Duke Nukem For Never?

Ah, the famous 3DRealms credo: "When it's done."  A very clever way to tell the consumer that the company doesn't want to rush the project to meet a deadline, risking the release of a substandard product.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting TIRED of "when it's done."  I want to see "It's done," and soon.

The big preview for Duke Nukem Forever was released at E3 in June of 1998, one year ago.  The fantastic characters, graphics, and action wowed even the most jaded "been there done that" audiences, and the smoothness and detail of the game led some, if not most, to believe that the game was coming sooner rather than later.  And here we are, one year later, with not a single significant update on possible release dates.  Not a hint of how complete the game is, how much is left, or when the consumer can get their hands on what promises to be the best 3D shooter ever.  Just "when it's done."

Having a deadline is bad, yes, because it can create a rushed atmosphere for the developers which can result in a less-than-perfect product.  However, deadlines can be good in the sense that at least SOMETHING might show up in the forseeable future.  When was the last time you took a class where the professor said "Turn it in whenever you like, even a few years from now, just as long as you're completely satisfied with it"?  Releasing bugfixes is going to be unavoidable no matter how long they wait to release it, just like you'll never turn in the perfect term paper no matter how long you work on it.

Here's my theory:  3DRealms has the "Nine Inch Nails" complex, in which they never release anything because there's always a few more things they want to do with it, or this doesn't feel right and that isn't exactly perfect.  The result of this is that it takes FOREVER to get anything finished cuz there's always one more thing they want to add.  This is what I believe is happening with Duke Nukem Forever.  They keep putting in new things and taking advantage of each little new technology that they're not really going anywhere with the game itself.  Finishing up what they have and putting it out would be better, simply because at this rate, they'll NEVER get it done.

About a year ago they switched the game from the Quake II platform to the Unreal platform in order to take advantage of better technology.  They said it would put them back a few weeks but would ultimately save time in the end.  But when is the end?

My advice to 3DRealms: FINISH THE GODDAMNED GAME AND PUT IT OUT!  Stop adding new stuff and finish what you have in there!  Finish the levels, do the bugfixes, and release the game already!

The consequences for avoiding my advice?  None.  People will still wait for it, probably forever.  When it's finally released, people will still buy it whether it's 10 weeks or 10 years from now.  The advantages to releasing it now, though, are that they'll finally get to reap some profits from 3 years' work, their fans will be sated (for a while), and they'll be able to move on to brand new things.  Duke 5 anyone?  Release time:  "When you're dead."