Over 34 million unique hits, published in three gaming magazines, linked on nearly every gaming blog on the internet, digged over 6,600 times between its three appearances on the Digg front page, Slashdotted twice and still going...

The List - http://duke.a-13.net/

Updated by Eli Hodapp - http://twitter.com/hodapp - http://a-13.net/ - Last Edit: 5/06/09

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Duke Nukem Forever was a computer game that had been under development by 3D Realms since its announcement on April 28th, 1997, originally slated to use the (then) state of the art Quake II 3D engine. A few months later, screen shots were published in PC Gamer magazine, along with an intended release date of mid-1998. Excitement grew in May of 1998 when a few short video clips of Duke Nukem Forever were shown at E3... Surely a final release of the game was right around the corner!

Just about when mid-1998 arrived (June, specifically) 3D Realms announced they were changing 3D engines to Epic's Unreal engine. George Broussard, the producer and co-creator of the Duke Nukem series insisted that this change would not cause any significant delay, despite all logic pointing to the contrary. Also at this point, Broussard assured everyone Duke Nukem Forever would see a 1999 release.

1999 came and went, Duke Nukem Forever saw another engine change, this time to an updated version of the same Unreal engine they were working on. 3D Realms even released a Duke Nukem Christmas card, insinuating a 2000 release. Not surprisingly, the year 2000 came and went without Duke Nukem Forever. Another Christmas card was released, this time hinting at a 2001 release.

In the summer of 2001, 3D Realms released the most substantial proof to date that Duke Nukem Forever has ever existed in any form- a two and a half minute game play trailer:

In 2002, 3D Realms hired new programmers, and decided instead of switching to another 3D engine, they would just develop their own, making this the fourth engine change since the initial announcement of the game. Broussard eventually came out to say that at this point, "95%" of the already designed levels had been scraped, and had they remained on track they would have been "two years" off from releasing Duke Nukem Forever under the Unreal engine.

In early 2003, the CEO of Take Two, 3D Realms' publisher announced Duke Nukem Forever would be released by the end of the year. This eventually changed to "by the end of 2004" and then "in the beginning of 2005." In September of 2004, GameSpot.com revealed a rumor that Duke Nukem Forever had made its fifth 3D engine change, this time using the Quake III engine. Broussard denied the rumor, but announced only a few days later that they had switched to a different physics engine for the game.

Duke Nukem Forever news in the years to follow was limited to rumblings on forums and mostly consisted of drama between 3D Realms and Take Two which wasn't very interesting. During this time, the only thing we've even saw that provided any proof that anything was even happening with Duke Nukem Forever is a small (and I mean SMALL) 200x125 image of a supposed screen shot which was posted on several 3D Realms job postings online.

A Duke Nukem Forever teaser was released on the 19th of December, 2007. Along with it came the normal "blah blah blah, when it's done" we've heard before.

(If the video doesn't show up, disable ad blockers.)

On June 5th, 2008 ShackNews posted a story entitled "New Duke Nukem Forever Footage Released" regarding a short interview of George Broussard and Scott Miller on The Jace Hall Show. During the interview, Jace asks them what has been taking them so long. Broussard replies, "There's been a lot of mistakes and a lot of lessons we had to learn, most of all a lot of World of Warcraft." A remark intended as a tongue in cheek joke I'm sure, but probably not far from the truth.

(Interview starts at 2:30, gameplay footage starts at 4:15.)
Click here if the embedded video doesn't work.

At the end of the segment Jace says, "You're going to be pleased." Honestly, I think everyone wanted to believe this. The footage looked cool, although nowhere near as revolutionary as the 2001 trailer, given the state of the first person shooter genre at the time... but never the less, it looked close to being finished. All was quiet on the Duke Nukem Forever news ticker until May 6th, 2009.

Almost a year following Jace's hands-on look at the game, ShackNews announced the death of 3D Realms. Originally tipped off by a "very reliable source", ShackNews broke the story of funding issues as phone calls and emails to veterans of 3D Realms went unanswered. A 3D Realms spokesperson even declined to comment. Later updates provided some insight to the closure, revealing that Take-Two was not funding the development of Duke Nukem Forever and the closure of 3D Realms was not affecting the development of the handheld Duke Nukem Trilogy.

So there you have it folks, show's over after 12 years and 9 days, less time than it took Barack Obama to go from his first election as an Illinois Senator to becoming President of the United States... And all we have to show for it are a few videos and screen shots.

This whole meltdown of 3D Realms is providing some excellent insight on why things were taking so long, like this forum post allegedly from an ex-3D Realms employee. (And please keep in mind I have no idea how true this is, but it makes sense. If someone from 3D Realms wants to drop me an email and set the record straight I'd be more than happy to add whatever you have to say.)

"The 2001 trailer was 100% scripted cinematic, and not actual gameplay. They built specific demo maps just to record video from to make a trailer. Everything you see in that trailer was phony.

The typical work flow there went something like this:
Designer would be assigned a task (build a new map, rebuild an old map, polish a bit of a map, etc.). Designer would work on said task for two, three weeks, a month, all the while lower management would be looking over it and making sure it was going in a "good general direction." Designer would move on to another task. A month or two later upper management would finally look at the work and say, "It's all wrong, do it again." Rinse, repeat.

Entire maps would be done from the ground up, almost to beta quality, and then thrown out simply because no one would make decisions early on in the process. (Read up on Valve's 'orange box' method of design -- that's how you make games)

Another example of is the fact that there was one part of one map that was being worked on before I started working there. Nineteen months later and the same designer was still working on the same part of that same map... I'm not blaming the designer, it wasn't his fault.

I think the biggest problem that the company had in general is being self-funded. When you're a developer working directly with a publisher and you have milestones to meet it's a whole different ballgame. If you don't meet those milestones, you don't get any money. That right there will keep your project on schedule. If, however, you're funding it yourself, you don't really have anyone to answer to except yourself and you can quickly lose sight of just how much money is going out the door.

A rebuttal was posted on the 3D Realms forums-

"It was originally posted on Something Awful, and I posted a followup. Unfortunately the guy who posted it wasn't there when the trailer was developed, and he's mistaken.

Everything but the sandworm and the "talking" parts were just clips of gameplay from the game as-is, other than some effort to polish them up. The talking parts were written for the trailer, but were accurate representations of the story being told and were intended for real use.

So while those bits were "scripted" they would be scripted in the final shipping game too, but all the rest (vehicles, weapons, AI, games, etc) were straight from the production playable game.

So where does the truth lie? It's hard to say, probably somewhere in the middle. I have a feeling more and more things like this are going to come to light now that 3D Realms is no more.

What's going to happen next? Who knows. It's entirely possible 3D Realms could sell the project off to another developer who finishes it inside of a month and releases it. Alternatively, George Broussard could take the codebase to his grave. Regardless, here's what happened in the time it took Duke Nukem Forever to blow our minds and then disappear like a fart in a strong breeze.

Update - 2/11/2011

Amazingly enough, it seems that Duke Nukem Forever will actually see the light of day. Its official release date is May 6th, 2011. Initial impressions of the game have been posted on quite a few sites, and seem fairly positive. Kotaku seems to provide the best summary:

Is Duke Nukem the sort of game that comes from more than 13 years of development? No, most certainly not. Was it worth the wait? For fans of Duke Nukem? Probably.

Here's the official launch trailer:

Duke Nukem Forever Preorders


Robbie Schumacher

" Hello,

My name is Robbie Schumacher. I'm from Byesville, Ohio and I'm 27 years old. I reserved Duke Nukem Forever at Babbage's back when it was first announced. I still have the ticket stub that I've been carrying in my wallet since that day. I took a picture of the front and back of it. The front has a stub number and it also says Babbage's, Software etc., Funcoland and GameStop. The back has "May 48.00" written on the back. I'm wanting to say that it was early '98 or even winter of '97 when I did because of the May written on the back. Actually..I do kind of remember May rolling around and then saying that they're gonna use a better engine for the game and to keep my reservation stub..so that had to of been '98.

I've attached pictures of the ticket stub..front and back just for proof. "

The following things have been accomplished between Duke Nukem Forever's announcement on April 28th, 1997 and its death on May 6th, 2009...

Popular Video Game Series Releases

Duke Nukem

Final Fantasy:

Grand Theft Auto:

The Legend of Zelda:

The Sims:

Other Popular Game Series:

Video Game Systems:

Fun Facts

Computers & Internet:



Movies that were filmed, released in theatres, and have made it to DVD:

Pop Culture:

Science & Technology:


United States Politics:

World Events:

Things that have taken less time than Duke Nukem Forever's Development:

Pop Culture:

Science & Technology:


Things that happened since the List of Things That Have Happened Since Duke Nukem Forever Was Announced was written:

Via xkcd


Thanks to wntd for the kickin' CSS and marshmonkey of NimbleBit for the cool tombstone image. Check their site out if you're looking for sweet iPhone games.

Thanks to CaptainPsyko, BonzoESC, n1ck, Fish, MrBrainsample, Skroob, stabby, Josh Taylor, v0idnull, wildfalkon, Joachim Blum, Mr.D., CellBlock, HeroinAllstar, Deathwind, minivanmegafun, mroach, Simon Howard, Pierre "Zacha Pedro" Lebeaupin, Premek, Robbie Schumacher, xkcd, Jetsetlemming, Platypus Farm and anyone else I'm missing who chipped in facts for the updated list. Also, thanks to Wikipedia nerds who spend so much time listing weird things like every game Mario is in.