Worried that Duke Nukem Forever will come out, and then Duke Nukem Foreverer will launch just as the sun collapses and devours the earth and all that you hold dear? Well, no worries there, since 3D Realms has relinquished its Duke Nukem privileges. (Also, happily, you’ll be long dead before the sun ever goes Pac-Man on our humble little power planet, so hooray for that too!) From this point forward, Borderlands developer Gearbox will be handling all things Nukem – not just Forever.
“Fifteen years ago, Duke Nukem 3D helped launch my professional video game development career,” said Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford. “The Gearbox Software team and I are ecstatic that we have grown to a position to be able to pick up and carry the torch and help Duke rise back to glory in his time of need. Fans of the legendary hero and all the incredible talent that have ever helped him all deserve the very best support that we can bring.”
So, everyone wins, right? Well, mostly everyone. Surely 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard – the man who pumped mountains of his own money into Forever – can’t be entirely thrilled that someone else is signing their name on his handiwork. Well, shows what we know, because he also thinks the franchise is in good hands.
“Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand. Their vision for its future direction is exciting and unbelievable. I personally cannot wait for fans to see their unique take on the franchise. This will be a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the fans,” Broussard said in a press release.
What’s this odd sensation? Is it… optimism? For Duke Nukem? The thick layer of ice that once coated our cold hearts has finally melted, it would seem. The reason? Hope, perhaps. Or maybe global warming. We really hope it’s that first thing, though.
There are some things that just make you stop and wonder: “Is this the beginning of the end?” Things like global warming, widespread war and poverty, and – of course – the mystifying popularity of Twilight. And then there are things that make you quit your job and spend all your money on a tour of the world's greatest steakhouses, because – damn it all – the four horsemen of the apocalypse are banging down your door right now. Thing numero uno? Duke Nukem Forever's rapidly approaching release date.
Yep, you read that correctly. Duke Nukem Forever's landing on shelves this time. For real. The reason? Gearbox Software – they of Borderlands and Brothers in Arms fame – have started cracking the whip on Duke's notoriously meandering development cycle, and they're making sure the game finally waltzes out the door in time for a 2011 release.
"It's coming in 2011. It's coming in 2011. It's absolutely going to come, and we will have it shipped. We brought you Borderlands last year. We know what we're doing. It's coming on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and Windows PC," said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford during the big unveiling.
But this is Duke Nukem Forever we're talking about. What reason do you have to believe there's not just another 12 year delay waiting around the corner to ambush you the second you get your hopes up? Well, the game's playable at the Penny Arcade Expo, for one. Right now. Look! Here are some videos! You can watch (or read about) Duke Nukem taking a nice, relieving pee this very moment. Let it soothe your fears just as it soothes him.
Ewww. That was a pretty weird sentence. Good thing the apocalypse is happening any day now, or we'd probably never live it down. And on that note, we're making our exit. We've got steakhouses to tour, after all.
Yep, another Duke Nukem Forever story. But this time around, Duke might just cross the finish line he's been inching toward all these years. Why? Because, according to anonymous sources that spoke with Kotaku, everyone's favorite stripper-tipping ass-kicker is finally getting a much-needed change of scenery. So long, 3D Realms. Hello, Gearbox Software.
Gearbox, in case you've been living under a rock specifically designed to ward off only the best games, most recently churned out co-op smash-hit Borderlands. The developer's also responsible for Brothers in Arms, and was – at one point – designing a Duke Nukem spin-off called Duke Nukem Begins.
The craziest part? We could be taking a demo of the game for a test drive as soon as later this year, since Gearbox is picking up where 3D Realms left off development-wise.
When reached for comment, all parties involved refused to confirm or deny anything, although Take-Two acknowledged that it still retains publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever – even after the dismissal of its oft-publicized lawsuit against 3D Realms.
However, Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford gave a not-so-subtle hint that we'll hear more about Duke's development switcheroo at the Penny Arcade Expo, which takes place at the beginning of September.
Translation: Get excited. Duke's back, and he may very well be better than ever – which, in this case, means “a videogame that human beings can actually play.”
While Duke Nukem’s half-brother Max Payne may be world-renowned for his time-slowing prowess, Duke obviously taught him everything he knows. After all, when matched against a tumultuous 13-year development cycle, Duke’s year-long development-impeding court case seems like it went by in the blink of an eye. For gaming’s favorite perpetually gumless ass-kicker, it was just another American legal system-shaped bump in the road. Now, though, it’s time to get back to business.
"The above action, including any and all claims that were or could have been asserted by the parties, is dismissed with prejudice in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement executed by the parties on May 14, 2010," reads the filing that ended the suit.
So, with the legal battle dismissed, is the Take-Two/3D Realms divorce a done deal? Or have the two companies kissed and made up? There’s no way of knowing just yet, but The US Trademark and Patent Office currently lists Duke Nukem as a 3D Realms property, which seems to suggest that 3D Realms got to keep the kids. And, seeing as development on DNF never actually ground to a complete halt, we’re guessing the tortoise will just keep right on chugging along in spite of the hare – who, in this metaphor, represents “common sense, normal game development standards, and the entire videogame industry.”
We’ll attempt to contact both 3D Realms and Take-Two on the matter, though we doubt either side will talk until it’s good and ready. But, you know, E3’s a nice time for announcements. Just putting that out there, 3D Realms.
We don't know whether to laugh, cry, or buy a new pack of bubblegum, but for what it's worth, new images and a lengthy video of Duke Nukem Forever have surfaced on the Web.
In case you haven't purchased a PC in the past 13 years and today is your first time seeing what this whole Internet thing is all about, Duke Nukem Forever is a follow-up videogame that was officially announced way back in late April, 1997. It was supposed to be released a year later, but obviously those intentions fell flat on their face.
Several times since 2006 it appeared as though DNF would finally see the light of day, but instead the still-unreleased games has become one of the most laughably sad stories in PC gaming history (try wrapping your head around that one).
Catch the video (NSFW for language and loud music) and pics here, and then hit the jump to give us your over/under on when you think DNF will finally ship.
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.