Monday, June 13, 2011

Duke Nukem: Forever Optimistic

With Duke Nukem Forever finally hitting some shelves after 14 years of development, I was curious to read some reactions from people who'd had more than a passing exposure to the rest of the series. Imagine my lack of surprise when I discovered that fans were disappointed.

It's juvenile. A relic of the '90s. Visually lacking. Clunky. Terrible load times. Irrelevant.

But, I would argue, it got finished.

I've been working on a homebrew Super Mario World since high school, and I really doubt whether it'll ever see a public release. Even if it did, the heart and soul I've poured into it would amount to very little in a day and age where most of my brilliantly clever and legitimately original ideas have been used in mainstream video games, and where hacks of SMW have been as overdone as remixes of the Zeal theme from Chrono Trigger. It'd be an irrelevant relic of the '90s.

With all the breaks and hiatuses I've had during the game's development, it's hard to tell what needs fixing, or where I want to go with it. I'm not even sure what's fun and what's not anymore; some things have been in place so long that they're an institution, and to change them would be to completely overhaul a piece that I thought had been finished for years. Especially if you're not working at it on a regular basis, there's a certain point when a project suffers from people taking their time on it...or rushing to make up for lost time.

I don't plan on playing Duke Nukem Forever, if at all, until it hits the bargain bin for $7, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. While I'm not one for gore and vulgarity, I've been rooting for this game since I first heard about it a decade ago. I'm deeply curious to see what a game looks like that actually survived such a long and troubled development.

At worst, Duke Nukem Forever is just another game that fleetingly disappoints fans before being forgotten; one might say that years of effort went to waste, but presumably, people were at least getting paid for it. At best, however, profits will make the endeavor worthwhile, feedback from Duke Nukem Forever will help spawn a timely sequel that's everything fans ever wanted, and eternally sidetracked developers such as myself will draw inspiration and valuable lessons from this disappointing success story.

A lot of great games have come out in the past 14 years. By all accounts, Duke is not one of them. Even if it wasn't worth the wait, there's a lot to learn from the process and the results...and our own expectations.


Home Inspector Expert said...

While I can COMPLETELY understand the faults this game has, I will still play it, on principle at this point. Its Duke Nukem Forever after all.

zharth said...

I have to admit, seeing commercials for a Duke Nukem game in 2011 has been an exciting and unusual experience. Nevertheless, I'd just as soon pull out Duke Nukem 3D from 1996 for another run-through. What a great game that was. I suppose I was kind of spoiled on "new" Duke Nukem games with Time To Kill, which failed to impress me, largely due to playability issues, if I can recall (that was, after all, over a decade ago...).

Flashman85 said...

Home Inspector Expert: Sounds like the kind of attitude I'd have!

zharth: I feel that way about Mega Man to some degree; I'm excited to see promos and swag for the newest releases, but after playing the Zero series and ZX and MM10, I'm still much more likely to play any of the older games.