2 min read

Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon on reinventing fighters for home consoles

"The first game had four people on the team, and now we have about 200. We were making that game for arcades, it was completely different hardware."

Mortal Kombat co-creator and lead programmer Ed Boon has been making fighting games for the past 25 years, and has had the dubious privilege of watching the genre rise and fall as players moved away from the arcades following the rise of the home console. 

Now though, thanks in part to the advent of huge eSports competitions, the genre has found a new lease of life. Mortal Kombat X (released in 2015) was the fastest selling title in the series, and was no doubt helped along by the rising demand for competitive games that are as entertaining to play as they are to watch. 

In a recent interview with Glixel, Boon -- who's now overseeing the Injustice franchise at NetherRealm -- reflected on the decade-spanning shift, and explained how teams have been forced to adapt their development process after leaving the arcades behind. 

"It's a night and day difference from the first game until now. The first game had four people on the team, and now we have about 200. We were making that game for arcades, it was completely different hardware," he says. "The games were designed to take a quarter every X-minutes or something, so you made gameplay and design decisions to accommodate that." 

The requirements, parameters, and limitations that came with arcade development were "entirely different," adds Boon, recalling how the team felt pressed to make every entry in the Mortal Kombat series bigger and badder in a bid to constantly outdo themselves.

The last game in the franchise to be coin-operated was Mortal Kombat 4. After that shipped out, home consoles became the sole focus of Boon's team, and as the they started working on Xbox 360 and PS3 titles, their creative process changed completely.

"It became more of a production like a movie. All of a sudden, we have actors, and we have cinematics. That's around around the time we started doing our big, elaborate story modes which, from a production standpoint, is like a movie," he continues. 

"We have sets, camera men, animators, special effects, audio, musical scores, it's literally like making a two-hour movie, except we're splicing in these interactive moments, the fighting parts. That, in itself, is like a two year project."

To hear more from the man himself, be sure to check out the complete interview over on Glixel.

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