A Mortal Kombat Konversation with NetherRealm Studios
Last week, PSU participated in a conference call with the Mortal Kombat team from NetherRealm Studios. Since then, we've provided you with a deluge of MK news and details, but to celebrate today's release of Mortal Kombat we've decided to post the conversation — excuse me, we mean the 'konversation' — in full. The questions below come from a variety of news outlets, so we've highlighted our own questions in blue. Enjoy the discussion!
Honey Hamilton, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
John Edwards, Lead Designer
Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer
John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer
Hans Lo, Senior Producer
Hector Sanchez, Producer
Taaron Silverstein, UI Art Lead
Brian LeBaron, Designer
Adam Urbano, Senior Producer
What systems have been implemented in the game to avoid exploits such as infinite combos and other game-breaking exploits?
Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: The majority of our moves and special moves work off of different kinds of variables, as far as speed, the frame it’s going to hit on, different kind of frames like recovery or start-up in the moves. On our online servers we actually have a database for those numbers and we’ll be able to change those on the fly. So if I see that a move is either too fast or whatever is causing an issue, for a lot of them we’ll be able to go in there and change the speed or otherwise rebalance the moves, to either get rid of them or rebalance the game based on any kind of future problems that would come up.
John Edwards, Lead Designer: Also, we have the typical fighting game stuff like damage scaling, and for our general combos the gravity on each successive reaction will get heavier for the opponent knocked into the air. Definitely the main thing is like the free-variable system allows us to tweak all the variables of all of the moves after the fact. It’ll be a big help. Once the game is released out into the wild, and everyone has a chance to beat on it for a while, obviously imbalances will crop up, but we will be able to plug those holes really easily.
Are you going to update the game via regular patches, or is the game going to update on the fly when something is broken?
John Edwards, Lead Designer: It’ll be as we need, pretty much. The free-variable stuff we can pretty much update whenever. It’s not reliant on an actual full patch, so if someone finds something that is a huge issue, we’ll be able to fix that right away so long as it’s something that’s controlled by our free variable system. We can change that — well, not instantly — but way quicker than if we had to wait for a patch to come through, because patches have to be approved and all this other stuff. The thing with our system is we’re really just changing a number, the server reads it, and it’s live for everyone.
When you tweak those variables, are you going to release patch notes for the community?
John Edwards, Lead Designer: Whenever we can, yes.
As the MK series has gone along, it seems like its gotten a little convoluted from time to time, like it's more worried about characters than gameplay. Do you guys think the work on this game will go back to the old-school system that’s predicated on fast, exciting gameplay where everybody can get into it? Do you think that going back to that heritage is where you guys want to go from here?
Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We pretty much set out to do both. Our goal was to both make a game that was easily accessible to somebody just coming in, but also have enough deep gameplay features in there that people who are familiar with fighting games, who are hardcore fighting game players, are assumed skillful, are picking out very in-depth gameplay things.
Will ... (continued on next page)