Considering DUKE NUKEM FOREVER has already been unlocked via Steam for Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia (with most other countries following
within the next hours), I think it is time for some contemplation in order to realize the magnitude of this event. Needless to say, and you all
know it, for Duke fans, this is a freakin' HUGE one! In order to pay a tribute to the awesomeness of this epic, mind-blowing incision in gamers' history,
let me use the opportunity to take you on a short tour through all the years of waiting - from my personal point of view. Hope you enjoy! ^^
April 1997: The game is announced during the E3 for the first time, active development for the game kicks off by the end of the year. I am 18 and in
the final years of my secondary school time, trying to figure out why I have chosen English, Math and Art as achievement courses. :) The amusing Shadow Warrior,
bloody Blood and impressive Jedi Knight find their way onto my hard drive and are played excessively but can't really deliver. I want more Duke.
1998: Developers switch from the previously used Quake II engine to Unreal, resulting in a major overhaul for the whole game.
Some pretty early trailer reveals that Duke was "born to rock the world", and even though the animations,
models and the level design appear quite poor from a today's point of view, this was a considerable improvement compared to the visuals of Duke Nukem 3D.
There is some good action to be seen, nice babes and also a mysterious female character which seems to be some kind of new sidekick.
In July, I am visiting the US for the first time in the context of some "studies travelling" initiated by my secondary school. In Washington D.C., I am shopping like an idiot
in the depths of Pentagon City and successfully purchase copies of the Duke3D addons Nuclear Winter and Life's A Beach. On December 3, after
having read a long article about the work being done on the upcoming DUKE NUKEM FOREVER in my German gaming magazine, I am pre-ordering the game
at my favorite mail order company since I am totally convinced the title is going to be released soon. The trend-setting Half-Life, its hump-backed
ugly cousin SiN, the colorful and legendary Unreal and also a very bugged Blood II see the light of day. But they can't really deliver. I want more Duke.
2000: 3D Realms guys are switching to the Unreal 1.5 engine. In the meantime, I am 21 and serving my time in the army after having finished secondary school.
Many new shooters have been played by me since then, among them the famous multiplayer legends Unreal Tournament and Quake III and also the more
sophisticated, puzzle-oriented and intelligent hybrid Deus Ex. Daikatana, a title similar to DUKE NUKEM FOREVER considering its development
history, gets released and blows big time. While the engine is Quake II, which is already outdated by that time, the maps and overall game design are still
somewhere on Quake (1) level and apparently have stayed there throughout the years. Turns out John Romero had left id Software for nothing and has
to hide behind cheap mobile games (at least for a while) not much later. I am starting to get a little concerned about the Duke game. Can it still be what we expect
it to be, after Daikatana sucked so hard? There is no other option, it has to be. Since the other games can't really deliver. I want more Duke.
2001: The E3 2001 trailer blows me away. The face of the "Are we all gonna die?"
waitress looks almost photo-realistic to me (yeah, back then it actually did), and the whole footage gives the impression that there is still hope for this getting done. The shameless Duke
ripoff Serious Sam (a desperate act to have at least some stuff minimally reminding of the original, I apologize for playing it), an ambitious, but in the end
tanking Red Faction (only adding destructible areas to a shooter does not make it a good and successful one automatically) and the entertaining, well-designed
Return to Castle Wolfenstein can't really cover or deliver after three years of waiting. I want more Duke.
2002: Basically, the whole project is restarted more or less from scratch. With the game being switched to Unreal 2.0 engine (heavily modified),
the title sees a fundamental refit, with many modern effects like shader, normal mapping or HDR getting added in the process. In the meantime, a 23yo guy
is sitting in university, attending to more or less tiresome seminars about literature and multimedia (yeah, weird combo). He has checked out even more
shooters in the last year. Command & Conquer: Renegade plays nice, but looks ugly, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault adds an epic (and historical)
scale to modern shooters on the PC, Jedi Knight gets a solid conclusion with Jedi Outcast (still using the Quake II engine which definitely fails in hiding its age by now),
and Epic manages to squeeze in Unreal Tournament 2003 shortly before the year finishes. All these titles entertain me for a while, but after all, I am thinking that
none of these can't really deliver. I want more Duke.
Dec 19, 2007: After an eternity, a new teaser trailer for the game
gets released. My fading hopes about any release being still possible are slightly rekindled by this, even though it's a pretty short video which rather looks as if some
stuff has been quickly arranged together for this purpose. Also, Duke looks a bit weird in this one, but anyway, better than nothing.
Pretending to be busy as a student (now
going for MA degree), I am still dedicated to shooters and tried before to keep myself distracted with Jedi Academy, the incredibly disappointing Unreal II and
a much-less-exciting-than-expected Halo. Far Cry had made an impressive step forwards regarding visual quality on the PC (although being difficult
like hell sometimes, due to checkpoint system, brutal AI and insanely challenging indoor levels), while Half-Life 2 finally surfaced after ages of development and
introduced us to the awesomeness that was Steam. Many cursed about it in the beginning, forcing you to activate and update your game through an online client, but over the
years, people accepted the system and learned to enjoy its benefits. How times change. With Doom 3, id Software finally returned and showed us how fear automatically happens
in a game by simply turning off the lights. :) Quake 4 kind of wanted to continue the tradition of Quake II, but in the end it turned out to be a disappointment for
the fans since it was just above average and did not bring back the atmosphere of its predecessors. SiN Episodes proved how badly the idea which was started by the
Half-Life 2 episodic launch could backfire: The first installment completely tanked already, its difficulty system intending to automatically adapt to player skills completely failing, ending
up in a messy, brutally hard fight for mere survival and leaving fans demanding for something better, but never delivering it since any additional episodes got cancelled. Portal
demonstrated that a game can work with a simple "portal here, portal there" gameplay, while Unreal Tournament 3 turned into a big graphics demo which never got fully
accepted by the community. Crysis made the next step and brought current PC hardware down on its knees, leaving players clueless about how developers were able to run this
thing on their own. All of this was nice, no doubts about it. For a while at least. But you know. It couldn't really deliver. I still wanted more Duke.
June 5, 2008: A video from the Jace Hall Show with new
ingame footage surfaces, apparently providing proof the project is still not dead and actually IS playable. For a while, I am giving up on new shooters
and hold on to the old classic Duke Nukem 3D with the Highres Pack (in which I am involved since 2005). Still, even the original game can't fully
deliver any more. I simply need more. And you know what. :)
May 6, 2009: The darkest day for all Dukers, the mega-eclipse. Lights going out globally. Our personal Doom 3, so to speak, just much bigger and in real life - 3D Realms goes out of business. Worlds collide in heads of young and old people. Have we waited for all
these years just to see it all go to the garbage, possibly shortly before the game got finished after all? Conspiracy theories come up, desperation
crawls through the forums. I am finally, finally almost finished with my studies and only weeks away from my MA exam. After over ten years, my pre-order
from 1998 is still active, and I just can't get myself to cancelling it. This simply can't be the end, it must not be! I decide to hold on to my
hopes, praying for a miracle which is unlikely to happen. Out of frustration, I start playing again. Wolfenstein is the final call for the outdated
Doom 3 engine, and while being somewhat amusing, shooting rotten Nazi zombies just isn't what it used to be. Borderlands on the other hand turns out to be a fun game I spend lots of time with later. I like
the nasty Claptrap robots and the post-apocalyptic scenario with minor roleplaying elements. After all, it is not what I really want. The Duke must happen. Somehow...
September 3, 2010: The impossible miracle becomes reality - Gearbox announces the release of DUKE NUKEM FOREVER after all for 2011 and
glues together a playable demo for the PAX convention during the same month. Things have turned to the better for me in the meantime as well since I have finally found a job -
and guess what, it's in the game industry. ^^ Some people still cannot believe DNF is coming after this long time, especially after the game had just been presumed to be dead
for good. Apparently, it's soon again time to chew bubble gum. The Duke will happen.
January 21, 2011: The release date is set to May 3, 2011 (US, May 6: international). With a fixed date set, the credibility of the news has
definitely increased. The Duke will happen.
March 24, 2011: Release date gets delayed to June 10, 2011 (international, June 14: US). OK, a minor, but tolerable setback. One month later is still
better than one year or even more. We have seen many passing already, anyway. The Duke will happen.
May 3, 2011: Game goes gold. NOW it is inevitable. Our legs have not been pulled, Gearbox still exists, you can actually order the game. Simply
unbelievable. Hey, even Portal 2 got released one month ago, should not forget to mention that. Combustible lemons, talking potatoes and
funny robot deaths FTW. But most importantly: The Duke is about to happen.
June 10, 2011: DUKE NUKEM FOREVER is released on Steam. My pre-order gets shipped one day earlier, 4571 days after I placed the order
at my mail order company, never cancelling or suspending it. I have aged from 18 to 32 in the meantime, managing through secondary school, driving tanks, mastering
brutal studies, luckily making a deal for getting involved with games to some degree by myself. I doubted, I despaired, I even prayed sometimes, but I never gave up on
the whole thing. It was all a matter of believing in it. Someone should build freakin' skyscraper-high platinum statues of Randy Pitchford and all the other guys at Gearbox who took over
this raw diamond and gave it the finishing touch. They rule because THEY MADE THE DUKE HAPPEN!
And now... GO AND PLAY THE DAMNED GAME! And if you haven't bought it already...
BUY IT! You slackers!