The original 2001 build of Duke Nukem Forever was leaked online. It reportedly suited to almost all levels, including weapons to fire, and a few baddies to shoot. The game, according to the leaker, is expected to arrive later in June.
What''s most interesting about the leak is how close it seemed to a ready-to-ship product. Now were hearing straight from 3D Realms and Apogee founder Scott Miller that the Duke Nukem Forever construction in 2001 was anything but complete.
"Anyone expecting much of a playable game will be dissatisfied," Miller wrote on Apogees website. "The game''s brilliant trailer from that period clearly over-represented what was actually playable in the game."
Scott Miller opened Apogee Software Productions in 1987, leveraging the name to launch 2D action platformers, while later developing 3D Realms to develop full 3D games such as Prey and Duke Nukem Forever, which took 14 years to develop.
"While games like Max Payne and Prey kept the company afloat, Duke Nukem Forever was a constant money pit for the corporation and eventually killed the original 3D Realms/Apogee," Miller admitted. While he wasn''t part of the initial project, he was also a company owner, which gave him insight into what went wrong forever.
First, 3D Realms was "always understaffed by at least 50%," which when combined with an almost total lack of development roadmap, meant that progress was always slow. If a new technology arrived, Duke Nukem Forever would reboot development using that new technology. After beginning on the Quake II engine before then moving to the Unreal Engine and finally landing on Unreal Engine 2.
Miller said he tried to sell the game to another studio, including Warframe developer Digital Extremes. However, the idea was "shot down internally." Only when Gearbox offered to purchase the Duke IP, the game launching in 2011.
"It''s a quite sad story no matter how you think about it," Miller said. "It brought 3D Realms to its knees, everyone of our development team left or was released, and the 3D Realms name is now owned by someone with no connection to our past." 3D Realms was sold to Embracer Group in 2021, along with Gearbox.
Miller still believes in The Duke, and he offers Gearbox a recommendation to recover Duke Nukem at some point. "I believe Gearbox might be able to recreate Duke Nukem in some way. If it does well, then you may start making more Duke adventures while expanding the universe with new characters."