rat.org presents:

Electronic Gaming Monthly Interview With Boon And Tobias

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Note: This interview was taken from EGM #77.

INTRO: EGM managed to track down the elusive MK men and drill them for info. The cre- ators of MK (lead programmer Ed Boon and lead artist John Tobias) speak out on their MK experiences. The MK masters konwn for their secrecy tackle questions on the new Ultimate Mortal Kombat as well as a bit of insight into MK4 and other aspects of Mortal mania.

EGM: Do you guys have a hand in any of the other MK projects, such as the five tour, CD, etc.?
BOON/TOBIAS: All of the licensed stuff usually comes across our desk as sort of an approval process. For example, in the beginning of the live tour, we com- municated the story line and which characters should be in it as well as talking to the director and bouncing ideas off us.

EGM: Any new MK stuff coming out, like a toy line, DC, shirts, etc.?
BOON/TOBIAS: Brady Publishing is working on an MK Magic-type card game that should be out by Christmas. The gameplay is done and they're work- ing on its artwork.

EGM: Is there anything you'd like to see done with Mortal Kombat entertainment-wise, like action figures?
BOON/TOBIAS: There is talk of an animated series and a live-action TV show.

EGM: Would the live-action show feature the real actors from the game?
BOON/TOBIAS: Probably not--it's up to Threshold Entertainment. It's more on the back burner, because of other projects, like the MK movie hitting the foreign market. They're also dealing with a sequel.

EGM: More on the gaming side...when UMK3 hits home, is it going to be targeted for a particular system...say the U64?
BOON/TOBIAS: No, it's not an exclusive thing for any particular system. It would most likely be a simultaneous release.

EGM: After seeing the different options for the home version of MK3 (such as the Tournament Mode for the Super NES), will you add any features to the home release of UMK3?
BOON/TOBIAS: Oh yeah! We certainly want to add stuff to it. John and I are constanly working on the next MK and we'll have more free time to add things.

EGM: Speaking of the current UMK3, there seem to be some new features at the end of the game, such as endurance matches and finishing move tours. Are these going to be incorporated in the final version and to what extent?
BOON/TOBIAS: The way it's going to work is that there are 12 symbols to choose from. If you pick the Easy Mode, you choose from the first four or five. If you pick the second one, you can choose the first six or eight. The hardest will let you choose 10 of the 12, and if you pick the eight-player tournament, you can choose any of the 12. The idea is that you can't see which one you pick and have to discover each one down the line as an incentive to finishing the game more than once. There are also hidden surprises at the end.

EGM: That's a really interesting idea--reward- ing the players for completing the game by giving them another challenge. Would completing these challenges give you any additional rewards, like a piece of a code or are the matches reward enough?
BOON/TOBIAS: On the harder ones, you might get a code or something simi- lar ot it, but that's still not determined.

EGM: There was mention of a new hidden game a while back. Is there a totally new game besides the Galaga game?
BOON/TOBIAS: Yeah, but we can't give out any hints at this time.

EGM: Also on the subject of new stuff in UMK3, is there any information you can release on the new `ality?
BOON/TOBIAS: We make it a practice not to discuss anything until it is discovered.

EGM: I understand, but can I ask if this new `ality is going to be for all characters or will the new four have any exclusive `alities?
BOON/TOBIAS: All of the characters will have the new `ality, and the new ones will pretty much have the same stuff as the rest.

EGM: I've seen several of the hidden characters including Mileena, Ermac, Noob, and the old Sub-Zero. Are these going to be the only hidden characters?
BOON/TOBIAS: There'll be more, but only three'll be on the Selection screen. There are others that are playable but not from that particular screen.

EGM: I find it curious that you'd bring back the old Sub-Zero with the new one still intact...any reason behind this?
BOON/TOBIAS: It's the same reason- ing behind bringing back Kitanna or Scorpion--because everyone asks for them.

EGM: I guess the real question is: Why bring back Sub-Zero instead of old characters like Baraka or Raiden who are com- pletely different?
BOON/TOBIAS: Well, there are memo- ry limitations. We can bring back Sub- Zero and it doesn't cost us as much as a full new character.

EGM: I have to ask a question I hear often: Why are there so many color palette swaps instead of original characters? Is it a memory limitation or time factor?
BOON/TOBIAS: It's really a couple of things. The first reason we did it in Part One (for Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Reptile) was for memory and timing the story line really worked. When Part Two came out, we wanted Reptile as a playable character, and we had already defined the look of the character, so we didn't want to change that and lose the recognizability. When Part Three came out, we didn't want to abuse it by going too far, so we changed Sub-Zero, got rid of the other ones (initially) and intro- duced the cyberninja. This gave us the ability to add new characters and do the "trick." With every game there is a time limitation. When we brought back Scorpion in Part Three, again we had introduced him before in the old form. We didn't want to say, "Now he looks like this." So pretty much it's a combina- tion of time constraints and the fact that we had established a character with a certain look.

EGM: As far as the new chips go, could you just keep increasing the number of characters or features?
BOON/TOBIAS: You could add more chips, but there is a lot more in the decision making than just us wanting more chips. There's cost and the lead time in ROMS. The more you order-- the longer it takes. There are a million variables in making these games.

EGM: If these chips compose about a quarter of the image memory, does that neces- sarily mean the game is 20 percent changed? It appears to be a lot higher because of the playability changes.
BOON/TOBIAS: You can't simply take the ratio of image memory as how much the games have changed. We changed a bunch of things. We addded combos you can do with a punch and a ton of program changes as well. A program change isn't necessarily how many bytes are added to the program.

EGM: You had mentioned previously that there wasn't going to be another upgrade and that the next MK will be a totally new. Is that still true?
BOON/TOBIAS: UMK was not intended to be a new game. It's just something to keep the arcade fresh. We did what we could and it was just supposed to be a ROM update, not a whole separate game. When the next MK comes out-- a Part Four or whatever it'll be called --it will be a completely new game.

EGM: How far along is MK4 and can you mention anything about it?
BOON/TOBIAS: It will be a fighting game...(ha ha)

EGM: I have heard that, in wanting to make it different, you were going to use brand-new hardware. Are you planning on using anything from... say the Killer Instinct game or some other types of hardware that your company may be using?
BOON/TOBIAS: As far as using hard- ware from other games, the next KI is going to be using the same hardware. The hardware we want isn't even defined yet. We know we won't use the old hardware.

EGM: Is the hardware you used secret or is it standard stuff that anyone can use?
BOON/TOBIAS: You could look on the board and find that we use a Texas Instruments 34010 processor. It's a GSP with our custom DMA that blows out the pixels. It's nothing proprietary other than our DMA.

EGM: Are you guys getting tired of MK?
BOON/TOBIAS: Well, it's sort of a cure and a blessing. Everyone wants to keep it up to date. If we didn't make MK3, then MK wouldn't be in the public as much, and the movie wouldn't be that big, because we wouldn't have kept the players on for so long.

EGM: Do all the rumors, FAQs and the fact that someone even hacked into the code to find the Smoke code upset you?
BOON/TOBIAS: Actually it's a nice problem to have. If there's that much interest in yoru game, it's better than having it sit in an arcade with no one playing it. All the rumors that saw we don't like any of that stuff are just more rumors. But this time the code is encrypted, so finding any codes will not be that easy.

EGM: What you like to see in MK4 or what would you like to have put in UMK?
BOON/TOBIAS: It would be cool to bring back some of the old characters. If we do another one, we will certainly bring back some other characters. It was kind of a drag that Raiden wasn't in there as well as Baraka. Everyon on the planet is asking for Goro.

The End