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Duke Nukem Forever Update 250

Gamasutra reports on an update to one of the longest running jokes in the games industry, Duke Nukem Forever. The title, already ten years in development, may (possibly) see release this decade. From the blurb: "3DR's George Broussard also demonstrated world interactivity that includes Duke standing in front of a computer and emailing the player, if he provides his email address for the game. But, according to the piece, Broussard was bashful, overall, about showing off the game, commenting: 'The problem is that when we show it, people are going to be like, Yeah, whatever. Honestly, at this point we just want to finish it.'"
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Duke Nukem Forever Update

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  • What Went Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:00AM (#15120566) Journal
    You know, I think there's a lot to be said about project management when developing a computer game. Computer games have so many frail aspects.

    They are complex.

    The technology is forever changing.

    There are multiple platforms.

    They become obsolete after two months.

    The fan base is one of usual hypercriticality.

    With these aspects working against you, developing them is just all the more difficult. How many times has this game changed the engine it's being built upon? Too many.

    From the article:
    The game has undergone at least one complete 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 1.0 [6], forcing a revision of all previous work except for the game's textures, which 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 Engine 1.5 technology branch. However, in mid 2001 they cut themselves off entirely from Epic and went their own way [7].

    2002 marked the start of what is widely considered to be the second project restart. After hiring several new 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 (now based on Unreal engine 2.0) is for the first time supposedly complete, and supporting such features as pixel shading, normal mapping and high dynamic range 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 UnrealScript, the networking code, and the level editor. Everything else, except Meqon, which is the 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. 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.

    When a major game comes out, it is humorously suggested in many fan circles that Duke Nukem Forever will be switching to the renderer of that recently released game.
    There's also a very informative timeline. As the last sentence of the above excerpt illustrates, Duke Nukem Forever came to suffer a development process that simply could never complete itself because it always needed the newest latest and greatest renderer. This is insanity, and I predict that this game will lack original content and any sort of story line since they are relying on graphics and graphics alone to satisfy the customer requirements. You could release a side scrolling version of Duke Nukem (a la Duke Nukem II) that I would play given a good story line and fun puzzle-solving levels.
  • by saudadelinux ( 574392 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:05AM (#15120628)
    ...have been thought up, created and gone through two or three versions in this timeframe?
  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:06AM (#15120642) Journal
    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.

    What happens again if you add more people to a late project? :-)
  • Relevant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aajwxe560 ( 779189 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:08AM (#15120656)
    The brand itself seems to have lost a significant amount of value and overall relevancy to me. I remember many endless nights playing Duke 3D, and the great world it immersed you in. The character itself was great, as was the game. Everyone was excited to see what they could do next with the franchise, and they sounded really ambitious about what they wanted to do. Then, time passed.. and passed.. and passed.. and games like Deus Ex came out, which again kicked some serious ass (the sequel maybe not quite as much). So, obviously the industry has moved on, and would this game coming out even make as much as a splash as much as it once may have? I mean in all this time, they had plenty of opportunity to license another engine (again, like Deus Ex) and take the original game to the next level. Instead, I honestly have no idea what they have been doing, and in the meantime, many other great games have come along to fill the void. No matter what they come out with at this point, it is never going to live up to the expectations that they have working on this game, theoretically, for 10 years now.
  • who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dlc3007 ( 570880 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:14AM (#15120711)
    I think the most important question at this point is: Who cares? Is there anyone who is still looking forward to this game? Anyone?
    I remember playing Duke Nukem 3D, but I honestly can't remember what computer I was playing it on because it was so long ago. It isn't like there haven't been three or four generations of shooters since this game was announced.
    Sure the original was amusing, but it wasn't that good. Just give it up. No matter what they finally release, it won't be worth the wait and no one will really care.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#15120795)
    What went wrong?

    Yeah, there can be a multitude of reasons but I think it boils down to: Someone in the chain of command didn't know when to call quits.

    When to quit tweaking the game. When to quit adding shit. When to quit revising it. When to quit the project period.

    This obviously isn't the game they had in mind years ago, hell, it's been majorly revised several times. The problem is, in that span, a normal team could have gotten several (say 2-4) of the better concepts for a DukeNukem game to market and have had at least one good, if not great game.

    As it is, I don't see any strong direction for the game now, it looks like it's being designed to be a jack-of-all-trades. And through all the hype and time, the bar is set so high, that it better be nothing short of spectacular.

    Personally, I'm betting it'll be thoroughly mediocre.
  • E-mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Bavis ( 855107 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:34AM (#15120862)
    If the big feature they have is that the game's character can e-mail you a form letter then the game is in even worse shape than I ever imagined. They don't talk about innovative gameplay at all, but they were sure to show off how Duke can write you an e-mail probably telling you to "keep it real!"

    This "feature" should be a late addition in the final production or something a programmer added on their lunch breaks, not something to show off.
  • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:21AM (#15121257) Homepage
    The problem is, in that span, a normal team could have gotten several (say 2-4) of the better concepts for a DukeNukem game to market and have had at least one good, if not great game.

    They say projects are never completed; they are merely abandonned.

    You are exactly right. 3DRealms should have released 2-4 good (but not great) games since I bought my copy of Duke Nukem Atomic Edition way back when. I still load that game onto my computer occasionally when I feel like blasting some aliens, because even though the game technology is years old, it's still a very playable game.

    Here's my armchair perspective of how 3DR should proceed:

    1. Replace the project manager - Whoever is in charge of the project has obviously never managed a project for a company where the customer sets the deadlines. Replace this guy with a non-game developer type who knows when a product is good enough for the market.
    2. Kill "Forever" - The name of the current vapor-game implies that this will be the ultimate Duke Nukem experience, the game to end all games, after which every gamer will burn his Quake, GTA, and DOOM3 CDs in despair. Forget pursuing the Holy Grail. Just make a game.
    3. Release your results after one year no matter what - Sure, you'll have cool stuff you want to add on release day, but you can save it for Duke 5. You know? The one you'll be able to develop because Duke 4 brings in some revenue?

    3DR needs to stop thinking of Duke 4 in terms of a motion picture masterpiece that will go down in history with Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, or Debbie Does Dallas. Think of it more like James Bond or Star Trek. Some people will like each release, some people will hate it. But it brings in enough dough to keep the franchise going, and gives your core fan base a whole lot of fun.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:26AM (#15121308) Journal
    Honestly, at this point we just want to finish it.

    With a motivation among the devs at this level, what quality can one expect from the game? :-p
  • by AzsxQuii ( 944798 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:46AM (#15121518)
    Remind me to send those chaps a copy of: "The Mythical Man-Month:Essays on Software Engineering" By Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. Particular Attention should be paid to: "The Second-System Effect"
  • Re:Oh please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dan828 ( 753380 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:49AM (#15121554)
    The old adage "research is never wasted" is somewhat relevant to this subject. One would expect that all of the work they were doing for DNF was used as a tech base for their other games that were released.
  • by carninja ( 792514 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:55AM (#15121615)
    Stop reading too much into it. He's saying exactly what he's saying: After nearly a decade, it will be literally impossible to "blow away" anyone. Best case scenario, they'll get a "Well, it took long enough, and it doesn't suck, so I guess that's good". Worst case scenario they'll get "All that wait and we get this steaming pile of crap?". No matter what they do, they're fucked. It's just been too long.
  • Re:terrible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:56AM (#15121616) Homepage
    At this point, they can't say they've invested 10 years in it. What they've done is spend the last 10 years on 3-4 failed projects, and one (bearing a superficial resemblence to a design doc that's ten years old) that may see the light of day.
  • by Cold-NiTe ( 968026 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:16PM (#15121858)
    ...just what sort of a biblical failure they are about to produce? Nothing they do will be adequate. Nothing they do will satisfy. Nothing they do will be enough. At this point in development, if we can call it that, if there's even an official 'point in development' for a game that's been under construction for ten years, 3DRealms can't even have normal marketing for their game. Worse yet, anything they say becomes some strange and surreal form of anti-marketing in which everyone the world over that knows about this game's history gets a good 10 minute laugh after debasing them for an equivalent period of time.

    Who exactly are they trying to sell this game to? God knows it can't be any of us.

    I don't buy games out of pity, do you?
  • by awol ( 98751 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:23PM (#15121919) Journal
    Despite the cliche, it seems that Duke Nukem has become the "Jarndice and Jarndice" of the modern age, reflecting on the evils of software development rather than those of the Chancery division. In all seriousness DN3D was such a pathetic story it would be funny.

    I wont be surprised if they make more money from the book about what not to do with a game/generic development project than they do from the software itself.
  • Re:Truths (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yem ( 170316 ) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:22PM (#15125004) Homepage
    Nice :) Unfortunately there are only two real possibilities:

    1) The game is never released. The idiots in charge finally can the project, like they should have five years ago.


    1) The game is released
    2) 5 people buy it
    3) 5000 people download it for a laugh and delete it 5 minutes later

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears