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back to article Why was Duke Nukem Forever s**t?

Game developer Gearbox has put together an online survey asking for feedback on its widely-panned game Duke Nukem Forever. When the shooter was released in June after 14 years of delay after delay and almost unflagging anticipation, it was hit by stonkingly bad reviews. Aside from the super cool launch party, we weren't too …

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I think one of the biggest reasons this game was so bad was down to the fact that whilst the graphics had been somewhat upgraded, the core game play hadnt changed since 1998.

You can have lewd scenes, soft porn and loads of guns, but this amounts to nothing if you are essentially playing an average game from the late 90's.

A sequel to this game could not be any worse. So I guess it gives the developers the chance to produce the game we should have got the first time round..

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Silver badge

It was nothing like a game from 1998

Almost purely linear levels pushing you relentlessly from cut scene to cut scene are a much newer invention. As the cost of assets has gone up the temptation to limit the ability for the player to explore has raised proportionally, presumably in order to ensure that all the money is on show. A bog-standard shooter from 1998 would have been endless indistinguishable corridors and caves and an insistence on making you find coloured key cards and buttons.

As for the feedback, I notice they've stuck to asking how much you approve of Duke's style of humour rather than anything about the specific execution. So that's: "Well, obviously you have a problem with the style of content" as a counterargument to "It's just not funny".

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Core gameplay

"the core game play hadnt changed since 1998."

Nintendo has been reissuing virtually identical sequel / remakes of Mario, Pokemon, Zelda etc. since the year dot. They tend to be high quality titles though and attract high review scores.

So it doesn't really matter if a game is just more or the same as long as it delivers it with some style and perhaps a little twist of innovation each time around.

I think Duke Nukem's problems were simply that the title had been languishing in developer hell for fifteen years. It must have undergone countless rewrites, staff turnovers, arguments, and eventually the money was burned out. it's new publisher decided to cobble a game together from the assets in the shortest time possible. I don't particularly blame them for that. The real failing lies with 3D Realms / George Broussard for turning the project into a money pit in the first place.

It's not unique amongst games for not delivering after a lengthy, troubled gestation but it probably stands as the worst example by far.

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Anonymous Coward

Endless indistinguishable corridors?

Did you ever play the original Duke 3D? Thousands of textures, spread across (IIRC) 16 .ART files (held within the main duke3D.grp archive)- and used to great effect to create some pretty impressive scenery. Even now you can look at screenshots and say 'that's duke 3D'. From cracks in the ground to submarines to space-stations, it really was a fantastically varied game.

The level design was great too- it's the earliest 3D shooter I can think of off the top of my head that had crawling through air vents, working mirrors, multi-layered levels (which are a bitch to work with in a 2D level editor :P), a character with visible legs, security cameras, an interactive pool table or even just non-linear level design (they were more realistic, with multiple paths from one place to the other- the Richard Gray (The Levelord) made a point of having levels that it was difficult to get trapped or cornered in).

Nothing I've played recently- with the possible exception of some levels in Deus Ex 3- has had level design to match it.

DNF was an embarrassment to the masterpiece of a game that was the original Duke3D, even if it was cheesy as hell!

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Stop

Stop it.

The crude humour was/is the essence of Duke. I really am shocked at the amount of people who bought this version of Duke Nukem and then were surprised to find it was rude and offensive.

As fore being bland and repetitive I would just like to say that. in my opinion Call of Duty, Battlefield, and all other shooters are bland and repetitive. They are almost always in a field or town and all are solely with almost no story,"go shoot that guy". The story come in the form of :Okay we need a reason for the player shooting that guy and his friends. Any ideas? You are shooting them because they are threatening you're freedom or some crap. So in that example ALL shooters are bland and repetitive.

What I am getting at is this. This is Duke Muken. It is based on cheap humour and mediocre game play. It is a puzzle game that had shooting in it. This version was missing the puzzle but for that it was just every other Duke and that is NOT a bad y.thing. Not now, not ever.

As for everybody else saying that this is just a re-skin of Duke 3D you are right. But CoD 4 is just a re-skin of Call of Duty to follow the example and that game is held as one of the best FSP's in the history of gaming.

Get off the high horse and except Duke as Duke. years from now he will still be sitting at a bar telling very offensive jokes, slapping asses and staring at titties. Get over it and laugh for once you might pick up on all the humour around you.

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WRT Map size & complexity

Very very good point. I thought about the last half dozen games I've played much of - HL2, L4D, L4D2, Doom3, Crysis, FEAR - and I do not recall very many loops in the map graphs at all, leaving aside local loops between adjacent rooms in the same building. I think the only game I've played in a decade or so that offered many ways to the end game was Deus Ex: Invisible War (I'm looking forward to having the time to play the new Deus Ex :-).

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What, no

option for "$50 is way too much to pay for a graphics update to Duke Nukem 3D"?

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Bronze badge

Filled it in.

After selecting "I did not play", I got a set of questions along the lines of "do you like shooters with puzzle elements / driving sections", etc.

Clicked Next and that was the end of the survey.

I suspect they're only interested in the opinion of people who played it (and hence probably bought it, or were able to play for free) and not the opinion of people who deliberately DID NOT buy it after reading reviews / seeing footage. Which kinda seems contrary to the point. If you bought it, they probably don't care about it because you bought it. If they could work out why people WEREN'T buying it, though, that would be a million times more useful to them.

I didn't buy it because:

1) It was shite, as the article inferred.

2) It was a dull, wishy-washy FPS with no imagination, specifically:

a) linear. TOO MUCH LINEARITY. By far

b) toilet-humour with nothing to back it up with

c) over-use of violence/sex as the reasoning behind a character / image / scene

d) It looked and, from what I saw, played like a shooter from the pre-Duke era with fancier graphics

e) None of the "good" content that's been leaked of previous iterations of DNF were included.

3) It was expensive

Seriously, the title was nothing more than a cash-in on the name. Want to know why it failed? Go look at other FPS and even the original Duke.

And stop being patronising - you really AREN'T interested in why it failed, hence why your survey doesn't even cover the greater proportion of people who you need to capture.

P.S. Think we'll be buying another sequel even if you fix most of the problems? Think again.

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Anonymous Coward

How can you give them proper feedback if all you're doing is regurgitating what reviewers told you about the game? Given that you aren't even interested in a sequel means your opinions would be worth even less to them.

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WTF?

Like the first guy said

If you did not play it through or watch someone play it through, then you are talking through your hat. Or to put it in your terms: you are talking shyte.

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they should be interested in people that didnt play

even if the answer to why you didnt buy it is 'because all the reviewers said it was shit, and it looked shit', that is something that they SHOULD be interested in knowing, as a business. its all very well catering to the fanboys that bought it, but they are and *should* never be your primary market.

personally, i didnt buy it because it seemed to miss the point of the original duke3d (and indeed, the non-3ds before that). the main purpose was the gameplay. it was one of the best fpses of its day (with a brilliant level creator that even a 12 year old kid could make decent levels in - and did. i remember playing levels made in the image of my school, for example.), the fact it had a fair bit of sexual content and crude humor *were not* the main points of the game. its only this latest iteration that decided that they were the cornerstones of the product - a decision made all the more stupid by the fact that most of their prospective customers would be people who liked duke3d 15 years ago, and have now grown up.

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Tittle

I was going to be faithful to Duke no matter what. UNTIL, I downloaded the demo and the game was completely unplayable as it kept freezing and crashing even after updating all driver updates. I even ventured off to download the pirated torrent version to play the "full version" before I spent my hard earned money on the game, and it too crashed and was unplayable. Why would I spend money on something I can't even enjoy?

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Anonymous Coward

What?

I agree, the game sucked, but to blame the game for crashing your illconfigured system is crazy. The game never crashed my system or the 20-25 other systems it was installed on.

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LPF

Fair play to them

They know that people did not like it, and instead of sticking their heads in the sand, they are asking for why ?

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It wasn't *that* bad.

If it was released independently from the Duke Nukem franchise it would have faired much better, but unfortunately even before anyone had even seen it people had concluded it was going to suck. Reviewers basing their scores on the shoddy XBOX version didn't help. The main negative for me was the stupid limitation to the number of weapons you could carry which made Duke himself seem a lot less awesome, the cover based regenerative health rather than health packs which mades the game too easy and the slightly dated graphics engine. Other than that I had a riot playing Duke again.

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I enjoyed it too. I got the sense most reviewers just couldn't wait to put the boot in. The game was fairly average (I played the PC version), but it certainly wasn't as bad as the reviews made out. I certainly had more fun playing it than some of the other FPS games released this year.

Half the hate I see for DNF seems to come from people that have never even played it...

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I don't think it was a bomb, but....dated. I remember playing Duke 3D when it came out, great game.

That was a different time, different gear. Today, you have Xbox360s, playstations, Wiis more sophisticated games, and a different era of players. you can't take something from the past and expect it to compete with what kids are playing now. I do not play games anymore, none of the above items are part of my living room. I have a laptop to do whatever. So, I think they lost some of their fan base due to age, and the ones behind us.... there are better games to play than Duke to them. If it wold have come out much sooner, hey, no problem, would have probably been great. but now, I'm just not as interested. Same thing with Doom 3.....

you can't bring space Invaders back and expect it to be a smashing success compared to some of the other games out there.

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To be fair, the biggest problem with Doom 3 was its length. It had even less gameplay than the original Doom shareware demo, too little game for too much money!

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No anecdotal feedback?

As someone who works with feedback data from our staff on a daily basis, i find it perplexing that there's no means of providing anecdotal feedback for DNF. The questionnaire i just filled in will guarantee the next game will be the result of a committee going "more of that, less of that, about the same of that". One paragraph of written feedback will be more valuable than the rest of that questionnaire put together.

None of which addresses what i really wanted to say about the run-of-the-mill graphics, unengaging storyline, clunky gameplay and trying-too-hard humour.

At least unlike the game, i finished the questionnaire before i got bored.

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Holmes

is that it requires somebody to read and analyse it.

Multi choice forms require no processing at all and allow marketing bods to provide management types with huge excel spreadsheets full of meaningless "feedback" with no effort whatsoever.

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Mushroom

and the award goes to!

You beat me to saying it, I think the number one thing that put me off we the trying to hard humour.

The graphics, I can overlook. They weren't THAT bad but some of the animations were a bit stiff.

The story, wasn't terrible... better than CoD

The humour, it's not the wrong style, it is what I expect from Duke. It was just over done.

His sarcastic, bastard nature on top of womanizing and kicking ass and chewing bubblegum was great.

The new approach was "everything is about me! ME ME ME! See that game? ME! See those girls? MINE! See that Toilet? I POOP IN IT! ME!"... It had the right target, but just overshot it, by a wide margin...

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Yahtzee

To be honest, you're best just sending them a link to the Zero Punctuation review. Everything they need to know in a nutshell.

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Survey was almost as bad as the game

I guess they bottled out on actually wanting to hear what people thought of the game and instead came up with that rubbish survey that doesn't even allow any comments just radio buttons for selecting responses to their pre formed questions.

I bought this game on steam pre release and will never buy a game like that again because of this game ..... 14 years of waiting means I was going to buy it no matter what the reviews said but I would have happily sold it on to someone else foolish enough to buy it after 14 minutes of game play...... something that unfortunately buying it on steam precludes.

People should be flogged for releasing such a steaming pile of crap and the people responsible for the multi-player element should be stood against a wall and shot.

Harsh yes ..... but completely fair because we all got suckered into parting with our hard earned cash to pay for this 14 year old joke.

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Anonymous Coward

No surprise: Survey equally lame

Why was here was no free-form comments box?

If this game had come out when it was originally was supposed to have, it would have been terrible then too. (Anon because I'm embarrassed to admit I own the game.)

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Just

Put the franchise to bed.

PLEASE.

It was good the first time back in the day but now its just crap and I highly doubt its going to get any better.

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Anonymous Coward

Was pretty much just Halo with a sense of humour. Which isn't exactly good but considering the popularity of the Halo games I don't see why this was so unpopular. People that complained about sex jokes/lewdness/chauvanism bemused me, did they not know what Duke Nukem was or something?

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That was the problem!

"Was pretty much just Halo with a sense of humour."

Halo was shit; it has a stupidd 2 weapon limit and a crappy regen health system that either made it too easy or too hard, coupled with oh so very lineal level syndrome. These are the things that I most hate about Halo... And were the things that DNF had. :(

Having Duke being so awesome and then limiting him to 2 weapons is shitty. Duke3d's defining feature was more or less the same one with Crusader No Regret: the zillion weapong you could use to kill bad guys in veery creative ways.

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Coat

did they not know what Duke Nukem was or something?

You hit the nail right on the head. 17 years in gestation, and the current crop of "x-boxen, Wii, PS3" Gen Y gamers out there have taken over the demographic. I suspect from interactions with many of the generation, they don't appreciate the same kind of humour us old Gen X'ers do. I suspect the Duke will follow other such comedy icons as the Two Ronnies and Monty Python into the mists of time, to be fondly remembered by us surviving old timers.

Can someone please pass me my coat and walking cane? I have to go tell some youngsters to get off my lawn!

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Anonymous Coward

In The Style Of A Daily Mail Reader

I have never played this game, but after reading all the terrible reviews and listening to people telling me how bad it is, I must write and complain about how utterly disgusted I am that this product was ever released. The gameplay was appalling (apparently) and the content nothing short of sickening (so I've been told). Those responsible for this outrage must be brought to task and sacked.

AC, as I don't want people thinking I read the DM even in jest!

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It's been released?

I missed it amongst all the false starts...

As to why it's been panned, and not having tried it this is just a guess, but maybe they hyped it so much that it just had to be a disappointment.

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It all depends on your perspective...

If you look at the game as a brand new game, and ignore the 14 year development time... Then it is a good game! It meets and exceeds what you would expect from a Duke Nukem game.

If you look at the game as being in development for 14 years... Than the game is crap.

The game was not in constant development for all 14 years. It spent more time on a shelf than it did in development. And each time the project was re-started it was done so by a totally different group of people. So the new group had to "waste time" going over what was already done, and then try to figure out what should be done next.

What REALLY sucks is that a fantastic gaming company gave it's life trying to develop this game.

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I have only played the demo, and I decided I wasn't interested. Basically, the main reason I loved the original Duke Nukem 3D is that it was pretty much the first FPS with a main character that actually had a personality. The first one that had little jokes scattered around, weird weapons, cutscenes and so on.

But nowadays all of that is very widespread. Most FPSes, except for those that are designed for multiplayer only, have these features to some extent. This leaves DNF as Yet Another Shooter, and we have way too many of those.

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No good ever came of IT projects with this much slippage

When your software project slips so badly that you start to measure the development time in years rather than months, you might be screwed.

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/title

The single problem with Duke, and this came before the actual release, was that the legacy of Duke and its vapourware status created such a shadow, no actual release would ever be good enough.

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Stop

Stop it!

The crude humour was/is the essence of Duke. I really am shocked at the amount of people who bought this version of Duke Nukem and then were surprised to find it was rude and offensive.

As fore being bland and repetitive I would just like to say that. in my opinion Call of Duty, Battlefield, and all other shooters are bland and repetitive. They are almost always in a field or town and all are solely with almost no story,"go shoot that guy". The story come in the form of :Okay we need a reason for the player shooting that guy and his friends. Any ideas? You are shooting them because they are threatening you're freedom or some crap. So in that example ALL shooters are bland and repetitive.

What I am getting at is this. This is Duke Muken. It is based on cheap humour and mediocre game play. It is a puzzle game that had shooting in it. This version was missing the puzzle but for that it was just every other Duke and that is NOT a bad y.thing. Not now, not ever.

As for everybody else saying that this is just a re-skin of Duke 3D you are right. But CoD 4 is just a re-skin of Call of Duty to follow the example and that game is held as one of the best FSP's in the history of gaming.

Get off the high horse and except Duke as Duke. years from now he will still be sitting at a bar telling very offensive jokes, slapping asses and staring at titties. Get over it and laugh for once you might pick up on all the humour around you.

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Mushroom

There are limits.

"Damn, you're ugly!"

"Hail to the king baby!"

"You're the inspiration for birth control!"

Those are damned funny and sarcastic and a bit mean.

"I'm so great watch me kick a goal with an aliens eye which is actually a game they made based on me while I (dirty old man) diddle some school girls"

Not so funny as it is just trying too hard with a quick hit over the head for sad it is.

The only people that need attention this bad are Duke and the young girls he chases after...

They had it in the right direction but totally overshot the mark of "Cool" and fell right into "Sad and trying too hard"

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I get what your saying, and you are right. Duke is all about the crass, crude humour. However using humour that was considered acceptable 20 odd years ago won't work with a 21st century audience.

Don't lose the crude side of Duke, but update it a bit to fit a modern audience. There were numerous occasions when I was playing Forever when I just cringed a bit as they attempted to pass off some misogonistic crap off as funny and thought it was acceptable now. Its like trying to bring back Leisure Suit Larry. You can't without some big changes. That style of humour is just old fasioned.

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FAIL

Tittle

RE: My "illconfigured system"

All other games run flawlessly on my system. So "illconfigured" or not, if it doesn't work on my system, I ain't buying it. Get over it and end of discussion.

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Anonymous Coward

rather than

put the franchise to bed, they ought to release a game where the Duke is the bad guy that needs to be killed.

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Mushroom

DNFaE

DNFaE (the sequel to DNF) should feature the *developers* as the bad guys that need to be killed. The Duke should hunt them down, and put them to bed. Permanently. Give the man some gum!

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Mushroom

$5 bin here I come

I'll happily buy the game once it hits the bargain bin.

Yay!

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Not far off now

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=duke+nukem+forever&hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=8232147666198321553&sa=X&ei=DaB5TtyKLIbwsgaS4LXKDw&ved=0CFIQ8wIwAA#scoring=tps

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The load times.

Although I had issues with graphics and gameplay, they left out the one thing that made me put down the game halfway through. the horrible load times on the xbox. There was no point in attempting to play on harder levels since any slip up would result in over a minute of reloading.

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