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Back To Basics With Mortal Kombat

August 4, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Back to accessibility, what's more important to you personally, as a designer, when you're setting goals for stuff? Is it more important to please the casual gamer, to make it fun and pick up and play, or the really hardcore guy that plays fighting games very seriously?

EB: Oh, like in tournaments and all that stuff? You know, oddly enough, this game is the first one in awhile that we really made a conscious effort that we are going to focus hard on the hardcore player. And, at the same time, we want to stay accessible.

But the numbers, the simple numbers of it, is just that there are far, far more of the casual players than there are of the hardcore players. The hardcore player is the most vocal -- if you just went online and you just kinda looked at forums and all that stuff, you'd think that everybody was a hardcore player.

But the reality is just those are the ones who care to the point of getting online, and they're passionate, they're very opinionated, and all that. And I think they're very important, certainly from the standpoint of the ones who communicate the most. But the reality is that there are more casual players out there.

Now, for this game, we are really going after that hardcore player; we have some features in the game that are just very layered into the game, and I think that the casual people will still have a good time, but they won't they're not going to dig as deep in terms of fighting mechanics, and features, and strategy, and all that.

How has the sale from Midway to Warner affected your studio?

EB: It's been nothing but positive. Warner Bros. has demonstrated nothing but the utmost respect and courtesy for us.

We've been working on our games in the middle of the eye of a storm. There was a bankruptcy; there was a whole process of talking with other companies, and I was very, very involved with that. So that consumed a lot of my time -- just talking with other companies, and flying all over the world, and kind of trying to find what the best match was.

Warner Bros. came in and the first thing was, "We want you to focus on quality. We want to give you the time to finish your game, to the point where it's where you want it to be." So they really want to let us make a game that's going to be, certainly, a great first impression -- in terms of our brand new studio and WB.

And I think people are seeing the results of that; I really believe that E3, and people playing the game, and the reception that we've gotten, is demonstrating the results of that strategy.

The bankruptcy happened in February 2009, and then the sale happened, and all that stuff. How did that affect morale in the studio?

EB: I can't lie to you, it was really sad to see so many familiar faces leaving the company, but we didn't lose anybody in our team. We remained very solid, that was something that I felt was really important for our team, was to know that -- because every game that we've made has performed well and has been a profit.

Some of the bad decisions of others, we really didn't feel it was fair that we should be penalized for that. So I had a number of friends working on other games in the studio that unfortunately were not picked up, because the game wasn't far enough along or it wasn't something that the companies coming in were interested in.

As a result, now I have a lot of friends who are working for other companies, the competition, that we also keep in touch with. But it's just a little weird, just because some friends are at THQ, some are at EA, some are at Activision, some are at movie shops, so it's just a different thing. So it was sad, to be honest, to see people leaving the company. But our team remained intact.

And the interesting thing with Warner is that it's a big media company, so you have all this cross-media talk going on. There was that [Mortal Kombat] movie pitch that the internet really picked up on. Did you guys have any hand in that?

EB: No. You know, the day that it came out, that everybody was kind of, "Oh my God, what is this?" We were with everybody getting that same reaction. "Where is this from? Oh my God, I can't believe it." You know, we had our theories as to who made it and who did it.

And a lot of people assumed that it was us, and it was somehow tied to the announcement of our next game, and all that. I was really impressed with it, but at the same time I was concerned that it was just going to detract from the announcement that we had, the next day, of our game, and then going into E3.

So I thought it was incredibly well done, and a great re-imagining of MK -- kind of like they do with some of these alternate universes of Batman and Superman and all that. I think it's a very legitimate alternate universe Mortal Kombat, and so I was excited about it.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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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.