E3 2012 Interview: Injustice: Gods Among Us with Adam Urbano

Scott Ellison II - June 7, 2012

WB Games used E3 2012 to blow the lid off of NetherRealm Studios' next game after the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Mortal Kombat (2011). While the DC Comics universe is no stranger to the Mortal Kombat development team, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a completely standalone franchise for the studio. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Senior Producer Adam Urbano and ask some more tech heavy questions about NetherRealm's latest foray into the fighting realm.


TRMK: For those who donít know who you are, please introduce yourself and tell us your role and expertise at NetherRealm?

Adam Urbano: I am Adam Urbano the Senior Producer on the game Injustice: Gods Among Us. My role at NetherRealm is Senior Producer but before this role I was Producer of the tech team under [Director of Technology] Alan Villani the guys who make the engine magic happen at 60Hz.


KORETECH QUESTIONS


TRMK: There seems to be an improvement in model detail and vast difference in character sizes in Injustice compared to MK9. Are there any notable enhancements being made under the hood to the engine after Mortal Kombat was completed that you want to point out to fans?

Adam Urbano: Oh yeah quite a few. For the fans who really like technical detail [Graphics Programming Lead] Jon Greenberg and the graphics team has gone ahead and theyíve actually made the renderer run multi-threaded. So we have the entire rendering pipeline running on the SPUs.

As far as the different size of the models, thatís actually something really awesome the guys have been working on. Jim Bulvan under Alan Villani built an entire Inverse Kinematics system that lets the game handle different sized skeletons and keep that realistic look but keep the game play behavior the same. So unlike the previous games where we had to generally keep the same sizes about right, now we can make the characters completely different sizes. Even that system is running on the SPUs so itís worth noting that this game is nearly at 100% SPU utilization on the PS3. Itís fully multi-threaded, weíve gone ahead and seriously amped the engine for this thing.


TRMK: So does that mean all the female characters will still be in high heeled boots this time around?

Adam Urbano: Actually, no. Thatís a good question, honest answer weíre really using this as opportunity to make DC characters the way we want to make them. So these arenít the standard Mortal Kombat ladies this is the chance to do very mature respectable DC comics super heroes.


TRMK: There is talk of an improved network code is being developed for Injustice as well, how well is that going so far? Ed mentioned that DLC content syncing has hopefully been solved.

Adam Urbano: Yep since the day we shipped Mortal Kombat 9 weíve been working on improving the netcode. Alan and his team have gone ahead and theyíve been focusing solely on network connectivity getting the speed up as high as possible; making sure it works great on WiFi and all the different connections. Weíll be giving details on that stuff later. And the desync issues with compatibility packs; Iím really proud of what we did and not putting stuff on discs so doing right by the fans. But we took those lessons and figured out ways to make it so that we donít have those issues for these games so we can give fans all the content after the fact and not have network issues.


TRMK: Does it also incorporate doing the way of doing Title Updates without actually doing Title Update patches?

Adam Urbano: Yeah so weíve expanded that system, the ďTweakVarsĒ system weíve been working on, again, since day one. We really like where we started with in Mortal Kombat with the ďTweakVarsĒ where itís been letting us do the balance things. In this game we can do even more of that, more balance stuff. Weíve been testing it from day one so thereís no desync issues so we can do whatever we can to make sure everybody has the latest version of those Title Updateless Title Updates.


TRMK: Does the improved netcode that mean there is a chance for a King of Hill room again, or maybe even just the ability to spectate on fights while being in an even larger game lobby?

Adam Urbano: Thereís always a chance.


TRMK: From a tech standpoint, what was the biggest challenge this game has presented so far?

Adam Urbano: Okay so honestly, Jon Greenberg and the graphics guys went ahead and created a real time lighting system with self shadowing and all the stuff the team has always wanted. But getting that running at 60Hz which is next-gen level lighting is an amazing accomplishment. If you see the game and see the characters they look amazing and we finally have that running at 60Hz. Itís beautiful and thatís the biggest and most awesome challenge.


READER QUESTIONS


TRMK: JimmieTy also wants to know Who is your favorite announced character and why?

Adam Urbano: This is such a safe answer, but itís true. Itís Superman the reason is I loved Superman as a kid. I dressed up as Superman every Halloween for the first fifteen years of my life. So yeah itís Superman. *Adam and Scott both laugh* I understand itís a generic answer.


TRMK: C-Sword asks, what about a way to disable certain things like the stage specific attacks, to balance out the game a bit more for tournament play. Or are there stages without special objects thatíll be better for tournament play?

Adam Urbano: Obviously thatís been discussed early on and weíre really confident we can balance the stage interactions to make the game tournament ready. We got tons guys that are already balancing that so we donít want to turn off one of the key features of the game just for tournaments. Weíd rather make this balanced so features work perfectly.


WRAP UP


TRMK: What is your favorite announced feature of Injustice?

Adam Urbano: So honestly the stuff I really really REALLY want to say is the stuff we canít talk about. Itís not giving a tease, itís totally true. But in terms of what weíve got so far, I genuinely think the environment interactions are my favorite feature. Itís so deep, and even the stuff weíre showing is kinda the first level of what weíre doing. They are going to be complicated and awesome and I think that people are actually going to love them. Iím really proud of it, itís such a big new thing to fighting games. Weíre really proud.


TRMK: What has been your favorite game or announcement of the show so far?

Adam Urbano: I wish I did. Entirely honestly I havenít left the Warner Bros. booth at all. The only thing Iíve actually seen is Aliens: Colonial Marines across the hall and that looks awesome. But I havenít been able to see a single announcement.


TRMK: What is the one thing youíve been wanting to talk about that no one asked yet?

Adam Urbano: Ooh good question. The story.


TRMK: (Surprised) Okay... what do you want to tell us about the story?

Adam Urbano: I canít tell you anything. *laugh*


TRMK: Weíre big fans of your blog, The Jabroni Report, what is the next topic you want to tackle there?

Adam Urbano: Awww. Good question. I have actually been hoping the fans could give me a topic. But that hasn't happened yet. The next topic I want to do is somebody submitting a topic for me. Thatís what Iíll do.


TRMK: I can guarantee that once this goes out, youíll get a ton of requests.

Adam Urbano: Well Iíll take a few from there.


TRMK: Alright thatís all that I have here, so thank you very much for sitting down with us.

Adam Urbano: Thanks Scott.


You can follow Adam Urbano on Twitter at @UrbanJabroni and his blog The Jabroni Report is worth subscribing to. If you have any specific aspect of game development you'd like him to blog about, be sure to drop him a line on Twitter.

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