It Sounds Like The Next Duke Nukem Game Will Be Better

You don't acquire the rights to one of video game's most famous characters without planning on doing something great with him.

And if you're Randy Pitchford, the Gearbox game development chief who expected to discover a "trainwreck" of a game when he set about reviving Duke Nukem Forever, you don't plan to let a flawed, critically eviscerated Duke game be the last and best one you're associated with.

In what amounted to a State of the Duke Union Address at the Gearbox community panel at the Penny Arcade Expo this past weekend, Pitchford explained how low his expectations for DNF were, what he's proud of with that game, and that, yes, beyond reviving DNF, Gearbox "wanted to make our own Duke game." He added: "Soon, we'll talk about that, but not today."

This being the Duke part of the panel, Pitchford even managed to make a boob joke. Here's the speech, picking up with a discussion of the review scores for Duke Nukem Forever. Pitchford was speaking in front of about 900 Gearbox fans, few of whom clapped when he asked if the press who slammed the game were "full of shit":

"It's such a polarising thing... There was this one guy that mapped out the different review scores. Here's the number of people who gave it a zero to 10. And here's the number of people who gave it 11-20, 21-30, and so on and so forth. And most games have a perfect bell curve, you know, where the centre of the curve is the average score. Duke had two curves. There were people who panned it and there were people who kind of liked it. And Alan [one of the long-time developers on the game]pointed out: 'It looks like a pair of boobs.'" [much laughter from the audience]That was our plan from the beginning! That actually happened. That's a true story.

"I hope some people kind of enjoyed it. When I dug through all the stuff that [the orignal development studio[ 3D Realms had done, I expected a trainwreck and I was actually quite pleased. I had a lot of fun with it. It was fun for me, and I'm really glad that we not only rescued the franchise but took the time to make sure the world could see what those guys had been doing for all of those years. And I'm also proud of the things we added to it. I think we did some things to make it a little better.

"I liked it. And we're no giving up. We've updated the game. I know the load times weren't very good on the 360 and so some of the patches improve that. I don't know if you guys noticed.

"And then, we also have some DLC coming. It's pretty cool. It's pretty fun. So if you like Duke… I think you're really going to like the DLC coming out that's being developed by the guys that actually made Duke Nukem Forever--the guys at Piranha, the guys at Triptych. The Triptych guys are the ex-3D Realms developers. And they're still working at our studio on the 10th floor, and they're committed. They're going to go all the way.

"And then soon… I know that you guys figured out that, when Gearbox acquired the franchise, we didn't do it just to make sure we could all play Duke Forever, but because we wanted to make our own Duke game. Soon, we'll talk about that, but not today. [the crowd cheers] "

That sure sounds like a new Duke game is underway at Gearbox, a new one we can guess will not laden with old tech and ill-suited game design. We can guess these things because the "we" Pitchford is talking about, when he says "we wanted to make our own Duke game," would be Gearbox, makers of modern, acclaimed shooters like Brothers in Arms and Borderlands. Ready for their Duke?


    I believe Gearbox will be able to do Duke justice in a fresh game... It's not entirely their fault DNF sucked, it's just their fault for putting it out the door.

    Also, Duke as an unlockable character or NPC for Borderlands 2!

      How ironic, because 12 months ago and long before that it was people, probably like you, who were whinging for the game to be released and giving up hope on ever playing the game.

      Then when they get their hands on it, toss it in the trash and can't stop blasting the game and wanting it to never have been released.

      I won't touch the game cause yeah, it looks like rubbish and I was never interested in it - but at least appreciate that fact you got to play the game in the first place whether it was a load of crap or not!

    Yeah, I was pretty certain that DNF would fail but what I want to see is a Duke game that Gearbox have worked on exclusively over a period of 2-3 years instead of 14.

    I won't let the huge letdown DNF was sway me from trying out the next one.

    I gave Gearbox my money for DNF so they could make a great Duke game. Put it to good use Randy!

    If you're going to revive a game from the 90s remember it's from the 90s. You don't play that kind of game expecting CoD: Halo Wars so don't limit weapon inventory, and make it go back to arcade basics: shooty fun where 'realism' is for chumps.

    My only experience with Gearbox is Borderlands 1, which I experienced so many bugs with at launch that it was barely playable, and subsequent patches made it unplayable. After that I decided to give the company a miss.

      Subsequent patches made it unplayable? Either you have some terrible luck or your computer has issues.

      Just Borderlands? Look up all the games Gearbox has put out over the years... I feel like you've played at least one other game on that list at some point in your life :-P

      but then again, maybe not, who knows...

    This is pretty much confirmation of what I suspected all along - I think a lot of the split over DNF is because so many clamoured for no less than the second coming of Duke despite it's development history, but others like myself appreciated this odd little square peg being squished into a round hole as something different and silly in the modern gaming market (as well as the stated intent to provide 'closure' for all the fans even at Gearbox).

    To me it was never necessarily going to be a 'good' game in its own right, but it was a 'fun' game (two weapon limit aside, especially since now fixed), and the disjointed design gave insight into all the different types of games it was going to be along the way (seriously; some parts seemed very 'post-Prey', others a bit 'last-gen-tech', and some 'expanding the Duke II concept'). It's just a shame that the demo showed off one of the weakest parts of the game.

    The announcement of a Gearbox-designed Duke however is just what I'd been waiting to hear all along, considering their pedigree in interesting FPS titles.

    I also wonder how the review curve for Duke would compare to that for Matt Hazard, considering that MH was the same concept realised over a single development cycle and was similarly panned despite having so much to recommend it (though my theory is that part of that was platform choice - at that stage it was a console exclusive parody of a franchise whose fans were mostly from the PC, and thus was ill-placed to find the right audience).

    I think we could all see this coming though, let's be honest for a second :P
    Gearbox was never going to buy it without planning to make another. But it stands to reason to release this one, even if it sucked to have a clean sheet. I mean, imagine IF they ditched it, officially dead.. then said another is in the making.. the care factor would probably halved after that amount of time, it would've been an even greater joke. But no, they release DNF, and a lot of people bought it/ enjoyed it etc.. so now it's time to move on with the original plan :) I can't wait!*

    *Well I can.. just not 12 years preesh!!

    Even though he was playing to the crowd with the whole reviwer bashing thing. His theory that there are two bell curves which divide the reviewers between those who just didn't get it and those who did seems pretty flawed.

    It's more likely that the division was between those reviewers who gave Duke extra points for the nostalgia factor, and those reviewers who either didn't play the original or reviewed the game on it's own merits.

      "By it's own merits" you mean by comparing it to current gen FPS games right?

        nice observation

    Sounds like they'll be doing that "Duke Begins" reboot they wanted to years ago.

    It's not like it could do worse than the last Duke Nukem.

    Of course if it keeps the sense of humour displayed in the panel it might just be as bad.

    Why are gamers so upset about the whole boob jokes, who doesnt love tits!, too many people have been hanging in the locker room with macho queers of war and call of doodle.

    This is what I said from the moment Gearbox bought it and announced they'd be getting 3D Realms' Duke out the door. To me Duke Nukem Forever was something Gearbox did to honor the 3D Realms guys and all their work and history... but the real deal starts when Gearbox starts putting together their own Duke Nukem game :)

    That is the game I wanna play.

    as with AerintheADEQUATE, I've been saying this this since they announced they were takin over. I have full faith that the next game will suit the sensibilities of a modern gaming audience better. But I stand by DNF, I liked it...

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