On President’s Day, Monday, February 21st, 2000, DMK (Dave’s Mortal Kombat) first appeared on the Internet. Through dedication, determination, and a pure love for Mortal Kombat – founder Dave Rosteck helped DMK quickly grow into one of the premiere Mortal Kombat fan sites. Dave spent hours perfecting DMK in the hopes of reaching out to Mortal Kombat fans around the world. And slowly… it did. DMK transformed from a little Mortal Kombat fan site lost in the mix to a site that reached thousands of fans around the world!
Few journeys, however, are not complete without some hurdles. In 2008, due to financial reasons and a complete disconnect from the MK community, DMK was forced to shut its doors indefinitely. But after a near two-year absence, DMK returned to the web in September 2010! This is the story of DMK…
The Offline Era
DMK was officially founded back in August 1997 by Dave Rosteck as an offline Mortal Kombat information database.
As a Mortal Kombat fan at the time, I was just getting the feel of the community surrounding this great game series by visiting various fan websites dedicated to the MK series. I was absolutely mesmerized by the massive amount of information I was gathering without prior knowledge. When I think about my early days as an average fan, there’s only one Mortal Kombat fan site that comes to mind, BlueStar’s Mortal Kombat. I very much looked up to him for his great dedication and definitely attribute that as my biggest inspiration to this day. The site was run solely by BlueStar (Nicolas Lee), and I admired the time and effort he put in at keeping up a website on his own. I knew from then on that I shared his same passion for not only the game series itself but more importantly the fans.
– Founder, Dave Rosteck
In late summer 1997, Dave began compiling every piece of Mortal Kombat information that he could muster up and started building his database from there. Dave originally had no intention of putting his work online, he just continued to put everything related to Mortal Kombat together into word documents and stored images, scans, and photos into his hard drive. As the years passed, Dave continued to gather moves, cheats/codes and character biographies and as the new millennium approached, he decided to finally bring his project online.
Sometime in mid December 1999, I registered my first GeoCities account even without any HTML knowledge at all. Although I had heard all about them, I had no interest of using any kind of HTML editor besides good old Notepad. I eventually learned the basics and immediately started converting all of my word processor documents into HTML, which ended up taking about two and a half months. At the time, the only image editor I had experience with was Microsoft Paint and it was good enough for me to at least get the site opened with a small amount of graphics. The site made use of the now dead technology frames and only started with the basics such as the obvious game sections, guestbook and my e-mail address. That was about it.
– Founder, Dave Rosteck
Thus, on February 21st, 2000, Dave launched his personal project to the public for the first time and naturally named it, Dave’s Mortal Kombat. At the time, nobody could have expected much from it…
The Geocities Years
Dave’s Mortal Kombat was over two and a half years in the making and when it finally went live, the initial response was promising. From the get go, DMK strived at providing you, the Mortal Kombat fan, the most organized, reliable, fast and comprehensive Mortal Kombat resource not found anywhere else. And circa 2000, only a handful of other Mortal Kombat sites offered the same amount of content and coverage on past and future Mortal Kombat games as DMK did. Additionally DMK, albeit being hosted on Geocities, benefited greatly from being listed in Yahoo’s Site Directory for their recommended “Mortal Kombat” sites to visit. Slowly but surely the community started growing… and things started to change for the better.
However, Mortal Kombat began suffering from overexposure and failed and mediocre games and media during this period so many fans thought the franchise was dying off. Then word started to spread that Midway Games were working on a new Mortal Kombat game – strictly for home consoles. Interest in the upcoming ‘Mortal Kombat 5’ led the Mortal Kombat community to explode with an influx of new people excited for the next installment. DMK benefited greatly from this as evidence by the vast increase in daily site traffic. There was only one logical step to take to move the site forward…
‘The Real Deadly Alliance’ Era
After nearly two years on Geocities, DMK migrated to its own domain (www.davesmk.com) and server in late 2001 with the release of DMK version 2.0. In addition, DMK ditched the free ezboard forums and opted instead for Jelsoft’s industry standard bulletin board: vBulletin. With the new forums much more enjoyable in terms of ease of use, features, and speed – many fans started joining the community at this time and are still active members to this very day. 2002 saw DMK continue to thrive on providing Mortal Kombat fans the foremost and thorough MK information possible.
Shortly before the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in May 2002, DMK was chosen as one of the partner sites of the popular #mortalkombat IRC Network. Founded by MK5.org (now Mortal Kombat Online), Mortal Kombat Nightmares, and Mortal Kombat Dominion… #mortalkombat IRC was the most exciting and compelling spot on the web to discuss Mortal Kombat and it was a considered to be an honor to be included in this network at the time. However, this original incarnation of the IRC network disbanded in several months because of continuous infighting amongst the founder sites.
In any case, as fans eagerly waited for the next installment of Mortal Kombat – Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance – Dave was hard at work behind the scenes to improve DMK and celebrate the return of our beloved franchise. Thus, on Fatality Friday November 22, 2002 (the official release date of Deadly Alliance), Dave’s Mortal Kombat welcomed its first staff member, Adam “adamDMK” Wagner.
Adam ran a Mortal Kombat website known as “The Mortal Kombat Shrine” but was forced to close the doors for good due to personal circumstances. As a direct result, Adam joined forces with Dave to be his “Number Two” and help support DMK by keeping it up-to-date and offering new content including the fan favorite “Kolumn”.
During “The Real Deadly Alliance” era, DMK continued to grow and expand. Unexpectedly in early 2003, the webmaster of MK5.org (now Mortal Kombat Online) offered Dave a full time position at MK5.org. But the proposal was that Dave would have to shut down DMK and all of DMK’s content would be re-branded under the MK5.org name. At first Dave leaned toward accepting their offer, but ultimately decided against making a huge mistake of shutting DMK down and declined their proposal.
With the extra motivation now, DMK launched the fondly remembered version 3.0 of the site in July 2003. With a whole new look and feel, DMK offered new additions such as a search engine, a latest forum threads display box, an affiliate link exchange, a quick games launch menu and most of all an easy to navigate drop down menu for a faster browsing experience. The discussion forums were refreshed and moved to a new database to accommodate the influx of new members joining daily. Without a doubt, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had resuscitated the waning Mortal Kombat franchise and the Best Fighting Game of 2002 had garnered many new fans.
The Glory Days
After the success of Deadly Alliance, the Mortal Kombat development team immediately began working on Mortal Kombat 6. Ed Boon and the development team took to the Mortal Kombat community to see what fans wanted to see in the next installment. This created a pandemonium, as fans across the world wanted their voice heard – so they took to the message boards. During the development of what would become Mortal Kombat: Deception, DMK was finally running on all cylinders. In March 2004, adamDMK and new Head Kolumn writer reppy_reps presented the unparalleled “The Top 10 Mortal Kombat Characters”. Through months of polling Mortal Kombat fans, passionately discussing characters, and tediously putting together character data… “The Top 10 Mortal Kombat Characters” was released to the world.
DMK would not exist if it weren’t for the great group of staff members that helped keep this website flourishing. Between the release of Mortal Kombat: Deception and the release of action/adventure beat-em-up Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, DMK added new content on a daily basis thanks to contributions of our good friend Scorpio. Additionally, we were able to control all of the increased traffic on our forums thanks in part to the efforts of our tremendous moderators. However, DMK’s greatest addition at the time was that of Holy Grail. Holy Grail developed the Mortal Kombat: Deception Strategy Guide among other amazing work. The strategy guide was on a sub-domain for its sheer size alone, but due to its layout and ease of use, it quickly became the golden standard for online strategy guides and fans flocked to DMK looking for information on Deception.
Development of DMK version 4.0 started in the summer of 2005 and was our biggest undertaking ever. In the meantime, Ed Boon and co. were hard at work on Mortal Kombat: Armageddon… their biggest undertaking ever with a massive roster of nearly 60 characters and chronologically being the final chapter in the original Mortal Kombat storyline.
Perhaps DMK’s proudest achievement came in the spring of 2006 – as Dave Rosteck attended E3 in Los Angeles to cover Armageddon with photos of the surroundings at Midway’s booth, screenshots/video of the game in action, and DMK’s first impressions straight from the floor. It was a thrilling experience for Dave and a first for the site.
DMK continued doubling the amount of content offered and traffic continued to increase exponentially until disaster struck shortly before the release of Armageddon. Our server at the time couldn’t handle its disk space and bandwidth capacity and suddenly shut down. To make matters worse, we unexpectedly encountered a serious IP and domain account mix up which caused us to be down for 8 long days. However, we transferred DMK to a new fully managed dedicated dual processor server just in time for the release of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Holy Grail outdid himself again, with the release of DMK’s Armageddon strategy guide. Also in 2006, we debuted the hilarious Hall of Shame Awards on our forums to celebrate/honor our community and parody past members, posts, and threads.
DMK surely hit its peak in 2006, but things would come crashing back down to earth real soon.
Nexus and The Decline
At the onset of 2007, Armageddon was received favorably amongst fans of the franchise and casual fighting game fans alike. So in February 2007, the MK development team revealed they were planning a new “dark, gritty, serious” Mortal Kombat that would go back to the basics and reboot the series. Not only were fans excited for a reboot of the series, but also for it being the first title on the seventh generation game consoles (Xbox, PS3).
While putting the final touches on version 4.0 of the site, DMK played an elaborate April Fools prank on the community. Long story short, several of the well-respected moderators acted out and were banned without warning. This created a rift in the community between members who sided with the “banned” moderators and members who sided with the Admin staff. The DMK forums even closed down on March 31st due to not being able resolve the issue – but came right back online April 1st letting everyone know it was just an April Fools joke and none of the moderators were indeed banned. This prank was seen as comical by some members, but was met with criticism by other members who felt they could not trust the staff anymore.
The hype train for version 4.0 of the site started in the summer of 2007 and hidden messages, images, and videos scattered across the site left fans wondering what was in store for them in version 4.0. Little did they know that Dave’s Mortal Kombat would be completely re-branded as Mortal Kombat Nexus! Mortal Kombat Nexus was over two years in production, and finally on October 31st, 2007 it was unveiled to the public.
Our main goal with Mortal Kombat Nexus was to be different and unexpected. Juxtaposed with a design that was unusual for a Mortal Kombat site, MKNx strived to be the central source of the online Mortal Kombat experience by offering what the fans come to expect in a site with a well balanced mix of news, exclusive features, comprehensive game coverage and a well rounded forum community built from the ground up. In addition, MKNx proudly welcomed the webmaster of Mortal Kombat Nightmares – WhiteRat- to our staff. After BlueStar, WhiteRat and his Mortal Kombat Nightmares had long been the main inspiration to DMK/MKNx and we were honored he was now part of our staff.
With the launch of MKNx came new lead Kolumn writer Lord Paragon’s thrilling “The Top Mortal Kombat Characters” project. Lord Paragon exhaustively pieced together the column based on results from polling MK fans. This feature was an update and homage to adamDMK and reppy_reps’ original Top 10 characters column.
Mortal Kombat Nexus was met with mixed reviews. Many fans felt the design was funky and had a difficult time adjusting to it. Likewise, most fans had been calling the site Dave’s Mortal Kombat or DMK for the past 7 years – so the new name wasn’t accepted immediately. Still, fans called MKNx the most comprehensive site dedicated to one game they’d ever seen
All good things…
…must come to an end. At some point during the development of Mortal Kombat 8, Midway struck a deal with DC Comics and development of a “dark, gritty, serious” Mortal Kombat was dropped, thus leading to the development of a very different game. The game would eventually be announced as a crossover between Mortal Kombat and DC Comics in the same vain as Marvel vs. Capcom.
Traffic and forum activity started to decrease due to lack of news and interest in the upcoming game. Around the same time, longtime Senior Editor and Forums Administrator adamDMK and longtime Super Moderator BorixXx resigned due to personal reasons. Although they left big shoes to fill, DMK/MKNx was able to keep chugging away due to the excellent contributions of the staff and volunteers. Nevertheless, DMK/MKNx started to get a bad rap in the Mortal Kombat community as some people felt we were slapping another similarly named Mortal Kombat website (Mortal Kombat Nexus Online) in the face and trying to steal their traffic. Although, Dave had registered the domains a full year before Mortal Kombat Nexus Online existed, people were just trying to smear our name and campaign against us for different reasons. This was most definitely some of the darkest moments during the “site competition” years.
The damage was done so to speak and traffic reached an all time low in the spring and summer months of 2008, even with the Mortal Kombat scene rising from the dead again with new info on the upcoming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game. Thus in early fall of that year, Dave Rosteck and Holy Grail made the extremely difficult decision to close down the site due to a complete disconnection with Mortal Kombat and the MK community and financial reasons. As the sad news made the rounds, veteran forum member FlawlessVictory stepped up and offered to buy the site and all of its content to keep DMK/MKNx alive!
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was released in November 2008 without much fanfare but favorable reviews from game critics. Long and loyal Mortal Kombat fans weren’t too accepting of this non-cannon title, but it garnered a lot of attention from casual fighting game fans. At DMK/MKNx, as Dave prepared to hand the site off to FlawlessVictory, he learned that he was acting poorly and not being well received around the community. Consequently, Dave decided to let the site die rather than send out a bad vibe to the Mortal Kombat community.
On December 22, 2008 Dave’s Mortal Kombat (also known as DMK, Mortal Kombat Nexus, and MKNx) went offline indefinitely. Shortly afterwards, Midway Games Inc. filed for bankruptcy and for the first time in sixteen years, the fate of the Mortal Kombat franchise was in doubt.
The Triumphant Return
Following Midway’s bankruptcy, the Mortal Kombat franchise was picked up by Warner Bros. in July 2009 and became a part of the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The assets purchased included Midway’s studio in Chicago including the Mortal Kombat team. In 2010, both WB Games Chicago and Midway Games was renamed NetherRealm Studios.
Ed Boon stated that they were working on the ninth installment of Mortal Kombat and that it was returning to its bloody origins and were aiming for a “Mature” rating. Most fans forecasted that this Mortal Kombat would finally be the return of the “dark, serious, gritty” tone that set our beloved franchise apart from other fighting games.
In addition, in the summer of 2010 director Kevin Tancharoen released an 8-minute live action short film titled Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. In an incredibly well done pitch to Warner Bros., Tancharoen explored an alternate version of the Mortal Kombat universe where characters were based on realism. Due to Mortal Kombat 9 and Rebirth, the buzz for the franchise was at fever pitch.
Sometime during the summer of 2010, Dave Rosteck, adamDMK, and Holy Grail reacquainted and the main topic of discussion of course was that of Mortal Kombat. Longing to return to the Mortal Kombat community, the trio decided to bring DMK back permanently.
In early September 2010, a one-minute video was posted online teasing the return…
On September 17, 2010 we returned online after a near two-year absence under our original name – DMK! We completely restored the forums database meaning everything was still intact from before going offline. Due to being off the web for so long, we had decided to only have the forums available so we could rebuild and establish our community once again. We weren’t expecting many new members, but it was our way of saying thank you to our fans for being so loyal and putting up with the mess of the last couple years of the site’s life. We knew we couldn’t go out the way we did and so DMK was reborn as homage to our fans.
The Second Coming
Initial conception for version 5.0 started in late fall 2010. The idea was to launch a full content DMK to coincide with the release of the new Mortal Kombat game in April 2011. Plans were hindered by the indefinite departure of Holy Grail and the leave of absence of Dave Rosteck. Nevertheless, adamDMK decided to carry on.
Production of the completely overhauled site began shortly into the New Year – so without a doubt the shortest turnaround time to launch a redesign from production to completion. Built on the fully featured and extremely capable content management system WordPress… version 5.0 would be the most interactive and easy-to-maintain version of DMK ever. Moreover, the new interface would ditch the unique colors of Nexus and return DMK to its classic dark look and feel.
The Mortal Kombat community got another thing to be excited about as it was announced Kevin Tancharoen would be developing Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a web series anthology which served as a prequel to the original game. The series would explain the background stories of several characters from the series and would debut on Machinima’s YouTube channel a week before the game was released. The series, the first “official” live-action Mortal Kombat treatment in 14 years, debuted on April 11, 2011 and was immediately a smashing success as evident as being YouTube’s most viewed video for that week.
One week later, DMK version 5.0 went live and the eagerly anticipated Mortal Kombat 9 was released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The acclaimed game won several ‘Game of the Year’ type awards and returned the franchise to its former glory.
In the summer of 2012, veteran forum member frkonalsh2003 became the News Editor in order to keep DMK fresh and up-to-date. In addition, version 5.5 was released in early 2013. Version 5.5 did not contain many aesthetic changes, but a framework was installed in the back end to help DMK be even more interactive and easy-to-maintain.
As the two-year anniversary of DMK’s return online neared, NetherRealm Studios released the DC Comics inspired fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us to positive reviews from critics. Internally at DMK, we welcomed the full-time returns of Webmaster/Founder Dave Rosteck and Managing Editor Holy Grail! We also migrated to a bigger and better server to provide our users with the best possible experience when browsing DMK. Additionally, the forums were upgraded to version 4.2 to offer the latest and greatest software when discussing Mortal Kombat.
Version 6.0 and a look into the future…
As Dave, Adam, Grail, and FRK discussed the future of DMK they decided to put the focus back on what DMK does best: Mortal Kombat. More content, more emphasis on interacting with our fans, and most importantly offering a Mortal Kombat experience that no other fan site offers. The first step in creating a focused site with great user experience was to analyze how our fans reached and used our site. Through this we quickly realized how many people accessed DMK via their mobile phone or tablet device – so without a doubt we had to prioritize the experience of this ever-increasing demographic.
Our goal was to create a version of DMK that responded to the needs of our users by adapting to the width of the device they’re displayed on. During production of v6, Kevin Tancharoen’s eagerly anticipated Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season II premiered in its entirety on Machinima’s YouTube channel on September 26th, 2013. Following a single storyline that saw several returning characters from Season 1 and new characters face off in the Mortal Kombat tournament hosted by Shang Tsung. This ambitious season was met with generally positive reviews from critics and fans alike.
After 10 months in development and without much promotion, DMK proudly released version 6.0 to the world on January 14, 2014. Version 6 was built to both function and look great – sporting a modern redesign and offering all new content. The game guide section was completely overhauled to work on all devices and platforms and also be easier to navigate. Without a doubt, v6 is the most interactive, comprehensive, and fluid Mortal Kombat fan site ever created.
Looking back, DMK has been an adventure and learning experience – but without a doubt, the best is yet to come. We would like to thank the thousands who continue to visit this site each and every day to keep it going strong. Without you, the fans, DMK would be nothing. As long as the Mortal Kombat series lives on, you can always count on DMK as your Unofficial Guide to Mortal Kombat.