Duke Nukem Forever, the perennial Wired’s Vaporware Awards winner, is now closer to release than ever. This is truly mind-boggling.

Duke Nukem
Balls of Steel

I remember reading a preview with screenshots of DNF in an issue of PC Gamer more than a decade ago. The original Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem II and Duke Nukem 3D were all at some point some of my favorite games. Duke Nukem II was released around when I got my first PC, if I remember correctly, so it holds a special place in my heart. The game had great graphics and the intro was something only a teenager could love. Duke Nukem 3D on the other hand was a real favorite at my school’s LAN, it was much more fun than even Doom. And for many, Duke Nukem 3D was the game that changed the platform gaming into FPS, just like Grand Theft Auto III transcended that genre to a new height.

Think about it, in 2011 when DNF probably will be finally released, it has been two decades since the first Duke Nukem was released. This must be a challenge for Duke Nukem Forever, because for the generation of gamers who have actually played the original Duke Nukem 1, DNF is a legend, a myth. There is no chance in hell that whatever might be released in 2011 can match the hype and expectations that these gamers have kept in their hearts for the last 10 years. No matter how hard the developers would try, the game will fall short for these guys. This point was made quite eloquently by Yathzee in an episode of Zero Punctuation.

Duke Nukem II
This... brings... back... memories...

On the other hand, the next generation of gamers, who only know the legend of Duke Nukem second-hand, can’t appreciate the otherwise dated elements of Duke Nukem universe. For most, it will be just another FPS - however, this time it won’t be featuring realistic modern US American fighting force keeping the world safe from terrorists and Russians stuck mentally in cold war, which is of course a nice change of a theme. It would need a completely different feature list to sell the game to this crowd instead of to the die hard fans.

For example, so far we don’t know much about the game except for that it will be probably released in the immediate future, honest. And that’s more than the first group needs to know. The latter group would of course want to know if the game will be available for PS3, does it have multiplayer, dedicated servers, DLC, etc. For us, the Duke Nukem Veterans, that’s all irrelevant. It’s Duke.

This game was never supposed to be released. It’s status in limbo was part of our gaming DNA.

This post was originally posted on Business Analyst Playing Games. The game’s release ended up being delayed yet again later on, but only by a month. To date I have not dared to touch Duke Nukem Forever.