To users on Mortal Kombat Online he's known as Bleed: A long time contributor with a talent for developing characters in 3D models & 2D sprites [gallery].
To date; Gabriel "Bleed" Melendez has been noted as one of the driving forces behind a much discussed fan-made Mortal Kombat (1992) HD remake. His talents as a character artist have been exemplary, producing a professional level of content that has had fans salivating, and license owners justifiably concerned.
In the wake of Warner Brothers' intervention in "Mortal Kombat HD: Kommunity Edition" -- Melendez has become the voice of fate. A conduit through which a major corporation has made its presence known. When news of the shutdown spread, we talked to Bleed about what went down, and his general feelings about the project. You've read excerpts in the Saga of Mortal Kombat HD feature. Here is the unedited Q&A:
Kommunity Edition Mortal Kombat HD Work in Progress.
[MKO]: Can you give a recap of what went down with Warner Brothers? What is the situation?
[Bleed]: I received an E-mail from WB asking to get in contact with them, to talk about our fan project, Mortal Kombat HD Kommunity Edition. I did so right away and had a short conversation with someone, [whose] responsibility is to find and deal with copyright infringement. In general terms this person said that we can not release a working game, no matter how small, even if it's free. And we have to remove the website dedicated to its progress, because it crosses the line of what type of fan art is okay with them.
I asked a few questions to see what is acceptable, and it sounded like anything but a working game would be fine. Posting artwork on the forums or a personal website is not a problem. I then asked if a working game is the problem, can I release parts of it? A character, for example, like you see all over with MUGEN and mods. They were not sure about this. They would have to ask someone higher up, but [assumed] that it's probably not allowed, because technically fan art is copyright infringement. If you make some drawings, no problem, but as soon as you get something playable, they raise an eyebrow.
The fact that I was reached about it, I think is simply due to the amount of attention our work was receiving. You see MK MUGEN games all over, and It looks like ours happened to get enough attention for them to look in to.
I'm still waiting for a response to that question, so I don't know if I can even share a single character with other fans of MUGEN and MK.
How do you feel about the project as a whole and the effective cease & desist?
There was no C&D letter, just a phone conversation letting me know their stance on this issue.
The project as a whole is a labor of love that naturally came together by a mutual interest from people who just happen to be skilled in different areas that would make a working game.
I'm not a lead in this project. Nobody is. There is a loose order in things because we have our natural tendencies. This person likes to model, this one likes to critique, this one likes to keep track, etc. and we just go with the flow. When I'm answering these questions, I'm speaking for myself, and my point of view. I don't speak for anyone else.
I've been working on MUGEN mods since 2008 - starting with edited MK sprites, eventually learning how to code and get better with 3D art. Naturally I wanted to make my own 3D characters from scratch, based on MK, because I'm just a fan.
A friend was chatting on a forum thread about making an HD MUGEN game, and just so happens I was getting in to the 3D part of creation at the time. They asked if I wanted to work on it and I was like 'sure, this'll be fun, right up my alley.'
That's all it is. People just show up and see what's happening. Maybe they want to help with it or not. I took it as a fun learning experience: working on something of interest while improving my skills in art.
I never thought of competing with the real MK. It wasn't even the idea. I was doing it for my self, just because I love it and I like to share. If I draw an MK character, I'll post it online. If I make a playable MUGEN character, I'll post it just the same.
I have no problem with the C&D warning. It's their [intellectual property] and I'm not trying to cause any trouble. I can still do my art and share it, but I can't let anybody play it. It's a downer because sharing is part of the fun, but that's how it is.
Do you think this is indicative of the official MKHD being back in development in some form? Is that something you'd like to see?
I don't have any information on what NRS is doing, I can just assume they are always working on the next MK, and hope for an HD upgrade to the classics. So much that I'm willing to spend the time to do it my self.
Had MKHD gone according to plan, were there intentions to expand upon the original game with hidden characters and so on?
Not on the first pass. The idea was to make a straight copy of MK1 with all the assets, coding, art and audio created from scratch. After getting a solid base, you can always add something to it. Most people thought it was a better idea to stick with the original formula, so we did.
If ideas were to be expanded, it would be the result of community interaction, like it's been this whole time. I tend to go for something closer to what MK 2011 and Injustice are like, because I play 3D fighters. If you see my channel on YouTube [link], that is obvious. I would expect a community upgrade to MK1 would be way more toned down, adding minor tweaks here and there to preserve the essence of the original.
Are you interested in parlaying the skills you've developed into an original project?
Yes. I love making fighting games especially. This is my favorite genre, so original or not, I'd love to work on it!
Learn more about the original cancellation and fan shutdown in our feature story: The Saga of Mortal Kombat HD. You can check out more words from the wise in our extensive Interview Archive. Be sure to also support and contribute to the Fan Submission forum!