NetherRealm Speaks: Highlights from the Mortal Kombat Development Conference Call

by: Peter Skeritt -
Earlier this week, some of the key members of the Mortal Kombat development team from NetherRealm Studios took some time out of their busy schedules to take part in a conference call with some select members of the video gaming press corps. Many of the questions that were posed to the team were answered, although some were avoided due to spoilers or because the answers were more of a corporate line than from the development side. 

Here are some of the highlights from the call, in bullet-point fashion:
  • Concerns about potential exploits or character balancing issues are taken seriously by NetherRealm Studios and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment (WBIE). Lead Designers Paulo Garcia and John Edwards stated that certain variables would be able to receive tweaks via patches and updates. Damage scaling, speed, and height of pop-up combos are a few of the variables than can be changed via numerical database adjustments. Updates will be tested internally and through Quality Assurance within WBIE before being released into the wild. 
  • Producer Hector Sanchez mentioned that there will be Achievements and Trophies tied to Mortal Kombat's Tutorial Mode. More casual players should be able to gain enough experience from completing the Tutorial to hold their own while playing. In other words... don't gloss over Tutorial Mode. This makes sense. 
  • Online play has been a major component of Mortal Kombat since the project began. In fact, work on online play and the accompanying netcode began over two years ago, according to Senior Producer Adam Urbano. The netcode is as efficient and optimized as possible, meaning that any lag would be a result of poor connection speed from a player's end. 
  • King of the Hill is an online play mode which, according to Producer Hector Sanchez, brings players into a genuine arcade experience. In a King of the Hill room, two players will battle it out live while the others can watch in Spectator Mode and see if they pick up on any gameplay tendencies in their opponents. When the match ends, the winner stays on to face a new challenger while the loser goes to the back of the line. 
  • Mortal Kombat will feature as extensive stat-tracking system, including favorite characters, win-loss records, and much more. Senior Producer Adam Urbano also mentioned that best move replays will be accessible after fights. 
  • More downloadable content-- aside from what has already been announced-- will be forthcoming, but no specifics could be given as to what it might be or when it might drop. Speaking of DLC, Urbano made it abundantly clear that no DLC was created until after development for the main game had concluded. 
  • When asked about the possibility of a PC version of Mortal Kombat, "no external discussions" had taken place, Although there are no current plans, there didn't seem to be much finality in the answer. We'll see about this. 
  • It was confirmed that there will be at least a few Easter Eggs hidden in Mortal Kombat, plus Kombat Kodes will be returning with a host of goodies waiting to be unlocked. Zombie Mode is one of these secrets. The Official Strategy Guide will feature some of these codes, but Producer Hector Sanchez insisted that there will be at least a few that players will have to uncover for themselves. 
  • Sadly, there won't be any codes to unlock boss characters for regular play. Lead Designer Paulo Garcia dropped a hint that there may be a way to control a boss character while within the Challenge Tower, but purposely stopped short of giving any more details. Expect the boss fights to be steep challenges, much like the first three Mortal Kombat coin-ops. 
It was obvious during the call that the NetherRealm team was excited for the retail version to hit stores on April 19th. Many of the team members are Mortal Kombat development veterans, so great care was taken to flesh out the story, add a sense of realism to the character designs, and deliver an arcade-style experience that we've not seen in some time. With the resurgences of both Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom in the fighting game ranks, it seems fitting that Mortal Kombat makes a triumphant return... and we cannot wait. 

Many thanks to Ron Burgess over at Fortyseven Communications for setting up the call and moderating it, and to the team members of NetherRealm Studios for speaking with us. 
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