Remember when we got news last year that Gearbox had official control of the rights to Duke Nukem, and were hard at work to finally finish Duke Nukem Forever? It was fantastic news alright, and many of us were celebrating the fact that a studio with an excellent track record of actually finishing games was going to bring the man himself back.
And then the game shipped, and we were given a stark reminder as to how far the industry has progressed since Duke had been gone. Buggy visuals, outdated gameplay and an overreliance on one-liners and nostalgia resulted in one of the most disappointing games of the year. But Gearbox still has the rights to the character, and there’s no way that they’re going to let DNF be the final game in the series, not with their reputation on the line.
Over in the US, at the Penny Arcade Expo, Gearbox Games Development Chief Randy Pitchford gave a state of the Duke Union address, talking about what went right with DNF, and what went wrong in the end.
It’s such a polarizing thing… There was this one guy that mapped out the different review scores. Here’s the number of people who gave it a zero to 10. And here’s the number of people who gave it 11-20, 21-30, and so on and so forth. And most games have a perfect bell curve, you know, where the center of the curve is the average score. Duke had two curves. There were people who panned it and there were people who kind of liked it. And Alan [one of the long-time developers on the game] pointed out: â€œIt looks like a pair of boobsâ€. That was our plan from the beginning! That actually happened. That’s a true story.
I hope some people kind of enjoyed it. When I dug through all the stuff that [the original development studio[ 3D Realms had done, I expected a trainwreck and I was actually quite pleased. I had a lot of fun with it. It was fun for me, and I’m really glad that we not only rescued the franchise but took the time to make sure the world could see what those guys had been doing for all of those years. And I’m also proud of the things we added to it. I think we did some things to make it a little better.
I liked it. And we’re no giving up. We’ve updated the game. I know the load times weren’t very good on the 360 and so some of the patches improve that. I don’t know if you guys noticed.
And then, we also have some DLC coming. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty fun. So if you like Dukeâ€¦ I think you’re really going to like the DLC coming out that’s being developed by the guys that actually made Duke Nukem Foreverâ€”the guys at Piranha, the guys at Triptych. The Triptych guys are the ex-3D Realms developers. And they’re still working at our studio on the 10th floor, and they’re committed. They’re going to go all the way.
But its the final remark made by Pitchford, that really got fans excited.
And then soonâ€¦ I know that you guys figured out that, when Gearbox acquired the franchise, we didn’t do it just to make sure we could all play Duke Forever, but because we wanted to make our own Duke game. Soon, we’ll talk about that, but not today.
While DNF was a terrible game, it was because gamers were playing something that was essentially a decade old title that had been polished to hide its numerous flaws. By all accounts, it wasn’t a game that Gearbox had made.
But if Pitchford and co can put their own stamp on the iconic franchise, then we might finally have the Duke game that we’ve all been craving, and frankly, deserve.
Last Updated: August 31, 2011