Developing Nothing Forever

Nov 4, 2006

Some readers may be surprised to learn that I was once heavily involved in the Duke Nukem 3D gaming scene. During that time, I had the good fortune of taking over and maintaining the map editing FAQ, which eventually made it on to the official game CD (which was quite an honor). At the time, the game was revolutionary and incredibly fun. How excited, then, must we all have been when Duke Nukem Forever was announced?

That announcement date was almost 10 years ago (April 27, 1997), and we still have no game to play. DNF has single-handedly become the laughing stock of the gaming community, having been torn down and reconstructed multiple times. I can't help but think that the game will fail miserably when (or if) it launches. The fan base from the original game has grown up. I fondly recall my days with the Duke, but I have a hard time envisioning myself getting as interested in that gaming line today as I would have years ago. What went wrong? Here's my theory:

DNF is announced with much fanfare, and development work begins. The Unreal gaming engine shows promise, so the development team switches, adding delay. New, innovative games begin appearing using this and other engines (Half-Life, for example), and the DNF developers think "wow, our game isn't near that good ... let's start all over." Development begins anew, adding more delay. As work nears completion, more innovative games are released, and the weaknesses in DNF become apparent all over again. Rinse. Repeat. It's an unfortunate snowball effect. Just as soon as the developers are ready to release, another product beats them to the punch, outshining their efforts. This is a battle that is very difficult to win.

If DNF ever does see the light of day, I'll probably at least give it a look. But my feelings for that brand just aren't the same. Time has moved on, and I've grown to appreciate more mature material. But here's hoping that the Duke will shine again. Those days of old were certainly fun.

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