Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Games

The Nuking of Duke Nukem 325

Posted by timothy
from the nero-fiddles-for-the-soundtrack dept.
Rick Bentley writes with more on the story behind the meltdown of Duke Nukem Forever, the game that will now live on only as a cautionary tale: "Although the shutdown was previously reported on Slashdot, this new Wired article goes in-depth behind the scenes to paint a picture of a mushroom cloud-sized implosion. Developers spending a decade in a career holding pattern for below market salary with 'profit sharing' incentives, no real project deadlines, a motion capture room apparently used to capture the motion of strippers (the new game was to take place in a strip club, owned by Duke, that gets attacked by aliens), and countless crestfallen fans. *Sniff*, I would have played that game."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Nuking of Duke Nukem

Comments Filter:
  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:01AM (#30523090) Journal

    Using motion capture room for strippers is just badass.

  • by BorgDrone (64343) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:08AM (#30523146) Homepage

    Now the game is cancelled, can they at least release the data from the motion-captured strippers ?

  • Office Perks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:11AM (#30523176)

    Developers spending a decade in a career holding pattern for below market salary with 'profit sharing' incentives, no real project deadlines, a motion capture room apparently used to capture the motion of strippers.

    I'd work for below market salary just to be able to work with no deadlines, let alone the free strippers in the office. :-)

  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:11AM (#30523178) Journal

    Interesting note in the article also was

    Normally, game developers don’t have much cash. Like rock bands seeking a label to help pay for the cost of recording an album, game developers usually find a publisher to give them an advance in exchange for a big slice of the profits.

    Since people usually complain about music labels being evil, would game developers survive without publishers that pay their costs? Sure, indie's do, but look at what happened to 3D Realms too, and they even financed lots from their own past revenues.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#30523260)
    I bet it's not so badass sitting at the unemployment office wishing you had actually WORKED ON THE DAMN GAME instead of wasting time.
  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#30523272)

    They never released it because the opposition kept getting better? If they could retain the great humour that went into the Duke3D, they would not need the latest and greatest in 3D gaming. It should stand alone.

    Duke Nukem 3D was pretty average technically, but who cares when it is so funny and engaging. The saga of Duke Nukem Forever reminds me of how George Lucas discovered CGI, but forgot script writing. Just because something is pretty doesn't mean to say that it is good.

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:29AM (#30523348)

    at some point common sense will tell you that this project isn't going anywhere and your job may be in trouble and maybe i should look for another job? it's like all the dot coms from 10 years ago where people drank the kool aid and thought that investors will just keep feeding them more money to have fun at the office even though there is no profit and no one has any idea how to make a profit

  • by Scr3wFace (1200541) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:34AM (#30523412)
    Strippers!
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:39AM (#30523446) Homepage Journal

    I think the point to that statement was that getting the money up front usually tied the artist (game or music) in to deliver on someone elses' timeline, which in this case is what DNF needed more than anything else since even a stream of crappy, poorly selling titles would have been better than, well, nothing.

    It highlights the cautionary tale that DNF has become: don't let a mountain of cash take your eye off the development process that usually ends when the investors tighten the leash and say its time to start paying back, since that part is only avoidable if you want to fade into oblivion with nothing to show for it.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:54AM (#30523624) Journal

    It sounds like, from the article, Broussard never really got the concept of iterative development. It sounds like 4 or times they had a game *almost* done, and then scrapped it. Why? I mean, on the one hand, I do understand the idea of not releasing crap that dilutes your 'name brand', but the article author seems to have indicated that every time they demo'ed their 'current' generation of tech, the crowd was wowed.

    In the 10 years from 1998-2008 they could have released 4 or 5 great games, each one getting better than the last. Each one making some revenue to help you fund the next version. I've come to appreciate that developing software isn't a destination, it's a journey. Make a new version, give yourself a well-defined, finite set of new features, develop them, sell that version, then start working on the next version which adds all the cool features you just weren't able to work into the last version, but wished you had.

    One of the points in the article was that they scrapped the Quake II engine for Unreal, because Q2 just couldn't render the outside deserts around Las Vegas the way they wanted. I think, faced with the same problem, I would have just said, "No outside levels in this version - if we can't make them look decent, don't make them at all; we'll do it in the next version" - although, possibly I could see that one reboot as being necessary - probably the game would have been really missing something if there were no outdoor environments. So, I could see that change could have been necessary, switching to Unreal, but once they switched, they should have committed to shipping *a* game based on that engine, and only worried about changing up engines once they started work on the *next* game, after shipping DNF.

    Well, at least young'uns like me can learn from 3DR's mistake.

  • by kurfu (738047) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:12AM (#30523824) Homepage
    “George’s genius was realizing where games were going and taking it to the next level...” No. From TFA, it appears that as far as DNF is concerned, George was not an innovator at all. Instead of coming up with his own ideas, he wasted 12 years trying to play catch-up to every new shiny thing that got released.
  • by Alomex (148003) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:18AM (#30523882) Homepage

    I'll work on an open source project when my lawyer and my doctor start providing free consultations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:23AM (#30523948)

    I don't know what kind of "profit sharing" incentives they were offered, but it seems to me that having a company sponsored stripper room is as good an incentive as any to work for below market salary

  • by mrjb (547783) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:29AM (#30524010)
    There's another name for what killed DNF: "feature creep". Classic mistake. So is hiring extra people to work on a project that's already late.

    After reading the article, it's blindingly obvious that what really killed the project was nothing but bad project management.

    "Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it." [joelonsoftware.com]
  • by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:36AM (#30524078) Homepage

    Presumably Grand Theft Auto IV's developers mo-capped strippers, and that shipped.

  • Re:Office Perks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#30524158)

    I'd prefer working well above market salary. Strippers can be bought with cash, ya know?

  • Re:Office Perks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:02PM (#30524438) Journal
    So I can have 50 hour weeks 10-15 of which i go "render" Las Vegas strippers for free and get paid less or I can work 50 hours a week 10-15 of which I read /. and get paid more. Right now I'm trying to come up with a formula for how much less I would take and the cost per nipple, or the CPN index.
  • Re:Had To Laugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:05PM (#30524480)
    We'll be done when it's ready.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:08PM (#30524512)
    Would you be quick to snap up someone whose only professional credit was "Worked on a game for 12 years that never came out"? I say that half-jokingly--but, in all seriousness, that had to have hurt some of those guys professionally.
  • by delinear (991444) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:11PM (#30524576)
    Just what I thought on reading this - sure they were super talented in '97, a decade later with nothing visible to show for their efforts, got to be tough to prove your worth. Especially if they were already working for below market rates. I hope they did manage to move onto better things.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:34PM (#30524916)

    I bet it's not so badass sitting at the unemployment office wishing you had actually WORKED ON THE DAMN GAME instead of wasting time.

    Read TFA. It wasn't TnA that caused it to fail, it was good old fashioned feature creep, applied to the damn engine underneath.

  • by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:41PM (#30524984)
    The closest was Deus Ex. Huge, gigantic game with an immersive environment that rewarded you for being cunning. But still no radio-detonated pipebombs. :)
  • by delinear (991444) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:49PM (#30525782)

    The problem is, every time you reboot with a new engine, you raise expectations, and make no mistake expectations for this game were massively high from the very beginning. It's a hugely self-defeating cycle to tell a bunch of ultra-hyped users that the current gaming engines just don't do your game justice so you're switching to the latest bleeding edge engine, no way they could ever have released a game that lived up to its own hype. They would have been far better to release an average game, take the hit on the brand and then build on it for the next version (and by all accounts if they'd released at any time the game would have been more than average anyway, DN3D was never about graphics, they were superceded shortly after its initial release, it was about pure, unadulterated but often adult-based FPS fun).

    Sounds like the guy at the top just cared too much about his baby - should have backed away and left it with a project manager.

  • To quote Voltaire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#30525864)
    "The perfect is the enemy of the good." My bias has always towards getting a product into the hands of customers, not towards academic correctness. Yes, the story of DNF should be taught as a textbook case in bad product management. Rule #1: if you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on third-party tools and then decide not to use them, you should be fired for bad judgment, pure and simple.
  • by swb (14022) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:27PM (#30526312)

    I think at places like that your career actually becomes "Portfolio Development" since there's really no goal or end to the project itself. People actually end up spending days and days just honing portfolios.

  • by honkycat (249849) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:30PM (#30526366) Homepage Journal

    Well, at least young'uns like me can learn from 3DR's mistake.

    Too bad 3DR didn't learn from the long history of software management blunders, as recorded in, e.g., The Mythical Man-Month. The blunders made by the DNF team read like a table of contents for that book. In particular, mindlessly adding employees to help speed things up in the endgame is usually a recipe for further delay.

    Also, if you're aiming for the technically most advanced game out there, using the engine some other guys developed to do it seems like a questionable strategy at best. It's sad. It makes it pretty clear that the original Dukes were accidental successes, at least from a production point of view. The management clearly had no idea how to actually manage the creative process.

  • Re:Office Perks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Verdatum (1257828) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:51PM (#30526718)
    Others were covered in mysterious goo. They claimed they wanted me to kill them, but that always just felt wrong...God I miss that job.
  • by hackerjoe (159094) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:57PM (#30526846)

    You do realize that's just a bunch of handmade animations someone put together? That's the kind of stuff you put together to make a pitch, not a playable game. It's not a bad pitch, but that's the kind of work one talented artist (and maybe a programmer to help get it going in-game) could do in a month or two.

    There are worlds of difference between that and a full, playable game.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:40PM (#30528600) Journal

    Wait a minute..

    You expect to go into a strip club and find a dancer who had "good intentions" and got out of stripping? And since you didn't find any in the strip clubs you go to, they must not exist?

    Where did you learn statistics?

    This post brought to you by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias [wikipedia.org]

  • by jackbird (721605) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:58AM (#30535192)
    It's more like picking up trash at a public park or nature preserve - it helps everyone.

"People should have access to the data which you have about them. There should be a process for them to challenge any inaccuracies." -- Arthur Miller

Working...