Most of it’s either legal jargon or refutations of previous claims, but this week’s news from the frontlines of the battle between Take-Two and DNF dev 3D Realms does contain a couple interesting nuggets – foremost of which being that Duke Nukem Forever isn’t dead after all. We knew the world seemed a little too intact for the apocalypse to have occurred.
According to 3D Realms, development on Duke Nukem Forever continues to chug along. However, the company apparently "released the majority of its employees working on the development" because of a "lack of funding to sustain the high level of development." Sounds the game won’t be out for a long time. Shocker.
Meanwhile, another Duke game, titled Duke Begins, was also revealed, and has apparently been in development since 2007. The game was being handled by another “well-known videogame developer,” but development screeched to a halt in April 2009, right in front of May’s giant, nearly lethal Duke Nukem Forever pileup. 3D Realms claims Take-Two stopped Duke Begins’ development in order to harm 3D Realms and the Duke franchise, thus “pressuring [3D Realms/Apogee Ltd.] to sell the Duke Nukem franchise rights to Take-Two for less than their true value."
Click through the first link if you’d like to watch more of the world’s slowest trainwreck. Or don’t. Either way, we’re sure Take-Two will say it’s all hooey come next week. And then 3D Realms will bite back the week after that. It’s like the damsel tied to the train tracks and the mustachioed villain switch places each week. But the train never hits anyone. Please, someone, put an end to the madness.
"While 3DR is a much smaller studio now, we will continue to operate as a company and continue to license and co-create games based upon the Duke Nukem franchise," the developer said in a press release.
The way 3D Realms tells it, though, Duke Nukem Forever – finished or not – won’t be able to release until Take-Two and 3D Realms kiss and make up. Previous agreements between the two companies have put Duke in his current predicament, but according to 3D Realms, it’s not like Take-Two hasn’t broken an agreement before.
"Take-Two never paid 3DR advances or any signing bonus or any other funds related to DNF, up until July 2008, at which time they paid $2.5m in connection with another agreement for an unannounced game," added the company. "This is the sum total Take-Two has paid 3DR in connection with DNF."
That lack of funding effectively killed the game’s development cycle last week. Take-Two allegedly attempted to right the sinking ship by offering to acquire the Duke Nukem franchise and 3D Realms, but due to such stipulations as “no upfront money, no guarantee minimum payment, and no guarantee to complete the DNF game,” 3D Realms refused.
Now the two companies are gearing up for a long, painful court session, which at this point, just seems like Fate giving us a big middle finger for ever hoping Duke might see the light of day. Is some news better than 12 years of no news? In this case, we're not so sure.
Duke Nukem Forever this, Duke Nukem Forever that. We might as well be beating a dead horse at this point, but at least we’re not suing one. That’s Take-Two territory right there.
Apparently, the publisher wasn’t too happy to hear that Duke Nukem Forever developer 3D Realms decided to close up shop last week. Why? Well, according to Take-Two, 3D Realms breached its agreement to finish DNF when the big bad economic wolf finally blew it down. The agreement was probably made in 2007, though at that time, specific details weren’t made public.
"[3D Realms] continually delayed the completion date for the Duke Nukem Forever," said Take-Two in its complaint. "[3D Realms] repeatedly assured Take-Two and the video-gaming community that it was diligently working toward competing development of the PC Version of the Duke Nukem Forever."
But the rabbit hole runs deeper. A quick dig through pertinent legal documents reveals that Take-Two is also attempting to pry Duke Nukem Forever’s source code from 3D Realms’ cold, mostly dead hands, and will probably go through with it if the publisher has its way in court. As of now, even though 3D Realms went under, it still holds onto its unfinished game.
Meanwhile, 3D Realms co-owner Scott Miller claims that Take-Two never actually paid the developer the $12 million needed to secure publishing rights for DNF – which, if true, renders much of Take-Two’s argument moot.
"No. We didn't get a penny of that money," Miller said. "This, along with so much else, is 100% spin, being eaten up by those who have no clue whatsoever."
Well, so much for the Duke Nukem Forever saga ending not with a bang, but a whimper. Expect more fireworks from Take-Two and 3D Realms in the coming weeks.
Duke Nukem Forever may or may not be completely caput, but the autopsy’s already well underway. The findings of said dig through Duke’s remains include screenshots, movies, and – oh – the game’s entire storyline.
From what we could gather, Duke Nukem Forever was intended to be a linear shooter – not unlike Half-Life or something of its ilk – but, as is Duke’s wont, completely over-the-top. Apparently, Duke’s latest adventure begins with the big man having, er, relations with two assuredly voluptuous vixens and playing his own videogame. At the same time. If that’s not the American Dream, we don’t know what is.
Then aliens invade, as they sometimes do, and Duke ducks into the Duke Cave (official terminology, not kidding) in order to suit up for a hard day of sharp-shooting and verbal emasculation. Shame he apparently forgets his gum. Again. From there on, Duke fights aliens (including classics like the Pigcop) at pretty much every location imaginable, both in space and on our invasion-prone planet, until finally toppling the fathership and appearing on a talk show.
Gameplay concepts that were to be featured prominently in 3D Realms’ take on DNF include: a shrink ray, a tiny drivable RC car, jetpacks, nukes, playing as a character named Bombshell, and something called the Devestator. 12 years? We would’ve waited 20.
To be honest, though, DNF doesn’t sound like it would’ve been the Greatest Game of All Time. Good? Probably. But with its tumultuous development history, it likely wouldn’t have turned quite as many heads as it would’ve rolled eyes. Even so, the game does sound like more of what made Duke 3D so much fun, and we’re still holding out hope that it’ll be finished and released eventually.
3D Realms webmaster Joe Siegler supplied the developer’s final gasp, simply saying, “It's not a marketing thing. It's true. I have nothing further to say at this time.”
However, Duke might not be down for the count just yet. Duke Nukem Forever publisher Take-Two issued a statement concerning the closure.
"We can confirm that our relationship with 3D Realms for Duke Nukem Forever was a publishing arrangement, which did not include ongoing funds for development of the title," said Take-Two VP of communications Alan Lewis.
"In addition, Take-Two continues to retain the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever," he added.
So maybe they’ll cart Duke’s half-assembled form over to some other developer. Or perhaps they’ll just develop the game internally. Who knows? For now, Take Two ain’t sayin’. We suppose, though, that it’ll be pretty easy to tell when/if Duke Nukem Forever finally kicks the bucket. After all, city-leveling tidal waves, lava geysers, and other such signs that the balance of earth has been irrevocably altered aren’t too difficult to spot.
If you told your spouse that the two of you would be together until Duke Nukem Forever hit shelves in an attempt to be absolutely precious, it might be time to start sweating. According to a tweet by 3D Realms man George Broussard, Duke Nukem Forever’s unending development cycle may soon be leaving the death-and-taxes consistency club.
“Closing out a milestone this week. 71 more tasks to do and we started with probably 800-900. Been a good push. Next one starts Monday,” he tweeted.
After some rudimentary math, we’ve determined that – assuming development continues at a nice clip – Duke will be back in business sometime next year. Guess the Mayans were a little off with their apocalypse calculations.
Today, I had an epiphany: E3 is going to be a snooze-fest. Blizzard is making their big announcement tomorrow, most every PC game at the show will just be a high-res console port, and apparently Half-Life 2 Episode 3 won't even have a presence. Soon after, however, I stumbled over a piece that lightly patted me on the shoulder and assuaged all of my fears. Jump past the break for said piece and its bionic arm -- plus more!