On the eve of the official release of Injustice 2; gaming website Glixel has featured an excellent interview with Creative Lead Ed Boon.

Discussing development, character design, roster selection and more, the discussion goes in depth on some of the most important aspects of the DC Comics fighting sequel!

Premier Skins are one of the ways Injustice 2 will answer popular demand for more characters, but Boon tells James Mielke he sees diminishing returns from a hypothetical roster of one hundred. He explains the practical side of creating a fighting game stocked with almost forty characters.

[...] When a fighting game would come out back in the day, especially a new fighting game, they would typically start off with eight characters, plus a boss. A sequel would usually add a couple of characters. Injustice 2, last time I checked, has 38 character slots. How do you arrive at this number?
With Injustice 1, I think we were just going on the ballpark number of characters that we had in our previous games, MK9 we had 25 or so characters, so we started with around 25 or 24. Injustice 1, we knew we were gonna do DLC characters, and originally we planned on doing four additional ones like Mortal Kombat. But then they resonated with players a lot more than we anticipated, so we decided to do two more after that. So some of that is a response to player demand.

For Injustice 2, we had a number of factors that were affecting it. One was bringing back the most recognizable – you can't do an Injustice game without Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, the most recognizable characters. But then we absolutely wanted to go down the roster of the ones that we didn't get in Injustice 1 and people were clamoring for – the lesser-known but just as interesting characters – like Doctor Fate, Atrocitus. On that list, Swamp Thing was huge.

Actually, Swamp Thing was probably one of the characters that, as far as the team was concerned, was a must have for Injustice 2. So it was a lot of conversations. Conversations with DC, and then considering the character's abilities and participation in the story and relationship with the existing characters. All of these factors come in.

At some point though, I personally believe it's diminishing returns when you're talking about the size of the roster. Like, if we came up with an Injustice 3 and we had a hundred characters, the win wouldn't justify the doubling or tripling of the roster. At some point it's like "OK, that's enough, let's save it for the next one."

The Saga Of... Swamp Thing is just one of the exciting additions to Injustice 2.

Injustice 2 is doing a good job of diving deeper into the DC Universe, shedding some of the first game's characters for exciting new additions. Characters like Gorilla Grodd and Doctor Fate have been welcome additions, contributing a completely different aesthetic and design sensibility to the game. Swamp Thing is one of the stand-out reveals for the sequel, and it's clear the developers feel the same way!

I have to say, Swamp Thing is one of my personal favorite additions, because I grew up with the Bernie Wrightson Swamp Thing comics. I love that he gets as much loot as anyone else in the game. It's interesting to see Doctor Fate and Blue Beetle in there too. It's good to see old Steve Ditko and Charlton Comics characters represented.
Towards the end of Injustice 1, when we were doing DLC characters and releasing them one at a time, those were the characters that we kept seeing coming up, like "Come on Blue Beetle, come on Swamp Thing! Scarecrow, Poison Ivy!" And, we listened, you know. We listen to that. Some of that stuff, unfortunately, we gotta plan way ahead. It's not like we created the character the day before we announced it.

But Swamp Thing, the fact that he has so much gear, that's not by accident. A lot of the guys on our team, this became like a passion project for them. "Oh, this guy's gotta have this, he's gotta have that," how much we love these characters is really evident when you see it, all the little nuances and the references to the comics and the references to the animated series; that's not by accident. That's people really getting into it.

Fans couldn't help but notice inconsistencies between the twelve issue Mortal Kombat X maxi-series and the top selling 2015 fighting game. Injustice did a good job of juggling its two mediums, but several years of comics inevitably brought many characters onto the page that haven't featured in the games. Boon acknowledges the innate differences that will always keep the comics and games separate.

In the Injustice comic books, there are characters that haven't been announced for the game, like Deadman or Mr. Mxyzptlk. Are they planted in the books with a chance of working their way into the game, or are there lots of characters that you put into the comic books that are just sort-of there to enhance the storyline? The reason I bring up Deadman is, well, he's dead. How do you beat a dead guy in a fighting game?
Well, with NetherRealm games, somebody being dead doesn't really mean that much, so there's that. That would not be an obstacle to getting a character like that in. The thing about telling a story through a comic book is that in order to make a cameo appearance or even a significant appearance – well, it's a different process than doing it in the games. When we make a character appear in the game, we have to create a 3D model, if they're playable there's just the longest list of things that you have to include, so the comics have a little bit more elbow room in terms of having a really cool cameo or appearance.

That's what's really so cool about this comic series, it really goes off on its own. The comic has been such a great side-effect of all of this, it's becoming such a powerful entity, so far beyond just a complement to the game. It's its own entity. I always describe the comic book and the mobile game as like when you have two kids and they grow up, and they go to college and they both their own identities and how proud you are of it. I think Tom Taylor did such an amazing job with the comic book.

That mobile game has been a monster, too. It took us all by surprise and the second one has its own mobile game too. Those two things are such great, unexpected, fantastic things spawned from the original game.

Return Policy: Some characters won't be back for the sequel.

Just as every character appearing in comics can't make the crossover to games, so too must the sequel make sacrifices to keep the game fresh. So far the likes of Deathstroke, Solomon Grundy and Martian Manhunter are nowhere to be seen in Injustice 2. Glixel tackled the selection process from the perspective of player data, which is becoming increasingly intricate in its availability to the developer.

I'm sure you have stats now that everything's online and connected. When you're balancing the characters or the roster, are there any characters that aren't used nearly as much as you thought they would be, and does that affect who you choose for the sequel?
It probably has a factor. If a character wasn't chosen because it wasn't considered as strong or as good as other characters, that's always something that we have control over. We always have control over how much damage they do or how fast they move, the reach that they have, and all the variables involved with what's considered a good character. But I think as far as when we decide if a character is coming back, it's that and whether the character resonated with players as far as personality, the voice, its role in the story; there's a whole bunch of stuff that comes into play that we factor in with it. Not just how many times was it chosen by players.

Boon also explains the value of his social media account to informing the decision process. April Fool jokes like The Wonder Twins are never intended to go anywhere, but as we already know, sometimes Boon plays it straight.

[Related Article: Boon Asks: Should Watchmen Characters Be In Injustice 2?]

The Creative Director notes his questions and character polls can provide useful information, asking for specific opinions, or merely gauging reactions. Given the lead time typical of development, sometimes this data has an influence well beyond the immediate future. You never know when your vote will influence the creative process.

Golden Age: Original Flash Jay Garrick adds a touch of class to Injustice 2 designs.

Injustice has shown tremendous ability to engage the difficult demographic of Millennial aged gamers. The series has found tremendous success in marketing through console and mobile devices, even making readers of gamers who've embraced tie-in comics, and other products.

The Injustice franchise may have found a strong core audience but the NetherRealm aesthetic won't necessarily appeal to long time readers of the comics. Once maligned armor plates and accessories are back in vogue, especially in Injustice, but fans of the classics will have options in the Gear System to adopt the streamlined iconic designs they love!

The style of Injustice 2 has everybody looking cooler, less spandex-y, and more armored-up like Batman in the DC universe films. You look at Blue Beetle and he looks cool and in tune with the Injustice 2 setting, while in the original comic he was definitely from the spandex era of super heroes. I mean, it would be cool if there was an "Adam West Batman" option to contrast with the nipple-armor Batman. Has there been consideration for alternate costumes?
Absolutely, on more than one level. For instance, we purposefully created shaders for characters, and have gear that you could put together for looks that are much, much closer to the old-school spandex outfits. We absolutely knew that some people would want to do that. You can make a very "Adam West-type" style of Batman, same with a number of the other characters, and we also have some unannounced premium skins that are super-retro as well. People are gonna love those.

Boon also notes the Gear System will provide options to restore characters to "regulation" standard, stripping them of the irregular statistics associated with Gear armor and upgrades. This will have particular application in the eSports arena, where perceived balance between characters is vital. Injustice 2 will feature in the 2017 Evo World Championship line-up just two months after its released! Boon expects Gear to be a non-issue at the event.

You can read the entire interview, with many more subjects covered, at Glixel.com! Injustice 2 officially arrives for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One right about now - May 16th!

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