The End for Duke?

Duke Nukem Forever. 12 years in the making, so far, and no end in sight. Sort of.

Last Wednesday, 3D Realms, a division of Apogee Software, closed its doors. 3D Realms was formed back in 1994, presumably as Apogee was to be phased out. The first title they published was Terminal Velocity, a futuristic combat flight simulator developed by Terminal Reality. From there, they developed their first 3D game, Duke Nukem 3D, releasing it in 1996.

The Duke Nukem franchise began earlier, in 1991, when Apogee released the first Duke Nukem side-scroller. Duke, with his irreverent humor and fast action, became an instant hit. The 3D first-person shooter furthered this popularity with excellent level design, multiplayer action, and plenty of adult humor. Duke was such a hit, the next episode in the series, Duke Nukem Forever, was announced in 1997 and expected to ship in mid-1998. However, numerous setbacks, rewrites, changes in game engines, and other behind-the-scenes action, the game remains incomplete and unpublished today.

The unfortunate demise of 3D Realms means that Duke may never be published, though Take 2 Interactive still holds the publishing rights. There are rumors that George Broussard, designer, is looking for funding to continue working on the game. After 12 years, though, is there any hope left?

Since the announcement of the studio closing, screen shots and footage have started to leak. From what has been leaked, it looks like this could have been an incredible game. There’s some gameplay here that seems fairly new to the FPS arena. Here’s the leaked game footage:

In addition to the footage, a number of screenshots have been leaked. Voodoo Extreme has a great collection of screenshots, including plot details, and design documents for the entire game. Shacknews has a collection of screenshots from a number of the artists. I’ve included some of this art below.

3D Realms had a good run, and now it’s time to say goodbye. Perhaps Duke Nukem Forever will see the light of day, but I’m not holding my breath.