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Gearbox: Duke Nuken Forever Was Victim of Expectations

By - Source: The Verge | B 51 comments

Just as we've said all along, Duke Nukem Forever's lackluster welcome was due to high expectations that could never have been met.

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford recently talked with The Verge, covering the studio's track record from Half-Life: Opposing Force to the long-awaited Duke Nukem Forever PC game released last summer. He said the latter was an unfortunate victim of high expectations built up over the 15 years before its eventual release, and because of this, Duke didn't stand a chance.

"I took the risk to dive into the middle of that and be the one to finish it," said Pitchford. "I bought the game and the brand and said look, this is never coming out unless we do something. I thought it was a worthwhile thing to do and I am very proud of [it]."

By the time Gearbox gained access to the 3D Realms shooter, 12 years of development had already passed. The new team did its best to piece together a fragmented game, to turn it into something playable. But critics and gamers alike either loved the Duke Nukem 3D sequel, or they hated it. Both sides had their valid reasons which ultimately painted the picture of a final product that felt pieced together in chunks rather than a fluid experience.

"There are a lot of people who were perfectly gratified by the game; they liked the surprises, the details of how the humor manifested itself or how the scenarios manifested themselves," he said. "And there were other people, because of the development effort or because of the way it’s been upsold throughout the years, there is just no possible way to meet or exceed such expectations."

Surprisingly, out of all the games Gearbox has shipped over the years, the studio gets more positive fan mail from players of Duke Nukem Forever -- meaning they must have done something right getting the scrambled Duke sequel back into order. Despite all the negativity, there's a quality game the team can be proud of.

"The true definition of quality is not about things like fidelity or features, or you know production values, or anything like that," he said. "The true definition of quality ... is to what extent does the thing meet or exceed expectations of the customer."

After all the development and funding problems Duke Nukem Forever faced for more than a decade, it's a gaming miracle that it even reached store shelves, and Gearbox is extremely proud it could make that happen. As for the future of the franchise, we already know a sequel will eventually arrive which supposedly won't take quite so long in reaching the market. Beyond that, who knows.

"As long as we want to make a game set in a Borderlands franchise, we will be doing that," he admitted. "As long as we want to make a game set in Duke Nukem franchise, we will be doing that. As long as we want to make a game in the Brothers in Arms franchise, we will be doing that. As long as we want to create new franchises we will be doing that to the extent that we can. There are a lot of other things we have our eyes on that we would love to be a part of."

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Goldengoose , March 30, 2012 9:19 AM
    It was bad, accept that; don't try and make excuses.
  • 14 Hide
    michalmierzwa , March 30, 2012 9:32 AM
    If the creators had kept the story as it was originally, made few adjustments, no problem and certainly brought the graphics to today's standard than I think it would have been a better success than it worked out to be.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Goldengoose , March 30, 2012 9:19 AM
    It was bad, accept that; don't try and make excuses.
  • Display all 51 comments.
  • 14 Hide
    michalmierzwa , March 30, 2012 9:32 AM
    If the creators had kept the story as it was originally, made few adjustments, no problem and certainly brought the graphics to today's standard than I think it would have been a better success than it worked out to be.
  • 4 Hide
    rmpumper , March 30, 2012 9:37 AM
    Expectations? Really? Give the game to anyone who never heard of Duke Nukem before (anyone younger that 18 would probably fit in that category) and they will say the game sucks.
  • -3 Hide
    Raid3r , March 30, 2012 9:38 AM
    Haha already huh guys. I disagree, it was exactly what it was supposed to be considering the huge fail that was the previous holder's of the franchise. I saw exactly, Duke Nukem.
  • 5 Hide
    elcentral , March 30, 2012 10:37 AM
    i had no expectations nor do i care about media revyes, and i love games like pain killer and serius sam, this game did simply not live up to my standards end of story.
  • 8 Hide
    rantoc , March 30, 2012 10:44 AM
    It was a mediocre shooter, not good nor bad. That was not what most fans expected for a follow-up for one of the most entertaining games ever made. That's what failed, deliver mid level quality for something that should have had AAA quality from the beginning.
  • -4 Hide
    kettu , March 30, 2012 10:45 AM
    "The true definition of quality is not about things like fidelity or features, or you know production values, or anything like that," he said. "The true definition of quality ... is to what extent does the thing meet or exceed expectations of the customer."

    Hah, PR double speak. It's the things like fidelity, features and you know production values that you're supposed to concentrate on (among other things) inorder to fullfill the customer expectations.
  • 1 Hide
    NightLight , March 30, 2012 11:44 AM
    The graphics were sub-standard, it had some fun moments... I agree to a part that expectations were high, but still, they could have done a better job. That being said, i hope they get it right if there's ever a sequel.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 30, 2012 12:10 PM
    I enjoyed it start to finish. No idea what game all you other yahoos were playing.
  • 6 Hide
    sporkimus , March 30, 2012 12:13 PM
    What do people expect from a game that took 15 years to release?! It went through multiple design/creative teams and by the time someone finally got around to honestly making it happen, it was basically a game that evolved bunch of random pieces tossed in a box and left on a dusty shelf for someone else to figure out. Everyone knew this was going to be bad. What exactly were you expecting from something that took this long (let alone became a huge joke) to finally release? They took what they had, made whatever they could out of it and then released it. For them to say "Well, we have the game, but it's not quite right so we're going to completely redesign it", would have been the final nail in the coffin. It was a game that should have been released 12 years ago...
  • 0 Hide
    Gundam288 , March 30, 2012 12:16 PM
    "Gearbox: Duke Nuken Forever Was Victim of Expectations"

    who the hell is Duke Nuken? o_o
  • -3 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , March 30, 2012 12:42 PM
    It was CRAP. 'Nuff said. Why the hell is anyone developing a game nowadays anyway if it's meant for gamers' skills 15 years earlier?
  • 5 Hide
    tlmck , March 30, 2012 12:44 PM
    It was not accepted because it was an old style game. As someone who has been playing PC games since since they were invented, I actually enjoyed Duke. By the same token, I would not give a plug nickel for most of what the kiddies like today.
  • -2 Hide
    phishy714 , March 30, 2012 12:47 PM
    Duke Nukem was a victim of developers doing a piss poor job and half assing outdated game development.
  • 1 Hide
    maximiza , March 30, 2012 12:57 PM
    It is what it is, I am about half way through it, I can't say it is horrable.
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , March 30, 2012 1:01 PM
    goldengooseIt was bad, accept that; don't try and make excuses.


    it wasn't bad, it wasn't great,

    rantocIt was a mediocre shooter, not good nor bad. That was not what most fans expected for a follow-up for one of the most entertaining games ever made. That's what failed, deliver mid level quality for something that should have had AAA quality from the beginning.


    lol it was AAAA when it started development...

    kettu"The true definition of quality is not about things like fidelity or features, or you know production values, or anything like that," he said. "The true definition of quality ... is to what extent does the thing meet or exceed expectations of the customer." Hah, PR double speak. It's the things like fidelity, features and you know production values that you're supposed to concentrate on (among other things) inorder to fullfill the customer expectations.


    quality = did i like it
    nothing else matters to me.
    there are many games that i love that other people despise, but for some reason they were great, high quality to me.

  • 2 Hide
    cptnjarhead , March 30, 2012 1:04 PM
    it was a victim or poor management. DNF is a fun game just like DN3D was. If DNF would have been say the 4th or 5th installment, then yes i would admit that the game sucked based on todays games. But it was the second game after DN3D. Did they drop the ball? yes, because they waited far to long. If DNF was released 4yrs after DN3D people wold have praised it and i could only imagine how awesome the 4th or 5th installment could have been today. poor management. happens in every business industry, not just game development.
  • 0 Hide
    halls , March 30, 2012 1:30 PM
    A victim of the hype that they themselves generated?
  • 1 Hide
    buddhabelly34 , March 30, 2012 1:38 PM
    I neither loved it nor hated it. I definitely don't think it was a victim of 15 years of hype though.
  • -1 Hide
    nbelote , March 30, 2012 1:45 PM
    It was a victim of bad choices. When Gearbox acquired the property they should've totally scrapped it and started fresh. I know, I know, the game has had that happen dozens of times but in order to deliver a TRUE QUALITY PRODUCT like they are capable of creating this needed to be done. DNF would've been a real, amazing, hardcore Gearbox game if they themselves handled everything and trashed what 4 3DRealms teams came up with. I would've gladly waited a couple of more years for a REAL Duke Nukem game, even if the graphics were a little sub-par, I mean really... at the point they acquired the property we had been waiting 14 years already.
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