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 there be parts of the game that signal to either casual or hardcore gamers, ‘Hey, this part of the game is for you,’ or will gamers have to pick that up on their own?

John Edwards, Lead Designer: We wanted to make it sort of transparent, where it would be pretty obvious. All the tools that we give the player are easily accessible, so we don’t hide anything or anything like that. It’s more about how you use those tools that will separate a hardcore guy from a casual player. We want to make sure that everyone who picks up the game has easy access to every aspect of gameplay. We want to make sure that everyone who picks it up gets the full experience, but how they actually decide to go into the individual mechanics will determine if it’s for a hardcore user or a casual user.

Hector Sanchez, Producer: One of the things that we did to bridge the gap between the casual players and the hardcore players is the implementation of a tutorial mode — that’s something that fighting games haven’t really done before. We really wanted to make a specific effort to create a tutorial mode that actually teaches the player more advanced tactics, as well. We’ve attached achievements and trophies to the tutorial mode, because that’s something all kinds of players, both casual and hardcore, will be looking for. We’re hoping through the tutorial mode, casual gamers will learn some of the more basic aspects of the game like basic movement and blocking, stuff of that sort. But also, through the tutorial mode we also teach them some of the more advanced tactics of the game such as juggle combos, the combo breaker system, resource management, what the actual super meter system is. So we’re trying to cater to both audiences, and there’s one place where we can teach both of those elements, and that’s in the tutorial mode. We don’t want to be one of those fighting games that just go out there and assume that people know how to play the game without walking them through it.

In reference to the demands and expectations that today’s video game player has, such as for downloadable content and the ability to play online, how has the development process changed for Mortal Kombat versus the way it was even a console generation ago?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: The thing that we really focused on for this game, especially for what you’re referencing, was that online gameplay was built from day one. It wasn’t something where years in development we decided to start with the online. We basically, during pre-production, planned around online and all the cool features we wanted. Stuff like the tweak bars we’re talking about, and the online play — which is really, really, really lag-free — would not have been possible if we didn’t start two years ago in front of the basic technology. We’ve definitely learned our lessons from past games. Day one: start online. Our team’s also three times bigger than it was on MK vs. DC just for online, so we put a big focus on that.

PSU: Tell us a bit about the PlayStation 3 exclusive 3D mode. How did you manage to pull off 2D (for those without glasses) and stereoscopic 3D (for those with glasses) at the same time? To the best of your knowledge, is this the first implementation of such a flexible 2D/3D system to date?

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer: I haven’t seen another game where it is as comfortable. When I set out to implement the mode, it was done specifically to try to bridge that gap, to try to make the game as comfortable as possible. Most games try to heavily emphasize the 3D effect, try to make the world feel very, very deep, and really make that 3D effect pop. We aimed for something a lot more subtle. The 3D enhances the feel of the game, it makes it feel more immersive, and feel more — for lack of a better term — more real. You’re witnessing an event instead of just playing a game. That meant really not taking it to the typical extreme that everyone else does. The depth and the amount of parallax in the image are greatly reduced. We keep it really comfortable so that you can play for a long time without getting eye fatigue, and so that people who don’t have 3D glasses [can also enjoy it]. We recognize that the game is often a party game, and that a lot of people might be sitting there playing together, and that not everyone sitting there will necessarily have glasses. The other people in the room can watch, play, and enjoy without having those glasses. It’s also worth noting that Mortal Kombat runs at 60 Hz in stereo, as well. We’re running at 60 Hz all the time, everywhere. That’s all to make the game feel and look as good as possible.

In the demo, and probably in the final game, characters being hit … (bad audio). What’s the thought process behind this system?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: It’s mainly to encourage aggressive play but without encouraging it too much. That way, if you’re beating up on your opponent, he’s losing life. But if you’re beating down on your opponent and he’s blocking and trying to avoid you, you’ll gain a lot of meter that way. The fastest way to gain meter is to have your attacks blocked. It’s a little bit of a comeback mechanic. To get a full x-ray meter, you have to take over 75% damage.

Online fighting games live and die by their net code. How has the MK team worked to reduced lag and make sure the host console would not have an advantage?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: Easy answer: we’ve written our net code from the ground up so there’s no lag — it’s literally [the result of] two years of development from three guys who went in and did a bunch of things, literally pulling every possible bit out of the code and sending it across the wires so it’s efficient as possible. We do a lot of things, too, to ensure that the net conditions between multiple players are perfect and ideal for a match-up. Obviously, there’s nothing you can do if two people have a crappy connection — the game just isn’t going to be as good as if there’s a good connection — but we’ve optimized it as much as an engine can possibly be optimized.

What sort of unique features can people with multiplayer see over the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live? Unique gameplay modes, replays, ladders, stuff like that.

Hector Sanchez, Producer: One of the things we announced today was the inclusion of a special mode called King of the Hill mode. Basically, [it is] a very exaggerated version of spectator mode. You can have up to eight players in the room at a time: the winner stays on, the loser gets out of his way and waits his turn. The inspiration behind that was that this generation of gamers doesn’t really have that kind of arcade experience that a lot of us on the team grew up with. There’s really no central place where people can go to see who’s the best player, and we really wanted to bring that feeling back. With King of the Hill, you’re able to create a room, you’re able to invite your friends, you can join a room that’s already been created. As soon as you walk into the room, you’ll see who’s “the king” and the number of wins they’ve had in a row, and you’ll wait your turn. While you’re watching the match you’ll be able to interact with the match via controlling your avatar on Xbox 360; you’ll be able to use your avatar that you use for Xbox Live — and for PS3, the avatar that we’ve created for each one of the characters. What that does is it allows you to watch your opponents, see what their strategies are, see what their passions are, so that when it’s your turn to try to take “the king” out of the match, you’ll be well-prepared. So that’s something that really hasn’t been done before, something we’re really proud of our tech team for doing. Aside from that, we have player matches and ranked matches. [We also have] a pretty advanced, robust system that’s going to allow you to go online and check out the stats of your favorite characters, see who you win the most with, see who you perform the most combos with, etc. We’re really proud of our online mode, and there’s a lot of features in there for the people that want to keep up with that kind of stuff.

Any word on a replay system?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: Yeah, we have replays, so you can record and play back your best moves — that’s what we have announced right now.

What was the biggest challenge the team faced in bringing Mortal Kombat into 2011 on next-gen consoles?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: The biggest challenge is obviously just trying to live up to expectations that have been set. The franchise has been around for 18 years, and there’s a lot of people who have a very distinct idea in their head of what they want the game to be. A lot of times we want to try not only to cater to them, but we want to open up and embrace new fans as well. So one of the biggest challenges is just to make sure that we ride that line so that we don’t alienate our core base, but we make the game identifiable enough that the more general fan will see Mortal Kombat and will [get] excited about it. You can’t have violence just for the sake of violence anymore, you have to have it in a really good context — just riding that line is very challenging, but we have a very talented team that’s working very hard to ensure we’re putting out the best product possible.

As far as DLC is concerned, what other stuff do you have in the works for extending the single-player experience — maybe some more tower challenges or characters — because I know a lot of fighting games die on the single-player side for the people who don’t play online?

Honey Hamilton, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: Right now what we have is details about DLC we’ve announced so far, but there’s definitely more stuff that will be coming along the line. I think that’s pretty much all we have for right now, but that’s pretty much all we have right now.

Will tweaks (balancing) transfer to single-player?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer
: Yes, as long as you have and Xbox Live or PlayStation Network account, as soon as you boot up the game it checks to see if there’s a change in the servers, and then it’ll send that data to your Xbox or PlayStation and you’re using that data from then-on out.

Has anybody brought up possibility of a PC version yet? If not, do you foresee PC fans ever being able to play Mortal Kombat on a computer again?

Honey Hamilton, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: As of right now, we haven’t had any discussions about PC externally. There’s not much to say about that right now.

Are there any easter eggs that you guys can talk about? Especially anything involving naked skins?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: Obviously secrets wouldn’t be secrets if we talked about it on a conference call with 20 magazines (laughs). There are definitely things to look forward to in the game — whether they’re based around the nakedness of the characters or not is something we’re not at liberty to discuss right now.

At GDC, one of your developers stated that one you’re your main influences for this game was Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. How much Ultimate MK3 content has made the transition from the old game to this new re-imagining?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer
: A lot of the gameplay styles of characters are based loosely off of Mortal Kombat 3. A lot of the story is sort of a retelling of Mortal Kombat 1, 2, and 3. Also the event that is geared towards an aggressor is also based off of Mortal Kombat 3.

What would you say are the biggest shortcomings of the more recent games in the MK series, and what does the new game do to address them?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: One of the things we really wanted to focus on was to build the audience’s thirst for blood and gore. Obviously MK vs. DC was one of biggest departure [in the MK series] in terms of presentation of the content. People weren’t that satisfied with that, but you can easily see that this Mortal Kombat is one of the bloodiest and goriest [we’ve ever made].

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We also set out to make it as balanced as we possibly could in the time we had, and I think we did a pretty good job of it.

As far as blood and gore is concerned, this is in fact one of the most realistic ‘blood and gore’ games ever made, and it’s kind of a departure itself from past games where there’s a lot comedy. Why do you think this change was made?

Taaron Silverstein, UI Art Lead: Basically the look of the characters is more realistic. We’re able to achieve better looking characters, so it made sense to have blood and anatomy be representative of the more real [presentation].

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer: One of the things we really wanted to do with this game was the whole X-ray attacks. Once you start considering something like X-ray attacks where you can see the interior of a character — where you can see the bones, musculature, the physics of the anatomy — it becomes a lot harder to get away with. So knowing we had to deal with that, that we had to articulate the reality. Once you realize you have to show the innards, you realize you have to focus on a much more realistic presentation. One of the goals of the team had was to have the game take itself quite seriously instead of being goofy. That complements a lot of what we were saying, that we really had to take as realistic an approach as possible — which, I think, works really well, because you end up with this kind of queasy, gory mess when you rip people apart.

Hector Sanchez, Producer: Basically just to summarize what John was saying, we wanted the tone of this game to be a little bit more gritty and a little bit more realistic than things that we’ve done before. As we said before, violence for the sake of violence just doesn’t cut it anymore. The context that the violence is being presented in, with the X-rays and the fatalities… well, when they’re more base and have more realistic physics, we think they have a little bit more impact than blowing somebody’s head up to the size of half the screen and having it pop, which doesn’t have the effect that it did 15 years ago. Actually chopping a guy’s head off and seeing it spewing blood leads a little bit more credibility to it, so that’s definitely something we wanted to focus on.

Taaron Silverstein, UI Art Lead: I think also the effects are just a lot better looking in this game than they ever have been. The blood effects specifically don’t look like big droplets, it actually looks like blood. And it ages over time, so it browns as it lays out on the field.

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer: We spent a lot of time trying to make the blood look as good as possible. It was a very large effort by a very large number of people.

We’ve seen a lot of different types of fatalities in the past: friendships, babilities, animalities, everything. Have you considered adding a new ‘ality’ to the mix for this new Mortal Kombat?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: Yes, ignore ‘alities’ (laughs). Obviously the team is always trying to stretch the limits of their imagination, and I can’t say one way or another whether any of the things that you mentioned are or aren’t in the game as well, but these guys are pretty imaginative. They’re fans of the series just as much as they’re workers of the series, so we’re just going to try to push the limit and be as creative as possible.

Some of the stages from past Mortal Kombat games now have stage fatalities. Is that something the team always wanted to do, but was not technically possible before?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We want to have stage fatalities in as many stages as possible, and in this game we started planning from the get-go for the stages to have stage fatalities.

John Edwards, Lead Designer
: Something else we wanted to do was [gesture] back to the arcade days of MK I, II, III. The fans kind of imagined and made rumors up of things that weren’t actually there for stage fatalities. Everyone always sort of had the idea that, “Oh, this thing does this, and this thing does that in the background.” In a lot of cases, we wanted to feed off of those old-school rumors and turn them into realities this time around.

PSU: What’s your take on Australia’s ban of Mortal Kombat? Did you anticipate the situation, given Australia’s lack of an R18+ ratings classification for video games? How did you and your colleagues react when you heard the news? And lastly, would you consider releasing a "watered down" version of Mortal Kombat specifically for that region?

Honey Hamilton, Warner Bros. Interactive: That’s more of a corporate issue.

PSU: How do you weave Kratos into the Mortal Kombat narrative? Do you envision him as a permanent member of the MK universe from here on out, or is his inclusion in this iteration of MK a one-time only deal?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: Kratos is actually not involved in any of the story elements of Mortal Kombat. He’s definitely has his own independent position. He’s not in story mode, so he doesn’t actually have any influence on the Mortal Kombat universe canon. As far as a permanent thing, we’re not really looking at anything past this game for any of the characters. We wanted to make sure all our energies were focused on making sure this version of Mortal Kombat was as solid and as good as possible.

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer
: One thing worth mentioning though is that while Kratos is not involved in any way with the actual story mode, he does actually have a complete violent ladder sequence. So if you play with him in the single-player ladder stuff, he does make sense in that context. But yeah, he’s not in the game canon at all.

Hans Lo, Senior Producer: Mainly Kratos is like a special guest in our game. It was great working with the guys over at Sony Santa Monica, getting him to match with our universe and everything, but as of right now it’s just a guest appearance.

We all know FOX News has a history of stirring up controversy when a violent video game is released. Are you expecting any controversy at all when the game launches? It sounds like you might be ready for some…

Honey Hamilton, Warner Bros. Interactive
: That’s definitely more of a corporate issue.

How do you guys feel about the development of the characters for this title, from both a narrative and an artistic perspective?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: With the story stuff, the team took it as kind of a challenge. It’s actually kind of a blessing, too, because with the reboot of the franchise, we’re actually able to expand upon the stories where we weren’t able to before. The characters are iconic in MK I, II, and III, but basically have small backstories with about a paragraph of text. Now, with our story mode that we have, we have at least two hours of cinematic content, and that’s not even including the real-time scenes. So yeah, the story guys took it as a blessing to be able to expand upon the backstories of these characters, and you actually get to hear the origins of these stories. We think players are going to anticipate playing through and finding out the origins of their favorite characters, as well. It was a bit of a challenge, but John Vogel has been on the team since day one, and John Greenberg also helped out with story development as well. We have a lot of members on the team that have been around [since the early days], and know the lore of the characters, so they were able to develop and flesh out their characters a lot more know than they’ve ever been able to before.

Are any of the characters going to have unique moves?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We wanted to make sure each of the characters really felt unique. So even characters in the past who shared moves with other characters have their own distinct play styles now.

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer: Part of it, also, is that we wanted to help develop the personalities of each character a bit more. We wanted to show a bit more of who they are beyond straight fighting. Obviously that’s a bit hard to do with more than 20 characters that you have to show and interact with, but that was a big goal: to give you a sense of who these people are that you’re playing with, not just a bunch of people beating each other up.

If the tutorial mode has you go through a certain trial to get a trophy, and then later changes invalidate that combo, how will that work out?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: Pretty much all of the changes we’re going to do will take everything into account. I don’t think that will be too much of an issue. If it’s going to break some other part of the game, we’ll obviously have to do a game update. We won’t be making changes that will fundamentally break something else.

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer
: Also I want to quickly note that we’re going to just decide to do a bunch of changes and put it up on the server. Everything we do goes through a full quality assurance path. We have excellent QA [testers] that will pick up on any issues and fix them.

Is there a way to turn off gore so Mortal Kombat is more displayable at events?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: We don’t really have direct involvement with a lot of the tournaments. Obviously [whether the game is present] is going to be a decision that’s made by those tournament organizers themselves. We haven’t done anything specifically to address those things, because we didn’t want to put any sort of limitations on the designers’ creativity. If people want to organize tournaments such as EVO — and we’re very happy that we were accepted and are going to be present there — those issues have to be worked out by the tournament organizers themselves.

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: This kind of goes back to Hector’s original point about using gore as an integral part of the game. In X-ray mode, there would be no way for us to tone it down and still make it part of the game. For the most part, what you see is what you get because we’ve made gore so fundamental to the gameplay mechanics that we can’t really turn it off without making it a totally different game.

How well did the gameplay and tech teams work together? Was there ever a time when one side tried something that was too ambitious for the other side to pull off?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: Our studio is set up like a big family, and pretty much everybody knows each other. It’s really easy to go around between departments and ask questions, and make sure what they’re planning on doing is something that can be done without impacting other things. Almost everything in the game funnels through design, so we’re sort of the last gate toward content getting into the game.

John Edwards, Lead Designer: Something that’s pretty unique about our studio is that a lot of the guys have been around for a long time in the key areas, so everybody has worked with each other for years and years and years and years — we don’t have a very high turnover rate. Because of this family-like environment, no one in any department, especially in design, feels any sort of weird pressure when they go to ask someone from another department about some feature we have. Everyone is very accommodating of stuff like that. Plus, everyone on the team is so passionate about Mortal Kombat that for pretty much any good idea that comes up, everyone works hard to try to make that idea a reality.

John Greenberg, Lead Graphics Engineer: I just want to reiterate that working with the designers is definitely a joy. I’ve heard stories from other teams where good ideas bubble up and someone has to figure out how to make it happen at the last minute, and that really never happens [here]. For ideas that require any kind of weird, technical ambition, [the designers] come to us right off the bat and say, “Hey, we have this crazy idea, and we’re not sure if or how we could do it, do you have a way we could do this?” Whenever we can, if there’s any way possible, we try to accommodate them, give them whatever they need to make the game as cool as it possibly can be.

What happens during an online match when one player has a downloadable character and someone else doesn’t?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: Great question. It’s something that has traditionally plagued the one-on-one fighting game, but we’ve been working with Microsoft and Sony for over a year at very high levels to solve this problem. It seems weird that there are still things we haven’t announced with just a few days until the game is out, but this happens to be one of them. Essentially, we’ve done everything we can to make sure that players won’t find it [to be] an issue. That’s sort of a half-assed way of saying that I can’t answer, but look forward to good things.

Does the person opposite of the DLC character have it downloaded onto their end, or is it something that’s a little different?

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: The most general way that we can answer that question is that everything will be online-based. I think you’re doing a political way of dancing around the issue of saying, “is the DLC content on the disk at this point?” It’s definitely not. Our answers, our solutions to those problems will all be download-based in the future. The vehicle for that delivery is something we’re not discussing right now, but look forward to those announcements in the near future.

I’m looking for some specifics on DLC characters. What are the plans as far as the release schedule goes, and how long do you plan on supporting the game after release?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: We definitely plan on supporting the game as long as the customer base wants us to do it. As far as the actual schedule and delivery of the DLC assets, we don’t really have anything to announce at this time. The only thing we’ve announced so far is the first two characters we have planned, and further information will come in the near future.

Unknown: We did not start work on the DLC until after the game was done. The reason we don’t know answers to a lot of the DLC questions is that, in many cases, we just started working on it. We wanted to make sure that 100% of what we wanted in the game was in the game, and now we’re working on DLC to support our fans.

Why did you decide to exclude any new characters in this retelling?

Hector Sanchez, Producer
: Well, we actually didn’t exclude any new characters. The first characters we have for download is going to be a brand new character, the first new Mortal Kombat character in three or four iterations. Her name is Scarlett. It was very cool for the team to draw into that inspiration to come up for a new character and make sure that she fits within the confines of the universe. With the retelling of Mortal Kombat I, II, and III, it wasn’t a necessity to create a new character and try to shoehorn them into that lore — we really wanted to make sure we focused on the history that the fans knew about the franchise — but with DLC, not being held to the confines of the story and creating a new character is something the team really sunk its teeth into, and we think that people are really going to be happy when they see it.

John Edwards, Lead Designer: This kind of goes back to what I was talking about with the stage fatality stuff earlier. All the stuff we like to do is based on the rumor mill from back in the arcade days. As much as she is a new character, Scarlett is a rumored character from the past, fully fleshed out and realized for this new generation.

PSU: What were a couple of the moves, X-rays, or fatalities that got cut, either because they were too over the top, or because you had to make room for a better one? Were there any that really struck you that you wish were still in the game, or just any particularly memorable ones?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: The cool thing about this game is that basically the best ideas bubbled up to the top and got into the game. We really didn’t censor ourselves. There’s not really a line we create where when we do stuff in the game, we have to say “no, take that out, that’s too bad.” Basically the kind of limits of what we were trying to do are on the disk as it’s going to come out on April 19. Basically, for a lot of the X-rays we do are multi-hit, so if you were looking for a specific example, maybe some X-rays were just trimmed down because we didn’t want to take the players out of the fast-paced action for too long. So maybe there were a couple of hits in the X-rays that got cut.

John Edwards, Lead Designer: I do actually have a very specific example. When we first showed Mileena way back as E3 2010, she had our generic x-ray that was basically just proof of our technology. The fans picked up almost immediately online, saying, “Wow, that doesn’t really seem to fit Mileena as far as her style, her brutality. So that was one we definitely went back to, and we implemented her MK2 side-stab fatality part of it to change it around.

Are there hidden button codes and secrets that allow you to play as boss characters?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We set out from the beginning to make the bosses feel like bosses. So if they were playable it would be pretty unfair.

John Edwards, Lead Designer:
While you can’t play them competitively in any way, there may be a way in like challenge mode to get a taste of what playing as one of them would be like.

Adam Urbano, Senior Producer: We have kombat codes in the games where certain things happen if you enter a correct sequence, like Zombie mode, one they showed yesterday, where both players turn into zombies.

I wanted to follow up on the secrets a little bit. Will the strategy guides give all the secrets up front, or will players have to discover stuff that’s hidden away?

Hector Sanchez, Producer: The strategy guide is going to be very extensive. It will have explanation of a lot of things in the game. But if we gave away all of our secrets, they wouldn’t be secrets any more. There definitely still will be things that out there after the strategy guides.

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: We also rewrote a lot of our special moves like input code so it’s actually easier to perform certain moves in this game than in the past.

Are there any special tag-team combos?

Paulo Garcia, Lead Designer: There are definitely special combo strings you can do so you can tag-in the middle of a combo. The character coming in, depending on who it is, can do a pop-up attack or a knock-down attack and continue that combo with another character.

John Edwards, Lead Designer: Because there are so many character and so many combinations of characters possible, it’s more about how you utilize each character’s move set. So it’s not like Sub-Zero and Mileena have a custom thing together.

A big thanks from PSU to everyone at NetherRealm Studios who participated in the discussion!