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Duke Nukem Forever has often been used in gaming circles as an example of development hell. So much happened behind the scenes that 14 years elapsed between announcement and release.
Director George Broussard had big ideas for what Duke Nukem Forever should be, but the game ended up being passed around and developed in chunks by four studios: 3D Realms, Gearbox Software, Triptych Games, and Piranha Software. The result was - as you can imagine - a patchwork of ideas, all implemented half-heartedly, and writing and humour which were over a decade old by the time it was released.
Duke Nukem Begins was a cancelled project which was being developed towards the end of Duke Nukem Forever’s cycle. Assets from Begins were recycled into Forever. You can check it out in the leaked trailer below.
It was originally developed by 3D Realms in the Quake II engine at great cost, when two years into development in 1998 the team decided to swap over to the Unreal Engine. This meant the company started the project from scratch, and in 2001, the publishers were absorbed by Take-Two Interactive and the problems really began.
Take-Two, parent company of 2K Games, slashed the team and also kept asking why it’s not finished. This led to huge resentments between the two parties and 3D Realms - the main dev team - announced that Forever would be released “when it’s done” which ruffled plenty of feathers.
Eight years later, and with still no Duke Nukem game, 3D Realms was downsized and the game still wasn’t finished. The publisher moved development over to Gearbox, who released the game the next year to a very mediocre reaction. Meanwhile, 2K attempted to sue 3D Realms for not finishing it in the first place.
Fans have long awaited the 2001 version as the sweet spot in development, after the Unreal Engine and before 2K started cramping their style. As posted to Reddit’s r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit, people from 4chan have been collecting together everything they can find from the game at that time, and are rebuilding it.
Most of it is playable, and every chapter is there in part, but the game was never finished as 3D Realms previously claimed. Not everything is available yet and they hope to have everything together in one package by next month.
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