Sunday, December 17

Duke Nukem Forever: The Long And Turning Path

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“Duke Nukem Forever” is one of those games that many players actually thought would never come through. Debatably a sequel to the almost ancient “Duke Nukem 3D,” this game is a noted classic in the FPS genre. It’s got a long-drawn-out history that gamers who are old enough to remember were, in fact, convinced that DNF was “going to take forever to come out. Finally, after more than a decade of perpetually being reworked from scratch, all’s well that ends well.

The story can be traced back to John Romero and his game development company, which bunched up a ridiculous amount of money on “Doom” and “Duke Nukem 3D.”In fact, there was sufficient money to suffice the operation and expansion for a decade even without releasing another game. The philosophy of the company was to solely focus on the designer. In other words, the creative minds took total control of all the projects without having to consult the executives and management. They did not meddle with the products or impose specific dates of release.

Theoretically, this translated that the designers had the option to apply as many fun things into the game as they desired, with enough time to execute. In practice, it meant that horrible management could delay a game for an indefinite period. To be fair, the game was being developed using a licensed version of the Quake Engine at an acceptable pace. At one point in the process, they observed that the Unreal Engine was vastly superior, was immensely superior, throwing out all the work that had already been done, licensing the better code and setting about working on everything from scratch. Theoretically, this should not have caused the game to rot in the development process for more than a decade. Unfortunately, it did.

Each time a new game engine came out that proved superior to the one the company was using, the practice was to drop everything that was already done and start from scratch. The result of all this was a game that was always getting near completion, but never actually getting there. Romero’s obsession with making the game perfect rather than simply getting the game out was not doing the damage it should have since the company had a massive amount of cash to spend. The only time finances ever really became an issue was then they put out “Daikatana,” which had failed to even be remotely playable and ended up costing the company money..

At some point, Romero finally began to notice that his hefty pocket was noticeably slimmer. Apart from the few jumbled demos and loads of useless materials, he had no product to show for all the years of development. He tried to find financers to give “Duke Nukem Forever” one last shot, but it didn’t work out. By this time, initial investors gave up and just turned over the intellectual property to another company. Promising to get the game out, Gearbox took control.

As of now, the tentative release date of DNF is May 6, 2011. There also comes out a trailer that proves it to be at least playable. A lot of gamers are pessimistic about how the game would turn out to be. However, as the trailer says, after 12 years of development, it better be damn good.

Thankfully, it isn’t every potentially great game that takes forever to be finished. There are more games out there that made it onto shelves as close to perfection as the technology of their age allowed without being mired in development hell.

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