Serious Sam: The First Encounter - 18 years old!
By Mauritsio

That’s right - the very first title of our favourite series hit the shelves 18 years ago! Unbeknownst to many, this game would quickly take the first person shooter community by storm and stand out as a well-recognized gaming icon, best known for its focus on frantic action and lots of A’s. And of course, it would set the foundation for our community, and all the other communities who have stuck with the series over the years. We congratulate everyone at Croteam on making it to this remarkable milestone and wish Sam a great time with his first legal beer.

While we had first wished to talk about our classic TFE events in the past - we ultimately prefer celebrating this occasion in our own way. We decided to ask some of our prominent group members two questions pertaining to their history with the first game and the rest of the games as a whole. We hope that maybe you’ll recognize some of these experiences too!
You will find the specific questions below, with their answers followed directly after.
  1. What was your "First Encounter" with Serious Sam? What are the earliest memories you have with the series?

  2. How has Serious Sam left an impact on you? Has he at all changed your overall game preferences or maybe even a more integral part of your life?

  1. My “First Encounter” with Serious Sam was in a computer store run by my father and his friend Lez. Sam had just come out and they were using it to show off the latest hardware. So naturally we got a copy for home and I played it. I remember being a bit spooked by Tomb of Ramses so I had to stop playing to take a break so I could build up my bravery to keep going. My brother played co-op over LAN with me on his computer and that's always been a fond memory as he had his friends come over to play the game as well.

  2. I'll always remember seeing the demo for SS2 on the Gamespy website after being so addicted to SS TFE and TSE. After school I'd go home and play that demo online and I remember Ellenier being the coolest shit. And I was so shocked to see boxed copies of SS2 in stores! That being said, Sam has not really had a huge effect on my gaming preferences as I vastly prefer games of opposing genres. Be it party games or kart racers or fighting games. But I will always have a soft spot for the classic shooters thanks to being raised on Wolfenstein 3D, Quake and Doom.

  1. My First Encounter with Serious Sam was in 2001, when my brother brought a CD disc home with Serious Sam burned on it. Back in those days there were no retail shops for games in my town (let alone the country) and people would sell pirated game for like eight bucks. Yet I had a great amount of fun with the game and of course later on with TSE. I remembering being so scared by the Electro-Fish, that I would Alt+F4 the game every time I fell into the water with them!
    After that, my next encounter with the Serious Sam series would be the HD Remakes that reminded me about these super fun games where me and my friend Voksi would spend nights doing co-op runs on. Then BFE came out, and I was lucky to create this wonderful community 7Smoke - meet many good friends along the road, quite a few great and passionate developers - and well, my girlfriend, eventually! We met on an event related to Serious Sam.

  2. I can’t say the game changed my game preferences.

  1. My first encounter with the Serious Sam franchise was actually not that long ago. It happened in around 2017, when noam 2000 introduced me to Serious Sam 3: BFE. For a long time I knew that he modded for it, but I never really tried the game itself.
    I purchased BFE with the DLC for like around 4 bucks on a sale, and played a few custom maps with him. I think it was the first Plastic Patrol and also Exception. It was fun, though the game charmed me in a different way than the gameplay. In all reality, I wanted to get into modding for it, and I actually had a map in the works for BFE! Neeeeeeeeedless to say, I never really progressed that much on it, and it just sort of fell apart by itself. :P
    An idea that wouldn't really blossom up until mid 2018, when I finally decided to learn SED a bit more.

  2. Did the game leave an impact on me? Well, the community and the people modding/playing left more of an impact on me than the game itself :P. Though I can't deny that the game didn't leave any.
    Did it change my game preferences? Not really, I was always into games with a lot of action going on, so SS was a good fit from the first time playing. Did it change my life? You can see yourself by looking at my hour counter in SED.

Noam 2000
  1. My first encounter with Serious Sam was all the way back at age 4, when my dad used to play the game often. I'd watch him play it and eventually got to play it myself, and I easily fell in love with the simple run and gun concept. I still have great memories from back when we used to have 3 computers in the house, and me, my dad and my sister would play a lot of Serious Sam 2 in LAN. Serious Sam wasn't just a childhood game for me, it WAS my childhood.

  2. I think it's easy to say Serious Sam left a big impact on me. It made me adore the classic FPS genre and what would lead me into wanting to develop these sort of games myself.

Lapper Snapper
  1. My first encounters with Serious Sam were watching my brother play through TFE, TSE and eventually SS2 when I was little. I loved that game so much, that I practically memorized it all without even playing it. My first hands-on encounter happened just about when TFE:HD came out. I remember thinking “It doesn’t look much different” since I considered original TFE’s graphics to be great at the time and couldn’t really make a comparison. It was tremendous fun to revisit the series, now as a player instead of a spectator. Especially since I could now experience all the memorable rooms, fights and traps myself, anticipating them before I even reached the levels that included them.

  2. Serious Sam did make an impact on me long before I even played it. I remember pulling my shirt over my head as a kid and running around the house screaming and bumping into people and walls, imitating the headless kamikazes we all know and love. Sam himself was what I considered to be the ultimate hero – single handedly taking down hordes of monsters, not with superpowers or whatever, but with an arsenal of cool weapons coupled with sheer badassery, and being lighthearted and cool while doing it. As for my game preferences, Serious Sam, while it didn’t change them, conformed to them near perfectly. It also lead me to join 7Smoke, which is one of the best things to have ever happened to me. So while the Serious Sam series might not be as popular and widely loved as say Doom or Duke Nukem, it’s the series I have to be thankful to for providing me with countless hours of fun as a kid, and continuing to do so up until now. Thanks Sam!

Owlet VII
  1. I first played The First Encounter when I was 5 years old in 2001. I got introduced to it by my brother, who had copied the game CD from his friend who owned it. It was my first encounter with FPS games, so I played it on Tourist, but I feel like Serious Sam has shaped me to prefer high difficulty and challenge in games. For some reason this "spacewar" copy of the game would only launch once, and then give out an error if launched again, so I would have to finish the whole game in one go and then reinstall it. Or at least get as far as The Great Pyramid, because the game would always crash when Ugh Zan appeared. In retrospect this sounds like DRM measures, though I don't know if they actual are. When we got our own non-pirated CD of the game, those issues went away and I could finally beat the game, so in effect this was my first encounter with (probably unintentional) DRM.

  1. My first encounter with Serious Sam was when I was around 13. Back then I didn't know about the game, I only saw it on a friend’s PC but forgot about it shortly after. When I was 16, I discovered Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter on YouTube, saw some gameplay, and wanted to play it myself. Somehow I managed to buy the game at the store while underaged.
    Since I didn't really know someone to play it with in co-op, I mostly played Singleplayer or Deathmatch.

  2. In 2017, during my second day at Gamescom, I met Binx Interactive for the first time. At first I was a bit let down because there wasn’t any info on Serious Sam 4 - but then Hans, Billy and Damjan told me about their game: I Hate Running Backwards. Binx noticed that I played their games as much as humanly possible, so they asked me if I was interested in testing the game in a beta phase on a later date and I agreed. After that, I waited everyday for them to contact me again so I could play it even more - and once they invited me into the beta phase, I was able to track down a lot of bugs and helped them, together with other German players, translate the game from English to German. The Tormental guys were also on the Gamescom floor and invited me for their beta phase where I also helped them with tracking down bugs and translating the game.

  1. My "first encounter" with the Serious Sam games was when I played a pirated version of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter on my Dad's PC in 2003. My interest in the series has grown a lot since then.  Some of my earliest memories I have was playing the multiplayer mode for the TSE Demo, oddly enough. Back then, that demo had a small but active community and I ended up playing a shit-ton of it. Even though the demo only included 1 campaign map and 1 versus map, I had so much fun that I never got tired of it until it eventually died off one day.

  2. Serious Sam has left a major impact on how I see FPS games and PC gaming. It was the game that got me interested in First-Person Shooters, the game that made me discover the modding aspects of PC Gaming, and possibly helped the development of my gaming skills. Serious Sam has left a minor impact on what I prefer to have in a shooter such as has having a classic Health/Armor system and the ability to carry all weapons.

  1. My earliest memories with Sam go back to sitting down on the ground in my older brother’s room, as he played Serious Sam: The First Encounter with amazing framerates on his high-end computer - while I had a Packard Bell assembled from old computer parts (I think there was even a laptop graphics card in there) he had laying around. That’s not to say I didn’t have a lot of fun playing the game! I didn’t memorize playing the game as much as I do now but clearly, if I was inclined to return to the franchise once I saw that Serious Sam 3 had released ten years later, it ought to have been a great time. The first time we played it together was on Alley of the Sphinxes and the image of fighting the Lava Golem boss is one of the few memories I’ve very clearly retained from my younger days.

  2. Imagine if Serious Sam *didn’t* leave a gigantic impact on my life. I wouldn’t really be here, would I? Nah, but seriously - at first it was just another game on the pile labelled “PC Games” upstairs, but in 2012, when I rediscovered the franchise through BFE, it became a drug to me. I’ve tried plenty of first person shooters on the reasoning that, since I liked Sam so much, similar ones should cater to me perfectly. And yet, to me, they all missed one core element that Sam nailed perfectly - a constant fun factor. Of course, also thanks to Mr. Stone (and SkullCandy - if you’re reading this, I miss you man! No homo!), I’ve met the best group of friends I could hope for in 7Smoke, an international gathering of freaks and fanatics which I never thought I would fit into so well - that has really furthered my language skills in English (I am not a native speaker) and just made me a lot more of a social person. I’m seeing the benefits of this by the day. Sounds cheesy? It’s the truest of stories!

  1. My "First Encounter" with Serious Sam was back in my childhood, when I was just 3 years old. Someone from my Kindergarten school friends gifted me a CD of "Serious Sam: The Second Encounter". That was the first video game I ever played… But my first playthrough of the game weren’t very good. I couldn’t read at this age, so all I really knew was to choose the first button in the menu to start a game and the last button to exit the game. I didn’t know how to save either, so every time I played, it was like a roguelike game, haha.

  2. After this, my life really changed. Video games become my main hobby. After Serious Sam, I started to really love the first-person shooter genre - especially the old school and hardcore shooters. I think Serious Sam is one of the biggest parts of my life - my dad left me when I was young, so, Sam like a dad for me. I want to say thanks to Serious Sam for all the good times - I’m still playing this awesome game today. Serious Sam never gets old for me, I guess!

  1. In 2004, one of my cousins bought a PC magazine that had a CD with TFE Test 2 on it. I remember playing it in split screen mode with my other cousin over and over again.

  2. It changed my life forever. For example it introduced me to FPS games and made me appreciate metal music. And then there's my name, Steam, 7Smoke, and the list goes on.

  1. I was like 6 or 7 when I first played TFE, not long after it came out. Me, my brother and my sister played split screen coop on the PC and our computer could barely handle the game. It was basically running at the speed of a powerpoint presentation.

  2. We used the game as a benchmark tool for years.