E3 2014 Interview: Mortal Kombat X with Ed Boon
Patrick McCarron - June 12, 2014
TRMK: Thank you for sitting down with us today.
Ed Boon: What outlet are you with again? (laughs)
TRMK: The game is called Mortal Kombat X. What does the X signify, besides a nod to this being the tenth Mortal Kombat game?
Ed Boon: In my head at least, X has about three or four layers. X is the roman numeral for ten, which we're coincidentally on Mortal Kombat 10 which is a cool way to name it. We think of Next as in generational. Next generation consoles, next generation characters. Like Cassie might not be the only descendant in the roster. X is a way to brand it differently, to say it's not just a continuation from Mortal Kombat (2011).
TRMK: What can you tell us about the storyline at this point?
Ed Boon: The timeline for Mortal Kombat itself skews, it does a Back to the Future thing. This story is not just this linear continuation of the story. There is a "When last we left off" part after Mortal Kombat (2011). Then there are periods that are very close those events at five years after. Then ten years, fifteen years and then twenty five years. It covers the span of time, and it's not told linearly where it jumps forward and backwards in time. It's told in a very interesting perspective. To me one of the more interesting parts of it is when you are in the future and you see these characters that you have known aged, maturing and stuff like that.
TRMK: So it's evident that this is not just going to re-tread old story lines like the last game did.
Ed Boon: Right it definitely progresses the story forward.
TRMK: After both MK9 and Injustice had a huge tournament following, are there any new features that you’d like to announce for tournaments and/or pro players?
Ed Boon: You know we've been going to all these tournaments and I've personally seen a few things. Like people accidentally bringing up the pause screen or doing button checks. I definitely want to look into some kind of game flow that is specifically for those purposes. Some mode that addresses that specifically. It is really difficult because when you count the numbers you are really just doing it for a few thousand people. There are another six million who don't see that effort. But it's important to us.
TRMK: The fans really loved NetherRealm’s MKast podcast, are there plans for that to return at sometime?
Ed Boon: Oh! I would be blown away if we didn't do something. It just may not be called MKast. Our new Community Specialist Tyler Lansdown is spearheading some new community efforts. I can guarantee you that the fans will have more access to us than ever before
TRMK: Fans are also asking if Dan Forden is again doing music for the game. I know he’s still with the studio, but they want to know his involvement with the game.
Ed Boon: Yes Dan Forden is still the audio director at a NetherRealm. He's still composing music and always been there.
TRMK: Are you targeting development on next generation consoles or are you mostly concerned about keeping cross generational compatibility?
Ed Boon: NetherRealm is only doing the PS4 and Xbox One Versions. We may be doing the PC version as well, but the consoles are the priority. While we may be involved in the solution we will not be doing the implementation of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.
TRMK: What specific enhancements can your engine do on Next Gen that you never could on the previous games?
Ed Boon: When you think of it from the standpoint of a fighting game. Put aside better graphics, higher fidelity, better lighting and anything graphics related. It's really not a lot of stuff that this next generation hardware can do because theoretically you could do a really crude version of Mortal Kombat for the Atari 2600.
At the same time I do think the character variations are going to be a big thing, I do feel the Scorpion A versus Sub-Zero B versus Raiden C (if Raiden is in the game) will add a lot to the mix.
TRMK: Is there any plans to use second screen abilities for the game? I could see using the second screen for special moves and Practice Mode controls.
Ed Boon: Thankfully we do have time to finish the game so we are looking into this. We don't want to just do what most games do where they put something up for the sake of putting something up.
TRMK: Some games that are on Sony platforms support Cross Play, is this a consideration for PS3/PS4 players being able to play against each other in some form?
Ed Boon: Probably not but it's probably worth looking into.
TRMK: On that note, any possibility of a PlayStation Vita version again for players who like to play on the go?
Ed Boon: We don't have one announced and currently not working on one. But during Mortal Kombat and Injustice the time when that decision came was after we had started the game. I certainly can't say there will be one at this time.
TRMK: Is there any plans to have a Tag Team mode again at all?
Ed Boon: It's not completely off the table, but it wasn't one of the most used things. I thought our implementation was awesome but for the most part what it boiled down to was that players wanted their character.
TRMK: On that note we use King of the Hill a lot for various community events and contests. The players really love it. Will it be making a return with hopefully a larger capacity?
Ed Boon: We will most likely have a similar thing to it and will consider elaborate adding features to it. A lot of people don't realize though that the King of the Hill rooms for an average player when he gets on unless you know everybody you end up waiting a long period of time. Wait... wait... wait... wait... Just to get your *** handed to you! Then you have to go back to the end of the line.
TRMK: Are there any planned enhancements made again after Injustice for the hotfix/patching system?
Ed Boon: Yes
TRMK: Fans expect this game to follow the storyline of MK4 and beyond, but it looks like you are taking the story in another direction. Will fans see some familiar faces from the series they haven’t seen yet in MK9?
Ed Boon: You will definitely see a Mortal Kombat 4 character, I believe that's the first time I've said that. You will also see some of the later game's fighters. You'll also see cameo's in the story mode. Some really fun ones.
TRMK: When we last saw Sub-Zero he was made a Cyber ninja at the end of MK9. Lots of fans are asking why he appears to be a human form again. Is this something you are willing to elaborate on at this time?
Ed Boon: Yeah, that's easy. The thing about Sub-Zero is that there have been many Sub-Zeroes over the years. So the Sub-Zero that you see can be anybody because the Lin Kuei has a sea of Sub-Zeroes. We do explain it in the story.
TRMK: In MK9 the boss characters were not playable, will the same be said of this game or is that still up in the air?
Ed Boon: I guess can only speak for myself but I definitely want the bosses to be playable in some way. Like "you unlock them when you do this". We don't have Motaro in the game but if had the big centaur half horse guy that filled half the screen it would not work. I don't think people think it through and just say "I want to play as Motaro!" You really don't!
SPECIAL MOVES & GAMEPLAY
TRMK: I saw that when a Fatality is done on Ferra/Torr that Ferra always walks away unscathed. Is it considered that Ferra would be handled uniquely in the fatalities?
Ed Boon: No. Technically Ferra is a small lady, not a child, an adult. But at the same time I think we'd feel bad beating up on her.
TRMK: I also figured it'd be a lot of extra work for the animators and programmers to handle all those cases uniquely.
Ed Boon: Yeah, that's true too.
TRMK: Will you have to unlock Finishing Moves in a Krypt again like the last game? Like the Babalities for instance.
Ed Boon: Well the Fatalities won't. There will be a new "ality" that we can't talk about, but I'll tell you when we stop the recording, and there is a chance that those will require you to unlock them.
TRMK: Block button returns, are you considering allowing back to block for those who like it the other way from Injustice?
(It's awesome I can't wait till it's revealed to everyone)
Ed Boon: No Mortal Kombat is Block button and Injustice is back to block.
TRMK: Are returning MK9 character core play styles changing much? Or will it require a bit of relearning for veterans?
Ed Boon: As you've seen with Scorpion and Sub-Zero were not going to just bring over their move sets. It's going to be a new thing but they are going to have their signature moves. IF Johnny Cage was in the game he'd probably have a Shadow Kick. I'd lean towards performing it the same way, there'd be some amount of familiarity.
TRMK: Lots of fans are asking about counters. Are there any counter attack techniques in MKX?
Ed Boon: I'd be surprised if we didn't have any. With the three versions for every character that's a lot of strategies and I'd be surprised if someone's variation didn't focus on counter attacks.