When Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever was unveiled at PAX, the shock spread fast and far. Duke Nukem was Twitter's top trending topic in North America within an hour; in two hours, it was the hottest topic worldwide and stayed there for 30 more. There was disbelief, too, among those who didn't play that demo for themselves in Seattle. It didn't seem possible that a game that had spent 13 years trapped somewhere between development hell and vaporware limbo was suddenly playable at a public show.
Pitchford: "I don't think it helps to make promises about this game anymore."
At the time of the announcement, Gearbox cofounder Randy Pitchford had been sitting on the secret of a resurrected Duke for some time, and it has been over a month since PAX. But the disbelief, even for Pitchford himself, hasn't quite gone away. "Can you believe this?" he asked the assembled press at the UK's first presentation of the game. "I'm right in the middle of it and I still can't believe it…Duke Nukem Forever is like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. It's kind of become mythological, legendary."
Pitchford weaves a good tale about the game's long and troubled history at 3D Realms, lawsuits and all, reminding us that Gearbox shipped 15 games in that same time. As he tells it, though, today there are no hard feelings on any side; the Duke commands a lot of loyalty, it would seem, and everyone has come together to get the game in stores next year. Gearbox has the resources to finally get Duke Nukem Forever across the finish line, with "over 70 people on the project," says Pitchford--when former developer 3D Realms shut down, it had 30 people.
We talked to Randy about the game, the public reaction, the pressure, and his debt to the Duke.
GameSpot UK: You've said you owe the Duke your career. How much is getting Duke Nukem Forever to market about repaying that debt?
Randy Pitchford: I know that given the situation we were in, and the position we were in to help, and the position that Duke was in, Duke needed help. Duke was dead. I felt like if I didn't do it, I would regret that for the rest of my life. It's not low risk. It's hard to imagine something riskier in this industry than betting on Duke, but they say always bet on Duke, right, so I had to do it, and the team did too.
There are so many people from Gearbox who have been part of it over the years. If you go back to that 2001 trailer and look at the credits at the end of it, with the exception of one name, every single person listed as a designer or an artist at some point had either left 3D Realms and joined Gearbox or is now part of the project. There's a lot of love and a lot of ownership that the Gearbox people feel for Duke.
GSUK: It has been a long struggle for the game so far. Did it ever seem to you like a cursed project?
RP: Everything happens because people do them, and I know the people involved. And so the way that development went kind of made sense to me, given the fact I know the people. And I think every step they took made sense to them too. I know they were committed through and through to making it. And I also know they had a lot of resources and not a lot of the same kinds of pressure, so they were able to make decisions that others might not, like starting over or changing engines and things, and each time they did this they would change the landscape.
I think what they didn't discover was as time went on and new generations appeared, the market changed and the complexity went up and the challenge changed, and because they were kind of adapting, there was another kind of difficulty that surprised them--and they got to the end of the risks they could take and they hadn't quite gotten across the finish line yet, and I know it broke their hearts.
Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum