Duke Nukem Forever Designers Speak Out

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Duke Nukem Forever Designers Speak Out

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Former employees of 3D Realms explained why Duke Nukem Forever took forever: too many resources, overwhelming perfectionism and the lack of a deadline.

In May of 2009, it was announced that all development on Duke Nukem Forever ceased. 3D Realms had been making the game since 1997, under the helm of lead designer George Broussard. Despite showing well at trade shows and possessing a rabid fanbase, Duke Nukem Forever never materialized and there was never a clear reason why. 3D Realms is now being sued by Take Two for never delivering the game so Broussard has refused to speak with the press about the process. However, former employees, some anonymously, discussed with Wired their experiences at 3D Realms and their opinions on why DNF eventually failed.

The staff had a running joke to not let Broussard play any new game, because he would invariably want to incorporate elements of it into DNF. "One day George started pushing for snow levels," said an anonymous employee. "He had seen The Thing and he wanted it." Another employee claimed that after Half-Life came out, Broussard entered the office praising the opening narrative sequence and said, "Oh my God, we have to have that in Duke Nukem Forever."

"George's genius was realizing where games were going and taking it to the next level," says Paul Schuytema, who worked on Prey with Broussard. "That was his sword and his Achilles' heel. He'd rather throw himself on his sword and kill himself than have the game be bad."

Broussard was also in a unique position after the success of Duke Nukem 3D: 3D Realms had a lot of money. The company had so much money in the bank to continue development that it might have stifled the desire to ship the game. "One day, Broussard came in and said, 'We could go another five years without shipping a game'" one employee said. "He seemed really happy about that. The other people just groaned." Another developer said, "I was hoping for George to come in and say, 'OK, that was great, we got what we wanted, let's get this done now! But he never did."

Then there was the constant rebooting of the project whenever a new game engine was released. 3D Realms licensed the Quake II engine in 1997 for a reported $500,000. When the Unreal engine was released a few months later, they decided to use that one instead. "It was effectively a reboot of the project in many respects," said former programmer Chris Hargrove. DNF switched engines again in 1999 when new Unreal engine came out.

12 years is an eternity in game development and the lack of any clear direction from Broussard seems to have been a major cause of the delay. It's a tragedy for the creator, but I feel worse for the other artists who worked on a game that will most likely never get played. Imagine a movie that spends 12 years being edited or a play that rehearses for 12 years without ever being seen. Those contributors put a lot into the project with almost nothing to show for it but some crazy anecdotes about the mad genius that was their boss.

Source: Wired

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...So it took so long because those guys were IDIOTS.
You're not making a giant masterpiece, you're making fucking duke nukem.

Pardon me for saying this, but that's not genius. That's stupidity.

If you're taking 12 years to make something that never even ...exists...

Let's put it this way, if you were playing WoW for 12 years, 40+ hours a week, and at the end of it, someone deletes your character - would you be hailed as a genius or a social outcast?

I'm sure he has some great ideas but... Twelve Years? People get less than that for murder.

Even Blizzard can't top that lol.

Oh wait...

Synecdoche, Duke Nukem

A sad, misguided tale indeed.

That sucks

The_root_of_all_evil:
Pardon me for saying this, but that's not genius. That's stupidity.

If you're taking 12 years to make something that never even ...exists...

Let's put it this way, if you were playing WoW for 12 years, 40+ hours a week, and at the end of it, someone deletes your character - would you be hailed as a genius or a social outcast?

I'm sure he has some great ideas but... Twelve Years? People get less than that for murder.

...well you could just ticket a GM to get your character restored ;>

Kinda sad that they wasted all that time on nothing.

All that money, talent and dedication gone to waste... While they could be working on something else...

Why are you people still giving any attention to them? They wasted time of hundreds of Duke Nukem fans and money of investors. They deserve to be laughed at and ignored.

Being over-ambitious is never a good thing.

Truly a shame. It's almost sad.

Elesar:
...So it took so long because those guys were IDIOTS.
You're not making a giant masterpiece, you're making fucking duke nukem.

ahh you just contradicted yourself.

Oh wells thank god for Postal 3 and Doom 4 :D

3D Realms, there's no fucking excuse for having a game in-development for 12 goddamned years. 12 fucking years? No. You guys weren't perfectionists, you guys weren't over-achievers, you guys were lazy. You didn't fucking work on the game, you pissed around. And so I was glad when you went under, and that Take Two is suing you. Serves you right for jerking around for so damned long.

WanderFreak:
Synecdoche, Duke Nukem

A sad, misguided tale indeed.

Someone could make a "Tropic Thunder"-esque movie about DNF, it'd be great.

Well...its dead now, unfortunatly. Long rest Duke Nukem and the game we will never have.

Greg Tito:
...but I feel worse for the other artists who worked on a game that will most likely never get played.

THats what you feel bad about?

How about the fact that these guys have spent a decade with nothing to put on their resumes!!!?

Who is going to hire them now? Out of pity!!?!

Lack of a dead line?

Did anyone ever think of saying "Ummm.... Guys, dont you think we should do something?"

From the sounds of it, they tried too hard to make DNF "the next big thing," and just couldn't stand to see game after game defeat them in the department of innovative gameplay. It's actually quite a tragedy, when you think about it. What a waste of effort.

Elesar:
So it took so long because those guys were IDIOTS.
You're not making a giant masterpiece, you're making fucking Duke Nukem.

Did you even read the fucking article? The folks at 3D Realms are hardly idiots (well, maybe their boss was), just really unfortunate. And yes, while Duke Nukem may have the simplest premise in the world, a tremendous amount of work goes into making video games, and from the looks of it, these guys tried really hard to make a perfect game. Even if their efforts were placed towards creating what we call a "generic FPS," I'll show support to any team of developers that actually TRIES to do something.

Duke Nukem Forever. The extreme opposite of KotOR 2. There are times like these that the publisher whip is necessary. I feel absolutely no kind of sympathy for him. He should have known how stupid is to develop a single game for so many years where in that space, he could have created 6.

Someone forward this to Valve, stat.

redmarine:
Even Blizzard can't top that lol.

Oh wait...

Their working on that, don't worry...

This sheds some light on the subject at least.

that's stupidity on a massive scale, i can see why it failed and we never saw anything on good old Duke Nukem Fornever

Oh, well 'tis a shame for being an overachiever I guess?

The_root_of_all_evil:
Pardon me for saying this, but that's not genius. That's stupidity.

If you're taking 12 years to make something that never even ...exists...

Let's put it this way, if you were playing WoW for 12 years, 40+ hours a week, and at the end of it, someone deletes your character - would you be hailed as a genius or a social outcast?

I'm sure he has some great ideas but... Twelve Years? People get less than that for murder.

well i have nothing to say to 3D Realms besides you guys suck f you D=<

(i actually never heard of duke nukem until 8 years had gone by =D)

Well, if he wanted to keep up with the latest trends, gaming has seen its revolution since 1997. We have dem montion controllers nao. All purdy. So, I'm shocked it didn't become a Wii game for a few minutes there.

Oh 3D Realms, it's so easy to make fun of you for wasting 12 years developing a game that you never finished.

And Broussard, you're a moron.

You know what the best part is? In that time and for that amount of money they could have made their own engine and if they made it good enough people would be paying THEM for it!

Think about it for a minute. The game fell through because the guy in charge always wanted to buy the best engine as soon as it came out. By the time they started working, a new one came out and since he wanted his game to use the cutting edge, he'd buy that one and start over again. The only way he could have broken the cycle was to make his own cutting edge engine, but I guess that never occured to him...

They were trying to make the perfect game.

It was inevitably doomed to fail.

I was really hoping that once this project was finally put down it would no longer bother us with stories related to it. I guess that was too much to hope for.

In other news Half Life ep3 is being released next week. Seriously though do you know what would be the biggest kick in the nuts to these guys?They sell the Duke Nukem license and within a year another game company makes it the next Halo that every other FPS tries to copy,holy shit if that happened to me id kill myself

Wait, wait, wait...

Is there anyone to stop Duke Nukem mods for other games now? =D

And is there any way we can get our hands on the unfinished DNF game files? I could have sworn there was leaked video of a playable alpha/beta.

they got the title wrong it's duke nukem fornever

Abedeus:
Why are you people still giving any attention to them? They wasted time of hundreds of Duke Nukem fans and money of investors. They deserve to be laughed at and ignored.

Read the article, there was no investor money. It was all their own.

They wasted ALL the money they made off of Duke Nukem 3D. The developers were earning way below average pay for their field because they were promised "profit-sharing" of end product.

The tragedy is that 18 people spent all this time and its for nothing. No one is gonna hire them. There only hope now is to hit it big in Indie...

HUBILUB:
Being over-ambitious is never a good thing.

Truly a shame. It's almost sad.

I second that notion.

From an artistic perspective, I feel for the employees; having to work so long on a project only for it to blow up right in front of your face. I imagine it'll be hard for the various artists, designers, and programmers to recover after that.

AceDiamond:

WanderFreak:
Synecdoche, Duke Nukem

A sad, misguided tale indeed.

Someone could make a "Tropic Thunder"-esque movie about DNF, it'd be great.

I'm like to see more of a "Lost in La Mancha" style movie. Perhaps directed by Broussard so he can salvage something of the project. Perhaps "Lost in Los Angeles"?

Well, Duke Nuken is an orphan franchise now. Someone could adopt it, don't you think?

Hey, Bethesda!!!Are you there??

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