Thrills, drama, a long grind, and a twist ending—these are the sorts of things you normally expect from a videogame. They are not what you expect from the story behind a game. But then, Duke Nukem isn’t any ordinary game, and the saga of its development has been anything but normal. For more than 13 years, the gaming world’s been waiting for Duke, and now the end is in sight. But first, let's review what's happened until now.
It all started back in 1996, with Duke Nukem riding high. The game for which he was known, Duke Nukem 3D, was a megaton hit, and gamers clung to the cocksure hero’s every machismo-laden word. He was, quite literally, the king. He was on top of the world. Then in 1997, the follow-up, Duke Nukem Forever, was announced and, shockingly enough, it was all downhill from there. Duke disappeared. Year after year passed, and short of a few quick glimpses of the game, Duke was a disappointing no-show. His once-loyal fan base declared him dead. Anticipation rotted and festered, boiling over into angry cynicism.
The nail in Duke’s supposed coffin, however, came in the form of developer 3D Realms closing up shop in 2009 and a subsequent lawsuit from publisher Take-Two Interactive. And then everything went silent. Game Over. Continue? 5... 4… 3… 2… 1…
But wait! At the last second, Borderlands developer Gearbox Software stepped in and saved the day. Now, Duke Nukem Forever’s back on track and—get this—it’s actually going to come out this time. So, how’s the game? Who’s in charge now? After more than a decade of waiting, will it all be worth it?
We traveled deep into the heart of Texas—to Gearbox’s only-slightly evil lair—for three interviews with the men responsible for the past, present, and future of Duke Nukem. We’ll tell you what they have to say about the legendary franchise and we’ll share the details of our hands-on experience with the upcoming game. Yes, Duke fans, it’s safe to dream again.
A couple days ago, we published a chat with Gearbox Software’s main mouthpiece, Randy Pitchford. And boy can he talk. And when he talks the talk, other people get to talking too. Especially when Pitchford launches a few verbal volleys in Steam’s direction – calling it a “money grab” -- as he did in our interview. As a result, Tripwire Interactive (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor) president John Gibson has decided to fire back.
“Is Valve exploiting independent developers? In short: absolutely not. Without pulling any punches, I can say with certainty that if it weren't for Steam, there would be no Tripwire Interactive right now,” Gibson said, explaining that he believes Valve has “kicked off an indie revolution.”
“Randy's statements suggest that small developers are getting ripped off through their royalty rates. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, let me just say that our royalty deal was great, and is in line with what I understand that other digital distribution services are offering.”
“We have never had a situation where Valve downplayed our competing titles. On the contrary, they have done a great job of promoting our games on the front page of the Steam store and through the pop-up advertisements on Steam.”
Gibson also emphasized that all publishers find themselves awash in the murk of “conflicts of interest” at some point or another. “With console digital distribution, Microsoft and Sony have a complete monopoly on their platforms, and both companies make first party games. At least Valve has competition on the PC,” he added.
Gibson’s full response is available for your perusal over at Gamasutra. It’s definitely worth a read.
From the first time we saw Borderlands, we were intrigued. By mixing a fast-paced first-person shooter with the procedurally generated weapon system of a loot-hoarding RPG like Diablo, and letting you play the game cooperatively with three of your pals, the kids at Gearbox have made a game we simply can’t wait to play. We went down to Plano, Texas to play the first three hours of the game and to chat with Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford about what the future holds for PC gaming, why Steam is not an ideal method of distribution, and why Randy loves Wal-Mart.