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The Nuking of Duke Nukem 325

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."
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The Nuking of Duke Nukem

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  • Re:as a kid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:51AM (#30523594) Homepage Journal

    Dude, that was the third iteration of Duke Nukem and it lacked much that the side scrollers had. My favorite part of DN1 (a squeaky little side scroller that used the PC speaker for sound) and DN2 (similar to 1 but better 2D graphics and used the PC's sound card) was shooting the Energizer Bunny.

    George Broussard used to post at Planet Crap almost daily shortly after DN3D came out. He said there were 35,000 people that registered DN1, which had been released as shareware.

    I was one of the 35k. It was twenty bucks well spent! I think I picked up DN2 at K-Mart.

  • ALWAYS BET ON DUKE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:54AM (#30523622)

    Tycho said it best, "...there are lessons about what makes for good play still bottled up in Duke Nukem 3D, lessons haven't truly informed the last thirteen years of industry progress." If anything at all comes from the DNF fiasco, I hope that some younger gamers (and developers!) go back and give D3D a playthrough.
    Maybe it's not as great as we remember but it sure as hell deserved a better fate than it got.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:59AM (#30523680)

    Four things: visually engaging graphics, engaging story, gameplay, and actually being for sale. Okay, maybe three things; I can overlook poor graphics (I'd gladly buy a good Infocom clone for a dollar).

    FIVE, five things: visually engaging graphics, engaging story, gameplay, actually being for sale, only costing a dollar and nice red uniforms... Damn. I'll come in again.

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

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:27AM (#30523984) Journal
    let alone the free strippers in the office.

    They weren't all free, most were tied up or in handcuffs.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:35AM (#30524062) Homepage Journal

    Since people usually complain about music labels being evil, would game developers survive without publishers that pay their costs?

    Apples vs oranges. The fact that record companies give advances to artists isn't what's evil. Ripping off those artists, suing their best customers, and DRM is what's evil about record companies.

    Also, the record companies are no longer needed. In the past it was indeed prohibitively expensive to make a record, but the cost od digital recording has dropped to the point that recording and professionally duplicating 1,000 CDs costs less than a couple of good amplifiers or a drum set.

  • by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:43AM (#30524186)
    Hate to break it to you, dude, but #3 and #4 are figments of your imagination. Every strip joint has at least 1 girl who's "working her way through college", but it's just a story line that's been repeated 100 million times to sucker some dude for a few extra bucks. It's the same as the illusion that they make $2500 per night. It's always interesting to ask one of these characters "if you make $2500 per night, how come your boyfriend has to drop you off and pick you up in your 1982 Ford Escort?" and watch her head explode.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against strip clubs, and have had some great times in them. I've just been in enough of them for long enough to know that there is no mythical lawyer-in-the-making who's paying her tuition with tips.
  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:48AM (#30524274)

    Oddly enough, there were two "OMG this is taking forever" titles.

    The other one was Daikatana. The much-maligned Daikatana actually was released. It went through one engine switch, similar to DNF (Quake to Quake II) because the Quake II engine offered it more to work with. It was "Feature-locked" in mid-1999, as the Wired article suggests that DNF should have been several times, and then worked on to finish and release.

    Unfortunately, it was beat to the market by Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 (November and December 1999, respectively) and so the graphics for it seemed "antiquated" when it was released in May 2000. It also put its worst graphical foot first (the first level, also used for the demo, is legitimately trash that does NOTHING to show off some pretty nice design and atmosphere available in later levels, especially the Greek levels).

    Arguably, this is the counterargument to the Wired article. DNF could have been locked down and "worked to completion." Yes, it could have been finished at several points. They probably should have. At the same time, one of the best times for this to happen (the early 2000's) would have had George Broussard point right to the release of Daikatana and the fact that Daikatana's lockdown had let it get one-upped out of the gate.

    Let's be clear about this: had Daikatana been released in, say, October 1999, reviews would probably have been a lot better. Graphically, it got universally spiked based on the fact that the "new standard" was now the UT or Q3 engines, despite the fact that games licensing engines always have a delay. Storyline/gameplay-wise, it got spiked for hubris, the same sort of hubris that George Broussard and the DNF team had committed over and over again. They couldn't risk getting spiked the same way. Or rather, they could, but fear of doing so is what eventually doomed the game entirely.

    What's really sad is the fact that they had actually, finally, feature-locked the game and were in the final-release run. The shutdown came in a "black flagged on the last lap" situation.

  • Re:Had To Laugh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:49AM (#30524280)

    It's one of the most treasured running gags on /. It's way more treasured than Natalie Portman, a Beowulf cluster or our sharks with friggin' lasers could ever be. It's one of the oldest ones, old enough that even the ancients here can barely remember a time without it.

    And now, it's gone. We have to find a new idiom for something that will be released bundled with $current_topic_considered_vaporware.

  • by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <<tomkidd> <at> <>> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:55AM (#30524344) Homepage
    One of the sites mentioned in the story is Shacknews [], a Dallas-based site frequented by hardcore gamers and whose initial primary subject matter was the FPS games from the era when Duke Nukem 3D was initially popular. George Broussard posts there under the handle GeorgeB3DR [].

    Someone posted a link to the WIRED story yesterday and one of the responses was from Jason Bergman [] who worked for Shacknews at one point as a writer and later moved on to Take Two and now works for Bethesda. In the discussion he posted []:

    That article is missing a LOT of facts. Until the lawsuit is settled, you won't know the full story.

    Which naturally got the "Well how could you even know?" response, to which he responded []:

    I was the producer at take two on dnf. So yes. Yes I know the real story. This article has a few things that are blatantly false, and others that are assumptions from people who weren't there.

    Granted this is from someone who used to work at Take Two, which is the company somewhat demonized in the article, so there may be some bias in play there, but it sounds like some of the stuff in this article may just be flat wrong.

    That said, this article is probably the best it can be under the circumstances, given that no one can really talk too much about it because of the lawsuit.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:02PM (#30524440)

    You must be looking in the wrong places (or just not close enough to a local college). Trust me I've been in and out of them for a LONG time and have known plenty of strippers both in and out of the club setting. When I was in college I knew 2 other students specifically (who I met AS a student, not as a strip club attendee) who were doing it explicitly for tuition money. One of my sister's best friends also is a stripper who does it to fund her tuition (she's going for an anesthesiologist - my sister goes to the same school and is in the nursing program).

    I think you're just visiting the wrong caliber of club ;).

  • by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:21PM (#30524716)

    You must be looking in the wrong places (or just not close enough to a local college). Trust me I've been in and out of them for a LONG time...I think you're just visiting the wrong caliber of club ;).

    Well, let's see, I started going to them when I was 17 (with my boss at the time who was dating one of the "girls"....though his wife didn't know), and have been in and out of many different ones in many different cities over the last 20 years, so I'm not exactly a stranger to the scene. I've had more than casual "acquaintances" with several girls often spanning several years, so it's not as if I'm making these statements based solely on the table-talk. All I'm saying is that IF you've met any who actually did complete their respective degrees and went on to leave the stripper life, you sir, have met a rare breed indeed. It has been my experience that the clubs are filled with plenty of girls with seemingly good intentions, that rarely manifest.

    I've been in all walks of clubs, with all types of girls, from the seedy to the chic, and the stories/archetypes appear to be universal.

  • by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:37PM (#30524948)

    most members of group #3 either aren't very active (since they're normally working for beer and weed money, not tuition)

    Actually, I think you proved my point for me. For any girls you've met who may actually have been attending classes at some school (rather than just claiming that they are as many do), too often, they're actually stripping to support the things you're referring to, rather than the noble pursuit of paying their tuition. Typically, the fun and partying becomes a lot more appealing than the various sacrifices it takes to complete a degree and enter the working world, and the allure of higher education and a "real job" fades.

    hey end up transforming into a member of one of the other groups

    Yep, I agree....although they transform into group #1 or group #2.

    members of group #4 don't exactly strip in your regular strip joint in the bad part of town, they can most likely be found in places where you have to pay $50 for a drink and just checking your jacket at the door ends up costing more than what most people are prepared to spend on beer in one night...

    I'm familiar with the so-called "feature dancer", and yes, I've been in attendance for several. They too are an illusion, as they all have dreams/aspirations of becoming actresses (whether in porn or not) and one day leaving the trenches in the strip clubs, while the reality is that most do not, and in fact also eventually morph in to members of group #1 or group #2. As I commented to another poster, I've been in many, many clubs of many types from the pristine ones where most of the girls look like models to the ones where you're not entirely sure you're going to make it out the door alive, and the stories (and story-lines) are the same wherever you go, just slightly modified to fit the situation/people involved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:52PM (#30525114)

    I'd gladly buy a good Infocom clone for a dollar

    How about $9.95? []

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:17PM (#30526190) Journal

    I'd tend to agree with you too. My theory is that basically, an individual who would be willing to put up with the "taboo" nature of the industry, the labeling of your character that comes with the territory, and the relatively high risk to one's personal safety -- all because it's "easy money, compared to other jobs out there" is the type who isn't likely to do well in school either.

    Good intentions don't count for much, if you're too lazy to act on them.

    Honestly, I don't have any problems with a woman deciding to market her body/looks/dance moves by way of a strip club. It's no less "valid" a way to earn a living than anything else. But most of the time, I think they attract immature ladies who just want to "party and have a good time", and aren't thinking long-term enough to realize their looks aren't going to last forever. The fact they receive so much cash money that there's strong motivation to hide from the IRS is another factor (at least here in the USA). I was good friends with a former stripper who told me she literally raked in thousands per week when she was 18 or 19, working at the right clubs in New York. But after a while, her biggest problem was literally figuring out what to do with the cash. Most of the strippers bought a lot of clothes, and a used sports or luxury car or something ... But after that? They tend to blow it on drugs and drinking, partying, going out to eat at expensive places, hotels and travel ... Actually saving it would quickly mean you had traceable income, and you'd get stuck getting taxed on it.

    There's probably an untapped niche market here for financial advisors/money managers for people in the adult entertainment industry ... but again, the challenge would be getting immature 18 year olds to take any interest in it and TRUST someone with their money.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:30PM (#30526356) Journal

    I haven't really been following this; so I read TFA.

    Two things leap to mind:

    1. The sequel always sucks. He should have realized from the outset that you do a sequel to cash in. Shovel that sequel! There really is no other way. Even if the sequel was actually just as good or slightly better, it will always suck because it can't duplicate the effect of seing a blockbuster for the first time. Note, this is not true if the original was not a blockbuster or particularly popular. A movie/game example doesn't leap to mind; but think of any cover of a Bob Dylan song. At any rate, the psychology of sequel reception seems readily apparent to me, and I suspect to just about anybody. How could they not see that?

    2. At what point should they have realized that there was another model available besides "ship finished product"? I'm referring to the "perpetual beta" model of Google, or a subscripion model, or perhaps giving free upgrades for a couple years after the game came out.

    Finally, wow! 12 years at a failed project??? That's just staggering but I bet it's not a record. The record probably comes from the defense industry and may or may not be classified.

  • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:13PM (#30529120)

    Um, I live in a college city, we're also the strip-capitol of New England, and I can tell you that I've met plenty of stripper-students who are paying their way through various schools with the money (I also work at the universities, so I see them on-campus). It's tough to find a job where you can make rent and tuition without going into debt, and without help from the parents.

    Not everyone is on good terms with their parents, especially younger folks, and there are a lot of young folks who aren't comfortable going $40,000 into debt to go to school.

    The strippers I knew were making about $800/week working three nights, much more if they performed 'extras' or escorted on the side (which was legal here until recently).

    I've also known a few who were excellent people, but were -really- loose with money. I had a roommate who stripped and 'did extras', and she insisted on paying for -everything-, since she always had a wad of cash. She would buy drinks for everyone within reach when we went to the bar together.

    Another stripper I knew managed to pay off her house in three years (sub-prime, interest-only, and she was single) by dropping her nursing job ($50K) and stripping five nights a week ($90K). She's back to nursing now, but she would have been a foreclosure, for sure.

    Another I know is a lesbian who has a -really- extensive crystal/jewel collection. Her girlfriend doesn't mind the stripping, since 'men don't count, and the crystals make her happy'.

    I know several who have deadbeat boyfriends/babydaddies/husbands who are always out of work and don't take care of the kids. They work two or three nights a week to make ends meet, and they're home during the day with their kids. Not an enviable lifestyle, but it says more about the nature of mate-selection than it does about stripping.

    Your post reminds me of the stuff I would see on the message boards about the Asian Spa near my house, guys would post stuff like 'I totally forced myself on that fat sex-slave' when in fact, they paid $160 for a hand job by the -owner- of the place. Maybe things are different in your neck of the woods, but here in Rhode Island, it seems mostly legitimate.

  • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:23PM (#30529256)

    Excellent post. That's a real issue. I had my bank account frozen twice when I had my stripper roommate. I would put her ones in and withdraw twenties, the bank didn't like getting four stuffed envelopes of ones every night, I guess.

    I actually testified at the state house that the sex workers in my city need 401Ks and tax advice more than they need prison terms or 'rescuing'.

  • Engine Switches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LUH 3418 ( 1429407 ) <> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @07:46PM (#30530994)
    I've heard that the game was pretty far along when they switched to the Unreal engine. It's true that Unreal was a much better engine than Quake II... But, there have been many open source projects demonstrating that those game engines can pretty easily be upgraded. They could have saved themselves license money and avoided re-making all their assets by going that route instead.

    I myself used to run an indie game project. We were making our own game engine, and at the time, I was a pretty naive programmer. I liked to implement everything myself (reinventing the wheel). I was also never satisfied with the quality of what we had made, and so we restarted the engine development twice. This lead to other members of the team losing motivation, and the game never got completed. I think it's pretty easy to not be satisfied with what you have, but the lesson I took from this project is "refactor/reuse, don't recreate". Refactoring programming code can seem tedious, but in the end, it's always faster than starting completely from scratch, and you avoid losing what you already have.
  • by BillX ( 307153 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @12:45PM (#30536222) Homepage

    I wonder what happened to all these "90% finished" versions - whether they were just trashed outright and lost entirely, or there are a few still kicking around in a repository somewhere. A micro-scale version of the DNF 'pattern' played out for the original D3D too (partly-finish the game, then scrap it and head in a new direction), but they actually released the partly-finished lame version because the curious D3D fanatics were clamoring for it (google for 'lameduke' if it still exists anywhere). It had about 50% chance of crashing during the demo screen, and the unfinished game bore no resemblance to the final D3D (more sci-fi, less funny, and you drank cola to refill health), but it was an interesting look at what-would-have-been. Any bets on the possibility of a 'LameDuke Forever' release(s)?

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe