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What's taken Duke Nukem so long?

Broussard: "It wasn't a quest for perfection."

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Duke Nukem Forever will finally release next year after a decade of development, but why has it taken so long?

According to original designer George Broussard, the answer is simple: developer 3D Realms spent too long trying to change game engines it licensed to help build the bloody FPS.

In an interview with Maximum PC, Broussard denied the accusation from some quarters that DNF was a "quest for perfection", but did admit to a string of development "issues".

"I wish there was an easy or dramatic answer for what took so long but there just isn't," he said.

"It was just never ready. We had lots of development issues along the way. It wasn't a quest for perfection as some silly article in Wired implied last year.

"I think what hurt us the most was licensing engines and trying to change them too much. S*** happens and after delays the options are to continue or kill the game. I never wanted to kill the game. We got things turned around dramatically in 2007-2009, with a lot of new hires, and most of the game as it exists today was created in that timeframe."

DNF was spectacularly saved from development hell in September when Borderlands developer Gearbox bought the Duke Nukem intellectual property and announced plans to polish the game off and release for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 next year.

3D Realms went bust in 2009 after working on DNF for hundreds of years. Publisher Take-Two sued the developer (a lawsuit Broussard calls "bitter") for failing to deliver the game in a reasonable time frame. They settled in May.

Broussard described DNF's release as "the result of several back-to-back miracles" and insisted that the game is "probably in pretty good hands" – Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford used to work at 3D Realms and plays poker with Broussard every week.

But is DNF's muscle-bound hero Duke, after so many years out of the public eye, still relevant?

"Duke offers contrast and something very unique and different from the cookie cutter, cardboard, generic game heroes that don't have an ounce of personality," he said.

"It's ok to not like Duke or think him juvenile, but at least he's not boring and vanilla. Most people play games to escape and enjoy a fantasy for a while."

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