These days I don’t game on my PC at all. However, back when I was growing up it was much more of a common thing I’d do. I still kept up with the consoles at the time, but every so often I’d get into a game on the PC. In 1996 Duke Nukem 3D was the game to play. I remember it well. I should because I also got the Plutonium Pak which upgraded DN3D to the Atomic Edition with an added fourth episode. Not unlike what The Ultimate Doom did for id Software’s original Doom.
Within the next year 3D Realms announced they were working on a follow up called Duke Nukem Forever. We all know how that’s been going in the last 13 years. Not too well. Off and on over that time they’d show a screenshot or two to tease fans, but it didn’t take very long before I no longer cared if it ever was finished.
In early 2006, 3D Realms decided to let everybody know that Duke Nukem Forever was in full production. To which I wrote a blog post titled “Duke Nukem Never” and noted the following year (2007) as being ten years since DNF started being developed and it was time to get your pre-order money back.
Speaking of 2007, another tease was doled out in the form of a trailer in December of that year. It was cute, but again I saw it as another stunt being pulled by 3D Realms. Since I stopped caring about the game the year before, I got pretty pissed off. At this point I knew the game wasn’t going to ever be released so all they were doing was insulting my intelligence. Of course some gamers were saying they were excited and I just couldn’t understand how being excited for this was even possible for anybody anymore.
Fast forward to last year and the closing of 3D Realms by Take-Two Interactive after not seeing anything happening for far too long. I, for one, was grateful Take-Two was finally putting Duke Nukem Forever out of its misery. They were way more patient with George Broussard than they had to be. DNF should’ve been out in 2000 at the latest and here we were in 2009 without a product. Gaming had passed the Duke by and moved on to bigger and better things.
Then came this last weekend at PAX where Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software revealed that the thorn in the side of the gaming industry has returned. Without a leak they not only showed off Duke Nukem Forever, but also had a playable demo. Pitchford mentioned at the show that nobody would’ve believed a press release ahead of time announcing DNF would be playable at PAX. He’s totally right about that. I certainly would’ve called BS on it. This was a good decision on their part.
One thing that bothers me was Pitchford saying in an interview with Kotaku that getting Duke Nukem Forever finished is a dream many on the development team want to make a reality. You see, to me, a dream is something that, while obtainable, may have many, many unforeseen roadblocks in the way which were out of a persons control. I don’t see that as the case for 3D Realms and their work on DNF. George Broussard was his own worst enemy because he’d always want to redo things or change the graphics engine again and again. It got to the point where they hired someone else to head the project so it could get moving, but by that point it was too late.
Part of me is glad the game will be coming out next year so I won’t have to hear about it anymore ever again. However, the other part of me wishes they would’ve just let the game die. I honestly felt there was some closure to all of this when 3D Realms closed down last year.
As it turns out not only is Duke Nukem Forever going to live on through Randy Pitchford and Gearbox Software, but so will the IP itself as they’ve also purchased the rights to the Duke Nukem series. Clearly Gearbox is betting at least some of their future on Duke.
Will I bet on playing DNF once its release day comes next year? Probably. I’ll be sure to set my expectations low, but I can’t deny at least some interest in playing such a mythological game.