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Why are we still so interested in DNF?

User is offline   Kerr Avon 

#1

It occurs to me to wonder why we are so fascinated with the way Duke Nukem Forever turned out, and the reasons why it ended up the way it did. I mean, personally there are game sequels that I found more disappointing than DNF, either because they were worse than DNF, or because I was expecting more of them due to me being so devoted to the original game, or because in the previews the sequel seemed amazingly good.

For example, sequels I found very disappointing include:

Carmageddon 3,


Alien vs. Predator 2010 (well, it wasn't a sequel as such, but it was another in the franchise so it was bound to be compared to the really good first two PC games),

Alien: Colonial Marines,

Perfect Dark Zero (a mediocre sequel to the best game of all time, in my view),

Bioshock: Infinite (a pretty great game, really but massively inferior to it's two prequels, and very disappointing compared to it's earlier pre-view videos, before they decided to dumb the game's theme's and gameplay down),

Unreal Tournament 3,

Deus Ex: Invisible War (not a terrible game, but it's a sequel that somehow didn't include many of the things that made the original game so beloved, such as experience points, having to upgrade your weapon skills as you start off pretty useless, a really good story, really memorable characters, etc),

Thief 4 (basically a lesson in how to ignore one of the largest, most vocal, and talented fan-bases in the gaming world, and their many forums and fan-sites, and instead lock yourself away, guess what it is about the previous games that make them so eternally popular, get it all wrong, and kill the franchise stone dead),

But I'm not really interested in reading about the reasons why those games turned out to be so disappointing, yet for some reason DNF's convoluted and mistake strewn production fascinate me. It's all the more surprising because I'd have preferred some of the above games to have been great than for DNF to be great. So why does DNF history interest us so much, when for most similar gaming sequel disappointments, you just get accept it and never think of the bad sequel again?
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User is offline   Trooper Dan 

  • Duke Plus Developer

#2

I think the main relevant difference between DNF and those other shitty sequels on your list is that the other ones did not suffer from a prolonged and publicly discussed development hell. If DNF had never been announced until near release and all of the shenanigans went on in secret, then it just would have been a disappointing game but not the cultural icon of development failure that it is today.

A lesser but still relevant difference between DNF and most of the games on your list is that most of those games are the third or later entry in the series. By that point, people are starting to expect a series to decline and it's not that big of a deal. Duke 3D was the 1st entry in the first person shooter Duke franchise, and DNF was understood to be the second real entry. Yes, there were expansions, and yes there were other spinoff games, but DNF was the true sequel and everyone knew it, so expectations were high.

So really, none of those games on your list are relevantly similar to DNF. Deus Ex: Invisible War probably comes closest, but it came out only 3 years after the original without a reputation for being in development hell.
5

#3

Because 3DRealms hyped it to hell and back since 1997, disregarding whatever state it was actually in and making up stuff to make itself look good. You cannot make people just forget hype after you prematurely hyped a product: in fact, if you stop delivering news, that's gonna encourage people to hype the product even more, which is what happened with DNF (and now is happening with Cyberpunk 2077, I must add)
People were taking apart every single quote from 3DRealms, projecting their own expectations on them. A news moratorium meant 3DRealms never denied false rumors either, so the expectations kept growing uncontrolled. The game had been speculated about from 1997 to 2011, and when it was released, it obviously fell short of the insane assumptions people had made. That made it look like the worst game ever. It wasn't, but it was certainly the game with the highest negative gap between expectations and reality. That meant people kept talking about it even after it was released, and it became a meme.

This post has been edited by Altered Reality: 11 November 2019 - 08:34 AM

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User is offline   Tea Monster 

  • Polymancer

#4

Because it seemed originally that DNF would be a good game, in line with DN3D. This was a view garnered from previews and screenshots. It was only after multiple restarts and other shenanigans that the (seemingly) good game we were teased with became watered down with revisions, consolitis and re-imaginings till little of the original (perceived) good remained.

People play DNF now, and in their minds, rightly or wrongly, they still feel that the original game that was advertised back in the 2001 E3 trailer was never delivered to them. The game that they waited for all those years was never released. What we got instead was a pale imitation of what was promised and teased.

Duke fans feel that they have been a victim of a huge bait and switch.

This post has been edited by Tea Monster: 11 November 2019 - 05:48 PM

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#5

View PostTea Monster, on 11 November 2019 - 05:45 PM, said:

People play DNF now, and in their minds, rightly or wrongly, they still feel that the original game that was advertised back in the 2001 E3 trailer was never delivered to them.

I still feel like the ORIGINAL game, the one that was supposed to use the Quake2 engine, that was advertised on PC Gamer in 1997 and at E3 in 1998, that was meant to come out early in 1998, was never delivered to me.
And you know what's funny? If you go back and read the original interviews, you'll notice that DNF wasn't originally meant to be the ultimate experience that was hyped for far too long. It was meant to be a stopgap, a brief project to keep gamers occupied while 3DRealms was preparing the real revolution, the real ultimate experience: Prey.

I still remember how I felt when I read that infamous June 15, 1998 press release, where George announced the switch to Unreal. I felt like I was living the end of a beautiful dream, and since I could crosscheck the dates with the Preyweb documents, I realized I was right. That was the moment everything fell apart, that was the beginning of the end.

On April 28, 1997, Scott stated that the goal was to release Duke Nukem Forever no later than mid-1998, and Prey late in 1998. Meanwhile, the internal Prey schedule reveals that a Prey demo was supposed to be released between April and June of 1998, confirming that Prey was supposed to be released between September and October 1998. But George's decision to scrap the Quake2 version of DNF and start from scratch with Unreal put an end to all those plans. Remember how DNF was supposed to be a stopgap to keep gamers occupied before Prey? Restarting the development of DNF put 3DRealms in a position where they had no stopgap, while the real revolution was still "many months" away.
Work started with the Unreal engine, and by the time Prey was supposed to be released, an even worse realization struck 3DRealms: Prey, the game they had hyped up like the next big thing, suddenly looked worse than the supposed stopgap. You can notice that right when Prey was supposed to be released, at the end of September 1998, the Preyweb updates stop. Shortly after that, Paul Schuytema and William Scarboro leave 3DRealms, William Scarboro becomes disillusioned about portal technology, the rest of the Prey team is reassigned to DNF, and the next November 15, George announces he hired Corrinne Yu to develop a new engine for Prey.

That was a real chain reaction of events, triggered by George's idiotic decision to switch engines, that doomed 3DRealms. I think it was 2013 when George tweeted he would never switch engines again. Congratulations chump, it was only 15 years too late.
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User is offline   tsunstealer 

  • Honored Donor

#6

It wasn't just because the game was disappointing. It was mainly how long it took for that disappointment to be released to the public. This community would probably be twice as big as the Doom community if 3DR's didn't buttfuck the community for so long with cock teases, delays, and bullshit mobile games.
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#7

View Posttsunstealer, on 12 November 2019 - 09:01 PM, said:

It wasn't just because the game was disappointing. It was mainly how long it took for that disappointment to be released to the public. This community would probably be twice as big as the Doom community if 3DR's didn't buttfuck the community for so long with cock teases, delays, and bullshit mobile games.

That disgraceful decision to switch engines means that ultimately George buttfucked himself.
And no, this is not a case of "hindsight is always 20/20", because at the time I wasn't the only one stating this in the 3DRealms forum. It's a case of faith turning people into blind idiots, since most people (ironically, those who experienced the most disappointment when DNF came out) chastized anyone pointing that out, inviting them to "have faith" because "3DRealms never disappointed the fanbase".

Now it's deja vu with Cyberpunk 2077.
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User is offline   Tea Monster 

  • Polymancer

#8

I don't think that the engine change was what scuppered DNF. Daikatana came out in 2000 and one of the reasons it was panned was because it was so behind the curve visually with it's Quake 2 graphics. You guys all have this rose-tinted nostalgia for old pixelated graphics, but that's not how things worked back then. The 2001 trailer looked amazing for the time and was one of the hottest trailers ever issued for a video game. What they needed to do was knuckle down and get the damn game done in a reasonable amount of time instead of farting around, playing WoW and whatever the hell else went on for nearly a decade. It shouldn't take EIGHT YEARS to change engines.

This post has been edited by Tea Monster: 14 November 2019 - 02:27 AM

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User is online   Mark 

  • Honored Donor

#9

Why do we still find DNF so interesting?

Simple. It gives the jilted fanboys an opportunity to put on their game developer insider cap and tell us how they know whats best. Just like when a legal question pops up they put on a suit, grab a briefcase, sit down at the keyboard and pretend to be a lawyer. But... its hard to fault them. They had the rug pulled out from underneath them with a sub-par game that had been massively hyped.

This post has been edited by Mark: 14 November 2019 - 05:33 AM

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#10

View PostTea Monster, on 14 November 2019 - 02:27 AM, said:

I don't think that the engine change was what scuppered DNF. Daikatana came out in 2000 and one of the reasons it was panned was because it was so behind the curve visually with it's Quake 2 graphics.

I know. However, the Quake 2 iteration of DNF was supposed to come out in 1998, when Quake 2 graphics was the norm, while Unreal graphics was something extraordinary. Half-Life and Sin both have Quake 2-level graphics, they both came out in 1998, and nobody said their graphics looked obsolete. Sin was panned because the CD literally contained an unstable beta version rather than the final version that was in the developers' possession, while Half-Life was praised sky high.

View PostTea Monster, on 14 November 2019 - 02:27 AM, said:

You guys all have this rose-tinted nostalgia for old pixelated graphics

Don't amass me together with THEM. Even though I appreciate old games, I hate pixelated graphics and nostalgia. I play every game in stereoscopic full HD. Whenever I play Duke Nukem 3D, I use the Polymer renderer and the HRP. I wouldn't touch the vanilla versions of Quake 1 and 2 with a ten-foot pole, but Darkplaces and Quake2XP, with all their additional effects, are sweet.

However, I played the out-of the-box OpenGL version of Quake 2 for the first time in 1999 when I got a Voodoo 2, and I loved it because it was so advanced, compared to what I could play with only a Trio32 video card. Had I gotten the Quake 2 iteration of DNF as well, BACK THEN, I would have loved it as well.

This post has been edited by Altered Reality: 14 November 2019 - 07:39 AM

3

#11

View PostAltered Reality, on 12 November 2019 - 08:14 PM, said:

I still feel like the ORIGINAL game, the one that was supposed to use the Quake2 engine, that was advertised on PC Gamer in 1997 and at E3 in 1998, that was meant to come out early in 1998, was never delivered to me.
And you know what's funny? If you go back and read the original interviews, you'll notice that DNF wasn't originally meant to be the ultimate experience that was hyped for far too long. It was meant to be a stopgap, a brief project to keep gamers occupied while 3DRealms was preparing the real revolution, the real ultimate experience: Prey.

I still remember how I felt when I read that infamous June 15, 1998 press release, where George announced the switch to Unreal. I felt like I was living the end of a beautiful dream, and since I could crosscheck the dates with the Preyweb documents, I realized I was right. That was the moment everything fell apart, that was the beginning of the end.

On April 28, 1997, Scott stated that the goal was to release Duke Nukem Forever no later than mid-1998, and Prey late in 1998. Meanwhile, the internal Prey schedule reveals that a Prey demo was supposed to be released between April and June of 1998, confirming that Prey was supposed to be released between September and October 1998. But George's decision to scrap the Quake2 version of DNF and start from scratch with Unreal put an end to all those plans. Remember how DNF was supposed to be a stopgap to keep gamers occupied before Prey? Restarting the development of DNF put 3DRealms in a position where they had no stopgap, while the real revolution was still "many months" away.
Work started with the Unreal engine, and by the time Prey was supposed to be released, an even worse realization struck 3DRealms: Prey, the game they had hyped up like the next big thing, suddenly looked worse than the supposed stopgap. You can notice that right when Prey was supposed to be released, at the end of September 1998, the Preyweb updates stop. Shortly after that, Paul Schuytema and William Scarboro leave 3DRealms, William Scarboro becomes disillusioned about portal technology, the rest of the Prey team is reassigned to DNF, and the next November 15, George announces he hired Corrinne Yu to develop a new engine for Prey.

That was a real chain reaction of events, triggered by George's idiotic decision to switch engines, that doomed 3DRealms. I think it was 2013 when George tweeted he would never switch engines again. Congratulations chump, it was only 15 years too late.


Quote

George: There will be a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D. We are deciding now what technology we will use. It is likely we will do one more 25-30 level game with an improved Build engine. Possibly with polygon characters, but we are still in the fact finding stages. I do expect to be in full production in a sequel to Duke by Xmas 1996.


I mean this. The Build sequel with these voxels by Dirk Jones. Allen Blum said once he had levels for this game. I'm still curious if any of these exist in some form (there was a heavy denial they didn't end up in World tour, despite my weird feelings about Glden Carnage).

I also agree with you the Q2 engine Duke. I think that looked more like a natural successor for D3D.

This post has been edited by The Watchtower: 15 November 2019 - 03:31 AM

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User is offline   Kerr Avon 

#12

Thanks for all of the replies, there are some very good points describing exactly why this motorway pile-up of a game development story continues to fascinate us. Staggeringly bad managerial decisions made by people who'd almost effortlessly (so it seemed) conjured up the fantastic Duke Nukem 3D, endless unfulfilled promises and missed deadlines, rumours and speculation about the company and why the game is so delayed, so far so Daikatana,

But Daikatana's gestation didn't take anywhere near as long, wasn't a sequel to a very popular game (unlike DNF, where the DN3D fans were really expecting a great sequel), and didn't leave us pining for earlier versions of the game (whether they were playable or mocked up screenshots and videos) that we still hope, knowing it's almost certainly futile, exist and will one day be running on our PCs.

I mean, two years to make a game as innovative as DN3D, and six times as long as that to make the mediocre and consistently bland and uninspired DNF. You can't help wondering how little of DNF's development time was spent actually developing something (even if it was then thrown away when they changed engine or something), and how much more time was wasted doing something other than working on the fantastic, innovative game that they were supposed to be delivering to us.

Did they work for two hours a week, or something?

And then to top it all off, Randy Pitchford ends up owning the rights to Duke Nukem. Why, when 3D Realms still owned the rights, didn't they farm out sequels to other developers, like they did with Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, or Time to Kill on the N64 and Playstation?
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#13

View PostKerr Avon, on 16 November 2019 - 12:56 PM, said:

You can't help wondering how little of DNF's development time was spent actually developing something (even if it was then thrown away when they changed engine or something), and how much more time was wasted doing something other than working on the fantastic, innovative game that they were supposed to be delivering to us.

Did they work for two hours a week, or something?

It's not that they didn't spend enough time developing the game. It's just that whenever they showed their progress to George, he always said "okay, very good, that's the way to go..." until he suddenly decided that the technology they were working on was obsolete and ordered them to restart from scratch.

View PostKerr Avon, on 16 November 2019 - 12:56 PM, said:

And then to top it all off, Randy Pitchford ends up owning the rights to Duke Nukem. Why, when 3D Realms still owned the rights, didn't they farm out sequels to other developers, like they did with Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, or Time to Kill on the N64 and Playstation?

They are two different things. When 3DReams worked as a producer for those third-party titles, those companies were working FOR 3DRealms, which paid them to develop Duke Nukem games. 3DRealms, however, kept the rights for the IP and received some money for every sold copy. On the other hand, 3DRealms ran out of money in 2009, so it actually sold the IP rights to Gearbox. 3DRealms got an undisclosed sum, while the money for selling every copy of DNF went to Gearbox and not 3DRealms.
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User is offline   Matthew 

#14

It's because DNF was a clusterfuck of a developement. George being an idiot didn't help matters what, him telling Take2 to STFU, not saying anything for years, and so on and so on. We were supposed to get a game that went against the COD/Halo gameplay that was stagnating FPS throughout the 2000's, and what we got was a COD/Halo experience that was stagnant on arrival.

2 weapon limit
Regenerating health
On rail hallways
Checkpoint saving

It was just another COD/Halo game.

And there's more. A lot more. Matt McMuscles covers it perfectly in his wha happun epidode. Give it a watch. It's entertaining.


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#15

Yeah, Halo and the Xbox 360 were making George's mangina all wet.
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#16

View PostAltered Reality, on 11 November 2019 - 08:05 AM, said:

...making up stuff to make itself look good.

I'm not aware of anything that was ever talked about during the development that wasn't live on disk at the time of discussion. This is one of the honorable aspects of that project's development I still take away from it.

Predictions about where things were going to go timeframe wise were FLAGRANTLY off the the mark, but I would be genuinely interested in hearing about anything you feel marketed that was *made up* as in it didn't exist... versus was scrapped/changed/discarded to the point of the original commentary being irrelevant. I know it's a bit nuanced. Same as a functional car you were pitched that you never get to drive is for all intents and purposes a fraud.... but if someone was driving the car somewhere then it wasn't made up... it was hoarded.

View PostKerr Avon, on 16 November 2019 - 12:56 PM, said:

...and how much more time was wasted doing something other than working on the fantastic, innovative game that they were supposed to be delivering to us.

Did they work for two hours a week, or something?

Most of the people were working greater than 40 hour weeks. A non-trivial number *ahem* slept at the office frequently (and voluntarily, because treats and projector and well... uhhh... nerds) and their hobby was the project.

View PostAltered Reality, on 25 November 2019 - 09:47 AM, said:

Yeah, Halo and the Xbox 360 were making George's mangina all wet.

I'm sure he was looking at the burn rate (even at that small of a team size) and looking at their income rate and putting two and two together. You know who did that well? Infinity Ward with CoD2. You know what CoD2 wasn't? Very innovative over its source material.

This post has been edited by OccludeOlga'sOcculus: 25 November 2019 - 10:21 PM

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#17

View PostOccludeOlga, on 25 November 2019 - 09:54 PM, said:

I'm not aware of anything that was ever talked about during the development that wasn't live on disk at the time of discussion. This is one of the honorable aspects of that project's development I still take away from it.

Predictions about where things were going to go timeframe wise were FLAGRANTLY off the the mark, but I would be genuinely interested in hearing about anything you feel marketed that was *made up* as in it didn't exist...

Let's start from the first press release 3DRealms issued about DNF. It stated "3D Realms Licenses id Software's 'Quake II' Engine for `Duke Nukem Forever'". That wasn't true. At the time, 3DRealms had only obtained a license to use the Quake 1 engine, which is what the first public screenshot, as well as the November 1997 PC Gamer screenshots showed. I concede that 3DRealms was planning to obtain a license to use the Quake 2 engine, but as far as having the license, they had to wait until December 1997.
Also, George tried to weasel out of a clear statement about the engine by making references to the "Quake/Quake 2 engine" in the interview from April 27, 1997.

Fast-forward to late 1997, when PC Gamer interviewed George to write the first article about DNF. George stated "Duke Nukem Forever is far enough out that we don't want to give all our ideas away."
So, George's concept of a game being "far enough" consisted in not even having the engine they were planning to use yet.

June 1998, Computer Gaming World interviews George. He states that the game is "fairly planned out". Um... NO. Unless he had already decided to restart development multiple times, make 3DRealms go bankrupt, get sued by Take2 and sell the IP.
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#18

Ehhmm..3D Realms DID license the Quake 2 when announced it they just didn't get the source code until later. But the announcement was literally about the deal being struck with id. Which it was.
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#19

View PostAltered Reality, on 26 November 2019 - 06:09 PM, said:

Let's start from the first press release 3DRealms issued about DNF. It stated "3D Realms Licenses id Software's 'Quake II' Engine for `Duke Nukem Forever'". That wasn't true.

It was true. If this is your opening salvo, my point stands very firm.

You're arguing that 3DR showed Quake 1 era screenshots that existed on disk while they had also openly declared they had a Q2 licence. It's almost like... exactly what I said... that what was shown and/or talked about was always legit on disk. 1998 E3 put the Q2 efforts on disk to bed... what are you going on about hooker?

View PostAltered Reality, on 26 November 2019 - 06:09 PM, said:

He states that the game is "fairly planned out". Um... NO. Unless he had already decided to restart development multiple times, make 3DRealms go bankrupt, get sued by Take2 and sell the IP.

We had a white board on the wall that outlined every year that DNF design would change direction and how much money George expected to lose. It was meticulously planned out.

WTF is wrong with you?

This post has been edited by OccludeOlga'sOcculus: 02 December 2019 - 12:29 AM

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#20

View PostOccludeOlga, on 02 December 2019 - 12:26 AM, said:

You're arguing that 3DR showed Quake 1 era screenshots that existed on disk while they had also openly declared they had a Q2 licence.

I'm arguing that 3DRealms claimed to have a Quake 2 license, while they only had a Quake 1 license.

View PostOccludeOlga, on 02 December 2019 - 12:26 AM, said:

We had a white board on the wall that outlined every year that DNF design would change direction and how much money George expected to lose. It was meticulously planned out.

I'm assuming that statement to contain the same amount of truth as the Chair Story.

This post has been edited by Altered Reality: 02 December 2019 - 03:34 AM

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#21

"I'm arguing that 3DRealms claimed to have a Quake 2 license, while they only had a Quake 1 license."

You can have a license for something that states as a condition that you won't get immediately access to the source code. That was the case here. 3D Realms DID enter into a licensing agreement with id for the Quake 2 engine in early 1997. They just didn't get the source code until after Quake 2's release.
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#22

View PostAltered Reality, on 02 December 2019 - 03:34 AM, said:

I'm arguing that 3DRealms claimed to have a Quake 2 license, while they only had a Quake 1 license.

You're wrong.

View PostAltered Reality, on 02 December 2019 - 03:34 AM, said:

I'm assuming that statement to contain the same amount of truth as the Chair Story.

You're right.
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#23

I think the reason was, for a while, it was the only game in development hell that kept getting promoted as coming out. There were other big games at the early half, but they were never constantly thrust into the limelight. The ones for the latter half wouldn't become as big later on, and wouldn't get such big promotion. Nobody was constantly promoting things like Prey, Too Human, LA Noire, The Last Guardian every six months. They were kept behind the scenes, roughly, until they came out. The development of it became a small bit of '00s nostalgia in a way. It was a constant joke for a while. Of course, Half-Life shoots this theory down partially, but I maintain that obtaining a reputation will make a game more well-known for the wrong reasons than the right.
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