Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) is a first-person shooter that was being developed by the now-defunct 3D Realms. It follows Duke Nukem 3D as the next game in 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem series.
Duke Nukem Forever was officially announced on April 28, 1997 along with the purchase of a license to use the Quake II engine and the intention of releasing the game no later than mid-1998. Original prototype work on the game had begun as early as January. However, 3D Realms did not get the Quake II engine code until November 1997, and the earlier screenshots were simply mock-ups with the Quake engine.
In June 1998, the 3D Realms team switched to Epic’s Unreal Engine. Broussard said that the transition from the Quake to the Unreal engine would take from “a month to 6 weeks” and that the game would not be significantly delayed. He also reassured gamers that the items unveiled in the May 1998 E3 demo would carry over on the Epic engine. He also said that DNF would be released in 1999.
Images (1997 / 2001 version):
In 1999, 3D Realms announced that they had upgraded to the newer version of the Unreal Engine. They released a second batch of screenshots on November 1 that showcased Duke Nukem Forever on the Unreal engine for the first time. In December, 3D Realms released a Christmas card that suggested that DNF would be released in 2000.
At the May 2001 E3, 3D Realms released a second video that showed a couple of minutes of in-game footage, which notably showed the player moving in a what appears to be Las Vegas and a certain level of interactivity (the player buys a sandwich from a vending machine and pushing the keypads).
In 2002, after hiring several new programmers, the team completely rewrote the renderer and other game engine modules, beginning work on a new generation of game content. Broussard estimated that around 95% of the previous level design work was scrapped in the process. He also later stated that they were never less than two years away from shipping with the UT based version of the game.
On September 9, 2004, GameSpot reported that Duke Nukem Forever had switched to the Doom 3 engine..On March 20, 2007, Scott Miller explained in an interview with YouGamers that they were still using the Unreal Engine, albeit a heavily modified version at this point.
Rumors in April 2005 suggested that the game would appear at 2005 E3, along with 3D Realms’ previously canceled Prey. While Prey did make an appearance, the rumors of Duke Nukem Forever’s appearance turned out to be false.
In April 2006, Broussard demonstrated samples of the game, including an early level, a vehicle sequence, and a few test rooms. One notable demonstration, according to the May 2006 issue of Computer Games magazine featured the interactive use of an in-game computer to send actual e-mails.
A new video was released on December 19, 2007 claimed to be made by employees of 3D Realms during their spare time to show at the annual Christmas party.
On June 5, 2008, in-game footage of the game was featured on the premiere episode of The Jace Hall Show. Filmed entirely on hand-held cameras but not originally expected to be publicly released, the video showed host Jason Hall playing through parts of a single level on a PC at 3D Realms’ offices.
Images (2007 / 2009 version):
Two unlockable screenshots were included with the September 24, 2008 release of Duke Nukem 3D on the Xbox Live Arcade. Located in the game’s art gallery upon earning all of Duke Nukem 3D’s achievements, one DNF screenshot featured a first person view of Duke reloading his pistol, while facing an Octabrain, with another in the distance, in a Dam. The other screenshot depicted a frontal close-up of Duke in a strip joint.On May 6, 2009, due to lack of funding, major staff cuts were initiated with the entire development team being laid off and other employees being given notice of their employment with the company being terminated.
It was reported on May 14, 2009 that Take-Two, holders of the publishing rights of Duke Nukem Forever, filed a breach of contract suit against Apogee Software Ltd (3D Realms) over failing to deliver the aforementioned title. Take-Two has asked for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction, to make 3D Realms keep the Duke Nukem Forever assets intact during proceedings.
On May 18, 2009 3D Realms key executives released the first full official “press release” with their side of the developments. “… 3D Realms (3DR) has not closed and is not closing. … Due to lack of funding, however, we are saddened to confirm that we let the Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) development team go on May 6th,… While 3DR is a much smaller studio now, we will continue to operate as a company and continue to licence and co-create games based upon the Duke Nukem franchise. … Take-Two’s proposal was unacceptable to 3DR for many reasons, including no upfront money, no guarantee minimum payment, and no guarantee to complete the DNF game. …we viewed Take-Two as trying to acquire the Duke Nukem franchise in a “fire sale.” … …we believe Take-Two’s lawsuit is without merit and merely a bully tactic to obtain ownership of the Duke Nukem franchise. We will vigorously defend ourselves against this publisher.”
[Infos from Wikipedia]
An interesting article on Wired also explains better the problems with Duke Nukem Forever’s development:
Broussard simply couldn’t tolerate the idea of Duke Nukem Forever coming out with anything other than the latest and greatest technology and awe-inspiring gameplay. He didn’t just want it to be good. It had to surpass every other game that had ever existed, the same way the original Duke Nukem 3D had.
But because the technology kept getting better, Broussard was on a treadmill. He’d see a new game with a flashy graphics technique and demand the effect be incorporated into Duke Nukem Forever. “One day George started pushing for snow levels,” recalls a developer who worked on Duke Nukem Forever for several years starting in 2000. Why? “He had seen The Thing” — a new game based on the horror movie of the same name, set in the snowbound Antarctic — “and he wanted it.”
Developers want to make their product superb, and the publishers just want it on the shelves as soon as possible. If the game starts getting delayed, it’s the publisher that cracks the whip. Broussard and Miller were free to thumb their noses at this entire system. Indeed, they even posted gleeful rants online about the evil of publishers and their deadlines. “When it’s done” became their defiant reply whenever someone asked when Duke Nukem Forever would be finished.
But the money was finally running out. Broussard and Miller had spent some $20 million of their own cash on Duke Nukem Forever — and their current development team would likely burn through another several million dollars a year. Miller and Broussard were forced to break their cardinal rule: They went to Take-Two with hat in hand, asking for $6 million to help finish the game.
Many observers think Take-Two is attempting to bleed 3D Realms dry until it has no more cash, then convince a judge to force Broussard and Miller to hand over intellectual-property rights to the Duke Nukem franchise to repay the $2.5 million advance. “It’s an IP grab,” says one Dallas-area developer.
In June 2011, after 14 years of development hell, Duke Nukem Forever was officially released worldwide by 2K Games, with development handled by 4 studios: 3D Realms, Gearbox Software (who helped polish and port the game), Triptych Games (a studio comprised of ex-3D Realms members that worked on DNF in their homes until Gearbox began helping them), and Piranha Games (who worked on the multiplayer). While the past iterations (2001, 2003, etc.) of the game can be considered cancelled due to the vast differences between those versions and the final, the footage from 2009 can be considered beta footage, considering that most of the elements of the footage appear in the final game.
As a reward for finishing the game, Duke Nukem Forever includes never-before-seen footage and screenshots from the game throughout all of the years of development, all of which can be seen below.
Thanks to Timothy Adkins and destructor for the contributions!
2009 Triptych Trailer