mainstream if I don’t have to. Unless some group like Rockstar gets the Contra license and promises to stick with sprite art.
16) Have any special mentions or shout-outs that you’d like to include?
We run a sister site called 8 Bit Horse which is the premiere place on the web for 2D console games. 8BH maintains a ‘2D Radar’ page filled to the brim with tons of console games in development, give it a look!
Once again Nathan, thank you for your time, your patience, and the awesome games.