Ex-3D Realms Head Lost "$20-30 Million" on Duke Nukem Forever

Ex-3D Realms Head Lost "$20-30 Million" on Duke Nukem Forever

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Gearbox Software honcho Randy Pitchford estimates that 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard lost $20-30 million of his own money trying to finish Duke Nukem Forever.

"There was bad news in May 2009. You all saw the stories; 3D Realms was shutting down, Duke was dead," Pitchford said this morning, reflecting on the end of 3D Realms' long, ugly and futile effort to get Duke Nukem Forever out the door.

"I spoke to George Broussard and he said, 'Randy, this is the worst day of my life,' but you could hear in his voice there was more," he continued. "This was 12 years of his life... Try and imagine what you've achieved in 12 years. Gearbox has made 15 games in that time."

Nor is time the only thing Broussard lost to the Duke Nukem escapade; an awful lot of money went down the drain too. "George Broussard is not a poor man but I would estimate that he lost 20 to 30 million dollars of his own money on Duke Nukem Forever. I don't care who you are, that's a hell of a lot of money," Pitchford said. "He was committed to Duke to the point of insanity... and now Duke was dead."

"He decided he would rather have it burn than have a bad version of the game come out," he added.

That's all well and good, but that in the end, neither happened: Duke Nukem Forever didn't come out but 3D Realms kept sputtering along, doing God knows what - while Gearbox, let us not forget, was busy punching out more than a dozen games. It's unfortunate for Broussard that he sunk that much money into a pit, but it just makes the question of what happened even more pressing. All that time, all those millions upon millions of investment funds and Broussard's own money: Where did it all go?

Source: CVG

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I feel sorry for the guy. Even though that maybe wasn't the smartest business decision.

Once they release the game it would be really cool to see what they did, sort of like a bonus on the DVD or something.

I think it is sad that you can waste 12 years of your life, not to mention the money, and have literaly nothing to show for it.

Respect to the man for his standards though, I wish a few current developers had the good release or burn attitude.

20 to 30 million dollars can buy a lot of crack!

There must be something seriously wrong with 3D realms. Games take a long time like Half 2 Episode 3 but the there is Duke Nukem Forever. I don't care how obsessive you are about design, no game should take 12 years to design.

Also, what the fuck were the budgeting comity and the share holders doing for 12 yeas, not saying "finish the fucking game"?

It wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't quality issues involved but legal issues and serious incompetence in the company. Any director with sanity would have dropped an unfinished game by about 3 years

hah, if they had $20-30 mill dropped on the, I would have liked to be on that dev team!

It went to pony rides of course.

The best pony rides in the world.

Bretty:
Once they release the game it would be really cool to see what they did, sort of like a bonus on the DVD or something.

I think it is sad that you can waste 12 years of your life, not to mention the money, and have literaly nothing to show for it.

Respect to the man for his standards though, I wish a few current developers had the good release or burn attitude.

what?? you seriously want to see a bunch of guys sleeping, staring at brightly collored pictures and giving each other piggy rides???

come on!!

I wonder how this game will sell though. I hope it sells through the roof(probably will regardless because of its status), because as Yahtzee pointed out once, modern shooters could do with a little of the Duke spirit.

Hmmm, well "where did that money go" is a good question to ask the game industry in general since they are close lipped about it. When I sit here and criticize the industry that is one of the first questions I tend to bring up, along with questioning how much these guys pay themselves out of that money, since those huge budgets are how they justify keeping games so expensive for us consumers and the need to keep trying to gouge more and more money.

Given that this information isn't reliably released, it's not surprising a producer got bilked for millions due to the blinders, especially if he was both a fanatic about a product, and never bothered to periodically check with the people he was paying to see what they were actually doing while continueing to pass out checks.

In the case of Duke Nukem, I've been wondering if the press involved might have been part of a bigger game, making it look like there is some kind of legal wrangling going on, where that money was being used for something other than game development. I have no idea what of course, and it's ridiculously paranoid, but when I think of 30 million disappearing with little more than some whining and a song and dance, I think of funding some kind of goverment operation or whatever... as silly as that might sound.

Still, it will be kind of cool if we ever do get some reasonable answers to this, since like most games the meat of the budget is going to go to human resources. Despite going out of business I can't help but wonder what the personal bank accounts of some of those 3d realms guys look like.

"That's a lotta hooch!"... Poor guy. That's a lot of time and money for literally nothing.

With creativity... sometimes things just click. Sometimes they don't. I guess this is the case where it MUST click (or die), but it struck the unclick note very early.

The thing must have been polished to hell and back... it just better be.

for how often the game kept changing they needed someone there to say finish the fucking game you cant do this or that. really its kinda pathetic that it went on that long

So... What happened?! It's a crying shame to lose 12 years of your life and 20-30 million dollars, no question. But I can't exactly give my unreserved sympathies; I'm pretty sure that I could get something out the door, given twelve years and twenty million dollars.

Andy Chalk:

Nor is time the old thing Broussard lost to the Duke Nukem escapade;

Pretty sure that was meant to read "only", not old.

Well, that puts it into a slightly new perspective.

Of course, the demise of Duke Nukem Forever is not that tragic, but a developer I like trying to get a game finished and losing all of his own money is.

So, rejoice, George, it is coming out. And it's not going to be worth it.

After seeing that footage with Pitchford goofing off in front of the screen, I really want to know. How much did Gearbox do and how much was done by 3D Realms?

Wow o.o I have major respect for him using that much money to get it off the ground - but question is where did it all go!?

Thing is its not like the game is going to the cutting edge of all FPS. I do not get where all that money was spent, maybe they bought to many whores and cocaine binges at their meetings. Especially as, compared to FPS games that are released now, Duke Nukem will be an average game at best regardless of all the hype.

And thank god they didn't just trundle it out at the last minute in an attempt to make some money back, because that recent footage makes it seem like Forever might actually be kind of... well.... good. Bizarre, I know. I'm not even a Duke Nukem fan, either...

I wonder if that 20-30 million was in addition to other funds. In any case it's a lot of cash. Got to admire his commitment to quality. At the same time though, you gotta wonder what the heck was going on. Seems to me that after couple of years someone would have asked "what's going wrong here? This should have been finished. What could we do to get this on track?" followed up by a working sollution and a bit more of development time. Very few games have been in development for even half this time, most of which had small development teams or had a mountian of a task ahead of them (like the polygon perfect replicas of all the cars, all the tracks, and all the other stuff they had to do to recreate the most realistic experience they could for the new Grand Turismo). I'm looking forward to The Duke's next romp, just baffled as to why it wasn't sooner.

The only explanation I can think of is 20 million dollars worth of fancy TVs to line the walls, floors and ceilings, while they sat around staring at a picture of Duke trying to come up with an idea while eating 12 course lobster dishes every day.

I guess we'll find out if it was worth it after the game launches.

SPOILER ALERT: It wasn't.

in responce to the "What were they doing for 15 years?" questions, they had a hand in the Max payne series and the excellent Prey (and that took 10 years). Still dnf has literally been a black hole for cash. I really hope DNF shines through despite not being a fan of the series and like many others i'd like to see how much of the game will be 3d realms Vs gearbox.

"He was committed to Duke to the point of insanity..."

Insanity's as good a word as any to describe it. And don't forget that 20-30 million was just what this guy lost PERSONALLY, it doesn't include all of the other money they burned through in the process.

I admire his dedication, but not his wasteful spending.
The late 90s inspired more than one extremely ambitious company to create an industry boob.
*cough Daikatana cough*

Even though I was never really a Duke fan--I know--I'm horrible. But its sad to read about any game receiving this amount of money, time, and dedication and never even getting to see the light of day.

Rest in peace duke, with your $30 million coffin.

Wow. Just wow. The amount of ignorance and lack of understanding flowing around these comments is astounding.

Come on now, think it through, break it down, imagine you are playing a game and that game is like a Sim City or whatever, where your objective is to run a game software development business that releases your ideal game. Ok, first off, you are a extremely wealthy private citizen, so you don't have to go begging your budget from a Publisher but you do need to have a market for your product, so you strike a deal with them to be the people who put it in the brick N mortar retail space. Then you buy/rent office space, perhaps just buy the property and have the building constructed to your own specific needs and wants. You are now paying all the utilities, property taxes, and maintenance of this building and property, congrats. Now you fill it with equipment, software and skilled people - that is in order of cost. Software will have upfront and long term licensing costs, its like a subscription fee for WOW after you bought the box off a retail shelf, and then your biggest cost is going to be salaries for those skilled people, especially if you want to be competitive against what other places are offering so you have the best and keep them. That means people of all different kinds. Now pay that for 12 years mostly from your own pocket because you are just that rich because people love games, especially your last ones back in the day. Do the math, 20 to 30 million divided by 12 years averages out to approximately 2 million per year of George Broussard's own bank account. While hat man certainly paid a steep price of his own sweat and treasure to realize his obsessive gaming dream, 1.8 to 2.5 million USD a year for all those costs added up is actually relatively cheap when compared to the costs others in our world incur keeping their businesses (properties and people) running.

And I am willing to bet a significant portion of the assets that make up the game Gearbox Software under Randy Pitchford say they will be shipping is stuff developed by 3D Realms under George Broussard since they hired on people who worked under him. Ugh, Duke isn't dead yet.

There is certainly a story there though and probably a lesson or two for others who want to one day release their ideal gaming experience as game developers. I hope there is a documentary or something, I know I would purchase a viewing of that, in say DVD form.

My guess for what happened was in the beginning they hired their design team and started making the back end, graphics physics all that jazz, then they hired the writers.

Then, as they we're trying to hammer out a good the story and gameplay mechanics, there we're several really good advances in graphics, storage, and processing power that made a lot of things possible and simultaneously made their current back end outdated and completely worthless.

So rather than wait for all the story, and gameplay, to be story boarded and thought out they told their developers to upgrade their engine. Which inevitably meant several completely new engines over the coarse of 12 years. As well as remaking with better graphics everything they may have already finished.

Let's remember, 12 years ago the PS2 was just announced by Sony as in development and wasn't released in japan until the end of 1999. Computer processors where around 600Mhz speeds and windows 97 was the best Operating System. Jump forward to today and new games demand at least a 2Ghz dual core to run at full specs. Hell my iPod has a 1Ghz processor.

I see this as a classic example of hammer out what you want to do completely then hire a full team to do it, don't just pay people to sit on their ass redoing the same thing over and over while you decide what constitutes a good game. Look at Halo, I guarantee you 90% of the story was done before bungie ever started putting that first game together.

Or, have your developers work on several projects at once so you can make multiple games off of the same back end while generating revenue, reputation, and the design of your opus.

To sum it up I don't feel sorry for the dolt that spent 30 mil wasting time.

I hope nobody expects me to feel sorry for George Broussard. Clearly he sucks at his job, sinking 20-30 million dollars into one damn game but not being able to get a product out the door? What kind of company are you running there, George? Maybe it's time to get out of the way and let somebody who knows what the fuck they're doing take over, because you clearly can't get your studio to get a game out.

newwiseman:
windows 97 was the best Operating System.

Windows 98, there was no Windows 97 ;)

CanadianWolverine:
Wow. Just wow. The amount of ignorance and lack of understanding flowing around these comments is astounding.

Come on now, think it through, break it down, imagine you are playing a game and that game is like a Sim City or whatever, where your objective is to run a game software development business that releases your ideal game. Ok, first off, you are a extremely wealthy private citizen, so you don't have to go begging your budget from a Publisher but you do need to have a market for your product, so you strike a deal with them to be the people who put it in the brick N mortar retail space. Then you buy/rent office space, perhaps just buy the property and have the building constructed to your own specific needs and wants. You are now paying all the utilities, property taxes, and maintenance of this building and property, congrats. Now you fill it with equipment, software and skilled people - that is in order of cost. Software will have upfront and long term licensing costs, its like a subscription fee for WOW after you bought the box off a retail shelf, and then your biggest cost is going to be salaries for those skilled people, especially if you want to be competitive against what other places are offering so you have the best and keep them. That means people of all different kinds. Now pay that for 12 years mostly from your own pocket because you are just that rich because people love games, especially your last ones back in the day. Do the math, 20 to 30 million divided by 12 years averages out to approximately 2 million per year of George Broussard's own bank account. While hat man certainly paid a steep price of his own sweat and treasure to realize his obsessive gaming dream, 1.8 to 2.5 million USD a year for all those costs added up is actually relatively cheap when compared to the costs others in our world incur keeping their businesses (properties and people) running.

And I am willing to bet a significant portion of the assets that make up the game Gearbox Software under Randy Pitchford say they will be shipping is stuff developed by 3D Realms under George Broussard since they hired on people who worked under him. Ugh, Duke isn't dead yet.

There is certainly a story there though and probably a lesson or two for others who want to one day release their ideal gaming experience as game developers. I hope there is a documentary or something, I know I would purchase a viewing of that, in say DVD form.

I think if I was playing this Sim City styled game, and I didn't get this game out that I was supposed to be making after 12 years, there would surely be some kind of game over screen in there somewhere. Clearly the UFO would have come in and fucked up my building, or the flood would have drowned all my employees or something like that, because clearly I have failed on a massive level.

Meanwhile all the other game companies around me who get their games out in a timely manner seem to be doing a lot better than me, and I become the laughing stock among all of us. Seems about right, yeah?

mjc0961:

newwiseman:
windows 97 was the best Operating System.

Windows 98, there was no Windows 97 ;)

win97 (aka windows 95 orc2, windows memphsis) was renamed to 98 because it came out late, a few manufactures released machines that had the window 97 digital branding, like my horrible old Compaq desktop. I love how people still get uppity about that, it borders religious fanaticism. Just know win97 is to win98 as win7Rc is to win7 they were identical except for the branding.

Let's not forget that 3D Realms had to get someone else to finish Prey for them too. I feel for the guy, but really, 3D Realms was a fucking useless company.

I love Duke, I really do, but how do you manage 12 years?!

HentMas:

Bretty:
Once they release the game it would be really cool to see what they did, sort of like a bonus on the DVD or something.

I think it is sad that you can waste 12 years of your life, not to mention the money, and have literaly nothing to show for it.

Respect to the man for his standards though, I wish a few current developers had the good release or burn attitude.

what?? you seriously want to see a bunch of guys sleeping, staring at brightly collored pictures and giving each other piggy rides???

come on!!

NOOOO like the actual game, the product, the deliverable. I would like to see what it is they spent all that money and time on. Regardless of where they saw it going etc.

I figured he just pulled a Chinese Democracy. He wanted that game to be perfect. He wanted to blow people away not only graphically, but also with gameplay and interactivity. And he was attempting to do this with licensed game engines, which meant he was graphically behind the curve from the start.

They started off with a modified Quake 2 engine, then they saw Unreal and switched to their engine. Then Unreal Tournament came out and they found their game wanting, so they incorporated UT's code into their engine. And it just kept sprawling from there. Lord knows how many times they've changed or almost completely rewrote their engine code since I stopped paying attention.

They say that movies aren't so much finished as they are abandoned. I think George Broussard found himself in a situation where he had the money and power not to abandon his game... and that was his fatal flaw. Instead of saying, "this is good enough," he kept raising the bar and thousands of hours of work would end up being tossed out because it wasn't perfect. And at some point, they must have known that the game would have to be the best selling game of all time to even break even, so this attitude ended up being irresponsible to the extreme.

mjc0961:
I think if I was playing this Sim City styled game, and I didn't get this game out that I was supposed to be making after 12 years, there would surely be some kind of game over screen in there somewhere. Clearly the UFO would have come in and fucked up my building, or the flood would have drowned all my employees or something like that, because clearly I have failed on a massive level.

Meanwhile all the other game companies around me who get their games out in a timely manner seem to be doing a lot better than me, and I become the laughing stock among all of us. Seems about right, yeah?

Yeah, that sounds about right. And 3D Realms did close down, so there we go, the game over to that particular business ... sim. IIRC, Sim City had a game over if you ran the city too far into debt, so yeah. Hehe, George Broussard, business "noob", ambitions too big for even his ctrl+x weaknesspays bank account.

Good thing Randy Pitchford has demonstrated the ability to ship games with far more frequency then, eh? Oh well, here's to continuing to wait till DNF comes out on Steam/Impulse...

 

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