Steve Beran serves as NetherRealm Studios’ Director of Art, and is largely responsible for some of the series’ most iconic character and environment designs.
28 March 2006
Kamidogu: As lead character artist at Midway, what does your role in the development of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon entail?
Steve Beran: As lead character artist I am responsible for overseeing the design and production of all of the characters that will appear in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
Kamidogu: Mortal Kombat has certainly come a long way in terms of costume design since Deadly Alliance. From where do you receive your inspiration and ideas and how do you go about revamping an old character’s appearance?
SB: Mortal Kombat costume ideas are inspired by action figures, comic books, and movies. Star Wars has always been a big influence for me in terms of characters and how their costumes look.
Revamping an old character is always a fun challenge. It gives the character designer a chance to introduce a fresh look to an already established character. You do have to put some boundaries on your designs though because if you make the character look drastically different players will have a hard time recognising the character. Generally when we remake an old character we focus on making the primary costume the most different and make the secondary costume the one that players are the most familiar with.
Kamidogu: A number of returning characters have been absent from the series for some 10 years and have never been introduced into the 3D world. What were the biggest challenges involved in bringing them back?
SB: Redesigning and modelling old 2D characters like Sektor, Sheeva, and Rain is always fun. The challenges lie with the bigger characters. Since every character is playable in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon we had to be more conscious of scale and how these big guys interacted with the more “normal human” type of character. If a character is too big he won’t be fun to play with or against so balancing is always a big challenge for our team.
Kamidogu: Without a doubt Stryker is one of the least popular Mortal Kombat characters of all time. How did you approach his redesign and that of the other less favoured characters to change players’ perceptions?
SB: HAHA…poor Stryker. He was never a fan favourite. Yeah, needless to say, redesigning Stryker was a challenge. For Mortal Kombat: Armageddon we decided to give him a darker, more hi tech look. He is now much more serious and contemporary looking. I’m hoping his new look and new moves will change players opinions of Stryker.
Kamidogu: With only 2 fighting styles per character, will each style be more focused on than in previous games? Also, will each character have their own unique fighting styles or will there be some sharing styles?
SB: With such a large selection of characters we are going to try to make their styles as different as possible, though a few characters might share a style.
Kamidogu: Air kombat is an interesting new concept that will alter the way players approach battle. What compensations have you made for larger characters such as Motaro and The Dragon King who have less agility and speed than others?
SB: Air Kombat is one of my favourite things in Armageddon. The big players will NOT be flipping and doing all that acrobatic stuff…they will be stronger GROUND guys but not have all the air kombat stuff.
Kamidogu: From the myriad of interviews and previews of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon released to the public there has been a notable presence of a number of classic arenas such as Goro’s Lair, Kahn’s Arena and The Subway. How many more classic arenas can fans expect to see in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon?
SB: Besides introducing many new MK arenas, there are a lot of classic fighting arenas in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. My favourite background remake is The Wastelands from MK2. I always liked The Wastelands and this new 3D version introduces a very cool new deathtrap.
Kamidogu: How does Mortal Kombat: Armageddon’s Konquest mode compare with its equivalent in Deception? Will your character traverse through different realms completing side missions and training lessons? If so, will we see the introduction of new and exciting realms? What role will this new hero play in the overall Mortal Kombat story?
SB: I am extremely excited about the Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon’s Konquest is so vast that it could really be its own stand alone game. We completely re-thought this incarnation of Konquest. First off, we really wanted to make Konquest look better. We focused on making the backgrounds much more detailed and lush. You will see areas of the Mortal Kombat Universe that you have never seen before.
The characters models look much better as well due to higher texture and polygon budgets. The final look is outstanding.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away but I can definitely say the storyline in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is much more involved than in prior Konquests. We removed a lot of the wacky side missions and focused more on action and giving the game a more cinematic feel.