Duke Nukem Forever

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Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem Forever artwork
Developer(s) 3D Realms
Publisher(s) Take-Two
Engine Unreal Engine 2 (heavily modified)[1]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows[2]
Release date(s) "When it's done"[3]
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Input methods Keyboard and mouse, Gamepad

Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) is a first-person shooter being developed by 3D Realms. It follows Duke Nukem 3D as the next game in 3D Realms' Duke Nukem series and is being directed by one of the creators of the original Duke Nukem game, George Broussard. 3D Realms has not set a release date for the game, instead insisting the game will be released "when it's done".[3]

The game is touted for its "unprecedented interactivity", aiming to "push the limits of gaming and establish new standards in interactivity, variety, and pure fun." [4] Duke Nukem Forever is best known for its severely protracted development schedule and is often declared either "the longest game ever in production or an elaborate in-joke at the expense of the industry".[5] DNF was officially first announced in April 1997, and promotional information for the game was released in one form or another in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, and, most recently, in December 2008. Due to this, the game has been subject to intense speculation and has won several vaporware awards.


[edit] Plot

The plot of Duke Nukem Forever has been presented through newly released footage and screenshots. 3D Realms released trailers at the 1998 and 2001 E3 conventions and screenshots between those years. However, as DNF has gone through extensive changes since its last trailer, the plot is currently not known in its entirety.

The status of several secondary characters also remains unclear.The 2001 trailer shows an alien invasion in Las Vegas. It features Duke fighting with several weapons. Duke fights the aliens in many areas: a mine, some rural areas, the streets of Las Vegas, on water, and indoor areas.[6]

As of 2003, the 3D Realms website states that "the screenshots and videos that were there have been removed as they no longer represent the game's current look and feel."[3]

In 2008, Miller confirmed that the plot involves a retired Duke, who owns a Casino known as "The Lady Killer," which comes under attack from aliens.[7]

[edit] Development history

Screenshot of Duke Nukem Forever from 1999.

Duke Nukem Forever was officially announced on April 28, 1997 along with the purchase of a license to use the Quake II engine[8][9] and the intention of releasing the game no later than mid-1998.[10] Original prototype work on the game had begun as early as January. In August and September, the first screenshots of DNF were released in PC Gamer. In its November issue, Scott Miller restated that the intended release date was 1998. However, 3D Realms did not get the Quake II engine code until November 1997, and the earlier screenshots were simply mock-ups with the Quake engine that the team had made in their spare time.[11] 3D Realms unveiled the first video footage of DNF using the Quake II engine at the 1998 E3 conference.[12]

[edit] Change to Unreal engine

In June 1998, the 3D Realms team switched to Epic's Unreal Engine.[13] Fans were concerned because switching game engines requires more development time and further delays the release of the game. Broussard said that the transition from the Quake to the Unreal engine would take from "a month to 6 weeks" and that the game would not be significantly delayed. He also reassured gamers that the items unveiled in the May 1998 E3 demo would carry over on the Epic engine. He also said that DNF would be released in 1999.[13]

In 1999, 3D Realms announced that they had upgraded to the newer version of the Unreal Engine. They released a second batch of screenshots on November 1 that showcased Duke Nukem Forever on the Unreal engine for the first time.[14] In December, 3D Realms released a Christmas card that suggested that DNF would be released in 2000.[15]

In early December 2000, publisher Gathering of Developers announced that they had acquired the publishing rights for DNF.[16] Shortly afterwards, 3D Realms released another Christmas card that suggested that DNF would be released in 2001.[17]

At the May 2001 E3, 3D Realms released a second video that showed a couple of minutes of in-game footage[6], 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 pushing the keypads). In August, Gathering of Developers shut down its offices and Take-Two Interactive took over the publishing rights for DNF.[18]

In 2002, after hiring several new programmers, the team completely rewrote the renderer and other game engine modules, beginning work on a new generation of game content. Broussard estimated that around 95% of the previous level design work was scrapped in the process. He also later stated that they were never less than two years away from shipping with the UT based version of the game. The engine, which now contains parts of an early version of Unreal Engine 2.0 (the team branched off from the engine in 2001) supports such features as pixel shading, normal mapping and high dynamic range based lighting.[19][20]

Broussard has stated several times that the only parts of the Unreal engine that are still part of their code base are UnrealScript, the networking code, and the UnrealEd. Everything else (except the current physics engine) has been written from scratch by 3D Realms. The principal technical reason given by Broussard for the extensive delays was the unstable tech base. Once it was stabilized, 3D Realms expanded their team considerably, from 22 to 31 members.[citation needed]

[edit] Physics engine switch

On September 14, 2004, 3D Realms announced that they had replaced the Karma physics engine with one designed by Meqon. Several sites have speculated that Duke Nukem Forever will be using the latest generation of this technology, which was designed for next-gen consoles.[21]

[edit] Conflict with Take-Two

On May 20, 2003, Jeffrey Lapin, then CEO of Take Two, told reporters that the game would not be out by the end of 2003.[22] In response, George Broussard commented on Shacknews, saying that "Take Two needs to STFU imo."[23] Later in the year, on December 18, 2003, Jeffrey Lapin said that 3D Realms had told him that Duke Nukem Forever was expected to be finished by the end of 2004, or the beginning of 2005.[18]

On September 9, 2004, GameSpot reported that Duke Nukem Forever had switched to the Doom 3 engine.[24] Many gaming news sites mailed George Broussard, asking him to confirm or deny the rumor. After receiving no answer from him, they published the rumor as fact, ending the article with "Attempts to contact 3D Realms for comment were unsuccessful as of press time." Later that day, George Broussard explicitly denied the rumor and explained that he was not able to answer the emails because he was working elsewhere in the building.[24]

On March 20, 2007, Scott Miller explained in an interview with YouGamers that they were still using the Unreal Engine, albeit a heavily modified version at this point.[25]

[edit] 2005-2007

Rumors in April 2005 suggested that the game would appear at 2005 E3, along with 3D Realms' previously canceled Prey. While Prey did make an appearance, the rumors of Duke Nukem Forever's appearance turned out to be false.[26]

In February 2006, Broussard gave an interview and updated the status on DNF. He reported that everything was together and in full production, and that the guns, creatures, and everything else had been finished. Broussard said that the development team was tweaking and polishing the game and putting it all together.[27]

In April 2006, Broussard demonstrated samples of the game, including an early level, a vehicle sequence, and a few test rooms.[28] One notable[29] demonstration, according to the May 2006 issue[30] of Computer Games magazine featured the interactive use of an in-game computer to send actual e-mails.[31]

On March 21, 2006, 3D Realms CEO Scott Miller talked of a sequel by stating, "of course as soon as Duke is done we'll begin a new one."[32]

In June, in a filing with the SEC, Take-Two revealed that they had renegotiated the deal and will receive $4.25 million instead of $6 million upon the release of the game.[33] The filing also revealed that Take-Two was offering a $US 500,000 bonus if DNF was commercially released by December 31, 2006.[34] 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."[35]

On August 30, 2006, Shacknews reported that several key employees had left 3D Realms.[36] They speculated that the departures would lead to further delays for DNF. However, 3D Realms strongly denied these claims, stating that the employees had left over a number of months and that the game was still moving ahead.[37]

[edit] 2007-present

Duke Nukem Forever 2007 teaser screenshot

On January 25, 2007 and May 22, 2007, George Broussard posted two Gamasutra job ads with small (200x125 pixel) screenshots of Duke Nukem holding two guns and an enemy (mutated pig). Broussard later confirmed that these were real in-game screenshots.[38][39]

In July 2007, Game Informer released two new, low-res screenshots, one of which appears to be a previously unseen shot of an in-game level, the other being the front shot of Duke seen in the first 2007 screen, but from a slightly different angle.[40]

A new video was released[41][42] on December 19, 2007 claimed to be made by employees of 3D Realms during their spare time to show at the annual Christmas party.[43] 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: 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, and that a brand-new trailer would be released in the coming months. Broussard also confirmed that the video was shot real-time from the game, with the exception of some introduction and ending shots.[44] As of Thursday February 7, 2008, an official teaser trailer is available for download.

3D Realms has made it clear there is no set release date for the game and any shops claiming to have "insider" information are lying.[3]

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.[45] 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.[46] A small screenshot of an enemy character was displayed alongside one of Dallas Business Journal's articles on the game.[47]

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[48], the video showed host Jason Hall playing through parts of a single level[49] on a PC at 3D Realms' offices. The footage was confirmed to have been shot 6 months prior[50] to the episode air date and according to Broussard, contained outdated particle and combat effects that had since been replaced.[51]

Another job ad update for "Level Designers or Programmers" appeared on June 20, 2008 at Gamasutra featuring a thumbnail-sized, in-game screenshot of Duke Nukem Forever. It depicted an updated model of Duke Nukem wielding a pistol and pipebomb in his hands, posed within a daylight outdoor environment. The job ad was later carried on the 3D Realms website.[52]

Duke Nukem Forever was also absent from 2008's E3. Prior to the event, Scott Miller, the CEO of 3D Realms, described E3 as "irrelevant."[53]

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.[54]

On December 18, 2008 a wallpaper image of several Duke Nukem Forever enemies was released by 3D Realms as a Christmas present to fans.[55] The picture, with lighting and models all from an in-game shot,[56] featured six different enemy creatures including two larger boss-like characters. Interactive details were revealed at this time in a comment by George Broussard, who stated that the depicted armor is bolted on enemy characters that wear it and could be blasted off with guns.[57] A similar but partial image was earlier revealed as a Christmas gift wrapping in a twitter update by George Broussard, taken at 3D Realms' annual Christmas party gift exchange.[58]

On January 12th, 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."[59] This has added speculation and a strengthened impression, particularly within the 3D Realms forums, that the game will be released in 2009.[60] On February 11, 2009, he also posted a photo of a bug list.[61]

On March 9, a website emerged which seems to be for Duke Nukem Forever containing screenshots and a contest to find the next Duke Nukem.[62]

[edit] Press coverage

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.[63][64][65] 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."[66] 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.[67] However, upon readers' demands, Wired changed its mind, and DNF won first place in 2005, 2006 and 2007.[68][69][70] 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.[71]

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". Many fans have noted that the game's initials also stand for Did Not Finish.[72]

When the GameSpy editors compiled a list of the "Top 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming History" in June 2003, Duke Nukem Forever placed #18.[73] Zero Punctuation critic Ben Croshaw has noted that perhaps a decade of anticipation might raise the bar for the game to unreachable levels, saying, "I just hope that 3D Realms understands that if this game doesn't turn out to be history's greatest contribution to human culture and the cure for at least one type of cancer, I and every other reviewer on earth are going to saw its bollocks off."[74].

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're working on it. It's not a myth. You will be pleased." Hall also jokingly asked Broussard and Miller in the interview segment "with the most love anyone could possibly [ask the question]: what the fuck is taking so long?", to which Broussard joked, "There's of course been the hookers and the cocaine, there's been a lot of mistakes, and a lot of lessons we had to learn, and most of all there's been a lot of World of Warcraft." [75] 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."[76]

[edit] References

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