Duke Nukem Forever launched in June 2011 after 15 years in development, the longest-ever video game development period. The story of its creation is one of peaks and troughs and high drama, but that's not what we sit down with Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford, the man who saved Duke from development hell, to talk about.
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Pretty much since I was a child, video games have been full of jerks. Donkey Kong? What a prick. Super Mario Kart? Full of jerks. I wasn't that familiar with the expression "climb a wall of dicks" when I was 10 years old, but if I had been then I would have directed it in Princess Peach's direction almost as often as I burst into tears because she pipped me to the line on Rainbow Road.
I made a note of it. After all, it was a big occasion. 3:35pm, 9th June, 2011. The exact moment it became real, when a courier arrived at my door with a package it would be fair to say I'd been waiting some time for.
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When Randy Pitchford talks, he talks. But when Randy Pitchford talks about Duke Nukem Forever, the game he rescued from development hell, he gushes.
We all know that Duke Nukem Forever has been in been in development for 13 years. The fact the game is going to see the light of day at all is a testament to the wills of the nine 3D Realms staff who kept working on it in secret after their employer's demise, and to the artistic sympathy of Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software and one of the industry's great showmen.
According to Jewish law, Duke Nukem Forever would be a man by now. First announced to the public in April 1997, this game has weathered the longest cycle of delays, cancellations, resurrections and cryosleeps, effectively mocking everything we know about game development and the space-time continuum in the process.
We love black humour, gallows humour, call it what you will. Those moments of utter despair lightened up by a sideways glance and sharp monotone quip, and it's difficult not to crack a wry smile at 3D Realms' hapless attempts to make another game. Every time the Formula 1 results come in, any gamer seeing the list of DNF drivers can't help be reminded of the delicious irony of the game that Did Not Finish also happens to share those telling initials. Yes, 3D Realms' interminably delayed PC shooter Duke Nukem Forever is a game now well into its seventh year (and counting) of development, yet it's still showing no signs of even being reasonably close to being completed. You couldn't make it up, you really couldn't.