the release of an unfinished version of the game sheds new light on its calamitous development

An image taken from the trailer for

This has long been video gaming’s biggest myth, its Loch Ness Monster: Duke Nukem Foreverannounced in 1997, unveiled with great fanfare in a cheering video in 2001, was finally released in 2011 after many twists and changes of developers, for a result deemed extremely disappointing.

It must be said that after fourteen years of waiting (a record that has become an object of mockery over the years), players were entitled to hope for more from the sequel to the mythical Duke Nukem 3D (1996) that one “unwind” sometimes just ” friendly “but also, according to the test of World at the time, “sexist”, “frustrating”, “repetitive”crippled with bugs and moments “too long, too linear, and quickly boring”.

Reread our test of the time: Duke Nukem Forever, the missed date

Also, over the years, players began to dream of the version glimpsed in 2001, the one unveiled to the press and Internet users in a rhythmic trailer. And if the “true” Duke Nukem Forever was that one?

Since May 10, the dream is over: it is now possible to play the 2001 version… and see for yourself that, in reality, Duke Nukem Forever was never anything but a terrible shipwreck. However, this is not an official release, but a “leak”, a leak made possible by someone who had access to this unfinished version: a certain x0r_jmp, who made available on the 4chan forum a link to illegally download this Duke Nukem Forever vintage 2001.

No need to defraud to become aware of the extent of the damage: on Twitch, YouTube or Twitter, Internet users were quick to upload game sequences, testifying that in fact nothing was ready in this version from 2001, apart from long empty corridors and short passages to the millimetric scene which were used to assemble the trailer of 2001. Barely a prototype, in the end quite close in its intentions to the version of 2011.

There was never anything to perfect, since there was never really a game

If this leak, in addition to being by definition illegal, does not present strictly any ludic interest, it nevertheless constitutes a precious historical document, which demolishes what was hitherto the official story of its development: if Duke Nukem Forever took so long to come out, it would be because its creators, being too perfectionist, were incapable of putting the finishing touches on it. In reality, there was never anything to perfect, since there was never really a game.

Dirty laundry and bird names

This illegal provision of a working version of Duke Nukem Forever will have had another merit: that of allowing a better understanding of the reasons for this failure, during a somewhat pathetic unpacking.

Scott Miller, at the time owner of 3D Realms, the studio responsible until 2009 for the development of Duke Nukem Forever, thus split on his blog an explanatory note about this leak – of which he ensures that he does not know the author. Recognizing that “the brilliant 2001 trailer oversold what was truly playable” at this stage of development, he judges that the failure of Duke Nukem Forever is notably attributable to the total absence of a roadmap during its development.

Above all, he says that the refusal, internally, to follow him when, in 2004, he had the idea of ​​entrusting the development to another studio (Digital Extremes, which has meanwhile had success with Warframe), led the studio into a “bottomless pit” expenses that will end up with “ destroy 3D Realms »studio since become an empty shell bought in 2014 by a Danish investment fund.

George Broussard calls Scott Miller a “narcissistic loser” whose actions would have led to “the loss of the brands “3D Realms” and “Duke Nukem””

If he is not named as the author of this refusal and responsible for the end of 3D Realms, George Broussard, former studio employee and co-creator of “Duke Nukem, obviously took it for himself. On Twitter, he describes Scott Miller as “narcissistic loser” whose actions would have led “on the loss of the brands “3D Realms” and Duke Nukem”.

“I would have so much to say about him – I’ve known him since the 1970s and high school. He seizes the slightest opportunity to present himself in a favorable light, even if it means tossing out an ex-friend and business partner. »

Sad epilogue for a series which was, in 1996, with the episode Duke Nukem 3Done of the most exciting games of the moment, before its name became synonymous with “vaporware”, the kind of “ghost software” that everyone talks about but which seems never to be released.

A not very honorary title, which he had to abandon in 2011 when his pitiful commercial version finally saw the light of day, but which has since been made his own by another game, French, him: unveiled in 2008, visibly abandoned, then resuscitated in 2016 before disappearing from the radar again when its creator, Michel Ancel, was pushed towards release by the Ubisoft studio in 2020, Beyond Good & Evil 2 has become, reluctantly, the new Duke Nukem Forever.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Michel Ancel, creator of “Rayman”, left Ubisoft amid internal investigation

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