I’ve been working as a Designer at NetherRealm Studios for over 10 years, and during that time, the team has had the opportunity to design truly special guest characters. We view this as a privilege but also as a serious mission to make these characters stand out in our games.
We were already huge fans of Omni-Man and the Invincible series, often referencing things he’d done in our office. Designers often communicate through references to explain ideas or concepts when coming up with Fatalities, Brutalities, and sometime even standard attacks. “Fist through the back, Omni-Man style,” as an example, communicates an idea perfectly.
For the most part, every special move we’ve created for Omni-Man in Mortal Kombat 1 relates to something we’ve seen from the show, even down to subtle nuances. During the design process, we compiled tons of references for motions, poses, FX, and sounds to be used as a basis to form a gameplay design. From there, we went into the motion capture studio where tremendous care was taken to capture performances that in some cases exactly match the references we had.
Something people might not notice right away is that even his cape moves similarly to how it does in the show. The chest bump special move is an example of an animation where we were looking to have the cape sway in a specific way based on a scene from the show.
One of the things I appreciate and respect the most are all the creative ways Omni-Man exacts his vengeance, something I think we have in common with the Skybound folks, in the sense that we’re constantly thinking about and coming up with creative Fatalities. When coming up with one of the Fatalities for Omni-Man, the choice was just too obvious, and I think it turned out to be one of the best we’ve ever done. While I don’t want to give it away for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, it is directly based on an iconic scene from the show. Fun fact: The Fatality set is also inspired by elements of an iconic Mortal Kombat 3 stage…
From the perspective of character abilities, we were inspired by Omni-Man’s speed, power, personality, and brutality. These were the keys to the overall design language of the character. Oftentimes, the actual ideas are the easy part of the design process, while the implementation part, including capturing the look, feel, and power through a compelling gameplay style is the challenge.
With Mortal Kombat 1 our design and workflow processes have taken a quantum leap forward from the past, mainly stemming from an engine change, thereby allowing us to do things with effects and animations that were previously not possible. We leverage these abilities all over to translate the overwhelming feeling of speed and power Omni-Man has from the show to the game.
Gameplay-wise, Omni-Man is a rushdown character that revolves around speed and power. One of his go-to special moves that I think embodies him the best is his Viltrumite stance. From the ground or air, Omni-Man goes into a confident pose where the player can execute four unique attacks each serving a specific purpose. This both serves a mind game for the player and a way for Omni-Man to surprise the opponent and secure significant damage as most of these attacks will allow him to follow up with more moves.
Passively, while in his Viltrumite stance, Omni-Man avoids projectiles, almost dismissing them in a nonchalant way, making him strong in matchups where opponents rely on projectiles. Moreover, the enhanced version of the Viltrumite stance allows Omni-Man to quickly dodge high and mid attacks up close. Lastly, the player can teleport out of the Viltrumite stance and end up behind the opponent effectively acting like a cancel.
As a design group, we’re so pleased with how he turned out and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Skybound team on an awesome addition to Mortal Kombat 1.
Omni-Man will be available in Mortal Kombat 1 starting on Nov. 9 as part of the early access period for all Kombat Pack owners, followed by wide availability on Nov. 16.