What's Smokin?! interview: "Know the Member" with Mauritsio!
By The Interviewer

The Interviewer: Hello ladies and gentlemen! After a criminally long absence, we will continue interviewing some famous celebrities: John Dick, Roy O'Bannon, Binx Interactive - and today, the brightest star of them all - Mauritsio, one of our group's oldest admins!
Hello Mauretan, how are you doing today?

Mauritsio: Hi there, thanks for having me! Don't make it sound like I'm a celebrity, though. Sooner or later people are going to be asking for my autograph!
But I'm fine, all things considered - nice of you to ask. Just got off work and doing some editorial work. Hope your day is alright too.

The Interviewer: Well then - as usual, tell us about your first encounter with 7Smoke. How did you join and how did you end up becoming an admin back in 2014?

Mauritsio: The story of how I joined is a particularly fun one which I think I've told everyone dozens of times now, but alright, just this one more time. ;)
Before I was invested in Serious Sam, one of my favourite pastimes was to play the sandbox game "Blockland", which is like a lesser known Roblox sort of game. I got the game somewhere in 2010 as a gift from my older brother and I played it pretty much daily. I've made many friends in that environment.
One friend in particular, "SkullCandy", is how I found 7Smoke. There was this thread on the forums of the game with a title along the lines of "Which game is your avatar from?". I can't find the original thread anymore, sadly. It seems to have been deleted. But at the time SkullCandy's avatar was the Serious Sam bomb logo, so I reached out to him, finally having found another Sam fan. Beforehand I had played the Serious Sam classics with my brother over LAN play and when I knew that a new game, Serious Sam 3, had come out recently, I saved up money doing chores for my parents and neighbours to buy it. I had some fun times playing with SC from time to time - eventually, in 2013, he introduced me to this group of Serious Sam fanatics!
I got pretty invested with the people in this group soon enough - I notably made best friends in Noam, Thanadrax and Harry. In the year after I joined, I got promoted to admin to help out with event scheduling, group moderation and of course - start writing the What's Smokin articles. Now I have a lot more duties and adult responsibilities, but I can now be very proud of this staff position in the most toxic environment of Serious Sam. :)

The Interviewer: Wait, where am I in the list of friends?

Mauritsio: Well... our relationship is strictly business. And I didn't even know you up until... what, 2017?

The Interviewer: MAUH?!

Mauritsio: What?

The Interviewer: W-we're friends!

Mauritsio: Are we? I don't even play underground events with you. All you do is sit in your cave. You should go out more!

The Interviewer: MAUHH! That hurt!
Okay, now back to the interview.

Mauritsio: Weird guy, this interviewer...

The Interviewer: You have hosted the 7Smoke Awards for four years now if we count 2015. How did the idea of the 7Smoke Awards take place, and are you happy with how the 2018 Awards went?

Mauritsio: The 7Smoke Awards indeed first appeared in 2015, although I don't really remember the circumstances around the conceptualization of it. I think it was just something we wanted to properly gauge at one point, pretending we were a big important group with so many events going for it. Oh how the times have changed. :P
You can read more in the retrospective article about the 7Smoke Awards I posted yesterday - although I omitted 2018's Awards since it was still very recent. That said, I honestly think 2018 doesn't hold a candle to 2017, where we first hosted the Awards in proper voice chat. Which is a shame, since it's supposed to be our group's seventh anniversary! It didn't seem as grandiose. But in the end many laughs were had and that's the most important part to me. I'll make sure not to mess up 2019 - I'm taking some feedback I've received from certain members to heart. I'll do my best to bring back that 2016/2017 vibe!

The Interviewer: And of course, we have to ask about What's Smokin! How many episodes did you create and how did it all start? We know about that crappy old blog site 7Smoke had... and do you still have motivation for writing What's Smokin after so many years?

Mauritsio: How many episodes did I create? Too many.
Okay, serious answer - since the formats changed considerably over the years it's hard to have a concrete count. But "officially", we're over a hundred now - when this month ends, it'll be episode #105 finished! To think that What's Smokin started out as a weekly collection of a few screenshots, and now this... it's a little surreal to see the progress. But just a little.
That reminds me, I'd almost forgot we had that 7Smoke blogpost site! My first ever What's Smokin-related job was scavenging screenshots for the column called "Seriously Cereal Pictures". Roy would just handle the rest of the writing, but this was essentially the What's Smokin before we had What's Smokin. It still looks just a little ridiculous.

I'm going to sound a little corny saying this now, but I think What's Smokin has helped me out a lot when it comes to documentation and communication. Some of you may know I'm studying to become a software engineer and both those aspects are extremely important during software development! I think the writing skills I learned here, trying to make every episode as detailed yet condensed as I can, have advanced me a lot in this field and I actually hear this from fellow colleagues and students too! That's the part of writing What's Smokin I still enjoy after all these years. Naturally it would get stale after five years... but there's been enough change to the formula between the several hiatuses we've had.

The Interviewer: Once again, it's been proven that 7Smoke staff work helps you improve in life! You should put it on your CV! I also think it's amazing that that blog site works after all this time.

Mauritsio: Not sure if What's Smokin is CV-worthy. Imagine if my future employer tried to enter the group!

The Interviewer: He would take some notes for how to handle his own company, I'm sure. :pouty:

Mauritsio: Uh-huh. I bet he would, I just hope he knows what he's going for.

The Interviewer: What do you think of 7Smoke's growth throughout the years?

Mauritsio: I mean, when you look at it, the difference is night and day. We're in a very different place than we used to be in 2013, dabbling along in Croteam's business from time to time and especially that of the Incubator teams. A lot of people have come along who I feel like have been there for ages, and quite honestly, sometimes it still makes me feel like the "new guy" I used to be way back. Yeah, I've been in this group for so long, but I still feel like the newb! :blink:
But it's surely a positive change. I'm eagerly awaiting the months leading up directly to Sam4's release, where we'll get a huge influx of people. Keeping my fingers crossed some of them will stick around.

The Interviewer: Do you see yourself sticking around for the years to come? Or do you assume that in the next few years you may become too busy and eventually turn into one of those old farts that would solely come every half year to say hi? And for how long do you see Roy doing the same?

Mauritsio: I'm not leaving or abandoning this group in a million lightyears. The end.

Now for the rest of the questions - I'll definitely be around for a while. Admittedly, I am getting busier by the day and I will soon enter a period where I have pretty much the equivalent of a full-time job for the first time in my life, so I might turn into what you mentioned. But I'm not going to pretend like my life is at a full stop and there's no more room for fun like some people do. I'll happily blow up some shirtless headless suicide bombers and do whatever else it is we do in the undergrounds whenever I can. Or just hang out. That works too! And I don't think Roy's going to lose that candle anytime soon either, but what do I know? Maybe tomorrow he'll be president of Bulgaria.

The Interviewer: We've seen 7Smoke collaborate with a lot of other communities over the years. For example, most recently with an Unreal Tournament multiplayer group and the Quake Champions: Doom Edition community where we even played with the developers of the mod. But we never see collaborations with other Sam communities - why do you think that's the case? Is it because they are all communities for the same game? And if we were a UT group, for example, should we not have to collaborate with other UT groups? Why is it so hard to see that proper collaboration?

Mauritsio: Bold of you to ask me, of all people. :wassat:
If I remember right, there were some collaborations with another Serious Sam group in the past but they didn't turn out as fruitious as we expected them to be. The answer I and other members have concluded upon for a while now is that 7Smoke isn't really like your run of the mill public community server. To word this as fully as possible - we are much more like a close circle of friends, but not the one that's not willing to accept any sort of change or the loss of a friend.
I won't say that everyone in this group is like this, obviously not. I'm just illustrating that there's a generally different environment going on here. We have a bunch of friend circles in the group and the more members we get, the larger and more of them we get - and the overarching one, the group, becomes larger as well. In a public server, things like this aren't very prevalent because they are much more oriented on the game the group was built upon and just playing. Which is not a bad thing! 7Smoke seems to tread somewhere between these two.

The Interviewer: Interesting observation! Okay, next question - do you have a favorite release party event? The group has held release party events on Serious Sam Revolution, Serious Sam Fusion, I Hate Running Backwards and Serious Sam's Bogus Detour. Do you have any specific memories connected to those events?

Mauritsio: Didn't you forget something? :)

The Interviewer: Well, uh... oh! The Talos Principle! I totally did not forget the group-held event on this. Even though I'm only in this group for two years now, I tried to learn about the 7Smoke lore as much as I could...

Mauritsio: I don't blame you. It wasn't really a traditional event.
I do remember playing that contest which 7Smoke hosted in the days leading up to its release. A lot. Oh my gosh, it really swallowed my life that week! I was trying so hard to beat that Run or Die map just to win a copy of the game... and I didn't even make it in the end. Yet somehow, nobody else had tried, so I got second place behind Omgarett and won the game anyway! I was so delighted to hear that at the time and the stream we held on release day made it even better.
I was at all the other release events you mentioned, but that Talos contest sticks out. Revolution and Bogus Detour especially were really a blast to play with so many people, it was insane!

The Interviewer: What are you favorite 7Smoke activities currently?

Mauritsio: The undergrounds, no question. Recently Apex Legends has been very fun to play with Pan, Lapper Snapper, Conch, Goldfreak, Extazzy... but there's still so many games I want to play with group members. I haven't had much opportunity to join official events as of late but I'm always eager to play whatever's on our Fusion mod backlog. Hey, how about that SBS2 next week, huh?! Can you say Event of the Month already?!

The Interviewer: I can say Mod of the Year - and Pan is looking at that Modder of the Year title by making SBS2 for Fusion - I can say that too!

Mauritsio: No doubt.

The Interviewer: So... Tennis 2018! How's it going now and are you satisfied with the release of its first part?

Mauritsio: The release of Tennis 2018 Blue went pretty nice! I wasn't directly involved in any of the mapping but I helped out a lot when it came to writing and voice acting direction. It was a bit of a scary experience hiring paid voice actors for the first time but everything turned out pretty neatly in the end. Most of them were really nice to work with too (a few also joined the group!), I think we will try to hire some of them for the Red edition again. Really, those last few weeks leading up to the release searching for the voice actors were surprisingly fun. I can't wait to do it all again for Red. I'll also be looking forward to seeing how people react to my map submission in there. There's a lot of pressure - I haven't really released anything proper in a long while. :O

The Interviewer: You're one of our few members to have dabbled in custom Talos Principle campaigns. Any plans for more Talos campaigns?

Mauritsio: Hmm.
Maybe something's already in the works?


Mauritsio: Yes, entirely on my own. I'm the Hideo Kojima of puzzle games.

The Interviewer: Okay, a more serious question now - people are already having mixed opinions on SS4 and some even think it won't be worth the wait at this point. So what do you expect of SS4?

Mauritsio: I'll just preface this by saying I am as ever way excited for whatever new Sam games are thrown at us. I still remember April 19th, when the Sam4 teaser debuted, and I was at school with no earbuds to listen to the Reboot Develop livestream while the first SS4 footage was shown. I was showing it to my friend at uni who also played Serious Sam, really, I was like a little boy that's counting all his Halloween candy.
But what do I "expect" of Sam4? I don't really have any expectations. From what has been advertised about the game so far, I'm looking forward to a gameplay similiar to Sam 3 but with vastly improved level design and overall much more appealing aesthetics. Even if people aren't so hot about the maps bigger than Breath of the Wild's Hyrule, I can't deny I'm excited to just go through it all and find secrets scattered over the place. Maybe with Sam 5 we'll have a level bigger than Just Cause's maps. 8-)
And of course there's still so much they have not shown us about the game. I can't wait for whenever their first real gameplay drops (not that pre-alpha one without sound that's floating around - the real almost-finished deal!).
Another reason I'm hyped is because after this they can hurry up and make Talos 2. :angel:

The Interviewer: Thanks for this interview, Mauh! Now we'll let you say whatever you wish as a final message. And hopefully, my dear readers, we will see you soon - sooner than last time!

Mauritsio: I'd just like to say thanks for having me at this interview!