David Craddock, producer on the FPS Documentary and the author of previous video game history books like Dungeon Hacks and the Stay a while and listen series on Blizzard, launched a Kickstarter for a new series of video game history books: Long Live Mortal Kombat.
Craddock compiles interviews with developers who worked on the classic fighting game, as well as fans and competitive players at various points in the series’ lifespan to create a three-part narrative story of Mortal Kombat. The first volume, The Fatalities and Fandom of the Arcade Era, is all about the games’ roots in the arcades, as well as the early efforts to bring Mortal Kombat to home consoles and PCs.
In the book material provided exclusively for PC Gamer, Craddock delves into the development of ports of Mortal Kombat 3, including the PC version, and the development difficulties for wild west gaming hardware of the 1990s.
David Craddock is the author of Long Live Mortal Kombat, as well as books on Diablo, X-COM, and other classic games.
The first snippet touched on the development of Mortal Kombat 3, firmly at the height of the series’ popularity and at a time when Midway was striving to produce “arcade-perfect” ports of Mortal Kombat for every home console. The hardware differences were still so vast at this point that the porting effort was given to a specialist studio, Sculptured, who had to specifically design each iteration of MK3 from Midway’s arcade code base. Sculptured’s “crown jewel” in these porting efforts was its DOS and Windows version of Mortal Kombat 3, which lacked the graphical compromises of SNES and Genesis and the long loading times of the PS1.
It’s a bit strange from the perspective of the platforming ecosystem of our current age, but in the first few decades of gaming history, arcade technology far exceeded anything you could possibly have. at home.
Craddock also discusses Sculpture’s work on MK3’s early networked multiplayer capabilities, the surprising developer behind them, as well as a quirk in his netcode that could bring an entire office’s internet to its knees:
Peters credits Oren Peli with the network code for MK3. Peli, who went on to write and direct the horror film Paranormal Activity, programmed MK3’s multiplayer mode to search for players on a LAN. The problem was that the game was pinging – sending out a signal telling other computers it was interested – constantly. “Anyone in your company did the same thing, those games were sitting there streaming on your network,” Peters said. “The more people that started it, the more noise and traffic on your network from those workstations saying, ‘I’m here, let’s play. “”
The Craddock excerpts also touch on another topic that may seem alien to PC gamers today: the variety and unreliability of PC hardware setups in the 90s:
One of the biggest problems with PC gaming up until the mid-2000s was the lack of hardware standardization. There were so many processors, sound cards, graphics chips, display modes and controllers that a developer’s decision to support one or the other meant you got either the best version of the game. an arcade game, a barely playable version, if it worked at all.
Sculptured also ran into similar issues when designing PC controls for Mortal Kombat 3. Even our ubiquitous mouse and keyboard controls hadn’t been set in stone at that time, and xinput gamepads that we take for granted today didn’t come onto the scene until the Xbox 360 was released in 2005. Until then, PC controllers ran the gamut in size and quality, with none of them being the perfect fit for Mortal Kombat. Craddock writes:
Most PC controllers had two buttons, making them inadequate for games like MK3 and Super Street Fighter II. Joysticks were more common due to the popularity of flight simulators, but the joystick button layout was designed for those types of games. The Gravis Gamepad, one of the most popular controllers of the 90s, had four buttons, still short of what MK and Street Fighter titles required.
But there was a perfect option right under Sculptured’s nose: the humble, mouseless keyboard. Makes sense: Keyboards have more than enough buttons to cover needed combo and movement options, and the ability to remap and customize layouts here offers a similar benefit to more familiar PC genres like gaming. first-person shooters or real-time strategy games. Additionally, the widespread adoption of mechanical keyboards and their input advantages have led to them becoming a dormant favorite for playing Mortal Kombat 3 to this day. Craddock digs deeper into this aspect of community in the second excerpt:
The main advantage of playing on a keyboard, especially mechanical models, is the way they read key presses… Mechanical keyboards, many of which are designed for gaming, cost more to build and more to buy, but their makers take no shortcuts. Each key has its own circuit and you can press as many keys as you want at once.
This input quality of mechanical keyboards allows players to easily “dab” moves, set up combos, and smash opponents. Craddock highlights several currently active Mortal Kombat 3 players who use keyboard controls instead of or in addition to fight sticks, including Kano Kriminal, Andrey Stefanov, and Mgo Umk, including MK3 game videos often include an overhead view of his hands at the keyboard, showing off this unique playing style. Seeing the playstyle in action is reminiscent of high-level stick fight gameplay: the layouts are similar, and Mgo Umk even directly compares their keyboard button mapping to the layout of an arcade board.
Sculptured’s attention to MK3’s keyboard controls was perhaps even more far-sighted than the competitive community’s enduring love of the game would indicate. The Fighting Game Project 2015, Rising thunder, focused on keyboard controls and had a lot of potential as an accessible, free-to-play fighting game. Radiant Entertainment was later acquired by Riot Games in 2016 and co-developed the League of Legends fighting game currently known as Project L. Rising Thunder’s keyboard-centric gameplay could form a foundation for this experience and also help introduce MOBA fans to the genre.
In just 12 sample pages from the first volume of Long Live Mortal Kombat, Craddock provides an engaging snapshot of a moment lost in the game, as well as a fascinating look at how a development decision such as Sculptured’s attention to MK3’s keyboard commands can reverberate over the years. .
It’s a level of attention and care that the hobby’s story deserves, reminiscent of the great development work and passionate stories of the past years by the game historian Where Retro digital foundry. The Long Live Mortal Kombat Complete Package promises to be something special. Projects Kickstarter Campaign is open to contributors.