E3 2012 Interview: Injustice: Gods Among Us with Ed Boon

Scott Ellison II - June 6, 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 team lead by Ed Boon. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Ed and ask some questions about NetherRealm's latest foray into the fighting realm.


TRMK: How soon after the WB acquisition was this game on the table?

Ed Boon: Oh wow, good question! I think we had another year of Mortal Kombat before the WB acquisition. I would say maybe a year or maybe a little less. We started to talk about it pretty early. In terms of actually working on the game, creating content, that was little bit later.


TRMK: Was WB happy with how MK vs DCU turned out, and this is how we ended up with a DC Comics only fighter?

Ed Boon: Actually, yeah. WB was a really big fan of MK vs DC. We didnít want to do a sequel to it just because we kind of feel like Mortal Kombat has this expectation and DC has this expectation and sometimes they conflict with each other. Sometimes it is impossible to fulfill both of them.


TRMK: Was this game always going to be a fighting game?

Ed Boon: Oh, it was always going to be a fighting game. Definitely.


TRMK: How freeing has it been with working on a fighting game completely outside of the Mortal Kombat universe?

Ed Boon: Itís always nice to do something new and different. We donít want to release Mortal Kombat every single year and kind of get people burned out on it and what not. We like the fact that weíre going to be starting a series of games and be able to return to Mortal Kombat later with even newer ideas.


STORY & CHARACTERS


TRMK: Approximately how large of a roster are you guys aiming for?

Ed Boon: I guess there are a number of variables involved with it. One is DLC is always an option, so we can expect that in. The second is that weíre probably going to be releasing information about new characters, additional modes in the upcoming months. I would make it comparable to what Mortal Kombat had for this game.


TRMK: When developing this game, what came first when choosing which characters to include in the game? Was it first characters who would lend themselves well to a fighting game or did the storyline decisions direct the characters who would be in the game?

Ed Boon: The main criteria was, we knew we wanted to have a huge wide range of characters from the standpoint of size, ability, level of superpower. I think Superman and Batman are at two ends of the spectrum. Grundy is on this end. Harley is kinda of this end. One is a power character. So we wanted to have three power characters and three gadget characters to really kind of define how this whole thing is going to be mixed up.


TRMK: Are you guys considering bringing in more obscure or previously not so loved DC characters into Injustice?

Ed Boon: The ďbig gunsĒ are pretty safe to say that weíre going to use. But weíre going to have a couple of obscure ones.


TRMK: Like is Aquaman finally going to be getting a fresh new look and awesome move set in Injustice to make him a fan favorite character for once?

Ed Boon: Well, I think if we was in the game, we would probably do something kind of new with him too. But we donít know at this point.


TRMK: We read that you have gotten back both Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti to work on the story for Injustice along with the in-house writing team. What is it like working with them again?

Ed Boon: Those guys are great. The thing that they really lend to it is there is a consistency with characters, how they behave, what they would say in a situation. Theyíve been working with us for so long that they help us kind of keep the behavior of our characters consistent with how Superman would behave, how Wonder Woman would behave. At the same time, the story part - the plot, the details of the story - was mainly written in-house by the NetherRealm writing team.


TRMK: Weíre assuming since you brought them back on board that you guys are doing some form of Story Mode. What will you be doing to build upon what people called the ďbest story mode in any fighting gameĒ?

Ed Boon: Itís interesting, MK vs DC actually was the first one with this type of ďstory modeĒ that would present things in a movie format where you would go in and out of fights. Then the Mortal Kombat game that we did last year kind of expanded on it. So, we want to do a detailed story mode, especially with these characters that have such a great opportunity to tell a story. As far as the exact format, or the exact way that youíre going to interact and suspend in the story, thatís something that weíre going to release a little bit later. But we were definitely happy with how things turned out with the entire single player experience of Mortal Kombat.


IMPROVEMENTS OVER MK9


TRMK: The models look more detailed than the characters did in Mortal Kombat 9. There also seems to be a vast difference in character sizes in Injustice. For instance Solomon Grundy is HUGE when compared to someone smaller like Harley Quinn. 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?

Ed Boon: One of the things we did with Mortal Kombat is that we consciously added features that are kind of like for the tournament guys, like there are details that maybe the more casual player isnít even going to pick up on, but the tournament guys are going to count frames, take things apart, cancels and all those kind of more advanced strategies. We want to expand that way with this game. We want this game to be a tournament game, like EVO and what not. But at the same time, itís going to be attracting a lot of players that donít normally play fighting games. So we really want to make sure that we still have the accessibility that Mortal Kombat has always had. While also layering in those deeper features.


TRMK: Since the characters are wearing ďarmorĒ are we still going to see body damage on their models in Injustice?

Ed Boon: Yeah weíre definitely going to have character damage. Not all the characters wear armor though, like Grundy doesnít have armor and Harley Quinn doesnít have armor. The characters that traditionally would just have a skin type outfit, we want to make more visually interesting like armor and other stitching in their uniforms. Just to make things more contemporary modern.


TRMK: In place of having Fatalities using up resources, what else is being used to make Injustice perform and look better?

Ed Boon: One of the things Injustice has that Mortal Kombat did not is the multiple arenas per environment. So that obviously takes up more memory. Having the transitions for falling down the shafts and landing on your head, all that crazy stuff like that takes up more memory. Then we also have these crazy Super Moves, Flash running around the world and Superman knocking someone into outer space is not free basically.


TRMK: So itís being utilized to every extent?

Ed Boon: Yeah, for sure.


TRMK: There is talk of an improved network code that is being developed for Injustice as well, how well is that going?

Ed Boon: Oh even during Mortal Kombat we were constantly in the process of improving our network code. We always want every game to play online better than before. In Mortal Kombat we also had the issue with the [DLC] characters where you might download Freddy Krueger and if I didnít have it then we couldnít play against each other, that compatibility stuff. We definitely donít want to go the route of putting it on the disc, because then there are objections to that. We feel like we need to devise a method to get the data onto everybodyís system. I think thatís actually something you will see.


GAMEPLAY


TRMK: Since Injustice is now a ďback to blockĒ fighter, how much has that caused you to rethink how youíve designed the gameplay?

Ed Boon: Not dramatically. I think there are things like how Back to Block has been part of Street Fighter and Tekken for many many years so itís not like itís going to be foreign concept to a lot of players. There are little things like how you canít physically block when you are across the screen from someone. While thatíll effect the mechanics of the game, it wonít change up the entire game.


TRMK: Are you guys considering at all the MK fans who bought MK layout arcade sticks last year? Will they be able to play Injustice without a problem on that typical MK layout?

Ed Boon: I donít think itíll be an issue. Obviously weíre going to let players configure their button combos. Our button layout is nothing like Mortal Kombat but we have this fourth button for the [player specific special attacks], I could totally see players putting that where the Block button used to be.


TRMK: What is your favorite announced gameplay feature in this game?

Ed Boon: For me personally itís the environments and the fact that they have features and objects that get involved in the gameplay.


TRMK: The environments seem to be more of a weapon than just an arena or stage and is actually part of the combat.

Ed Boon: Exactly.


TRMK: Will all stages have the 2-3 tier locations that you can take a fight to?

Ed Boon: Yes.


TRMK: Are we going to see more super moves from each character, or are they going to all have only one type of specific super move to use at a time?

Ed Boon: Every character is going to have a variety of moves. Theyíll all have one big devastating move that is kind of the equivalent of an X-ray move.


TRMK: STORMS of Test Your Might wants to know if there will be a demo for Injustice like there was Mortal Kombat? It may help convince people on the fence who canít make it out to events to play the game prior to release.

Ed Boon: I donít know of a current plan to but itís definitely still on the table.


TRMK: Well I very much appreciate your time, this was a lot of fun and thank you very much.

Ed Boon: Sure thing anytime, thank you.


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