C2E2 2019: Anatomy of a Fatality

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Anatomy of a Fatality - But Why Tho

With Mortal Kombat 11’s release last week, the world has once again gone Kombat Krazy. I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about Mortal Kombat, one bloody word leaps to mind; Fatality. The gruesome finishers have been a staple of the series since the first game launched in 1992 and since then they’ve only gotten more extreme. The battles in the courts are long gone and Mortal Kombat 11 is taking fatalities to new heights.

But have you ever wondered what goes into a Fatalities? How do the folks at Netherealm studios piece these celebrations of carnage together? And once a fatality has been planned out, how does it make its way from the drawing board to your gaming screen? Well you’re in luck Kombatants!

This year at C2E2, Chicago’s premiere comic and entertainment expo, the senior development team of Netherrealm Studios hosted a panel all about the making of Mortal Kombat 11. Joined by of creative director of Netherrealm Studios and co-creator of Mortal Kombat Ed Boon, director of art Steve Beran, story and voice over director Dominic Cianciolo, and senior system designer  Derek Kirtzic, senior cinematics artist Shannah O’Meara gave us an inside scoop on how Fatalities come to life.

Ready? FIGHT!

Blood on the page

Mortal Kombat fatalities start their lives as really sick ideas, as told to us by senior cinematics artist Shannah O’Meara. “We have a meeting and we all talk about ideas and things that are relevant to each character type and what we want them to do. Also sometimes we’re like ‘What would be a cool way to slice somebody and how do we do that?'”

Once a fatality makes it past the idea stage, the next step in the process is to make some animation storyboads. As boarded by artist Tony  Gatzke, O’Meara took us through the storyboards for Baraka’s brutal finisher, “FACE OFF.” And wow, it’s a doozy.

Low Poly Bloodbath

“From there,” said O’Meara, “we take it to the animatic stage and then we do the mo[tion] cap[ture],  where we capture the fighters.Then I take it to Motion Builder, where I set up the cameras, shakes, edits, and do the cinematography for it.”

At this stage, the fatality goes from being a collection of annotated drawings to actual animation. But it still has a way to go before it’s ready to make the game. “[The Animatic is] very basic. It’s just plain models, plain backgrounds, temp[orary] props. It’s not as cool looking as the final product. There’s no facial poses or anything. ”

Flawless Victory

Once a fatality makes it past the animatics stage, it heads to the final challenger; Ed Boon. The studio head takes a hands on approach with the series signature fatalities, granting only the finest finisher the right to be called Fatalities. With Boons seal of approval, the animatic makes its way to Unreal Engine. There the team adds adds lighting, textures, and effects to bring the gory fatalities to life.

You can see the beautifully atrocious final results above. Toasty,


And that’s how the Mortal Kombat Sausage gets made. What’s your favorite Mortal Kombat 11 Fatality? Let us know in the comments.