Not so long ago, the whole of gaming faced a terrible evil – a threat so grave that few knew of its true scope, a threat so intense that even fewer were capable fighting back. The greatest video game hero – Duke Nukem, our King– was on the verge of being lost forever.
A world without Duke Nukem wasn’t something I even wanted to consider. I know that because of my history with Duke that I’m not objective about it, but I also know I’m not the only one. In the interests of full disclosure, long before Gearbox was founded, long before we developed our games for Half-Life, long before we created new brands including Brothers in Arms and Borderlands, it was working with Duke Nukem at 3D Realms (with Gearbox co-founder Brian Martel) that launched my professional career as a game maker.
That’s why, when bad things started to happen and the future of Duke Nukem Forever was hanging in the balance, Gearbox got involved. How could we let Duke die? The world needs Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem is the Ultimate Alien Ass Kicker. Duke Nukem is the World’s Greatest Hero. Duke Nukem is legendary and unimaginably fascinating. We believe in this. This is a game people have been waiting over a decade for and it’s a game we all deserve to play for ourselves.
But it’s about more than just finishing the game — this legendary, seemingly un-shippable game was first announced in 1997. Duke Nukem Forever deserves to be accessible to as many gamers as possible. Duke needs as many people as possible to play. So when Gearbox got involved, back before the game was running on consoles and back before there was any multiplayer component, we knew what we had to do.
We had to bring Duke Nukem Forever to PlayStation 3. We had to. There was simply no other choice, especially since Duke has had more adventures on the original PlayStation – Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes – than any other console.
Our mission is to complete and deliver the game. The vision for the game was created and iterated by 3D Realms and, I’m very happy to report, is the worthy sequel we all hoped it would be. When I first played through what 3D Realms had created, I knew what had to be done. Yes, it was going to require tremendous commitment and effort from our studio. But Duke Nukem Forever is a game the world MUST be able to play and experience. Fortunately, many of us at Gearbox feel a deep affinity for the game and the brand. In fact, with the exception of just one person, every single designer and artist listed in the credits of the 2001 Duke Nukem Forever trailer had at some point either joined Gearbox Software or is now still a part of the project.
But it’s not just us working on the game. Triptych Games, a studio created by former 3D Realms employees after they were let go, were the ones that carried the torch and kept the game going in those dark months after the story broke that Duke Nukem Forever was dead. Among their numbers is Allen Blum, one of the original creators of Duke Nukem and the only person to have never left Duke’s side in the 20 years since. Allen Blum and Todd Replogle created the original Duke Nukem side-scrolling game in 1991. Today, Allen with the rest of the intrepid team at Triptych have been the most dedicated driving force behind the vision and direction that they first established with the rest of the team they worked with at 3D Realms.
Also assisting us in the mission to finish Duke Nukem Forever is a studio known as Piranha Games. Piranha has taken point on building out the multiplayer game as well as preparing the game for PS3. It’s also right to recognize our friends and allies at 2K Games who have been providing support, quality assurance, and all the other great things that publishers do.
I have estimated that 3D Realms invested between 3,500 and 4,500 man-months of effort into the game, a lot of which has been lost to the ages. Meanwhile, by the time Gearbox ships the game we’ll have put in another 2,500 man months of effort. I’ve never been involved with a project of this magnitude. By comparison, Borderlands, which is by no means a small game and involved the invention of an entirely new universe and new technologies to support crazy features like millions of guns, involved between 3,500 and 4,000 man-months of effort.
But the most important part of Duke Nukem Forever, the reason it had to survive, lies with the game itself. It’s not something that can be easily explained, it’s something better experienced – be it while gunning down the alien hordes, partying with the Holsom Twins, single-handedly saving Earth with the most awesome and wild arsenal of weapons ever to appear on the Playstation 3, or going head-to-head against others with your own personalized Duke in multiplayer.
It’s about being the biggest badass known to mankind and taking down bosses the size of buildings all the while quipping one-liners. It’s about the gratification that comes from overcoming thinking challenges and even solving in-game context appropriate puzzles — actual puzzles, not just blindly running forward like we do with other games that often times can just play themselves. It’s about keeping the experience going for more than five or six hours and creating something that feels EPIC. It’s about exploring, finding all the hidden items and gags, and discovering what you can and can’t do. It’s about kicking ass and taking names. And that’s something we will all get to try for yourself soon enough. If you haven’t visited the website the details are that Duke Nukem Forever ships to retail stores on June 14th in North America and on June 10th Internationally. If you can’t wait that long and know you’re in, you can join the Duke Nukem Forever First Access Club to guarantee yourself early access to the game’s upcoming demo by pre-ordering Duke Nukem Forever from a participating retailer or by purchasing the Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition which has a certificate with a membership code on it in the package.
It’s almost here, it’s going to be big, and I absolutely cannot wait until the game is in your hands. Always bet on Duke!