Mortal Kombat Developer Aims To Make The Game A Tournament Level Fighter

By Spencer . March 23, 2011 . 5:07pm


After playing a few rounds of Sub-Zero vs. Scoprion with Erin Piepergerdes, I asked the associate producer a couple of questions about Mortal Kombat and NetherRealm Studios. Before the interview began, Piepergerdes pointed out how the super meter can enhance attack similar to a focus attack in Street Fighter IV. If the meter is full you can catch a character in a bone-breaking X-ray attack. While there are new features, the team focused on bringing classic Mortal Kombat back, especially after so many fans voiced to see a 2D Mortal Kombat game.


When we were playing Mortal Kombat you mentioned how you wanted bring the best of [Mortal Kombat] 1, 2, and 3 into this game. How have you modernized elements from those legacy games for Mortal Kombat?


Erin Piepergerdes, Associate Producer: Some of the enhanced attacks and some of the finishing moves are modern takes on the classic moves. A good example is Kung Lao has a fatality that actually pulls pieces from his fatality from MK 2 and MK 3 and melds them into one over the top bloody fatality. You will see elements from the early games, but with a modern twist of them.


We also balanced the gameplay considerably more than some of the early games to keep it really competitive and make it almost a tournament level fighter.




What do you as a fighting game developer consider a "tournament level fighter?"


There are a bunch of great ones out there. Some of the Street Fighter games. Tekken. There are a lot of great fighters out there. From day one, we wanted to make ours competitive with the other franchises. Because at the heart, the gameplay is the most important thing. It’s what keeps people coming back.


How are you guiding development to make Mortal Kombat a tournament level fighter?


Testing. Testing, testing, testing. Play testing the game, playing it as much as we can. We have a really great staff of designers that play with the moves and iterate on them. We also have the tech in place, where once the game is released to the general public, if something comes up where we think a move is too overpowered or if heaven forbids someone finds an exploit in the game we can actually tweak those moves through a patch to balance things back out again. As much testing as we do, the best test of the game is when the general public gets to play it. Because you’re never going to find everything in the game and people are going to find things that amaze you.


Why did you decide to take weapon and stance switching out?


Again, it’s just because we are paying tribute to MK 1, 2, and 3. We’re trying to mirror the gameplay as much as possible. By bringing back the characters from those games as well as the environments, those kinds of things.


Mortal Kombat has always been a visceral series. Do you ever feel like you have to step back and cut content out?


Sure, there are fatalities, moves, and what not that we’ve thrown out there that we decided were not a good fit for a game. It’s usually because we do try to censor ourselves because these big finishing moves are very graphic and over the top. At the same time, we are shooting for a mature rating and there are moves we have to cut because they might push us over the edge. So, there were things left on the cutting room floor.




It’s interesting when I think back to Mortal Kombat 2 and 3, I think of wacky elements like friendships, animalities, and that code wheel. While we’ve seen a lot of gore, there hasn’t been as much humor besides "test your sight". Does Mortal Kombat have any of thing similar?


I’ll tell you there are secrets people are going to find when the game comes out in April and I would hate to giveaway those secrets today. Rest assured, there is some content we’re holding back that people have not seen yet. Some will be funny elements and some will be gameplay.


Where do you want to take Mortal Kombat after this game?


With each iteration we try to throw in some new ideas, see what works, what doesn’t work because obviously we want to keep things fresh for players. It’s hard to speculate where we will go with the next one, but rest assured there will be quite a few new things that we’ll try.


Do you think Mortal Kombat go in a direction with more violence or crossovers?


[Laughs.] That is a good question, but not one we can address today. I’m sure we’ll do a variety of things in the future.


How did you work with Sony to get Kratos into the game?


It was a long process, but we worked closely with Sony Santa Monica. Kratos is a great fit in the game because what character fits better in the Mortal Kombat universe than Kratos? It’s been a long time in the making and we’re really happy to see him in the final product?


How does Kratos fit into the story?


There are some story elements there. I don’t really want to give them away because I want them to be surprises for people when they actually get to play the game. He’s mainly in the single player 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 modes. You’re not going to see him in the story mode of the game, but there are some story elements that help explain why he’s in the Mortal Kombat universe.


Will the Xbox 360 version have an extra character?


I hate to throw this out there, but nothing I can really talk about today so…


NetherRealm Studios is named after the Mortal Kombat franchise, but as a Warner Brothers owned studio are you planning projects outside of the series?


Yeah, there will definitely be other projects in the future. Unfortunately, nothing we can really talk about today, but we’re already throwing out some ideas that maybe don’t fall into the Mortal Kombat canon. As a development studio, we of course love working on the Mortal Kombat games. It’s a big part of our history, but at the same time you do want to try new things from time to time. You will see some other I-other things come out of our studio in the future. For right now, we’re focused on making this be the most balanced and best Mortal Kombat that we can.

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  • Altritter

    I like MK. I think it’s good fun with friends, but I just can’t see it as a tournament level fighter. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it, but from what I’ve seen of the game and what I’ve played of the demo it’s still just regular old clunky MK. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t look much different from any of the old games nor does it look suited for high-level play.

    • BadenBadenPrinny

      Certainly feels better than the last 10 years though

  • Mortal kombat, tournament level?


    • You never seen Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 tourneys have you? And its already confirmed for Evo this year so saying its not tourney ready is kinda silly.

      • Just because it’s in evo doesn’t mean it’s tournament ready

        Evo will feature whatever fighters if you pay em

        • Every fighting game has a tournament. No exceptions. I highly doubt Evo were payed to feature Aquzpazza instead of Arcana Heart 3.

  • It’s good to see that they’ve put much love into the game, but the feel of the demo’s not really suited for tourney play. It feels more like Mortal Kombat 3 HD.

  • As someone who has never been very impressed with Mortal Kombat, I had a lot more fun than I thought with the demo. The Kratos trailer that got released today was awesome, btw, if anyone hasn’t seen it.

    • He looks like he retained most of his moves from GoW, even the slow motion launcher and QTE. I think he’s going to be really broken.

      • Well, I am HOPING his more powerful moves, like the triple arrow, and all, use up a piece of his little super bar thing, otherwise, he’s just going to be the Sentinel of Mortal Kombat. Still, I can’t wait to play as him. I think he’s going to be who I use first, followed by Mileena and Sub-Zero.

  • They need to get rid of the dedicated block button and fix the infinites from the demo

    It’s really, REALLY fun so far but these things have to be considered when working on tournament level play.

    • Arcm

      MK has always had a dedicated block button though I never seen a problem with it. It’s just one of those things you get used to I personally love it but I am really big into Soul Calibur as well and that may be why I don’t see it as a problem.

    • your a joke kid, MK is all about the block button since day 1 so get use to it or don’t play it..

      • I could have sworn Mortal Kombat was all about gore since day 1.

        “Whoa, what’s that new game?”
        “It’s called Mortal Kombat!
        “Oh man, that blue guy just pulled the other guy’s head off!”
        “Forget that noise, it has a BLOCK BUTTON!!!”
        “Oh my god, I have to play that!”

    • I hate the block button too. I can’t tell you how many times I got hit in the demo because I’d be pressing back to block. It’s just a natural instinct when you play a 2D fighter to expect to press back.

      But I doubt they’ll change that. You’ve got people who see it as an integral part of the game.

    • Infinites will most definitely be fixed, seeing how they’re aiming for tourneys and all, but the block button won’t, especially when some of the cast have special moves that attack from behind. Remove the block button and some characters will be too cheap.

  • Arcm

    I honestly had a hell of a lot of fun with the demo and I already ordered the Kollectors edition.

    The fact that it has alternate costumes on the disc that are UNLOCKABLE has me looking at capcom with disgust with their 5 dollar costume packs… I’m not hating on capcom they will be one of my favorite developers again if they announce a new Breath of Fire game.

    • I don’t know about you, but one of the things I liked a lot about the demo was how the damage was tweeked. I remember back in the day, when you could win in the first three games by just doing three or four uppercuts. Now, it felt like you actually had a fight going on.

      I’m not sure I like it enough to pay $100 for the Kollector’s Edition, though. lol.

      • Arcm

        Yeah, I grew up with Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter so my nostalgia is kicking in hardcore so I took the plunge on the $100 set. lol

        I agree that back in the original games more so 1 and 2 that uppercuts had a huge impact on the life bar and I love the fact that there is a competent combo system in this one. Since, I never really cared for their change stance system from the ps2 games.

        After playing the games since the 90’s I just recently learned the guy that pops up after an uppercut actually say’s TOASTY! I always thought he said WHOOPSIE lol

        • I had always thought it was WHOOPIE! In fact, my friends and I used to refer to him as the “Whoopie Man” up until we learned it was “Toasty.” It certainly doesn’t sound like “toasty.”

    • They never will. Theyve more or less said the franchise did too poorly to revive.

      I do agree on the costumes though. I find it ridiculous Capcom gets away with selling on disc costumes and characters and having next to no content available (wheres that story mode Capcom? Is that gonna be DLC too?) and yet people blindly insist its totally okay because Capcom can do no wrong.

      I also appreciate that the roster is entirely fan favourites, unlike MvC3 which has a bunch of awful picks, like Taskmaster. Casuals dont even know him and Marvel fans hate him. WHY DID YOU PICK HIM?

      • doomspeller10

        For the trolling (probably).

      • BadenBadenPrinny

        Not like C.Viper was a good choice

  • Had they said this about any of the previous MK games, I would have grabbed a glass of water, sipped a bit and then spit it back out in laughter.

    But this MK does seem like it could be possible. I’ve seen the gameplay trailers and it looks tight and polished enough to become a tournament level fighting game.

    I’ve seen far more broken games be used for tournments.

  • xxx128

    I can imagine that this is something that they aim to do. But i seriously doubt they can pull it off. I have been playing MK since day on at the arcades.

  • PrinceHeir

    will try this for sure :P

    im surprised nobody asked this, but what happened to Mortal Kombat Kollection HD(includes MK1-3 and trilogy i think?)

    i want to relive those Fatalities in 2D and HD :)

  • Souji Tendou

    Good luck with the Tournament Level.

  • I was so looking forward to this until I tried the demo.
    The characters still attain the stiff animations.

    I don’t get it, after years of MK they still use same animations movement:/
    I don’t think I’ll be able to handle co-op play with the stiff animations movement:/

  • and I don’t think some of you below understood what the developers aim for the Tournament level.

    No it is not an actual stage. When they want the game to be a tournament level, they meant as in any competition you go to MK9 will be there with players competing against each other.

    Tekken and Street Fighter games are the only two played in every competition and holds many tournament. This is the same thing Team NINJA are doing for Dead or Alive Dimensions. Now Neatherrealm studios want to achieve the same thing.

    Just because MK3 is to be featured in EVO doesn’t make MK game a wildly played tournament feature, MK needs to be hosted in many different tournaments for it to be a tournament contender.

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