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Back To Basics With Mortal Kombat

August 4, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

How did the team go about coming up with all these new fatalities?

EB: We had fatality meetings, actually, and somebody will throw something out. I usually communicate mine with, like, these stick figure drawings, and those are actually used in our motion capture shoot as a guide, and given to the animators to use them to see what the intention is.

But some of the other guys, the designers on the team, they'll describe something or they'll stand up in front of the meeting and say, "Okay, then this guy does this, and then he does that..."

You can always tell by everybody's reaction in the meeting which ones are going to go. If everybody's like "ehh", then it's probably not going to go, but if somebody has a big reaction to it, and they're seeing it in their head, then we'll usually pursue something like that. The meetings are a lot of fun, and obviously we can't let everything come through, because if it's really, really disturbing stuff, then...

Why do you think that in America, one-on-one fighting game development is so rare? Why is there so little of this going on in the U.S.?

EB: I think that fighting games have become too complex. And while there certainly is an audience for that, it's not a very huge audience, for the really complex games. And unfortunately, the sales numbers demonstrate that. And so from that standpoint, when we make MK games, we've always tried to keep them accessible.

We really don't want to put something in the game that 80 percent of the public won't ever experience, or never be able to execute. And I think that's a recurring theme, that we really try to keep in mind -- is the average person going to be able to enjoy, experience, or execute this move?

So, unfortunately, I think that some people associate fighting games with this kind of complexity they don't want to learn, and so I think that that makes some developers shy away from it, because it's really such a niche market.

There have been some -- like when you think about it, EA was doing the Fight Night games, and it's a boxing game, but it's a lot of the same theories and mechanics involved in it. But for the most part, I think that it's the complexity of the games that's kept some of them to shy away.

So what do you think of the fighting scene right now? With the new Street Fighter, and Namco's still making Tekken. Do you look to those for inspiration? Does your team look to those for any design cues?

EB: Well we pretty actively play all the fighting games that come out, and in terms of what we feel was done well, and maybe could be done better, we really try to look at them. As far as Street Fighter's concerned, you know, I'm a huge fan of SF. I have been since it came out.

So, with SFIV and SSFIV, I have a lot of respect and admiration for them. They have a different kind of pace and tone and stuff than from us, and it's very similar to comparing MK2 to SFII or something. We're just focusing in on different aspects of the whole fighting thing, and the whole presentation.

As far as Tekken is concerned, I've always felt that with 3D fighting games... I always leaned a little bit more towards Tekken than Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive or something like that. But even Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive, I think, do certain things really well, and we took notice of those as well.

Mortal Kombat's been around for so long, and not every installment was a great piece of work, so it's had some ups and downs, like any long-running franchise. But even through the tough times, it pushes through, and then a new one comes out. Now what do you think is so enduring about Mortal Kombat?

EB: That's a good question. It's really high on personality, you know? I really believe that it's very in-your-face, very bold. I don't care what anybody says -- it has, by far, the deepest story of any fighting game. We've always put way more into our story and progression of the storyline, and all that. We've had full-fledged story modes and stuff in the game, as opposed to just little blurbs that are said before a fight.

I think that people will relate to the characters a little bit more, and also, like I mentioned before, I believe that it's accessible to more people than some of the other fighting games are. I believe that more people can sit down and enjoy it, and some of the more casual players can just have a lot of fun playing the game.

Unfortunately, we've had some spin-offs that have not been the strongest titles -- you know, the Special Forces, and the Mythologies, and all that stuff. But you know, you're right. I mean, I think any series that goes through 10, 15 years of iterations, there's going to be stronger and weaker titles, that's for sure.

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nana koduah
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Ed, where is John Tobias (i think that was the name of the co creator,right)? Haven't heard from him since that fighting game on the xbox with the exploding hits(what was it called?).

I ask because he's responsible for the character design that has defined all the characters in the series (the original ones) and even though the designs have been modified over the years they still stick to his original ideas. I feel his character design much like steve dikto's spiderman is somewhat timeless.

oh,and is he still taking royalties ;) ?

Antonio Murray
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Tao Fang. He did the comic for the Limited Edition version of Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe.

Amir Sharar
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What drew people like myself into MK were the photorealistic visuals (in relative terms), as shallow as that sounds. At that point I got into the gameplay and like with any arcade game, got a bit competitive at it.

What the original MK did was create is a compelling universe. Whereas in SF2 (a fighter with more depth and nuance) you had a story about fighters all over the world fighting to find the best fighter, MK had a darker and more cinematic storyline and universe. In SF the Bison/Shadowlaw antagonist wasn't as interesting and Shao Khan along with Goro.

The photoreal fighters and backgrounds still carried their appeal to me in MKII and MK3. I was pretty disappointed to see these sorts of visuals being replaced by a cartoony style, but accepted it because I knew the hardware at that time (PSOne, PS2) was not able to do much for developers who wanted a photoreal look.

So I've been disappointed with the fact that we aren't seeing this sort of style on the PS3/360.

Ed Boon said, "You know, there certainly is a resurgence of games returning to their classic form; Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog...".

I hope he realizes that both games, SF4 and Sonic 4, had extremely poor reception among their fans before their releases (Sonic 4 has yet to be released, as it has been delayed due to the poor reception). In both cases, the developer (Dimps funnily enough) made some critical mistakes and delivering gameplay that was not up to the standards of previous titles. SF4, as we all know, has been altered mid-development so that the hitboxes are 2D much like the 2D SF games, and Sonic 4 is being delayed to address the fact that it plays nothing like the classic Sonic titles.

I hope Boon keeps these things in mind. It's one thing to garner to new audiences, but if you can cater to the old audience, you can have a huge hit on your hands (take a look at SF4). The old audience not only craves some nostalgic attributes, but the high quality gameplay that drew them to the franchise in the first place. Nostalgia alone will not sell these remakes.

Having recently played UMK3 on my 360 with a roundtable of friends, we all had a blast with it experiencing it on our arcade sticks we've purchased for SF4. Controllers don't do the game justice. We all wondered how a high def 2D photoreal MK would look like. I can only dream that someone at Warner Bros is thinking the same.

Tyler Doak
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Pretty uninformed answers.

Cool fatalities and accessibility is no excuse for awful gameplay.

The reason sf4 is actually doing well is because it actually has depth (even though older titles are way stronger fighting titles). Depth and complexity don't have to go hand in hand and it seems like this is an excuse they're using for making another lousy game.

How about actually researching fighting games and not making stuff up about them in interviews, then actually take the time to design one. Fighting games aren't touched much in the US because we weren't lucky enough to have that tradition excluding Mortal Kombat which has done little to nothing in defining the genre competitively. Further, fighting games are the most mechanically complex games you can design and making it competitive makes it 100x harder still.

You may scoff at that "competitive" nonsense, but it is exactly what makes a game long lasting and prestigious--Team Fortress, Starcraft, Halo.

If you really want accessibility go for a 1p/coop experience. Try a beat 'em up, but don't f* it up like all the other ones. That's a genre that allows you to have the brutality, story and characters they seem to want, but you don't have to worry about competitive balancing and can focus more on accessibility and fun.

Pike Peakerson
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"Normally I don't like to dwell on storylines in video games(because I find irrelievant and unneeded)"

Andre Thomas

9 Aug 2010 at 6:41 am PST

You know something? It's statements like this that actually piss me, authentically piss me off. You come here to troll about Mortal Kombat, saying "Boon should stop making games because Mortal Kombat isn't good", then you come back and make an asinine comment like the one I copied above.

At first I thought you were one of the countless people who bash MK...honestly it has been a joke for quite some time. Hell, their T-rated MKvDC was the best MK since MK2...14 years to follow up MK2 with a good game.

I thought "Ok, this guy is an MK Hater. No problem. There's plenty and I'm sure he has his reasons. Not sure why he would make himself look like an ass to come to an MK article, read it, and post a comment like that, but to each his own."

And then, you follow it up with "Normally I don't like to dwell on storylines in video games because I find irrelievant and unneeded" (awesome spelling btw). Are you kidding me? On a site like Gamasutra? Do you know how many people who put all of their effort into creating this entertainment for you that you just offended?

You essentially just said "Normally when I see a movie I think a story is irrelevant and unnecessary because I just like seeing moving pictures and shiny colors."

Go back to playing internet checkers and get out of here. You gotta be kidding me, you oaf.