|Duke Nukem Forever|
|Developer(s)||3D Realms (1997–)|
|Publisher(s)||2K Games (1997–)
Take-Two Interactive (2003–)
|Input methods||Keyboard and mouse, Gamepad|
Duke Nukem Forever is a first-person shooter video game that, as of 2010, was in development since 1997 by the software developer 3D Realms. It is a sequel to the 1996 game Duke Nukem 3D, as part of the long-running Duke Nukem video game series. The game's development was directed by George Broussard, one of the creators of the original Duke Nukem game. Intended to be groundbreaking, it became infamous for its severely protracted development schedule. The game has been the subject of much speculation, and has frequently been referred to as vaporware.
Development on DNF was first publicly announced in April 1997, and promotional information for the game was released in one form or another in each of 1997, 1998, 2001, 2007, and 2008. After repeatedly announcing and deferring release dates for the game, 3D Realms announced publicly in 2001 that DNF would be released simply "when it's done". Although Take-Two Interactive still owns the publishing rights to the game, they do not have an agreement with 3D Realms to provide funding for the game's continued development, and its future remains unclear. In the same month, Take-Two Interactive filed a lawsuit against 3D Realms over their failure to finish development of the game.
Scott Miller was a lifelong gamer who released his text-based video games as shareware in the 1980s. By 1988 the shareware business was a $10 to $20 million a year market, but the distribution method had never been tried for video games. Miller found that gamers were not willing to pay for something they could get for free, so he came up with the idea of offering only the opening levels of his games; players could purchase the game to receive the rest of the game. George Broussard, whom Miller met while he was in high school, joined Miller at his company, Apogee, which published and marketed games developed by other companies. While Miller was quiet, with a head for business, Broussard was an enthusiastic "creative impresario". Apogee (renamed to 3D Realms in 1994) grew from a small startup to a successful corporation. Among the titles they published was id Software's Wolfenstein 3D in 1992. Wolfenstein was highly successful, popularizing 3D gaming and establishing the first-person shooter (FPS) genre.
By 1994, Broussard began working on 3D Realm's own first-person shooter. Rather than the faceless marine of other games, players assumed the role of Duke Nukem, whom Broussard described as "a combo of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger". After a year and a half of work, Duke Nukem 3D was released in January 1996. Among game aspects that appealed to players were environmental interaction and adult-oriented content—including blood and strippers. Buoyed by the success, Broussard announced a follow-up, Duke Nukem Forever.
Duke Nukem Forever was officially announced on April 28, 1997, with the intention of releasing the game no later than mid-1998. Barely a year after the release of Duke Nukem 3D, the game's graphics and its game engine, Build, were antiquated. Id Software's new Quake II engine was far superior to Build, so Broussard decided to license it. The price spent for the licensing rights was steep—estimates were as high as $500,000—but Broussard reasoned that it would save time used to write a game engine from scratch. Broussard and Miller were flush with cash from sale of Duke Nukem 3D and other games, so they decided to fund Duke Nukem Forever themselves, turning marketing and publishing rights over to GT Interactive.
In August and September, the first screenshots of Duke Nukem Forever were released in PC Gamer. However, 3D Realms did not receive the Quake II engine code until November 1997, and the earlier screenshots were mock-ups with the Quake engine that the team had made in their spare time. 3D Realms unveiled the first video footage of Duke Nukem Forever using the Quake II engine at the 1998 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) conference. The trailer showed Duke fighting on the back of a moving truck and firefights with aliens. While critics were impressed, Broussard was not happy with the progress being made.
Soon after the release of the Quake II engine, Epic Games had unveiled its own Unreal Engine. The Unreal Engine was more realistic than Quake II and was better suited to producing open spaces—3D Realms had been struggling to render the Nevada desert. Soon after E3, a programmer suggested that they make the switch. After discussions, the developers unanimously agreed to the change, which would mean scrapping much of their work so far, including significant changes 3D Realms had made to the Quake Engine. In June 1998, 14 months after the Quake II announcement, 3D Realms made the switch announcement. Broussard said that the game would not be "significantly delayed" by the switch, but that the project would be back to where it was at E3 "within a month to six weeks". Broussard also said that no content seen in the E3 trailer would be lost. Chris Hargrove, one of the game's programmers at the time, confided that the change amounted to a complete reboot of the project.
By the end of 1999, Duke Nukem Forever had missed several release dates and was largely unfinished; half the game's weapons remained concepts. Broussard shot back at criticisms of the game's lengthy development time as the price paid for developing complex modern games:
Today's games are MUCH more complex. In Duke Nukem 3D all the characters were sprites. Today they are polygonal models, have to be skinned, and then animated or motion captured. A very long, tedious and complex process. Also games today are "deeper" and require more than key/door stuff. That means more time to develop. Note all the so-so [first-person shooter] games that didn't sell well in the last two years and you will see that they were simple compared to more complex efforts like Half-Life. A game like Duke Nukem Forever is probably 5-10 times more complex than Duke Nukem 3D was.
A significant factor contributing to the game's protracted development was that Broussard was continually looking to add new elements to the game. A running joke at 3D Realms was to stop Broussard from seeing a new video game, as he would want to include portions of it in Duke Nukem Forever. Later that year Broussard decided to upgrade to a new version of the Unreal engine that was designed for multiplayer matches. Former employees recalled that Broussard did not have a plan for what the finished game would look like. At the same time, GT Interactive was facing higher-than-expected losses and hired Bear Stearns to look into selling the company or merging it. Later that year Infogrames Entertainment announced it was purchasing a controlling interest in GT Interactive. The publishing rights for Duke Nukem Forever passed to Gathering of Developers in early December 2000.
To placate anxious fans, Broussard decided to create another trailer for E3 2001—it was the first public look at the game in three years. The video showed a couple of minutes of in-game footage, which notably showed the player moving in a what appears to be Las Vegas and a certain level of interactivity (the player buys a sandwich from a vending machine and pushes each individual button on a keypad with Duke's outstretched finger). The trailer was impressive, and Duke Nukem was the talk of the convention; IGN reported on the games graphics that, "Characters come to life with picturesque facial animations that are synced perfectly with speech, hair that swings as they bob their heads, eyes that follow gazes, and more. The particle effects system, meanwhile, boasts impressive explosion effects with shimmering fire, shattered glass, and blood spilt in every direction [...] Add in real-time lighting effects, interactive environments, and a variation in locales unequaled in any other first-person shooter and you begin to see and understand why Duke Nukem Forever has been one of the most hotly anticipated titles over the last couple of years." Duke Nukem Forever looked as good or better than most games, and staff at 3D Realms recalled a sense of elation after the presentation; "The video was just being eaten up by people," one said. "We were so far ahead of other people at the time." While many of the staff expected Broussard to make a push for finishing the game, however, he still did not have a finished product in mind. Following the death of one of Gathering of Developers' co-founders and continuing financial problems, the publishers' Texas-based offices were shut down and absorbed into parent company Take-Two Interactive.
By 2003, only 18 people at 3D Realms were working on the game. One former employee said that Broussard and Miller were still operating on a "1995 mentality", before games became large-team, big budget development affairs. Because they were financing the project themselves, the developers could also ignore pressure from their publisher; their standard reply to when Duke Nukem Forever would ship was "when it's done". In 2003, Take-Two CEO Jeffrey Lapin reported that the game would not be out that year. He further said the company was writing off $5.5 million from its earnings due to Duke Nukem Forever's lengthy development time. Broussard shot back that "Take-Two needs to STFU ... We don’t want Take-Two saying stupid-ass things in public for the sole purposes of helping their stock. It's our time and our money we are spending on the game. So either we're absolutely stupid and clueless, or we believe in what we are working on." Later that year, Lapin said 3D Realms had told him that Duke Nukem Forever was expected to be finished by the end of 2004, or the beginning of 2005.
In 2004, video game website GameSpot reported that Duke Nukem Forever had switched to the Doom 3 engine. Many gaming news sites mailed Broussard, asking him to confirm or deny the rumor. After receiving no answer from him, they published the rumor as fact, but Broussard explicitly denied the rumor soon after. Soon after 3D Realms replaced the game's Karma physics system with one designed by Meqon, a relatively unknown Swedish firm. Closed-doors demonstrations of the technology suggested that the physics of Duke Nukem Forever would be a step up from the critically-acclaimed Half-Life 2. Rumors suggested that the game would appear at 2005 E3. While 3D Realms' previously-canceled Prey made an appearance, the rumors of Duke Nukem Forever's appearance proved false.
Broussard reported in a January 2006 interview that many of Duke Nukem Forever's elements had been finished; "we're just basically pulling it all together and trying to make it fun". Later that year Broussard demonstrated samples of the game, including an early level, a vehicle sequence, and a few test rooms. Among the features seen was the interactive use of an in-game computer to send actual e-mails. The developer seemed contrite and affected by the long delays; while a journalist demoed the game Broussard referenced note cards and constantly apologized for the state of the game. In filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Take-Two revealed they had renegotiated the Duke Nukem Forever deal, with the developer receiving $4.25 million instead of $6 million on release of the game. Take-Two offered a $500,000 bonus if Duke Nukem Forever was commercially released by December 31, 2006. However, Broussard denied the rumors that DNF would be released, saying that 3D Realms never cared for or asked for the bonus. He stated that he would "never ship a game early."
Some of the staff were tired of the delays—Duke Nukem Forever was the only 3D game many had worked on, giving them little to put on a resume, and as much of 3D Realms' payment hinged on profit-sharing after release, the continual delays meant deferred income. By August 2006, between 7–10 employees had left since 2005, a majority of the Duke Nukem Forever team (which in recent months had shrunk to around 18 staff). While Shacknews speculated that the departures would lead to further delays, 3D Realms denied the claims, stating that the employees had left over a number of months and that the game was still moving ahead. In fact creative director Raphael van Lierop, hired in 2007, played through the completed content and realized that there was more finished than he expected. Lierop told Broussard that he felt they could push the game and "blow everyone out of the water", but Broussard responded that the game was still two years away from completion.
The long delay strained Broussard and Miller's relationship, and by the end of 2006 Broussard appeared to become serious about shipping the title. On January 25 and May 22, 2007, Broussard posted two Gamasutra job ads with small screenshots of Duke Nukem and an enemy, which he later confirmed were real in-game screenshots. The team doubled in size within a short timeframe. Among the new hires was project lead Brian Hook, who became the first person to successfully resist Broussard's requests for modifications and changes.
A new video was released on December 19, 2007 claimed to be made by employees of 3D Realms during their spare time to show at the annual Christmas party. The announcement had also confirmed earlier speculation that composer Jeremy Soule (Total Annihilation, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Secret of Evermore, Prey, Guild Wars, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) had joined the team. George Broussard made clear that the video was a teaser, rather than a trailer. He noted that all other media related to Duke Nukem Forever was no longer relevant, including the trailer released in 2001.
Miller "confirmed" a 2008 release date in an email sent to the Dallas Business Journal on February 6, 2008, although this was reportedly "off the record", and as such, no official release date has yet been given to the public. Broussard later denounced the statement. It was suggested that the developers were pushing for a late-2008 release, but it was also stated that they "would probably miss it by a few months," leading to speculation that a 2009 release date would be the most accurate presumption. A small screenshot of an enemy character was displayed alongside one of Dallas Business Journal's articles on the game.
On June 5, 2008, in-game footage of the game was featured on the premiere episode of The Jace Hall Show. Filmed entirely on hand-held cameras but not originally expected to be publicly released, the video showed host Jason Hall playing through parts of a single level on a PC at 3D Realms' offices. The footage was confirmed to have been shot 6 months prior to the episode air date and according to Broussard, contained outdated particle and combat effects that had since been replaced.
Two unlockable screenshots were included with the September 24, 2008 release of Duke Nukem 3D on the Xbox Live Arcade. Located in the game's art gallery upon earning all of Duke Nukem 3D's achievements, one DNF screenshot featured a first person view of Duke reloading his pistol, while facing an Octabrain, with another in the distance in a dam. The other screenshot depicted a frontal close-up of Duke in a strip joint.
On January 12, 2009 George Broussard posted on his Twitter account "Game developers often say 'Cutting is shipping'. We begin this year with a vengeance and a chainsaw." This added speculation and a strengthened impression, particularly within the 3D Realms forums, that the game would be released in 2009.
While the game neared completion, the funding began to dry up. Having spent more than $20 million of their own money, Broussard and Miller asked Take-Two for $6 million to complete the game. According to Broussard and Miller, Take-Two initially agreed, but then only offered $2.5 million. Take-Two maintained that they offered $2.5 million up front and another $2.5 million on completion. Broussard rejected the counteroffer, and on May 6, 2009, suspended all development.
3D Realms laid off the DNF staff on May 8, 2009 due to lack of funding, but inside sources claim it will still operate as a smaller company. Publisher Take-Two Interactive, in response, stated that they still hold the publishing rights for Duke Nukem Forever, but they were not funding the game.
On May 7 and May 8, 2009, unreleased screenshots, concept art, pictures of models from the game and a goodbye message from 3D Realms were posted by alleged former employees. Similar leaks occurred on May 9, 10, 11, and 12. On May 9, 2009, an unofficial Duke Nukem Forever gameplay video was leaked by a user of the Duke4.net forums. According to the user, the video was to serve as a demo reel for animator Bryan Brewer (who had been working on the game with 3D Realms), and Brewer had been waiting for approval from George Broussard, former co-owner of 3D Realms, at the time of the leak. On May 10, 2009 a second demo reel showing some Duke Nukem Forever animation was also released. The same user of the Duke4.net forums later proceeded to release 28 screenshots and documents outlining the plot of the game. The 28 screenshots were taken from an employee's portfolio that was on LinkedIn.
Since then, G4TV and IGN journalists began speculating that the news of 3D Realms's apparent closure may actually be an elaborate viral marketing stunt. However, the real status of the company and the layoffs were confirmed by 3D Realms in a statement released on May 18, 2009.
On May 14, 2009, Take-Two filed a lawsuit against 3D Realms—known by its legal name in the case, Apogee Software Ltd—over their failure to complete Duke Nukem Forever, citing that they paid $12 million to Infogrames in 2000 to acquire the publishing rights. 3D Realms argues, however, that they never received that money, as it was a direct agreement between Infogrames and Take-Two. The lawsuit seems to be over a contractual breach, but not regarding the $12 million mentioned above. Take-Two has asked for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction, to make 3D Realms keep the Duke Nukem Forever assets intact during proceedings. The court denied Take-Two's request for a temporary restraining order.
As the court documents surfaced, it was also revealed that in 2007, 2K Games started working on a new Duke Nukem-related project, codenamed "Duke Begins", slated to be finished by mid-2010. Development was halted in the April of 2009, without the consent of Apogee—in their counterclaim, Apogee claimed that "Take-Two and 2K Games are taking such actions with a goal of pressuring Apogee to sell the Duke Nukem franchise rights to Take-Two for less than their true value."
In June of 2009, Apogee court filings stated "[3D Realms/Apogee Ltd.] admits that it has continually worked on the development of the DNF for many years, and continues to do so" as well as revealing that development halted on 'Duke Begins'. In December 2009, Apogee CEO Scott Miller clarified that "we've never said that Duke Nukem Forever has ceased development," explaining "yes, we released the internal team, but that doesn't correlate to the demise of the project." According to a recent interview with magazine Gamesauce, "3D Realms has laid off the game's internal development team, but still plans to most likely work with external development studios to develop the game."
Wired News has awarded Duke Nukem Forever its Vaporware Awards several times. It placed second in June 2000 and topped the list in 2001 and 2002. Wired created the Vaporware Lifetime Achievement Award exclusively for DNF and awarded it in 2003. George Broussard accepted the award, simply stating, "We're undeniably late and we know it." In 2004, the game did not make the top 10; Wired editors said that they had given DNF the Lifetime Achievement Award to get it off of the list. However, upon readers' demands, Wired changed its mind, and DNF won first place in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Wired staff officially considered removing DNF from their annual list, citing that "even the best jokes get old eventually", only to reconsider upon viewing the handheld camera footage of the game in The Jace Hall Show, awarding the game with first place once again. In 2009, Wired published Wired News' Vaporware Awards 2009: Duke Nukem Forever is not in list, but only because Wired decided to give a pass to it.
Duke Nukem Forever has drawn a number of jokes related to its development timeline. The video gaming media and public in general have routinely suggested several names in place of Forever, calling it "Never", "(Taking) Forever", "Whenever", "ForNever", "Neverever", and "If Ever".
Jason Hall, host of The Jace Hall Show, featured Duke Nukem Forever in the show's premiere episode on June 4, 2008 and described his hands-on play experience with the game as "perfect", ending the segment with "I saw it. They have been working. It's not a myth. You're going to be pleased." In a subsequent interview with 1UP.com on June 5, 2008, Jason Hall described the game as "amazing" with the summation, "This might be the only game in history worth waiting 12 years for, perhaps longer.... It was good."
The game has been ridiculed as Duke Nukem: Forever In Development, "the longest game ever in production" and "an elaborate in-joke at the expense of the industry".
|Portal: Shooters||Duke Nukem Forever at
Duke Nukem Wiki
|Duke Nukem Forever|
|Publisher(s)||Take 2 Interactive|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
|Age rating(s)||ESRB: RP|
|Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough|
Duke Nukem Forever is the oft-delayed sequel to 3D Realms' First-Person Shooter, Duke Nukem 3D, staring 3D Realms' controversal character, Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997 on the Quake II engine and then was switched to the Unreal Engine in 1998. Since that time, it has been rumoured that the game has gone through multiple iterations. Duke Nukem Forever has gained a high level of infamy due to it's long development time and repeated delays, and has become the butt of many online jokes.
The game was supposed to take place in Las Vegas, and would feature the return of Dr. Proton, the villian from the original Duke Nukem. There was also supposed to be a new female character, Bombshell, said to be Duke's equal. Not much else is known about the game and 3D Realms has been tight lipped about it's development; having only released a few handfuls of screen shots, and two gameplay movies: One released in 1998, using the Quake II based game, and one in 2001 using the Unreal game engine. The only recent news about DNF is that 3D Realms recently has added a new physics middleware engine, Meqon, to the game. The physics are apparently going to surpass those found in Half-Life 2.
"We're confident that DNF will be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, game of 1998. And this confidence is not misplaced." - Scott Miller, 1997
"Duke Nukem Forever is a 1999 game and we think that timeframe matches very well with what we have planned for the game." - George Broussard, 1998
"Trust us, Duke Nukem Forever will rock when it comes out next year." - Joe Siegler, 1999
"When it's done in 2001." - 2000 Christmas card
"DNF will come out before Unreal 2." - George Broussard, 2001
"If DNF is not out in 2001, something's very wrong." - George Broussard, 2001
"DNF will come out before Doom 3." - George Broussard, 2002
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|Duke Nukem series|
|Duke Nukem I | Duke Nukem II |Duke Nukem 3D | Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project | Duke Nukem Forever (in development)|
|Duke Nukem 64 | Duke Nukem: Zero Hour | Duke Nukem: Time to Kill | Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes | Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown|
|Duke Nukem (Game Boy Color) | Duke Nukem Advance|
|Duke Nukem 1 and 2 Equipment | DN3D Equipment | Duke Nukem 3D monsters
Duke Nukem: Endangered Species