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How did the team go about coming up with all these new fatalities?
EB: We had fatality meetings, actually, and somebody will throw something out. I usually communicate mine with, like, these stick figure drawings, and those are actually used in our motion capture shoot as a guide, and given to the animators to use them to see what the intention is.
But some of the other guys, the designers on the team, they'll describe something or they'll stand up in front of the meeting and say, "Okay, then this guy does this, and then he does that..."
You can always tell by everybody's reaction in the meeting which ones are going to go. If everybody's like "ehh", then it's probably not going to go, but if somebody has a big reaction to it, and they're seeing it in their head, then we'll usually pursue something like that. The meetings are a lot of fun, and obviously we can't let everything come through, because if it's really, really disturbing stuff, then...
Why do you think that in America, one-on-one fighting game development is so rare? Why is there so little of this going on in the U.S.?
EB: I think that fighting games have become too complex. And while there certainly is an audience for that, it's not a very huge audience, for the really complex games. And unfortunately, the sales numbers demonstrate that. And so from that standpoint, when we make MK games, we've always tried to keep them accessible.
We really don't want to put something in the game that 80 percent of the public won't ever experience, or never be able to execute. And I think that's a recurring theme, that we really try to keep in mind -- is the average person going to be able to enjoy, experience, or execute this move?
So, unfortunately, I think that some people associate fighting games with this kind of complexity they don't want to learn, and so I think that that makes some developers shy away from it, because it's really such a niche market.
There have been some -- like when you think about it, EA was doing the Fight Night games, and it's a boxing game, but it's a lot of the same theories and mechanics involved in it. But for the most part, I think that it's the complexity of the games that's kept some of them to shy away.
So what do you think of the fighting scene right now? With the new Street Fighter, and Namco's still making Tekken. Do you look to those for inspiration? Does your team look to those for any design cues?
EB: Well we pretty actively play all the fighting games that come out, and in terms of what we feel was done well, and maybe could be done better, we really try to look at them. As far as Street Fighter's concerned, you know, I'm a huge fan of SF. I have been since it came out.
So, with SFIV and SSFIV, I have a lot of respect and admiration for them. They have a different kind of pace and tone and stuff than from us, and it's very similar to comparing MK2 to SFII or something. We're just focusing in on different aspects of the whole fighting thing, and the whole presentation.
As far as Tekken is concerned, I've always felt that with 3D fighting games... I always leaned a little bit more towards Tekken than Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive or something like that. But even Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive, I think, do certain things really well, and we took notice of those as well.
Mortal Kombat's been around for so long, and not every installment was a great piece of work, so it's had some ups and downs, like any long-running franchise. But even through the tough times, it pushes through, and then a new one comes out. Now what do you think is so enduring about Mortal Kombat?
EB: That's a good question. It's really high on personality, you know? I really believe that it's very in-your-face, very bold. I don't care what anybody says -- it has, by far, the deepest story of any fighting game. We've always put way more into our story and progression of the storyline, and all that. We've had full-fledged story modes and stuff in the game, as opposed to just little blurbs that are said before a fight.
I think that people will relate to the characters a little bit more, and also, like I mentioned before, I believe that it's accessible to more people than some of the other fighting games are. I believe that more people can sit down and enjoy it, and some of the more casual players can just have a lot of fun playing the game.
Unfortunately, we've had some spin-offs that have not been the strongest titles -- you know, the Special Forces, and the Mythologies, and all that stuff. But you know, you're right. I mean, I think any series that goes through 10, 15 years of iterations, there's going to be stronger and weaker titles, that's for sure.