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Infamous, early build of Duke Nukem Forever leaks, ‘looks real,’ creator says

Nearly 25 years later, the King still isn’t finished, baby

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Duke Nukem Forever still won’t die.

A leaker claiming to have a build of Duke Nukem Forever similar to one shown at E3 2001 posted screenshots and a video of the game early Monday, and the creator of the one-time cornerstone of first-person shooter gaming, producer George Broussard, says it looks authentic.

The leaker — “x0r,” who posted their findings to 4chan (as first spied by fansite — says they’ll release that build in June. But as Broussard warns, whatever this is is not much more than “a smattering of barely populated test levels.” So DNF fans should temper their expectations.

In the clip, Duke blasts his way through a burning, yet dimly lit strip club, encountering minimal resistance as he goes. Police in SWAT gear return fire, and when Duke blows them away, some kind of alien tendrils burst from their dead bodies. The HUD is the cleanest and most modern-looking feature, and it has an “ego” meter, apparently functioning like a damage shield, which refills when Duke offs another stooge.

The leaker — again posting on 4chan — claims that “almost every chapter is present in some form” of this build. “A huge chunk is playable, a huge chunk is block-outs with no enemies.” They say they will release the game’s source code with instructions for compiling it. This build of Duke Nukem Forever was made in Unreal Engine. As in, the first Unreal Engine.

Duke Nukem Forever, the sequel to 1996’s landmark Duke Nukem 3D, was first announced in development in 1997, originally using Quake 2’s engine. But developers switched to Unreal soon after E3 1998, one of several changes and feature creeps that would prolong Duke Nukem Forever’s development for another 13 years.

3D Realms, the game’s original studio, showed footage of the game at E3 2001, partly to placate fans who were worried about its lengthy development. But it would continue to drag on, and 3D Realms and publisher Take-Two Interactive came into increasing conflict over a game that Broussard and co-creator Scott Miller were financing themselves, which meant their publisher had no deadline to enforce or launch window to market.

Take-Two sued 3D Realms in 2009 over the studio’s failure to complete Duke Nukem Forever. Gearbox Software then acquired the Duke Nukem IP in 2010, in what it would later call a favor to 3D Realms to help it out of its legal problems. Gearbox finished and launched Duke Nukem Forever in 2011, for PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and Xbox 360. It was a critical failure, but Take-Two said the game ultimately turned a profit.

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