Injustice 2 is a title that takes the pantheon of DC superheroes and pits them against each other in a Mortal Kombat-style 2D fighter. Mortal Kombat developers NetherRealm Studios are the minds behind the revered fighting franchise; with studio head Ed Boon overseeing the development of Injustice 2.
At an Injustice 2 event in Toronto, we caught up with Boon for a hot second to discuss the influences on the title, some lessons they learned and working with DC Comics.
CGMagazine: When you’re developing a game like this do you think of the rise of eSports, and does that factor in how some of the characters play?
EdBoon: It absolutely does. I think with every game that we’ve made, eSports is a bigger and bigger influence than the previous game that we’ve worked on. The simple fact is these types of games kind of cater themselves to competition, and then it starts becoming more of a spectacle, and then it starts becoming a thing that people stream, and of course big, big organized events—so we have to think about it.
CGM: What are some of the lessons you learned from the last Injustice game that you’ve tried to implement into this one?
Boon: With every game there are certain things that we thought that we could do better in terms of where there’s a range of characters or the character’s movement speeds and things like that, so we would take a million notes and always applied it to the next game. I think this game probably has better movement overall than Injustice did, and I think people who played it—the professional players, the eSports guys—they’ve acknowledged that so that was a really good feedback.
CGM: So do you actually talk to some of these eSports players and get their input?
Boon: Oh yeah absolutely. We bring them into the studio and they play the game [and] give us feedback. We do that for a few weeks and that gives us a ton of information that we can balance to get better.
CGM: When you’re in the studio working with characters that have an established backstory and character models, how do you decide how they’re going to fight and kind of what moves you want to implement?
Boon: The main influence is the character’s history in the comics, and then the animated series and the TV shows and movies and all that stuff. So you know anybody playing Flash, we’re going to base it around super-speed and whatnot. Batman would be a bunch of gadgets, Superman will be strength, and so a lot of that stuff are the initial ideas [that] just come pouring out, then we’d kind of get into the nuances where we or a designer or somebody will think, “You know oh I’d love to kind of make this more of a keep away character or this is more an up-close character,” and stuff like that.
CGM: And how closely do you work with some of the creators of like the D.C. Comics or even the animated series?
Boon: Well with D.C. Comics we work very closely, we’re constantly sending them builds of the game and they’re giving us tons of reference material and suggestions, it’s way more of a collaboration than it is like a licensee-licensor relationship so it’s very much of a collaboration. It’s rarely what you know, what isn’t allowed to be done; it’s way more, “You know what would be cool to do”.