8 May 2009 7:09 am   //   Filed under: Failure, Hard times

R.I.P. Duke Nukem

In the early 1990s, a software company called Apogee released a series of totally addictive side-scroller games for MS-DOS. (See my good friend Commander Keen above.) Since my parents thought a PC was more educational than a Nintendo, DOS was the gaming platform of choice for my brother and me. We played and beat many of these games. Great fun.

One of the best was called Duke Nukem. Duke was some kind of commando with a huge arsenal of bulky, cartoonish weapons. The game was set, as Wikipedia notes, in the “near future” of 1997. A vastly refined and more violent sequel called Duke Nukem 3D came out a few years later. Then, in April 1997, the developer behind Duke Nukem 3D, 3D Realms, announced another sequel: Duke Nukem Forever. It was going to be the best video game of all time.

They’ve been working on it ever since.

This week, various tech blogs including this one at the Wall Street Journal report that development of Duke Nukem Forever is finally over and the game may never be released. 3D Realms has been shut down. The greatest setup in video game history has ended with no payoff.

What happened here? Were they really even serious about this game? Can you imagine working on the same project for 12 years, only to have it be scrapped?