Ed Boon on game development in 2023 compared to making first Mortal Kombat: "It's like steering the Titanic"
Ed Boon has seen the games industry expand into one of the largest entertainment mediums in his 30-plus years of making video games. While new technology allows devs to create more ambitious projects, there is still something the Mortal Kombat co-creator misses about the good old days.
Boon was a guest on the latest episode of the Hot Ones show. Host Sean Evans asked the developer if he thinks that video games are the only medium in entertainment that gets better every year due to technological advancements.
He agreed and illustrated it by comparing the development of 1992’s Mortal Kombat to the newest game.
The core team ot the very first MK consisted of only four people: Ed Boon (programmer), John Tobias (artist and designer), John Vogel (artist responsible for background graphics), and Dan Forden (composer, sound programmer). And the upcoming Mortal Kombat 1 involves hundreds of professionals.
“Technology has created an opportunity for us to make the most elaborate sets. We have actors, directors, animators, audio engineers, it just goes on and on. So the scope is a hundred times, maybe, as big as the very first one,” Boon said, jokingly adding that “it’s all technology’s fault.”
He aslo recalled what he misses most about the early years of his game development career. According to Boon, if you had an idea back then, you could see it come to fruition as soon as that afternoon. And now the industry and all the processes have become so complex that you would probably need “six months at least” to get anything done.
It's like steering the Titanic: you want to take a turn, you plan a month ahead, and then you start turning. There's something about having an idea off the top of your head and be able to do it. Now it affects 30 people, and you have to borderline get permission to do it, even in my position.
Chief creative officer at NetherRealm Studios
NetherRealm Studios is now gearing up for the upcoming launch of Mortal Kombat 1, the 12th main installment in the series coming out on September 19. Serving as another reboot of the franchise, it will also introduce the new Kameo mechanic.
Since its inception in 1992, Mortal Kombat has remained one of the biggest fighting franchises. It is also the best-selling IP in the genre with lifetime sales of 79 million copies, followed by Super Smash Bros. (72+ million units) and Street Fighter (50+ million copies).