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Designing Mortal Kombat's famously bloody fatalities

"The very start of the process is always a fatality that's going to set the tone for the rest of them. I'm usually the one who draws up that fatality, and says okay 'this is going to happen.'"

Chris Kerr

March 6, 2019

2 Min Read

NoClip has posted a short but sweet video interview with NetherRealm Studios creative director Ed Boon that looks at how the studio creates Mortal Kombat's famously bloody fatalities. 

According to Boon, the process begins the same way for each game in the franchise. The dev team gets the ball rolling by creating one fatality that showcases new tech to the player in an interesting (and incredibly violent) way. 

Boon will usually lead the charge on that first fatality, drawing up the move himself before heading to the motion capture studio to see how it translates on-screen.

"The very start of the process is always a fatality that's going to set the tone for the rest of them. I'm usually the one who draws up that fatality, and says okay 'this is going to happen, that's going to happen, this is going to let us demonstrate our new blood tech, this is going to let us exploit this type of animation or particle system," he explained.

"So I'll draw something up, and go into the motion capture studio and capture the animations. It's usually an animatic without the final effects so we can get a sense of the pacing and where the cool moments are going to be. So, by the time that's one is completely we have a whole bunch of other ones that are in the queue. But that one leads the charge and sets the tone for the rest of them."

After that, the entire team will spend weeks and months in meetings hashing out different ideas, before sending their picks to concept artists and animators. Curiously, they sometimes find that some of the best ideas on paper just don't feel right in-game, and often need a fair bit of tweaking to get the desired result. 

If you're curious to learn more about the process, you can watch the full interview at the top of the article. Oh, and be sure to check out NoClip on YouTube if you like what you see

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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