During the Summer Game Fest, Ed Boon was on all decks. It was the first time that the chief creative officer of NetherRealm Studios and his team presented Mortal Kombat 1 to the press, influencers and part of the industry and when he was not in an interview, he discreetly passed behind the people who had the possibility, like us, of laying their hands on this first public version of the game. The co- creator of mortal kombat will also have remained a long time to observe Naoki Yoshida and Katsuhiro Harada in full duel of the leaders. On our side, impossible despite our efforts to reach the gentleman the time to ask him a few questions on the spot, but never mind. We were promised that our questions will be sent by email during a calmer period and NetherRealm has kept its word, allowing us to discuss the important choices that have been made in this new opus, which once again contrasts with previous games.
How did the idea of Kameo Fighters ?
The functionality of Kameo Fighters is actually the combination of two distinct ideas. The design team presented me with an idea where each fighter had some sort of assist mechanic unique to themselves. A bit in the same vein as Sonya in Mortal Kombat 11, with her drone following her everywhere and helping her in combat. We had also already incorporated something similar with the floating cat Dex-Starr who helped Atrocitus in Injustice 2. At the same time, I was working on a different idea which envisaged a second roster of fighters who were not part of the cast major. I loved the design team’s idea, but I really wanted the main fighters to be able to use any assist feature, rather than being forced to use only their own. So we merged the two ideas by transforming each element ofassist fighting from the second roster and we allowed the player to choose whichever he wanted to accompany his main fighter. Once the combination was done, we were confident in the new direction we had.
What did the first iteration of this system look like? What worked instantly and what didn’t work at all?
We’ve had a lot of iterations with the Kameo Fighter system. We had to do a lot of experimentation to determine critical things like how fast a Kameo Fighter came into action without making it too confusing for the player to follow. We had many discussions in each iteration about what functions we wanted to give the Kameos to help the main fighter and two big angles came out of that. The first is very simple, we call it summon attack. It’s simply the action of summoning his Kameo Fighter that will do an action for us with our main fighter – real teamwork. The second we will call ambush attack is when the Kameo Fighter acts independently of our main fighter, when we can keep fighting while the Kameo Fighter does its thing. This aspect requires more training, but it is also the one that will bring a greater variety of uses, much more exhilarating, and will open the door to much more creativity for the players.
How did you choose which characters would be Kameo Fighters or not?
Basically, we wanted all Kameo Fighters to be different characters from the main fighters. This way we would have the most characters of all mortal kombat. The problem is that it conflicted a bit with our story mode because we wanted to see some of our main characters cooperating (and fighting) together. This involved putting our favorite characters in both the Main Fighters and Kameos roster. Also, due to the early period in which the story takes place, some cast members are not yet born or ready to be part of the story. Some of them have therefore become Kameo Fighters, although they do not appear in the story mode. The other factor that played an important role in the composition of our Kameo Fighters roster is simply nostalgia. We really wanted to dig deep into the last thirty years of mortal kombat and bring back some of the more obscure fighters in the form of Kameo Fighters.
From a purely technical point of view, what does the current generation allow you to do that was not possible before?
For Mortal Kombat 1we have moved to a more recent version of Unreal which makes much better use of the graphics capabilities of the hardware current. We also wanted to take advantage of the increased speed offered by SSDs in the flow of our game. It also allowed us to access tons of data at a much faster rate. All of this has allowed us to create characters and environments with more detail than previous generations allowed.
Mortal Kombat 1 does not appear to have any interactions with the environment. Why this choice ?
Over the years, we have introduced a number of new combat mechanics across the various mortal kombat. We added variations on the characters, interactions with the environment, Krushing blows and now Kameo Fighters. If we kept every new mechanic that we develop in our combat systems, it would become too complicated. In addition, we want each new mortal kombat plays differently from the previous one and has its own feeling. So, since we’ve been using scenery interactions and character variations for a few games now, we felt it was time for us to wipe the slate clean and come away with something brand new. That’s another reason why we call this game Mortal Kombat 1.
What can you tell us about the Mortal Kombat 1 story reboot?
It’s a whole new story. It’s actually so new that it starts with a big bang that Liu Kang created. It gave birth to a whole new universe, so players won’t need to know much to get into the story. Some may feel left out with the previous eleven games mortal kombat in the counter, but it’s really a new story, which is yet another reason why it’s called Mortal Kombat 1.
Do you feel like we’re entering a new golden age of fighting games?
A lot of people have asked me this question lately. Probably because mortal kombat and other big names in fighting games have new releases coming out at a very short interval between them. It’s clearly an exciting time for fighting games, but I’m not sure we can say with confidence that it’s the start of a new golden age. Still, it’s a good time to be a fighting game fan.