For most gamers, Duke Nukem Forever is the longest-running joke in the industry. The game has been vaporware since its original announcement in 1997. There have been a few screenshots of the game in development over the years, but then delayed again as the game switched engines. The final nail in the coffin came last year when the developer suddenly closed its doors, laid off the entire development team, and Take-Two software sued 3D Realms. Since then we haven’t heard anything other than the legal issues were “settled” in the court system.
Duke Nukem has been picked up by Gearbox software and is scheduled to be released in 2011. No, seriously. People are playing the demo right now. No announcement or press release was given to the media prior to PAX 2010. Everyone just walked the show floor and saw the immediately recognizable Duke on the side of a booth. You could practically feel the collective “WTF? Is this for reals?”. Below is the story on how Duke was revived, and is now one of the most hotly-anticipated games for next year.
You can thank Randy Pitchford for your renewed hope. He is the president of Gearbox software and was involved with Duke Nukem 3d at 3D Realms back in the day. It’s because of his connections and friendships with everyone involved that he was allowed to take the reins of Duke Nukem Forever. Randy even wore his weathered Duke Nukem 3d T-shirts as an homage to his 3D Realm days.
Randy had lunch with 3D Realms co-owner George Broussard in early 2009, and it was let known that the road to Duke Nukem Forever was getting harder and harder. Take Two Interactive had already spent $20 million making the new game, but George needed more money and 6 months to finish the game. Take Two grew tired, cut off their funding, and sued the studio.
Randy was just as emotional as all the gamers watching the Duke drama, and he make contact with his old friends when 3D Realms closed its doors. Apparently some of the developers couldn’t let Duke die, and had continued to work on the game in their basements. Randy got wind of this garage development and started to check the game’s progress.
Randy stretched his neck out and put himself in the middle of the legal debates. We don’t know the details, but the end result is that Gearbox would continue development of Duke Nukem Forever. Randy says that this wouldn’t have happened if not for his friendships and connections with the core people involved with Duke Nukem over the past decade.
Of course, Duke Nukem is the original outrageous shooter, and Gearbox is continuing the tradition. There are lots of girls (the game will probably get an “M” Rating), sexual inuendo, one-liners, and over-the-top gore and carnage. In the demo shown at PAX 2010, it’s a standard first-person shooter, and you get glimpses of Duke’s arms and legs. There is a driving section in the demo, but there could be (and probably are) more vehicles in the final game. We were assured that the new Duke is a “very large game”, and that no one can appreciate how big it is in a 15-minute demo.
There was no comment on multiplayer, but with all the anticipation surrounding the game, and given the popularity of other online shooters, why wouldn’t they include it? The game is scheduled for release next year for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.
Oh yeah, and you can download the Duke Nukem Forever wallpaper in various sizes (7MB Zip file)