Mortal Kombat Gold Interview

Discover what UK-based Eurocom is cooking up for the next coming of Mortal Kombat.

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Across the big Atlantic pond, the home conversion experts at UK-based Eurocom Entertainment Software are cooking up what will be the best version of Mortal Kombat ever brought to the home console market. Eurocom already laid claim to the title after delivering unbelievable arcade ports of Mortal Kombat 4 to the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and PC. GameSpot News had the opportunity to send twenty questions to Mark (project lead) and Hugh (company director) to find out what we can expect from Eurocom in Mortal Kombat Gold.

GameSpot News: First off, what was Midway's involvement in the development of Mortal Kombat Gold?Eurocom: It's been a great team effort between the group here at Eurocom, the MK teams in Chicago, and Michael Gottlieb and his production team based at Midway San Diego.

Ed Boon, David Michicich, John Tobias and others on the MK team in Chicago have created a lot of additional work specifically for MKG, in addition to giving regular feedback and direction. Specifically, John Tobias created concept art for our modelers and texture artists here to work from. Dave Michicich then went over the models, providing feedback and also tweaking the final geometry and textures. Ed Boon provided source code for the returning characters with detailed notes to help us convert it for MKG, in addition to his review and approvals. The team in Chicago has also provided animation data for the returning characters and is currently rendering the FMV endings as they did for the MK4 home versions.

GS News: I heard at E3 that MK Gold is actually running faster than the arcade. What extra graphical features are planned for MK Gold that sets it apart from the arcade?Eurocom: MKG and MK4 run at very similar speeds. MKG runs at 60fps and I believe the MK4 coin-op hardware runs at 57fps. MKG runs at a 640x480 resolution, which is even higher than the MK4 coin-op.

MK Gold pushes an average of over 1 million polygons per second and has been clocked at close to 1.5 million polygons per second at times while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second gameplay. All of this has been achieved without any reduction in the polygon count of the coin-op geometry.

Dreamcast allows us to perform bilinear filtering of textures, which helps smooth out all the hard edges on many of the graphics. This still gives a crisp graphical effect but the hard edges of shapes such as circles become much smoother with this filter mode.

There are a number of specific graphical enhancements for Dreamcast, such as colored lighting and effects, and there are a number of others that are under consideration.

GS News: Will the shadows in the game be closer to the detailed ones in the arcade or the rough polygonal ones in the home versions of MK4?Eurocom: They are currently similar to the other home versions of MK4. We still plan to look at this again and may make some changes when other tasks are complete and we can determine exactly which system resources and time are available.

GS News: Is everything created especially for MK4 Home (new character skins, secret characters, etc.) being brought into MK Gold?Eurocom: MK Gold brings together all the extras provided in the home versions of MK4 together with new creations specific to MK Gold. All the alternate costumes, weapons and extra play modes from MK4 home, will be available in MK Gold.

GS News: Will MK Gold offer any gameplay modes in addition to the ones already in place from the home versions?Eurocom: We are looking at some possibilities for additional play modes but feel that the range created for MK4 home is sufficiently varied for most players. If we do find any particularly desirable additions, and have the approval of the coin-op team to implement them, they will be added to MK Gold.GS News: A mystery character named Belokk has been discovered, could you elaborate on who this character is?Eurocom: It was a surprise to us to see that information on Belokk had been released, as he is not a finished character and one of a number of new features that might (or might not) make it into the game. Currently it's uncertain if he will be part of the finished game. If there is time to complete the remaining work on him, and we have the approval of the coin-op team, then he might be implemented. Currently he is only a possibility.

GS News: What allows the access times to be so short in MK Gold?Eurocom: There are a number of things which help up minimize load times on Dreamcast.

The GDROM hardware in Dreamcast is a custom drive which allows speeds of up to 12 times for loading compared with the double speed drives of other CD based consoles such as Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. This allows us to load around 1.8MB of data per second compared with only 300K per second on a double speed drive.

Obviously the amount of data we are loading for MK Gold is quite high due to the true colour textures and high polygon geometry so we still have to optimize our loading. We use a system where we predict what files are going to be required within the near future and load them in preparation while the game and player are busy with other things.

GS News: How will MK Gold utilize the built-in modem that comes with the Dreamcast hardware?Eurocom: We are using very low level custom APIs from Sega to get the best possible performance out of Dreamcast. At the moment these APIs do not have support for the modem so we are unable to implement any modem features for MK Gold.

When making this choice we had to choose between high graphics performance and a great looking game or losing this performance and having modem support. We felt that the MK fans would be looking for the best possible translation of Mortal Kombat on Dreamcast and this would not have been possible if we had chosen the OS that currently supports modem play.

GS News: Since you have the opportunity to work with GD-ROM discs, how does MK Gold exploit the increased capacity over CD-ROMs? Eurocom: Mortal Kombat Gold on Dreamcast runs in a 640*480 resolution. We play movies back at this same high resolution. This is only possible due to the additional space on a GDROM.

The textures used by the game are true colour textures rather than the paletted textures used on less powerful consoles requiring more space on the CD and in RAM.

Our models have very high polygon counts and complex geometry.

All of this requires a lot of storage space and the GDROM allows us the space. On a standard CDROM we would have to sacrifice a great deal to keep within the limits of the disc.

GS News: Will Shinnok do impersonations of all the new characters on the select screen?Eurocom: Shinnok will be able to impersonate all of the new players on the select screen.

GS News: Will Shinnok use impersonations as a computer controlled boss?Eurocom: This has not been decided yet.GS News: What does the new weapon menu bring to the game?Eurocom: The weapon menu allows you to select which weapon you want to use with your character. Now not only can you choose your favourite character but your favourite weapon to go with them. MK4 home allowed different weapons for different costumes, MK Gold let's the player decide the weapon.

GS News: Will you be able to pull up a moves list while in the middle of a game like in the PC port?Eurocom: Yes but as with MK4 home this feature is only available in practice mode not in standard gameplay.

GS News: Will Kitana's fan be treated as a weapon or a projectile?Eurocom: Kitana's fan is intrinsic to the moves for that character. As such her fan has been implemented as it would in previous versions of MK. Not only is her fan a projectile, but it is used in her fan lift maneuver and her victory sequence as well as an essential part of fatalities.

Kitana has a weapon in addition to the fan, which is unique to MK Gold.

GS News: Will Goro now have more special moves and/or finishing moves?Eurocom: It's unlikely.

GS News: Will Noob Saibot have unique special moves and/or finishing moves?Eurocom: It's unlikely.

GS News: How many stages have been added since the arcade version? Eurocom: The Church loosely based on the temple in a previous MK, The Soul Chamber is based on the level of the same name, and the NetherRealm takes some themes and ideas from Scorpion's Hell.

GS News: Will the infamous MK4 N64 Skull and Ice Pit stages return?Eurocom: The Ice Pit returns in MK Gold but vastly enhanced over MK4 home. With the high polygon models from the original arcade version the Ice Pit went through a major rebuild to get it up to the right quality to take a position in MK Gold.

The Skull stage was never really a finalized stage and since MK Gold already had a number of other new stages that were much better, the skull stage will not be appearing in MK Gold. We accidentally left fragments of the graphics for the Skull stage in the previous home versions and will not be making the same mistake with MKG!

GS News: Was there time to implement any new Kombat Kodes?Eurocom: Yes :)

GS News: Will every special move from the nostalgic characters be brought in from their previous games?Eurocom: We will make sure that moves a new character has had in the past returns in MK Gold. New animations have been created for all the new characters rather than re using existing data so that these moves can remain faithful to the original while successfully making the move the 3D.

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