If only the big Duke himself had been employed at 3D Realms, we might have had the elusive Duke Nukem Forever in our hands a decade ago.'Your ass is grass and I've got the weed-whacker,' he could have barked, intimidating Broussard and company into getting their heads down and fearfully finishing the game, instead of letting it become the most famous piece of gaming vapourware in history.
He didn't, of course, and we can't really hold this against him, being a fictional lump of American muscle and all. Instead, we endured a slothful drip-feed of screenshots, starting with some (now very dated looking) snaps in 2002, before the whole game was restarted again from scratch, and even then we had to wait six years before we saw the next couple of teaser screenshots. After over a decade of delays, publisher Activision pulled the plug on 3D Realms' development rights and handed the game's future to Borderlands developer Gearbox.
This is perhaps the nearest you can get to keeping up with the Duke's history, though. After all, Gearbox's president, CEO and co-founder, Randy Pitchford, started his game developer career at 3D Realms on Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition. Fast forward a few months and we now have a Duke Nukem Forever release date, and even playable code, but we wanted to know what this involved.
Will the Duke's macho humour remain intact? It certainly looks like it
Just how much has Gearbox had to change, will 3D Realms' distinctive humour remain intact and is there any of that old game from 2002 still in the innards somewhere? We caught up with Pitchford to quiz him about the Duke's next big outing.
Bit-tech:Firstly, how does it feel to finally be putting the finishing touches to what was previously regarded as the gaming world's most famous piece of vapourware?
Randy Pitchford: Surreal. I am honoured and humbled to have the seat that I have on this one. It’s a moment in gaming history that we all get to be a part of. Years later, we will ask ourselves: 'Do you remember what you were doing when Duke Nukem Forever finally came out?'
'To get Duke Nukem Forever, you'll have to go through us!'
BT:It's been 15 years since Duke Nukem 3D was released. Do you think Duke Nukem Forever will be able to live up to its high expectations?
Pitchford: If you've literally been doing nothing but waiting for the game all this time, I can’t imagine anything, game or otherwise, that would be worth that. But if you've been living your life normally, and suddenly find that - against all odds - the miracle has happened and Duke Nukem Forever has shipped and you pick it up and play it, you’re going to find an incredible, unforgettable and undeniably entertaining experience there.
BT:Culture and attitudes have changed somewhat since 1996. Is there still room for a sexist gung-ho action here like Duke Nukem in 2011?
Pitchford: I think so; Duke is going to do quite well. There’s clearly a lot of love for Duke.