Duke Nukem Forever [PC – Cancelled / Beta]

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[50], 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

Screenshot Gallery


First Person Shooter [M2 – Tech Demo]

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Tyrannosaurus Tex [GBC – Cancelled]


A first-person shooter on the Game Boy Color would seem to be a challenge by anyone’s standards, so it should come as little surprise that Tyrannosaurus Tex was created by someone with an urge to do what no-one had done before. Having left Psygnosis after working on titles like the Colony Wars series, Ben John founded UK-based Slitherine Software and set about flexing his coding muscles. After considering a Command & Conquer-style RTS game, he settled on an FPS and began work on a tech demo in early 1999. Enlisting the help of his friend Dan Crawley (concept/character art) and father Mike John (designer), the demo was displayed at the 1999 European Computer Trade Show and attracted the attention of publishers such as Codemasters, Take2 and THQ. The game was ultimately signed-up by Eidos, who added producer Iain McNeil to the team. Full production began in September 1999 with a planned release date of April 2000.

The plot for their ambitious title: One day, the Texan desert town of Eastwood is witness to a spaceship crash, its contents a horde of sinister robots. They not only set about fixing their ship, buried underground in the crash, but also start building a replica of their world and growing dinosaurs from the remains found beneath the earth. All is well until humans begin digging for oil, and the robot/dinosaur masses attack. Tex is approached by an oil company and offered a handsome reward to fix the problem. Some descriptions of the plot mentioned a diamond mine, and that a gem-loving Tex would have to rescue the townsfolk.

The controls were simple by necessity – A to shoot, the D-pad to move around (holding B to strafe), Select to cycle through weapons and Start to pause and bring up a scrolling overhead tile map of the current area.

Tex would start off in a mine before plunging deep into an underground city; a later level would have sent him aboard the crashed spaceship. In all, 28 levels were planned including an end of game boss. Some levels would have been timed and set inside maze-like caves in danger of imminent collapse, while the rest were busier with enemies, light puzzle elements, keys, doors, traps and forcefields, with no time-limit but the same task of surviving to the exit. When all the diamonds were collected in the level a secret area would be unlocked, containing a collectable rune. In all, Slitherine estimated it would take twenty hours to complete the game normally and forty if all of the runes were sought out.

The cowboy would find six types of gun on his journey. Starting off with a reliable-but-weak Colt which could fire at a reduced rate without ammo, Tex would progress to an improved Colt, grenade launcher, continuously-firing laser, guidable harpoon and finally a secret high-tech weapon. Tex was to go up against ten types of enemy; they would either follow a specified route (Routers, such as robots and, deviating randomly from their path, the bats and rats) or head towards the player (Hunters, such as the King T-Rex and velociraptors). Fast-moving Trundle Bots would appear in groups and steal Tex’s ammo on contact. Some strategy would be required, for while the grenade launcher was effective against all classes of enemy, a laser would merely tickle a dinosaur’s scales, whereas a much better-suited harpoon would only deal low damage to the steel body of a robot. Whichever way they were defeated, enemies would break up into four tiles, exploding away from each other toward the corners of the screen.

Among the game’s features: stereo sound (Shin’en Audio Outsourcing Services provided the music), around 10 levels of faux scaling, up to 16 objects on screen, 3 battery-backed up save slots, a 3D engine running at 20-30fps, and 100 high-colour intermission screens which took up half of the 16-megabit cartridge.

An FPS engine on the Game Boy Color was ambitious enough, but Slitherine were to cram in a two-player deathmatch mode as well, a tall order given the bandwidth limitations of the system’s link cable. Players could choose from Tex (starts with Colts, can use any weapon), Hover Robot (may only use a laser, vulnerable to lasers, very fast), Close Combat Droid (started with a laser, may pick up weapons, vulnerable to lasers), Tank (started with a slow-reloading grenade launcher, also vulnerable to lasers) or a ferocious T-Rex (best at close-combat, having only claws for weapons). Only Tex and the first arena were available from the beginning; the other characters and 4 additional levels would unlock through finding runes in single-player mode.

The game was delayed, and its original release date came and went, pushed back to the end of the year. There was a huge setback, too: Eidos pulled out of the Game Boy Color market and left Slitherine without a publisher, though they did gain a new team member as Iain McNeil chose to stay with the company, bringing along his father as business/financial manager. The in-game artwork, unchanged since the tech demo, was at some point contracted out to be redrawn by bitmap artist Fad Stevens, who also later joined the company. By this time, there were rumblings that the preview screenshots were fake, that proper coding still hadn’t begun. But in August of that year IGN played an early build of the training level and were impressed with what they saw, although they found the AI to be rather weak, and screenshots were noticeably emptier than the jam-packed scenes portrayed in earlier previews, perhaps both due to the nature of the level previewed. They also reported that Slitherine had found a new publisher, and that the game would finally be released in January 2001.

Slitherine announced that the game was complete. However, by April 2001 the company still hadn’t secured a publishing deal (some of the names approached including SCI, Telegames and Take 2). Among the difficulties cited were Nintendo’s high royalty rates for purchasing cartridges and the low margins resulting (exacerbated by the game’s size and battery save) and the lack of a big-name license. Though they continued to seek a publisher for Tex, and briefly considered developing for the Game Boy Advance (interestingly their website contained two animated T-Rex sprites with palettes more suited to the GBA), by the end of the month Slitherine chose to pull out of all future Game Boy development. Tyrannosaurus Tex never did make its way onto store shelves, but the company survives to this day, developing and publishing strategy titles for the PC and other major platforms.

Thanks to Ross Sillifant for the contribution! (United Game interview with Slitherine Software)

March 2013 Update: A rom of a prototype version of the game has been released online, details are at nintendoplayer.com


Training level
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Time Shift [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

TimeShift was originally going to be published by Atari, but publishing rights switched to Sierra on April 20, 2006. On August 31, 2006, TimeShift was delayed for a second time. The game was finally released on October 30, 2007.

Because the game had been delayed several times and was not mentioned very much in gaming news, the press thought that the project had been abandoned. However, on April 10, 2007, Vivendi Games announced that they were giving TimeShift a complete overhaul and were fixing many bugs. The most striking beta difference is the change in visual style, after claims that the original look “couldn’t compete in the post Unreal Engine 3 world” and that the original steampunk style “didn’t resonate with people.”

One of a number of beta changes is that Michael Swift, the game’s original protagonist, will not be appearing in the game. After the retooling of the game, Saber introduced “the suit” as the time control device, making the protagonist anonymous. Saber said that this change was to let the player imagine that “you are the protagonist”. [info from Wikipedia]

Some more differences were noticed by Vicente:

  • an intro with michael talking to someone
  • a in game scene of a vehicle blowing up by a rocket
  • different graphics
  • different HUD
  • there was an early box, it was blue, with michael with a gun.

As noted by Liqmatrix the Atari PC seven level single player beta is available at this link: https://archive.org/details/TimeShiftAtariDemosDJXavieRO

[Thanks to Gerror for some of these images!]

Beta Images:

Beta Videos:


Team Fortress 2 [Proto / Beta / Unused Models]

Originally planned as a free mod for Quake, development on Team Fortress 2 switched to the GoldSrc/Half-Life engine in 1998 after the development team Team Fortress Software – consisting of Robin Walker and John Cook – were first contracted and finally outright employed by Valve Corporation. At the point of Team Fortress Software’s acquisition production moved up a notch and the game was promoted to a standalone, retail product; to tide fans over – since, as well as time issues, much of the Team Fortress player base had purchased Half-Life solely in anticipation of the free release of Team Fortress 2 – work began on a simple port of the game which was released in 1999 as the free Team Fortress Classic (TFC).

Notably, TFC was built entirely within the publicly available Half-Life SDK as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.

Images [Proto]:

Preview article from Incite gaming magazine, January 2000.

Images [Final Version]:

Walker and Cook had been heavily influenced by their three-month contractual stint at Valve, and now they were working full-time on their design, which was undergoing rapid metamorphosis. Team Fortress 2 was to be a modern war game, with a command hierarchy including a commander with a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield, parachute drops over enemy territory, networked voice communication and numerous other innovations. This initial design for Team Fortress 2 is quite possibly the only game to have spawned a thriving sub-genre without ever being released itself.

E3 1999

The new design was revealed to the public at the 1999 E3, where it earned several awards including Best Online Game and Best Action Game. By this time Team Fortress 2 had gained a new subtitle, Brotherhood of Arms, and the results of Walker and Cook working at Valve were becoming clear. Several new and at the time unprecedented technologies on show: Parametric animation seamlessly blended animations for smoother, more life-like movement, and Intel’s Multi-resolution mesh technology dynamically reduced the detail of on-screen elements as they became more distant to improve performance (a technique made obsolete by decreasing memory costs; today games use a technique known as level of detail, which uses more memory but less processing power). No date was given at the exposition.

In mid-2000, Valve announced that development of Team Fortress 2 had been delayed for a second time. They put the news down to development switching to an in-house, proprietary engine that is today known as the Source engine. It was at around this time that all news ran dry and Team Fortress 2 entered its notorious six-year radio silence, which was to last until July 13, 2006. During that time, both Walker and Cook worked on various other Valve projects – Walker was project lead on Half-Life 2: Episode One and Cook became a Steam developer, among other tasks – raising doubts that Team Fortress 2 was really the active project that would be repeatedly described.

“Invasion” design

When the Half-Life 2 source tree was leaked in late 2003 three Team Fortress 2 models were included, along with direct references to the game in the stolen source code. They consisted of an alien, Combine-like grunt and a very cartoon-like and out-of-proportion soldier. The code was interpreted by fans as making references to the Seven Hour War, an integral part of the Half-Life story; however, the two leaked player models did not look combine or human.

The Source SDK was released with the Half-Life 2 source code, and also provided references to the game. Some code merely confirmed what was already believed, but other segments provided completely new information, such as the presence of NPCs in multiplayer matches, the possibility of the game taking place in the Half-Life 2 universe, fixed plasma gun and missile launcher emplacements, and more.

None of the leaked information appears to have any bearing on today’s version of the game. This iteration was mentioned in an August 2007 interview with Gabe Newell by GameTrailers, in which he mentions “Invasion” as being the second-phase of Team Fortress 2’s development under Valve Software.

Final design

The next significant public development occurred in the run up to Half-Life 2’s 2004 release: Valve’s Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi claimed both that Team Fortress 2 was still in development and that information concerning it would come after Half-Life 2’s release. This did not happen; nor was any news released after Lombardi’s similar claim during an early interview regarding Half-Life 2: Episode One. Near the time of Episode One’s release Gabe Newell again claimed that news on Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming – and this time it was. Team Fortress 2 was re-unveiled a month later at the July 2006 EA Summer Showcase event.

Walker revealed in March 2007 that Valve had quietly built “probably three to four different games” before settling on their final design. Due to the game’s lengthy development cycle it is often mentioned alongside Duke Nukem Forever, another long-anticipated game that has seen many years of protracted development and engine changes.

The beta features three multiplayer maps which contain commentary on the game design, level design and character design, and provide more information on the history behind the development. The commentary suggests that part of the reason for the intentionally cartoonish style was the difficulty in explaining the maps and characters in realistic terms — questions like “Why would two teams put their bases so close to each other?” become more relevant when there is an emphasis on realism in a game.

The art style for the game was inspired by J. C. Leyendecker, as well as Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell. Their distinctive styles of strong silhouettes and shading to draw attention to specific details were adapted in order to make the models distinct, with a focus on making the characters’ team, class and current weapon distinct and easily identifiable.

The commentary also explains why the commander (a single player who sees a top-down map and is responsible for organizing the team) was not included in the final design: it was too hard to make the experience fun given a poor team and a good commander, or a good team and a poor commander.” [info from wikipedia]

The Scout was one of the first TF2 classes that was created when Valve decided to try out a more stylized approach to the game. Various character designs were drawn before find the final one.

Images Concept Arts:

Also, various weapons were removed from the final game and even the levels were a bit different in the beta (as you can see from the videos below) . In the beta version of Team Fortress 2, the Demoman had six grenades to spill out. However, they were removed for balance issues. Many more unused and beta models can still be found in the game’s code, as you can read from Uber Charged!

Images (unused models):

Thanks to FullMetalMC, Ace.Dark and NastyKill for the contributions!