Mortal Kombat Interview: Ed Boon

By Brian Leahy, Oct 26, 2010 1:00pm PDT With the early 2011 release of Mortal Kombat getting closer and closer, I shot some questions off to series co-creator and game creative director Ed Boon to find out about tournament viability, characters, DLC, minigames, and the switch back to two-dimensions.

Shack: I've heard that the development team has consulted with professional-level players from other recent fighting games on MK. Are you hopeful that MK will become a tournament staple?

Ed Boon: This is the first Mortal Kombat game where we are consciously putting in features for the hardcore/tournament fighters and we have some amazing fighting game "experts" playing our game and giving us constant feedback. At the same time we want the game to be accessible for all Mortal Kombat players, so there is something for all types of fans. It's important for us that anyone can pick up the controller and have fun right away.

Shack: If you are aiming for tournament viability, how are you going to increase the skill ceiling without alienating casual players that just want to see some awesome Fatalities?

Ed Boon: This version of Mortal Kombat has more depth in terms of gameplay than the previous games. We've put in a lot of thought on how to make this game accessible to the casual gamer and at the same time add enough depth that it keeps the more advanced players challenged. One way we've done that is to create more distinctive characters with more unique move sets and fighting styles.

For example, some characters are more skilled at fighting close to their opponent while others are better at distance. Another way we've added depth is by introducing short windows of opportunity where the advanced players can enhance, modify, or interrupt their moves, something the more hardcore gamers will definitely be interested in. The casual gamers can still enjoy the game without having to dive that deep into the gameplay but if they do want to explore those more complex moves they may be inspired to spend a little more time playing.

Shack: Will we be seeing brand-new characters in MK or will everyone be from the franchise's history?

Ed Boon: Nothing we can announce today, but it's safe to say that many of the fan favorite characters from the original Mortal Kombat game thru Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 will most likely make an appearance in some form or another. With DLC, we will have the opportunity to expand on the character roster after the game is out so there is always potential for more to come.

Shack: But the character select screen calls out DLC characters. Is this confirmation that new characters will be released as DLC. If there are DLC characters, how will you deal with players online that do not have them. Will the character data be patched in for everyone, but playable only for paying customers?

Ed Boon: DLC is something we're very interested in doing and is in our plan for this game but our focus right now is the game going on the disc and making sure that the fans get a great gaming experience right from the start without having to download anything additional.

Shack: The game will revolve entirely around the fighting engine (no Puzzle Kombat, questing, etc.). Is this a decision based upon focusing on fighting or did those modes not do well enough in previous MK titles?

Ed Boon: Actually, I've been surprised at how many people have asked us to bring back some of the mini-games like Puzzle-Kombat. While those mini-games were fun and very well received, the real focus of this project was to go back to the roots of Mortal Kombat - fast-paced, 2D fighting and brutal fatalities. However, I certainly wouldn't say that we've seen the last mini-game in a Mortal Kombat game.

Shack: In the build I played, the X-ray move was rather simple to perform (two buttons). Is this final? It seems like for moves such as these, semi-difficult execution is often needed to help balance their damage output.

Ed Boon: While we are still in the process of developing and tuning the X-ray moves, we do feel that we want the move to be simple to perform so that players of all levels can experience the X-ray moves and we don't want anyone to be held back by complicated button sequences. There is some resource management involved as players will need a full meter in order to pull off the X-Ray moves (if they haven't been using it for Breakers or enhanced special moves) so the challenge will be in getting that full meter and deciding how to take advantage of it.

Shack: Have you wanted to do another 2D Mortal Kombat for a while or is this a response to Street Fighter IV's popularity? It would seem that Mortal Kombat shifted to 3D when Soulcalibur and Tekken overtook Street Fighter in the late 90's, early 2000's.

Ed Boon: Mortal Kombat has always been an evolving experience taking into account the latest technologies, trends, features and gameplay styles the fans are interested in. With that being said, the team and the fans have been interested in a return to the 2D fighting plane for a while now.

After being acquired by Warner Bros, Interactive Entertainment and the creation of NetherRealm Studios, this seemed like the perfect time to reboot the franchise - like a rebirth of sorts - and what better way to do that than to update the look and feel of the game while returning to the core elements that makes this franchise so popular.

Mortal Kombat is scheduled for release in early 2011 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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