Monday, May 11, 2009

Duke Nukem Forever = Never

Last Thursday, Dallas-based legendary developer 3D Realms (formerly known as Apogee) was shut down due to insufficient funds. They have been developing the very much anticipated fourth Duke Nukem game, titled Duke Nukem Forever. The shutdown has been confirmed via two sources, which is one - users unable to access the company's website and secondly from the game's art director Tramell Isaac's blog.

In the last decade, they have been only publishing games as part of generating funds. Titles published including Prey, the two Max Payne games and other games. The last game developed by them is Shadow Warrior.

Formerly Apogee, this the company that pioneered the concept of shareware, which is releasing a one-episode game as a tryout before buying the full game content. This is the very company that published the legendary Wolfenstein 3D, the game that started the FPS genre.

It has been 12 years since they started work. But what could be the reason why the game was ultimately shut down despite their policy of 'when it's done'?

1. Engine switches - When the project was announced, in 1997 the company has already licensed the Quake II engine from their former partner Id Software (Id as Ideas of the Deep). After the E3 1998 demo, they decided to switch to the Unreal Engine. However, in the last 10 years, the Unreal Engine has evolved from version 1 to version 3. When the engine was switched, they wasted almost a year to rebuild the maps created in Quake II from scratch (geometry building in Unreal is the complete opposite of Quake) and maps, tweaking code.

The argument of switching over is because Unreal at that time has a better net play code and outdoor terrain meshing surpasses Quake II's capbabilities. No less than 4 years after that, Unreal Engine 2.0 was released and then, version 3.0 was released in late 2007. Perhaps the obsession to catch up with the latest technology to incorporate into the game plays part of it. But one year's waste due to switching of engnies could be the reason why

2. Content - Given that the game took many years to make, and the developer's promise of making it the best Duke game of the series, they put a strict silence of when it would be released. Not really. The target number of levels to satisfy fans is approximately 50 levels. Not as much as of Soldier of Fortune II's 70 levels but 50 levels is as equivalent to playing the entire Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition and the other 3rd party expansion packs. Throughout the last months prior to shut down, they have put up ads on the need of more level designers.

We don't how far have they covered, but since people wanted the game out, there's one thing I can suggest, which is basically since 3D Realms partner ID Software is in Mesquite, why not get them to sponsor some money into the project (read: borrow) or get them to join in part of the project towards completion. But eventually in the end, the sales will allow them to recuperate the amount of development money. Hype on the game is growing.

That's one suggestion to either Scott Miller or George Broussard.

1 comment:

  1. Let it rest man. I've been waiting for Duke Nukem for god knows how long. Oh yeah, like forever?

    DKF won't get through today's censorship board with the strippers and all. Plus the FPS genre had taken a sandbox turn and traditional level-based systems are all but dead.

    I don't see how DKF will thrill today's gamers; just like how Doom 3 failed to draw any praise to everything but its fancy graphics.



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