Eurogamer: Sure, but you're going down a street and you're looking at buses and cars and stuff and they look old compared to lots of things you see in current shooters.
Randy Pitchford: Well, there's trade-offs though. And I also disagree with that. It depends on which games you play. If you play a game that doesn't have anything and it's just a shell focused on the scene, yeah you can get higher fidelity, but when you want to put in more simulation, more things to do in the environment, you have to trade off those resources somewhat.
If this exact game had come out earlier in the cycle, when everyone else hadn't picked their angles and maximised the hardware, there'd be nothing that looked as good. The game absolutely looks better than the first generation Xbox  and PS3 games. In this world, today, there are games that look worse than it and there's games that look better than it.
Now Duke was never about graphics – it's not that kind of thing, like I'm going to sell you on the best-looking scene, because when you're talking about the performance of the CPU it trades focusing only on image with other features like interactivity, fidelity in the situation – how many different reactions the enemies have when you're hitting them, being able to shrink them down, freezing and breaking them to ice cubes, playing with the tools in the environment. When you sum all that up, it's a different use of system resources, but it's maximising the system...
And it's absurd to say [what you said]. If you honestly take a look at anything – take the worst image from Duke Forever and compare it to Duke 3D, come on... You're disingenuous to your readers if you try to make that claim.
Eurogamer: I'm not being disingenuous. Do you not think when you look at the lighting model, for example, when you're walking around the penthouse, the way it's lit is not what we have come to expect?
Randy Pitchford: That room isn't trying to be lit like a dramatic room, but when you get into the alien hive you're going to be like, "Holy f***, this s*** looks gnarlier than Gears of War," and that's a one-to-one fair comparison, because you're in this alien hive cave and you've seen that in another game and you go, "Holy s***."
I'll tell you what you're right about though – we have this in our heads. Because we know the game's been in development for so long. So pardon me.
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Eurogamer: It's OK.
Randy Pitchford: We have some of... on my team, dozens of the most talented engineers and artists in the industry killing themselves to make sure it doesn't just feel like old graphics, and working around the clock to make sure that's paid off.
But there are decisions we need to make, as a Duke game, about how we use the system resources. It's a much better decision for the game to have all of that richness in gameplay and options and simulation than just trying to make the most beautiful scene.
What you take away, what you remember years from now, is the experiences you have. And Duke is all about experiences.
Eurogamer: What was it like for you, given your history, sitting down in front of the work-in-progress Duke Nukem Forever for the first time?
Randy Pitchford: Man, that's a great question. I don't remember. [Laughs] That's terrible. I'm really bad at this. OK, so let me just recall.
So Gearbox is in Dallas, 3D Realms is in Dallas, there's lots of people at each studio who have relationships with people at the other studio, so I've had different opportunities over the years to have a look. So it wasn't just like a black box and then suddenly I'm getting the Tarantino light on my face.
But honestly, there was a moment when Scott Miller brought me a hard drive, and he said, "Here." And I plugged it in on my computer. I had to muck around a little bit to get the engine running, and load up something, and you're like, "That's kinda cool," and you load up something else and it's like, "Holy f***." It's a bit. And this is f***ing good. And I'm just digging through it myself and I felt like a videogame version of Indiana Jones, going through the cave and there's a gold statue.
Eurogamer: Did you feel almost like you were the only person on the planet?
Randy Pitchford: In a way. There was a time when I had that hard drive, and the team had already been scattered to the wind, and I actually hadn't opened a dialogue yet with Allen and the guys who just didn't give up. So I was thinking, "There's probably a lot of people who would like to sit in this seat right now."
That was a pretty cool moment. "Holy f***, I'm having lunch with Bigfoot right now." Like all those blurred photos! There's no Loch Ness Monster! Well dude, I'm having a conversation with him right now and he's telling me what's up, and what he's been up to for the last thousand years.
I did feel the gravity of that situation.
Eurogamer: Final question: Do you think Duke Nukem Forever will be successful?
Randy Pitchford: Well, I made a decision to purchase the franchise and to become the responsible party for shipping the unshippable. When I made that decision, I probably thought about it a little bit, and I probably decided that was a good decision to make.
So you probably already know the answer to the question, but yeah, I made the bet. And I made the bet with a lot less information than I have today. When I made the bet, we were still in 2009. I think my crystal ball is pretty good for me on that one.