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The Death and Life of Duke Nukem

“Thanks for being fans and for all your support,” the message says on the 3D Realms website. That’s it. After more than ten years of random screenshots and wild speculation about the future of Duke Nukem Forever, 3D Realms shut it’s doors recently and now the future of our beloved foul mouthed gum-chewing titular action hero lays in serious doubt. For those of you who don’t remember, in 1996 the world was graced with one of the greatest action games ever to be created by the hand of man. That was Duke Nukem 3D. While Duke had previous incarnations on the platform systems with Duke Nukem I and Duke Nukem II, the first person 3D shooter developed by 3D Realms set a whole new standard for PC gaming.

Duke Nukem 3D improved the 3D experience previously seen in games such as Doom and Ultima Underworld using the Build Engine developed by Ken Silverman for 3D Realms. Where the Doom engine restricted sliding actions (such as doors) to a single movement per player event, the Build engine would create multiple events happening at once. This made for environments not seen before in gaming, that is, there were strippers. Thence was born the legacy of Duke Nukem. “The Mighty Foot” melee attack and a constant stream of base profanity and crude behavior made Duke into a national gaming icon. So if the game was so great and Duke Nukem Forever was scheduled for release in 1997, what went wrong?

Basically, the technology being used to create these first person shooter games kept getting better and better and 3D Realms, wanting to stay ahead of the competetion, went through several rebuilds of their gaming engine. This caused constant delays in the game of course, and led to the eventual death of 3D Realms.

Duke Nukem Forever and 3D Realms may have slipped off into the gaming sunset, but that does not mean that Duke himself is dead. While we’ll probably never see a Duke Nukem movie starring Howie Long (who would have been perfect for the role 10 years ago) we have not seen the end of Duke in gaming. Apogee software is not finished with the franchise yet, and is currently wrapping up development on the Duke Nukem Trilogy for the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP. Three titles have been slated for release, starting in Summer 2009 with *Duke Nukem: Critical Mass. * As Duke would say, “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I’m all out of gum.”

Link: Duke Trilogy at Apogee

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