Yet the tale of Duke Nukem Forever is so legendary, the brand so enduring, that I’m not surprised another developer is reportedly picking up where 3D Realms left off after 12 years of development. Citing unnamed sources, Kotaku reports that Gearbox, the studio behind Borderlands and several well-received Half-Life expansion packs, is now working on Duke Nukem Forever.
Gearbox would be a logical choice given that Take-Two Interactive, which published Borderlands, still owns the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever. The path to development was cleared when Take-Two settled a lawsuit with developer 3D Realms/Apogee in May, over the game’s failure to launch. No one’s confirming the rumor, but Gearbox president Randy Pitchford told Kotaku that he might clarify the matter next month, at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle.
The problem with Duke Nukem Forever, as a game, is that it isn’t really a game. Duke Nukem Forever is a story of the game industry’s astounding evolution over the last dozen years, and one company’s futile race to keep up with an ever-climbing bar. In the hands of another developer, the perpetual drive for better and more is lost, along with Duke Nukem Forever’s soul.
Of course, I’d still play the game, but mostly for the spectacle, and maybe some closure. If Gearbox announces Duke Nukem Forever next month, the only outcome I’ll fully accept is stalled development leading to oblivion — a cruel joke to keep the legend alive. That’s the Duke Nukem Forever I know.