Steve Beran serves as NetherRealm Studios’ Director of Art, and is largely responsible for some of the series’ most iconic character and environment designs.
18 June 2010
Kamidogu: Hi I’m here with Steve Beran as well. Just a few quick questions for you Steve.
Steve Beran: Sure.
Kamidogu: Obviously one of the biggest things we’ll see in this game is the return of the classic characters. What were some of the challenges involved in making them feel new but sort of keeping the old characteristics as well?
SB: It’s a challenge, but it’s a cool challenge to have, is that people have their favourite characters, and you can’t drift too far away from the original cause you still want that kinda classic feel. Especially for this game, since it’s kind of a retelling of MK 1, 2 and 3. So we’re taking the original costume and cranking up the details but being conscious of you know, don’t do too much or don’t do…too much of a change from the original.
Kamidogu: Are we going to be getting some alternate costumes and that sort of thing…?
SB: Definitely, definitely.
Kamidogu: Probably just one, or…?
SB: At least one per.
Kamidogu: Also with the arenas as well we’ve seen pretty detailed arenas now going back to the 2D fighting plane. Are we going to see quite a few of the old arenas or some new ones as well, or…?
SB: You’ll see a good mix of old and some new ones tossed in there as well. Again similar to the characters where it’s a challenge where you had the old 2D ones, and a lot of them there’s not a whole lot to work with. Like Shang Tsung’s Throne Room was probably one of my favourites, the original was basically Shang Tsung sitting in front of a red wall with some windows here and there and that’s it. So it’s like “How do you make that cool with current technology and really make people wanna play that background?” So we have a bunch of great concept artists at NetherRealm Studios, and they came up with some great ideas, and a lot of it’s not just like one person thinking the ideas it’s a bunch of us sitting in a room kinda saying “Well that would be cool if we did this.” Even our art tech programmer Jon Greenberg he’ll present us with “Here’s some cool effects”, and he lays out a toolbox for us and we say “Okay well that would be cool in this background.” Like specifically the forest has what we call Gobo Lighting; it actually looks like leaves or light is being projected through the trees onto the characters, so you’ll see the characters go in and out of light and it just adds—it’s a subtle thing but it just makes it that much more real and I think people will really respond to that.
Yeah, so I’m completely happy with the backgrounds. You know, they’re taking the classic ones and really juicing them up. Actually, I keep babbling, but Kahn’s Coliseum is still one of my favourites as well, where our artists and programmers worked together (and designers too) and came up with something really amazing.
Kamidogu: In the arenas as well do you think we’ll see—obviously we are limited to that 2D plane, but will we see any sort of interaction with it, so will we see, you know, being able to pick up anything off the floor to use or anything like that?
SB: Uh…we’ll have to see. You know we definitely are having Stage Fatalities, so that is some form of interaction. Yeah right now there’s at the moment, it’s undetermined if we’re gonna have weapons or anything, cause it’s just another complication to the gameplay.
Kamidogu: And probably one of the other main questions the fans have been asking is are we going to see the custom I guess they’re called Get-Ups between each round, so are we gonna see Scorpion pull himself with a spear and that sort of thing?
SB: Definitely. One thing that our designers have been really, really good with, and our animators especially have been—they think of new ways to give our characters personality. So, similar to the custom Get-Ups we have intros for every character, and I think that just adds so much obvious personality and distinction between each individual character. Our stances are I think the best we’ve ever done, everybody’s personality really comes across, and even when you leave it in idle mode the characters will do a kind of custom animation just to break it up. But yeah we’re adding so much more custom animation that we haven’t done in previous games that will really make the fans love the characters that much more.
Kamidogu: Alright, and finally as well we’ve seen the new x-ray effect, which looks extremely brutal. Could you just explain a little bit about that feature, what was involved in sort of making it, and I guess what you’re sort of trying to achieve with it?
SB: X-ray is an idea that Ed had quite some time ago, and we’ve been experimenting with it. It’s a really a…a technical thing that we had to master, is that there’s a whole skeletal system per each character, along with organs and having to make those damageable and all fit within memory was a big, big challenge. But it adds another layer to the gameplay that I think people are just gonna go crazy for. You know just watching people in the theatre right now, just hearing them react to it was…I think we succeeded, it was like people are just sorta losing their minds about it. But it definitely is a gameplay thing where you get to build up your power meter, you can’t just be using it constantly and causing massive damage. You know, the first bar to the meter is the Super, and that just gives you a special attack, and then the second one is the Breaker which people are familiar with but you have to kinda earn that. Then the ultimate prize would be the x-ray, and that causes the most damage.
Kamidogu: Alright, thank you very much for your time!
SB: No problem, thanks man.