We had an enthusiastic chat with Derek Kirtzic of NetherRealm Studios about Injustice 2 and the tournament held at PAX Aus this year.
What’s the response to the tournament been like so far?
Derek Kirtzic: “Fabulous. We have such a wide variety of players here. It’s primarily the Aussie scene, and I haven’t seen much of that. When I went overseas I went to a tournament and some guy came up to me and said ‘You guys should come to Australia!’ and I said ‘Yeah, we should!’ and now here I am two years later. It’s really food to be able to meet the Australian scene. It’s pretty small but it’s growing really quickly. That’s one of the great things, being able to see the passion these guys at the tournaments have. You have people that flew in from Canada to come and compete in this – it puts it on the map, it gives it more exposure. People are suddenly like ‘oh crap, BioHazard came out from Canada to play in this!'”
How did you end up in the video game industry in the first place?
DK: “I was a super video game kid. I didn’t do sports or any of that stuff, I just sat in the dark and played my Sega and my Nintendo. I lived at the arcade before I had the consoles myself. I was always a nerd from my childhood, and basically all I did through high school was just play video games. I loved games, and then I started running a video game store where I would play people backwards for video games if they could beat me – and they never could. My friend got a job at Midway Games and he’s like ‘you’re really good at Mortal Kombat, want to come work with us?’ and I thought hell yeah. So I started in QA, at the lowest possible level, and slept under my desk a lot. I then worked my way up to being one of the designers, and that’s where I’m at now.
How do you decide on the character roster for the game?
DK: “A lot of it is story driven. We have amazing story writers. Shawn Kittelsen, who was a DC Comic book writer, he did the comics for Mortal Kombat X, and he also assisted with the first Injustice. He helped write the story with one of our in-house guys named Dominic, and whatever story it is we want to tell we need to make sure we include the characters they need in the game. And then, we go back and say ‘Well who did everyone want from the first one?’ Blue Beetle was one of the most requested characters from the first Injustice, and now he’s in the game. We love to include characters we think would be really cool to see and have them come to life.”
What about the character designs?
DK: “That’s more the art department and the art direction. You can tell with the art direction in our games it’s a darker, more grounded, less superhero/fairytale exaggerations. We try to make it realistic, but also be true to the characters. We have an amazing art director, Steve Brand, and he has this great vision, and he gets together with Ed [Boon[, and they figure out what the default look for the characters should be. From there – our art department is basically a bunch of nerds and we go ‘Hey, you get to do Atrocitus, so come up with as many cool things for him as you can.’ We’re all in, because we love these characters. We’re all DC nerds. It’s basically a dream come true; you get to make the characters you played with with action figures.”
Do you have any plans for the Justice League movie?
DK: “Yes! We’re excited for the movie. When Wonder Woman came out, we had a thing called the Multiverse Event that went live, and completing that event would give you the Wonder Woman movie gear. We have something similar in the works for the Justice League movie.”
What’s next for NetherRealm?
DK: “We’re gonna continue to support Injustice 2. We still have three more DLC characters, which are going to blow people’s minds. People are not ready for what we have coming out. We’ll continue to support the Multiverse making more events, and tweak and add the Guild system. It’s going to be fun.”