Croteam Spotlight Q&A – Meet Nikola Radovic, the artist extraordinaire!

Hey, everyone!

We’re super busy and have so many exciting news to share! Croteam VR teams are wrapping up several new projects, and the Croteam Incubator is now officially a thing, where in just one short year we’ve helped three regional indie teams build their games and show them for the first time at Gamescom. More are coming, and it’s an incredible experience to be able to shape, playtest and hopefully release all the crazy ideas that we wouldn’t have time to do by ourselves. With Croteam VR and Croteam Incubator projects in place, Croteam’s core team was able to remain focused on a single project, Serious Sam 4.

We’ll talk more about all of those projects soon, but if you’re feeling impatient (we certainly are!) take a peek behind the curtain. In this new blog series we will feature members of our team and the projects they are working on, all the while offering you a small glimpse into their day-to-day activities here at Croteam. This will also give you a chance to get a first look at the things we are preparing for you. There will be exclusives, of course, so stay tuned for a new dose of Croteam every week.

The honor of introducing this blog series to the public fell down on the shoulders of Nikola Radović. An animator and concept artist extraordinaire who is responsible for both designing and animating some of the enemies you will be fighting against in the much anticipated Serious Sam 4. Nikola is a crucial part of Croteam’s art & animation department and has done some great work for our VR projects, both released and unreleased. So, without further ado – here’s Nikola.

Nikola Radović has been a crucial part of Croteam’s art and animation department. Here he is, enjoying a chilled piece of watermelon. Because why not!

Hey, Nikola. I hope you realize the importance and honor that we have shown to you by choosing you as the first ever person in Croteam’s developer spotlight series. You will forever go down in history for that. We’ll continue the discussion about my compensation later, but for now, let’s get to the point. How long have you been a part of Croteam, and what are some of your day-to-day activities?

Hey, Mr. random totally not weird interviewer. I absolutely realize it’s an immense honor, and feel the pressure accordingly.

I’ve been a part of Croteam for almost three years now. My work day usually starts with a quick check up of all things I’ve done and still need to do, and I spend the rest of the day trying to stick to the gameplan as much as I can. I usually start light with some sketching, to get that creative “juju” on, and then I jump to character animation where all the magic happens. Finally, before I call it a day I usually get some planning done for tomorrow. Fun, eh?

Have you been a part of the gaming industry throughout your professional career? How did you start, and what are some of the things you worked on before joining Croteam?

No, I haven’t. Although I wish I was because you really learn quickly in this industry. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that game developers are an insanely popular bunch, and being popular is what we all crave for, right? All jokes aside, working in the gaming industry is a pretty unique experience, and I’m very pleased I was given this opportunity.

My foundations are in classical painting, illustration, and 2D animation, so naturally, I started as an animator and worked on a couple of short animated movies prior to working in Croteam.

What do you like most about working at Croteam?

I guess what sticks out is the overall relaxed atmosphere. It’s very gratifying to work in this environment and to actually see results on a day-to-day basis. Of course, that rock-solid belief people from Croteam have for their projects is something that motivates me even more. This is definitely a strange, but a very cool place to be working in.

Working hard or hardly working? You decide.

I see all these different drawings on the wall above your desk, can you talk about them for a little bit?

Oh, you are referring to the cork boards that are covering the entire wall area in our office? Most of those that are up there now are for Serious Sam 4. We mainly use that to show off newest designs and prototypes, sketches and quick thumbs if we have any worth showing. It’s a simple but effective idea, and nothing out of the ordinary for today’s standards. Of course, the secret lockers behind them are a different story…

Again, this is some great art there. Do you draw inspiration from other games or any other media, and if so, would you be able to pick a game/comic/movie/novel that inspired you the most?

Personally, I tend to avoid all major art related online platforms in order to keep my designs as fresh as I can, so I’m mostly leaning on to nature and learning from it. That being said, I do have some all-time favorites. For example, Alberto Breccia’s Mort Cinder is awesome in comic category, while Tekkonikinkreet by Maikeru Ariasu (Michael Arias) is amazing in the silly stupendous animated movie category. My video game favorite would have to be the one-and-only Populous the Beginning by Bullfrog Productions.

And what about people? Is there an industry professional that has an influence on your work, or the way you do work for the projects you are involved in?

The slick style of Sergey Kolesov is what immediately comes to my mind. In my opinion, he is one of the all-time greats in this industry and anyone who is trying to learn anything about illustration and concept art should probably check his work out.

Of course, there are many others with equally amazing skills like Faraz Shanyar, a very humble guy with an extraordinary sense of light and composition. It’s hard not to mention his incredible anatomy studies. I enjoy his work a lot. There are really too many names to list them all. But, in general, we are all, in one way or another, influenced by all the contemporary art and concept art in every stage of our work.

Now, we know you help create games, but do you play them? What are some of your favorites?

I play games, of course. Although, not as much as I used to before. If I have to name one game that totally blew my mind it would have to be INSIDE by PlayDead. From the first step your character takes to the last, you feel that chill of confusion and sadness as if you’re guiding yourself to a slow but sure disaster. And yet, even in that disaster you almost feel you “purged” your character since it’s the end where you have nothing else to lose. Awesome mind-twist. This was a pure work of art.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is fairest of them all?

Finally, can you talk about your workplace? Is it a creative mess, an organized OCD environment or is it just randomly set up because it works? For instance, why is that little odd mirror standing there?

I like to think of my desk as a half-organized workspace with all the essential things I need. That’s basically a glass of water, few pencils and several sheets of paper for quick sketching. The little mirror is there because I sometimes use it for facial expressions, but lately, I use it as a rear view mirror that helps me figure out if someone is standing behind my back like you were doing this morning.