The death of Duke Nukem

Fueled by ego, ambition and an unquenchable desire for perfectionism, the story of Duke Nukem Forever‘s demise is a sad one. As documented in Wired, it’s also a story of how near-unlimited freedom can squash all but the most disciplined of artists.

For 12 long years George Broussard and his team at 3D Realms labored over creating a sequel that would change the gaming landscape. They wanted to make the same impact that the original Duke did back in 1996. So they chased the ever-shifting pinnacle of technology, tossing aside months and years of work each time a new game engine emerged. For Broussard, buoyed by the creative and financial freedom offered by Duke’s first outing, only absolute perfection would do. Unfortunately, that proved to be the game’s undoing. By the time it became apparent that DNF would likely never be completed, more than $20 million had been thrown at the project.

It’s a fascinating story that’s definitely worth a read. Perhaps the saddest part is that nobody close to the project says DNF was a bad game. Just that, in the mind of its creator at least, it was never even nearly finished. It would be good to hear Broussard’s side of the story, but with a court case underway to clean up the resulting financial and legal mess, we wouldn’t count on hearing it for some time.