Duke Nukem (1991-2011)

Level Design Classic

“Now with 3X MORE CORRIDOR TURNS!!”

Soerm……not very good, I gather?

I find it difficult to say anything that hasn’t already been said on reams of digital paper, but I have heard comparisons of DNF with Superman Returns, another product with a lengthy gestation period. I think there are still signifcant differences though, since SR was stuck in development hell for a long time because they could never get to the stage of filming it properly for most of those years. So although many inexplicable millions were wasted on aborted scripts, tentative casting and whatnot, the actual film only got rolling in 2004. DNF, for good or ill, was under active development for 12 years. Sure, most of the effort (indulgent, plodding effort, but still) kept getting binned because Broussard kept repicking engines like a toddler seeing something shiny. But for the result to be this…well, it’s still moderately mind-boggling.

I think there’s a good case to be made that most fans really just wanted DN3D with a fresh coat of paint. Sure, DNF had to be a new game, but it had to feel like DN3D with 2011 (OK, at least 2005) graphical textures and models. And really, the biggest problem of the game, beyond the cosmetic horrifically offensive stuff, was that the game didn’t really feel like a shooter. It felt like a series of mini-games that had some first person shooter elements sprinked through it as an afterthought. The point has also been belabored in all the reviews that it’s a mutant fusion of the worst parts of the FPS genre from the two eras, 90s and 00s. By infusing itself with the linear level designs, regnerating health and limited weapon encumbrance count so prevalent in console shooters, the game was dooming (no pun intended) itself even over the already impressive obstacles it had to face.

I guess this really is the end of the era of “design is law” school of game development. You can blame Broussard and Romero for that, and maybe to a lesser extent, people like Molyneux. Checks and balances is the only way forward these days, especially with development budgets being so bloated. I bet you 300 quatloos the damn tell-all book on the whole damn debacle will sell like nobody’s business. It would probably outsell the game.

P.S: Jaysus, did he really lose that much? Fool and money etc.

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