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Why is Duke Forever Taking Forever?

Not a day goes by on any Duke message board or chat room without someone pointing how long DNF is taking. "They better hurry up, or DNF is going to miss the boat!" one poster commented. Others are more like: "I'm sick of waiting. This game is vapourware. I'm going to play Q3Test." Post like these get people thinking. Why is Duke Forever taking this long? What's up with 3D Realms withholding info and screenshots? Was DNF not at this year's E3 because it's in trouble?. Will DNF's technology be outdated by the time it's out?

The answers are simple. So calm down, sit back and read this article. All will be revealed...

The problems start with a common misconception: How long they have actually been working on Duke Forever. A lot of fans think that they have been at it since before 1998's E3 convention. Otherwise, how did they get the footage to use in the famous Duke E3 video? That's easy. What was seen in the video was not anyway meant to represent DNF. 3D Realms put together a few demo levels and effects using the Quake 1 engine, just to show off the possibilities for DNF. At the time, they didn't even have a full team working on DNF. The real work on DNF didn't start until late 1998. Up until that time, all the screenshots that were seen by the public were just from shots of 3DR fooling around with the Quake 1 engine so they could get used to a true 3D engine and have some experience when they got hold of the Quake 2 code(the engine they planned on DNF using).

That brings me to the next issue. Why did they go from originally using id software's Quake 2 engine to Epic's Unreal engine? At the time, 3D Realms found that implementing some of features they wanted in DNF with the Quake 2 engine would take too long. Then they saw the more flexible Unreal engine already had some of the things they were trying to add to Quake 2. Because it was better at rendering large outdoor areas and other factors, they decided that slight a delay(4 weeks or so) to switch engines would save them time in the long run and make their job easier. Just look at Unreal's graphics compared to Quake 2 to see why they did it. Need I say more? It was just a business decision. It wasn't a stall tactic or anything else like some people have accused. In the end, DNF will be out sooner and looking better.

Looking better? Why hasn't 3D Realms released any information or Unreal engine screenshots? 3DR has answered this question numerous times. As in the past, certain companies are looking to rip off ideas from 3DR. Features that were implemented in Rise of the Triad, mysteriously showed up in Doom after an Apogee/3D Realms employee showed an early version ROTT off to a few fellow developers. No one is pointing fingers though. Looking back at the 98 DNF E3 video, I can see some innovations(lens flares) that could have been swiped and used in the generation of games that we play today. This is the same reason that Duke Nukem Forever was not at this year's E3. At this point, there are probably a lot of cool things that 3DR could show off, but at the risk of revealing their trump cards to the competition. Many Duke fans state that they prefer to be surprised by a game and don't want to be spoiled by tons of screenshots and demo movies. In fact, the only things about 3D Realms tight-lipped attitude I don't like is that the big game sites insist writing Duke Nukem Forever previews when all they have are the same screenshots and information we've been hearing since 1998. The other drawback to the no-tell policy is that it opens people up to rumours and rampant speculation about the state of DNF; speculation that I'm trying to quell with this article.

But has Duke been taking an abnormally long time to come out? As I said before, DNF has only been under development since mid-late 1998. Any release dates you might of heard are erroneous. The closest thing to a date that has been directly released by 3D Realms is that Duke wouldn't be a 1999 game. If your local software store says that they are expecting DNF for this Christmas, they are mistaken or just flat out lying. As most experienced gamers know, a good game takes around 24 months to make. DNF has been only been worked on for 10 months, at a maximum. That put's it's release at sometime around the year 2000. Now, take in to account that 3D Realms is not just trying to make a good game, but an excellent one. It's been a trend lately for companies to release games that are half-done to meet their arbitrary release dates. They put a little slip a paper in the box calling the game a "work in progress" and instruct you to download the latest 25mb patch to get he game to run. 3DR has said that it's their aim to make a game that doesn't need to be patched. Their famous "When it's Done" line makes sure that they don't have to rush to throw out a game to the public that is full of flaws. Quake 2 was still being patched until recently and I wont even go into some other recent releases by other game companies.

Now for one of the most silly lines I've heard: "DNF is taking so long it's going to miss the boat!" Now what I have to ask in response is this: What boat are you talking about? It's not like suddenly the market for first person shooters is going to dry up. DNF is evolving with the current trends in the game industry and from my long experience dealing with Apogee/3D Realms, I know for a fact that they wouldn't let a game become outdated before it's release. Many upcoming games are multiplay only. I think its a mistake to forget about the singleplayer experience. 3DR has made a strong point about DNF's singleplayer aspects. This might give DNF an advantage over other titles that have forsaken an integral part of a good game. Single makes a game viable and fun for people who have slow Internet connections and would never buy a multiplay only game like Tribes. Many people think the Unreal engine won't hold up against the newer crop of engines being developed. Remember Rise of the Triad? That was done with a heavily modified Wolfinstein 3D engine. Apogee took what was thought to be an incredibly outdated piece of code, and got it to perform comparatively to the then high-tech Doom engine. If they can do that with Wolf3D, imagine all the features they add to Unreal. I can't be sure, since I don't have any insider information, but I believe that the good old Unreal engine is getting a major overhaul to be ready for the so-called next generation engines. Besides, all their apples are in the DNF cart after putting Prey on hold so they could get everyone they have to work Duke. Why would anyone siphon more resources to a doomed project?

I hope this little article has dashed some of your fears about Duke Nukem Forever. The bottom line is that everything is progressing as it should. DNF is right on track. It will rock the PC game world and I'll be first in line to get it, regardless of what nay-sayers may complain about. "Good things come to those who wait." If you're tired of waiting for DNF, go play another game. May I suggest Half-Life or the upcoming (shameless plug)Interstate 82? This article wasn't just some official 3D Realms press flak. It was written by an independent gamer just like you who is waiting for Duke's triumphant return to the PC. Take my advice, don't worry about and enjoy the ride. It will be out when it's done, and that's soon enough.

- Article by: Maveric

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