Interview | LifeisXbox had the opportunity to sit down with Derek Kirtzic, designer from Netherrealm Studios. Want to know more about Injustice 2? Or want to see the fascinating answers from Derek? Be sure to read this interview!
Patrick: What is your role in the Injustice 2 project?
Derek: When you’re a designer you don’t have your hands on just one thing. I was able to work on the guild system, the multiverse system, characters, super moves, online game modes, frame data, move lists and coming up with crazy names for events. We have our hands in a lot of different things.
Patrick: So that’s pretty much including both conceptual and more technical tasks? The frame data, in particular, seems very extensive.
Derek: Absolutely, I think we’ve put in the most frame data of any other fighting games. We’ve done it since the first Injustice, and for those pro / high-end players, they love it. It makes their life easier because they used to just sit and record things, playing it back and counting frames. We just make it easier, and it helps them learn faster.
Patrick: Speaking of pro players, you have announced the Championship Series, which is sponsored by PlayStation 4. Are there any plans to support or promote esports and competitive play for the Xbox community?
Derek: With the original Injustice we had the Championships series on Xbox, and then we also did it on PlayStation. So I don’t know if we’re going to go in the same direction. I also don’t know, when it comes to the local tournament scene, which consoles they will play on. That’s more the marketing side of things. We can find out about that.
Patrick: How do you see Injustice 2 positioned in the fighting game market, looking at games like Killer Instinct that have had a long history starting in the arcades?
Derek: Obviously this is the second Injustice. When the first one came out people didn’t know much about it besides it being about superheroes. It has its own identity, game mechanic wise it’s completely separate from what we do with Mortal Kombat. Injustice has such iconic characters we hope to keep bringing them to people around the world in a fighting game. When it comes to fighting games, the best thing we can do is to have more fighting games. The more fighting games we have, the better. Then we have a larger fighting game community with people who are comfortable with this type of game. It’s not a competition, it’s an education.
Patrick: How did you go about deciding what character to include on the roster? For instance, Captain Cold is a very cool character, but a lot of people don’t know about him.
Derek: We create the roster based on what story has been created. The story team will sit and create this great story and from that is how we’ll pick the characters. So whatever characters they need to tell the story they want to tell, is what will primarily make most of our roster. After that, we try to include fan favorites that we couldn’t get into the previous Injustice. For instance, many people requested Blue Beetle. I’ve heard from multiple people that not many people know about Blue Beetle, but at the same time, he was probably our most requested character.
Patrick: After showing the gear system, people voiced concerns about game balance. How do you prevent people getting a bad experience when they face opponents with everything maxed out?
Derek: When we brought up the challenge of the gear system, we already had in mind how to balance it. When it comes to online ranked matches, the gear is just cosmetic, so there is no equipment bonus. In player matches, when you are level 1 facing a level 20, we boost your stats, so your base stats are more or less matched, not entirely as some characters have more strength or health than others when levelling them up. If you have epic gear, sure that’s going to boost up your stats some more, but that is just going to make me grind for better gear. But you can also turn this feature off in arena select if both players agree to that, so you’ll just fight at base stats then.
Patrick: What is your favourite character in the game and why?
Derek: My favourite DC character is Harley Quinn but my favourite character to play in Injustice is Cheetah. I was lucky enough to work on Cheetah as one of the designers. One of the many people to work on Cheetah. She matches my play style. I’m not a patient player by any means, I want to rush you down, coming at you as fast as I can with a character, that’s just how I play. I have zero patience.
Patrick: Do you have any advice for new players that haven’t played many fighting games before and that may be intimidated by the idea of getting into Injustice 2?
Derek: Sure, the main thing is to find one character that you’re interested in and make sure they play the way that you want to play. And also, learn the game through the single player content, we have tutorials for each character so you can learn the combos and basic moves and things like that. And then play single player content which is far more forgiving than going online against experienced players. Then, of course, there is training, we have a very robust training system.
Patrick: Anything else you want to share with the LifeisXbox readers? Something you really want them to know about this game?
Derek: What I really hope people get into is, like people who are hesitant towards fighting games because they don’t want to go online and get beat up, is guilds. We have introduced guilds, which are a great way for people that want to play fighting games but kind of want that team multiplayer feel, being able to talk in chat. People that may not be the best at fighting games, this will let you meet new people and go and do some exciting content that’s never been done in a fighting game.
Patrick: You are referring to the group battles that you mentioned in the presentation?
Derek: Right, it’s one of my favourite modes. It allows you to work together instead of trying to beat each other up. It’s like boss fights in MMO games. You just work together to defeat the boss.
Patrick: Great, thank you so much for your time.
Derek: Thank you and I hope you enjoy the game. Only a couple more days until release!