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What Really Happened to DNF After May 2009?

User is offline   Shaq Fu 

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#1

I know it's been half a decade since Duke Nukem Forever released and none of this really matters anymore. My questions may not be allowed to be answered because of legal stuff - but I felt it wouldn't hurt to get my thoughts out here. Apologies for the astronomical length of this post.

So what I'm really curious about with DNF is what actually changed when Triptych took over development? According to the amazing Duke Nukem Forever musueum:

2009: In January, George Broussard says: Game developers often say "Cutting is shipping". We begin this year with a vengeance and a chainsaw. This means that he decided to scrap everything from the Duke Nukem Forever world chart that wasn't playable at a reasonable frame rate on the Xbox 360. This would result in Duke Nukem Forever levels being rebuilt to be linear.

Months later we got the leaked screenshots (I'm guessing it was in May 2009) and it looks incredibly similar to the released product, just with some unused areas + some levels that became DLC. I'm assuming January 2009 is when they chopped up the game from the 2008 world chart and streamlined it into what it is today. However, a 2011 interview with Jay Brushwood conflicts with this. Jay stated that Triptych took half the game and chopped it up - but isn't that what 3D Realms did in early 2009?

We do know that all the writing/jokes was written by the Triptych crew, and what 3DR had in May 2009 probably didn't have much writing finished. Triptych and Piranha Games also worked on the multiplayer mode. Also, Triptych made Vegas in Ruins take place during the day. The only other differences I can think of is if the May 2009 version actually had bigger versions of the final game's levels.

Here's are some images about something odd I thought stuck out in the final game:

This blocked off area looked really unnatural: Posted Image
Here's the blocked off part in the final game: Posted Image
The 2009 screenshots gallery contains this:Posted Image
The multiplayer map: Posted Image
Two ships underneath the multiplayer map: Posted Image

It seems like I'm really grasping at straws but this had me curious for many years. The forum post topic "Former 3D Realms Employee speaks out!" seen right here: https://forums.duke4...yee-speaks-out/
mentions that it was 3DR that chopped the game up to get it running on consoles.

tl;dr: What really changed after May 2009?

This post has been edited by Shaq Fu: 08 August 2016 - 03:06 AM

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User is online   PikaCommando 

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#2

Interesting observation!

From what I know, Area 51 was cut around 2007-2008 (Interceptor CEO says George Broussard's "Cutting is Shipping" specifically refers to this). I think the Area 51 we see in the DLC is just a repurposed version of the EDF Base zone from earlier versions of the game and the actual Area 51 was never made (even though we saw it in the 1999 screenshot with the Duke Chainsaw hand?) because they were in a rush to ship everything that was already made up to that point.


I wonder how much history the retail maps have?
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User is offline   Shaq Fu 

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#3

This post is going to be real image heavy.

View PostPikaCommando, on 08 August 2016 - 06:09 AM, said:

I wonder how much history the retail maps have?


Me too, especially when we have things such as the DLC "Command" map in outer space share stuff like this:

2011: Posted Image
2005: Posted Image

Posted Image

Or randomly detailed background scenery:
Posted Image
Posted Image

We have maps that go as far back as 2006 AND 2005.

(DLC Map "Meat Grinder") Posted Image
2005 version: Posted Image

Here are some 2006 maps - look familiar?

Posted Image
Posted Image

Just for fun a comparison of 2005 and 2011 again. (Those 2005 cars look the same as the final game.)

Posted Image
Posted Image

Maybe the levels at some point were more of a sandbox like Crysis 1? I get that feeling from looking at the 2006 footage.
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User is offline   PsychoGoatee 

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#4

Cool comparisons. When you say 2011 in that last screenshot, is that in DNF? That parking lot area? I'm guessing that's a screenshot of an unreleased area from 2009 or whenever? Or I guess I just forgot about wandering past that parking lot.

I guess one thing to mention is as we know, 3DR laid off the DNF development team in 2009. Then Allen Blum and others continued working on the game from their homes until Gearbox brought them in. So I'd figure development would've been much slower during that time, so those two years aren't as long as they might seem for further changing the game.

This post has been edited by PsychoGoatee: 08 August 2016 - 07:36 PM

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User is offline   Tea Monster 

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#5

The fact that the game was gutted due to consolitis is particularly heartbreaking. Look at the texture quality on the Meat Grinder map compared to the dumbed-down console version. Jesus please us!

Apart from level design and texture quality, I want to know how much of 'Douche Nukem' was in the earlier versions. Was the character such a dickhead in previous editions of the game?

There are a ton of interesting screenshots from the DNF History site that hint at much greater things.
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User is online   Micky C 

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#6

I recall Randy saying something along the lines of them putting a lot more "man-hours" into the game than 3DR did, or possibly Triptych, can't remember exactly. He implied they put a lot of work into it at any rate.

My best guess is that they spent a lot of that effort trying to get the game to run on both XBOX 360 and PS3. They had an engine that was never designed for consoles and they had to try to fit it onto two completely different ones; that'd take a lot of time and effort.

Like Tea Monster said, the sad thing was that the PC seemed to get the same cuts as the consoles. Not just texture quality, but I gather entire areas were cut too for the sake of performance. The levels were also split up in the final game with loading screens. They wanted to have a consistent playing experience across all platforms, which is crazy when the platforms are clearly not equal. It's pretty much the communism of video games.

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User is offline   Shaq Fu 

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#7

View PostPsychoGoatee, on 08 August 2016 - 07:34 PM, said:

Cool comparisons. When you say 2011 in that last screenshot, is that in DNF? That parking lot area? I'm guessing that's a screenshot of an unreleased area from 2009 or whenever? Or I guess I just forgot about wandering past that parking lot.


It's a super obscure background detail in the Duke Dome maps, which the game is actually filled with.

Posted ImagePosted Image

Fun fact: the entire Duke Dome maps along with Vegas in Ruin are rendered with incredibly low quality in the Crash Course map.

Looking at the crane area from above. Posted Image

Now the area from below: Posted Image

And the other crane area with the building under construction: Posted Image

The entire Crash Course map: Posted Image

A part of Vegas in Ruin with super low details: Posted Image
The actual area in the level: Posted Image

This game still fascinates me to this day.

This post has been edited by Shaq Fu: 09 August 2016 - 12:28 AM

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User is offline   xMobilemux 

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#8

Stuff like this is what I was referring to when I said a lot of love and care went into the game back on the Anniversary thread, regardless of how it turned out.

I'm still amazed at what I'm finding in the game files when looking for things to use in my Typical Day videos.

If only I could get the no clip cheats to work in the DLC then who knows what else could be found.

Posted Image
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User is offline   Tea Monster 

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#9

If they are in non-playable areas that the player can't access, and they are there solely to provide background detail and make you think the map goes on forever, when obviously, it doesn't. Lavishing lots of poly or detail on those areas is pointless and stupid. Nobody is going to get close enough to these areas under normal gameplay to notice that the grass is a solid colour or that there are no surface detail on the sides of the buildings. It serves the same function as a movie set and is treated in the same way - what the camera sees is detailed, what it dosen't, isn't. For camera, replace with player.

This is the real reason that consolitis is a plague on the industry. Game studios rarely have the option to maintain 3 different code bases, one for each platform. Especially with what happened with cash-strapped 3DR, and later Triptych, who were working out of peoples living rooms. They maintain one build, one code-base for the game - the one that performs on the lowest spec system. Thank you, fucking X-Box 360.
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User is offline   Shaq Fu 

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#10

View PostTea Monster, on 09 August 2016 - 12:59 AM, said:

If they are in non-playable areas that the player can't access, and they are there solely to provide background detail and make you think the map goes on forever, when obviously, it doesn't. Lavishing lots of poly or detail on those areas is pointless and stupid. Nobody is going to get close enough to these areas under normal gameplay to notice that the grass is a solid colour or that there are no surface detail on the sides of the buildings. It serves the same function as a movie set and is treated in the same way - what the camera sees is detailed, what it dosen't, isn't. For camera, replace with player.


I know. I just thought the game has some pretty neat details not many players might have noticed and I wanted to share it here.
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User is offline   Tea Monster 

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#11

Yeah. I'm really enjoying seeing this. I was just explaining why they look like that. Thanks for posting this, it's a treat.

I was horrifically disappointed by DNF, and I wasn't one of those people who expected it to be Quake, Doom and DN3D all rolled into one. The history of this bizzare historical artifact is fascinating. I'd love to spend a week or two playing with some of the betas and seeing how things developed and changed.
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User is offline   PsychoGoatee 

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#12

Very fun details!

For the record, though I think it's known on here, I love DNF. I was between decent PCs so I actually played it on 360 when it came out, with really long load times. Still loved it. :D Was even better replaying it a year later on PC with four guns at once etc.

I think it's a genuine triumph that the game came out, and I really dig it. But everybody likes different stuff in entertainment, and of course expectations were set pretty high by the incredible things they'd been saying for over a decade. I'll take dirty jokes Half-Life 2 with some Duke 3D motifs, it is what it is.
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User is offline   gemeaux333 

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#13

The only thing true about the cancellation of 2009 is... Everyone had balls, not balls of steel, but balls of fail...

But we finally got it 2 years after, and the result is great, although I always have the feeling that some things from Duke 3D are missing !
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User is offline   Kathy 

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#14

View PostTea Monster, on 09 August 2016 - 12:59 AM, said:

Thank you, fucking X-Box 360.

You should thank Broussard and his obsession with it. Damn, weren't DNF in development this long, 360 wouldn't have been considered(by not being yet released of course).

Windows incompatibility is a feature, not a bug.
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User is offline   Tea Monster 

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#15

I don't know if that was something that George wanted to do, or something that was imposed on him by the publishers.

Agreed that they should have got their damn fingers out and go the sodding game finished and none of this would be an issue.

This post has been edited by Tea Monster: 09 August 2016 - 03:02 PM

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User is offline   Kathy 

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#16

I could understand if publisher gave them money they were seeking in 2009, but it didn't.

Windows incompatibility is a feature, not a bug.
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User is online   HulkNukem 

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#17

Don't blame the 360 or PS3 for DNF's shortcomings; neither one existed when this game was first announced.
Also George always talked about how much he liked the 360/360 games, and the port of Duke3D to 360 was I'm sure to help learn the console a bit before doing DNF work; George very much wanted DNF on 360 at the very least.

This post has been edited by HulkNukem: 09 August 2016 - 03:41 PM

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User is online   Micky C 

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#18

View PostHulkNukem, on 09 August 2016 - 03:40 PM, said:

George very much wanted DNF on 360 at the very least.


I sure hope so, otherwise he imposed a 2 weapon limit for nothing the awesome realistic gameplay.

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User is online   PikaCommando 

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#19

What is it about the X360 made George love it so much to the point DNF became like this?
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User is offline   PsychoGoatee 

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#20

View PostPikaCommando, on 09 August 2016 - 05:08 PM, said:

What is it about the X360 made George love it so much to the point DNF became like this?


It was a very popular console, and probably the first one where online FPS games and whatnot were really mainstream on it. Speaking personally, while I'll always be a PC Gamer, there were a few years where I couldn't afford to put together a new rig so I was playing shooters on that instead. It also seemed to be the generation where PC ports were finally reasonably good on consoles, plus being the first HD console. Granted, as we know this often meant PC games holding back to tailor to the consoles. Short answer, it played FPS games reasonably and was popular.

As for streamlining DNF to get it out the door, ultimately that seems like a good idea, considering the alternative was probably starting yet again. I forget how the thing where the publisher who gave 3DR millions was going to sue them or something if DNF didn't get releaased. I think they did a great job personally, I really don't think the game is much more linear and small than Half-Life 2 for example, which is a favorite. And for some reason much more linear games are often liked by fans, naturally it beats a CoD campaign by far.

Anyways, I think they made some groovy lemonade out of the lemons of that situation. I do of course want even more, and as a Duke 3D fan would like more innovation and level design that is less linear with more stuff going on etc. But there's always hope for another Duke game like that.

Hopefully Gearbox gets it's act together and we get a new Duke game before 2020. And as they've mentioned, they could even hire another team to do it. Though hopefully they pick a better team than Aliens Colonial Marines. :P

This post has been edited by PsychoGoatee: 10 August 2016 - 04:28 AM

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User is online   Player Lin 

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#21

View PostPsychoGoatee, on 10 August 2016 - 04:26 AM, said:

Hopefully Gearbox gets it's act together and we get a new Duke game before 2020. And as they've mentioned, they could even hire another team to do it. Though hopefully they pick a better team than Aliens Colonial Marines. :P


We hope, unless they decide to finish their Borderlands Forever first and screw the new Duke game up. And they'll be Shoverlware forever too. :P :P :P

I'm the guy at 3DRealms Forum...

http://forums.3dreal...mber.php?u=3816

Sometimes, I act like a stupid asshole. I know, and I'm sorry about that. :(

This post has been edited by Player Lin: 10 August 2016 - 04:35 AM

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User is offline   Altered Reality 

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#22

View PostxMobilemux, on 09 August 2016 - 12:41 AM, said:

If only I could get the no clip cheats to work in the DLC then who knows what else could be found.

Wait, do you mean you can use cheats in a version that includes the DLC, just not in the DLC itsef?

View PostPsychoGoatee, on 10 August 2016 - 04:26 AM, said:

Hopefully Gearbox gets it's act together and we get a new Duke game before 2020. And as they've mentioned, they could even hire another team to do it. Though hopefully they pick a better team than Aliens Colonial Marines. :P

I hope Allen Blum gets it his way and the next Duke title is Duke Nukem VR.

If your brain tells you one thing and your heart tells you another, get rid of those silly doubts and listen to your brain.

This post has been edited by Altered Reality: 12 August 2016 - 05:54 PM

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User is offline   Shaq Fu 

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#23

I once tried to load the DLC levels onto a Version 1.00 release copy and it ended up horribly.

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

The question mark of destruction has been lurking in the shadows since 2006.
Posted Image

I have yet to try doing this with the downgrade patch though.


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User is offline   Richard Shead 

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#24

Fascinating thread...as echoed earlier, one of DNF's biggest downfalls was from trying squeeze a modern PC game being developed in 2009 onto console that was released in 2005. I'll probably get hate for saying this, but had 3DR not folded and had they continued working on the game until the Xbox One's debut...we just might've gotten something much closer to what it was meant to be.
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User is offline   Altered Reality 

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#25

View PostDuke Rocks, on 13 August 2016 - 08:25 AM, said:

had 3DR not folded and had they continued working on the game until the Xbox One's debut...we just might've gotten something much closer to what it was meant to be.

No, we wouldn't have. George would've probably restarted the development in 2011 after comparing the performance of Crysis 2 with what he had, and in 2015 he would've restarted it again after seeing the HTC Vive. The only ways to have a great DNF would've been either to force 3DRealms to finish what was started with the Quake 2 engine, or take it out of 3DRealms' hands and to a third party developer in 1998, right after the decision to switch to Unreal.

If your brain tells you one thing and your heart tells you another, get rid of those silly doubts and listen to your brain.
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User is offline   Tea Monster 

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#26

I think that George woke up and saw the deadline rushing towards them and that 3DR were actually trying to complete the game towards the end.

What I'd like to think, is that if this epiphany had occurred earlier, that they might just have made it. This is all just my speculation though.

Wasn't there, didn't see it, don't know.
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User is offline   Kathy 

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#27

Didn't George really wake up once several people left in the span of 2005/2006?

Windows incompatibility is a feature, not a bug.
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User is offline   deuxsonic 

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#28

He woke up when the money was gone and had to fire everyone. Apparently that was hard to believe for him so I don't know where his head was.
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User is offline   hismasterplan 

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#29

There could've been five Duke 3D sequels with all of his ideas.
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User is online   Micky C 

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#30

View PostDuke Rocks, on 13 August 2016 - 08:25 AM, said:

Fascinating thread...as echoed earlier, one of DNF's biggest downfalls was from trying squeeze a modern PC game being developed in 2009 onto console that was released in 2005. I'll probably get hate for saying this, but had 3DR not folded and had they continued working on the game until the Xbox One's debut...we just might've gotten something much closer to what it was meant to be.


I've always maintained that DNF was developed/released at the worst possible time; during the peak of the COD craze. After DNF came out, games started slowly shifting back to at least a semi old school state. Health packs, full weapon wheel, less linear gameplay etc.

Had a version of DNF came out from a previous cycle, or perhaps a hypothetical subsequent restart from what we got, we probably would have ended up with a better gameplay experience.

Add in a newer console so that graphics and level design aren't compromised and we'd probably have a worthy Duke game. Plus or minus some cringeworthy un-duke like moments in cutscenes :P

Polymer wishlist: Global illumination, SSAO, Bloom, reflective surfaces, adjustable specular (wetness), volumetric lighting.
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