Duke Nukem Forever

From Academic Kids

Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) is a yet-to-be-released first-person shooter video game being developed by 3D Realms.

Contents

Plot

Little is known about the plot of Duke Nukem Forever, considering that a great deal of earlier teasers and trailers have been said to be out of date. It is believed that Doctor Proton, Duke's first nemesis, will return.

Infamous for delay

DNF development began in late 1997 (after early prototyping with the Quake engine), and many now consider the game to be vaporware. Wired News awarded it the Vaporware Awards in 2001 and 2002 and the game was given the Lifetime Achievement Award (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,61935,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3) in 2003. While there has never been an official release date, developers hinted that the intended release date was 1998. It has not been completed as of 2005.

The game has been jokingly referred to in gaming circles as Duke Nukem If Ever or Duke Nukem Taking Forever. The most common joke, much to the chagrin of the 3D Realms webmaster, is Duke Nukem Whenever. Another source of humour is the common abbreviation DNF for both Duke Nukem Forever and the sports term "Did Not Finish," which indicates a runner or swimmer who was unable to complete a race.

It is speculated by many that this title will never see the light of day, although developers continue to insist that it will ship "when it's done." Rumors as early as April 2005 pointed out that the game might have made an appearance at the 2005 E3 with the previously cancelled 3D Realms game Prey, but they turned out to be false. [1] (http://pc.ign.com/articles/617/617251p1.html)

Message board comments made by lead designer George Broussard suggested that as of 2004 the game development progresses reasonably well, even though he later said that almost all of the previous generation of game content had been scrapped as of early 2003 [2] (http://forums.3drealms.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=UBB10&Number=605754&Forum=,All_Forums,&Words=&Searchpage=0&Limit=25&Main=605699&Search=true&where=&Name=38&daterange=&newerval=&newertype=&olderval=&oldertype=&bodyprev=#Post605754).

3D Realms has justified the delay of the game on a few levels. Mostly, they blame the delays on project "restarts" (starting the project from scratch), as well as engine changes. These engine changes, they say, demand that content is improved as well. They also lay some of the blame on other in-house projects, which have at times consumed internal resources. To top it off, 3D Realms claims that they have been short on manpower (especially in programming), which has slowed the development process. The most common explanation, however, is that 3D Realms is interested in making a quality game, and such quality demands a long development time.

Most gamers have reacted to these justifications and explanations with a great deal of skepticism. They show examples of games with a much shorter development time which have been commercial and critical successes (Doom 3 and the Unreal Tournament series, among others), and other games which experienced long delays, only to come out poorly in the end. The most common example of this is Daikatana, a game which began development on April 17, 1997. While Daikatana was initially expected to come out by the end of 1997, it did not go gold until April 21, 2000 and was a commercial and critical bomb.

Other people cite that these explanations show the distinct presence of feature creep. As the game is developed, many games with 'new' features are released, and they believe that project "restarts" are caused by the developers realizing that a game has already done one of their "new features."

Recently, 3D Realms has announced that they have replaced the physics engine with one designed by Swedish developer Meqon [3] (http://www.meqon.com/news/20040927.php). This engine has promised to be more effective than even Half-Life 2's physics system, although some comment that existing demos of this physics engine have been less than amazing. Several sites have also speculated that DNF will be using the latest generation (http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=7322) of this technology, designed for next-gen consoles.

3D Realms have also announced that DNF will use a Steam-like delivery system known as Games XStream (http://www.gamexstream.com).

Because a great deal of arguments have historically occurred over the topic of DNF's development, it is interesting to note that most delay-related discussion is no longer tolerated on their forums (http://forums.3drealms.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=772514&an=0&page=0#772514). This is because, historically, earlier delay-related criticisms exposed developer comments that they would prefer people to forget—notably assurances that the game would be released by a certain year.

Engine changes and restarts

The game has undergone one major change to its game engine during the course of development. Originally utilizing id Software's Quake II engine, the 3D Realms team switched in 1998 to Epic's Unreal engine [4] (http://216.105.167.65/archives/june98-2.html#Duke%20Forever%20to%20Switch%20to%20Unreal%20Engine), forcing a revision of all previous work except for the game's textures (although these were later replaced anyway).

3D Realms continued to receive updates from Epic for their newly licensed engine, and in 2000 they moved to the Unreal Tournament technology branch. However, in mid 2001 they cut themselves off entirely from Epic and went their own way.

2002 marked the start of what is widely considered to be the second project restart. After hiring several talented programmers, the team completely re-wrote the renderer and other game engine modules, beginning work on a new generation of game content. Broussard estimates that around 95% of the previous level design work has since been scrapped. The engine is now for the first time, supposedly complete, and supports features such as pixel shading, normal mapping and HDR based lighting. George Broussard has stated several times that the only parts of the Unreal engine that are still part of their code base are the netcode and the level editor. Everything else has been written from scratch by 3D Realms.

The principle reason given by Broussard for the extensive delays was the unstable tech base. Now that this problem seems to have been solved, 3DR have expanded their team considerably, from 22 to 31 members, marking what many hope to be the final stage of the development cycle.

It is amusing to note that when a major game comes out, a rumor often begins that Duke Nukem Forever will be switching to the engine of that recently released game.

Conflicts with Take Two

Most memorable of the conflicts with Take Two Interactive was the infamous STFU IMO argument. On May 20, 2003, Jeffrey Lapin, CEO of Take Two Interactive (the publisher of Duke Nukem Forever), told reporters that the game would not be out by 2003 (http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/dukenukemforever/news_6029145.html). In response, George Broussard commented on Shacknews that "Take Two needs to STFU imo"—gaming parlance for "Take Two needs to Shut The Fuck Up, In My Opinion."

Later in the year, December 18, 2003, an article from GameSpot revealed that Jeffrey Lapin had a recent conversation with 3D Realms. Discussing a revised released date with the developers, he was told that Duke Nukem Forever is expected to be finished by the end of 2004, or the beginning of 2005. 3D Realms's CEO became infuriated with Jeffrey Lapin for releasing confidential information regarding Duke Nukem Forever, and had neither denied nor confirmed the information that Jeffrey Lapin revealed. (As of June 2005 the game is still not finished, so we can assume Lapin's statements to be moot.)

On September 9, 2004, GameSpot published a conversation between Take-Two CEO Rich Roedel and UBS analyst Mike Wallace which alleged that Duke Nukem Forever had switched to the Doom 3 engine. Many gaming news sites mailed George Broussard to have him confirm or deny the rumor, but 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 only because he was working elsewhere in the building. As of May 2005, it is believed that Rich Roedel mistook for DNF what was actually Prey, which Human Head (supervised by 3D Realms) is developing with the Doom 3 engine.

Many people believe that the strained relationship between 3D Realms and Take Two Interactive is based on the fact that the success of earlier Duke Nukem games, along with proceeds from the wildly successful Max Payne, has allowed 3D Realms to self-finance the development of the sequel, as well as the successful release of Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project in 2002.

However, it is worth noting that 3D Realms CEO Scott Miller, denies relations have been strained at all. [5] (http://www.quartertothree.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=84551&highlight=#84551)

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