Duke Nukem Forever is the long-awaited sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, a first-person shooter done by 3D Realms in 1996.
First announced in 1997, 3D Realms started development using id Software’s Quake II engine, which was far superior to Ken Silverman’s Build engine used in Duke Nukem 3D. However, in 1998, Epic MegaGames introduced their Unreal engine featuring more realistic graphics. Since 3D Realms had been struggling to render the Nevada desert and George Broussard wasn’t happy with the progress being made, they decided to switch over to this one.
In 2004, rumors appeared that they switched to the DOOM 3 engine, but Broussard explicitly denied it. He reported in January 2006 that many of the game elements had been done and just need to be put together. Since nothing much happened since then, the publisher Take-Two Interactive offered a $500,000 bonus if Duke Nukem Forever was released until December 31, 2006. However, 3D Realms didn’t care about it and some of the employees had left the team being tired of the delays.
Broussard became serious about shipping the game, so he posted two job ads in early 2007. The team doubled in size within a short timeframe. At the end of 2007, 3D Realms finally published a short trailer six years after the last one. Unfortunately, the whole development team of Duke Nukem Forever had to go on May 6, 2009 due to lack of funding. The former employees posted several screenshots, concept art and pictures of models as a goodbye message. At that time, Take-Two still held the publishing rights for this title, so it was unclear if the game will ever be finished.
Since 3D Realms stopped development of the game, some ex-employees continued work at their homes and formed Triptych Games, an independent studio located in the same building as Gearbox Software. They collaborated with them on the project. 3D Realms noticed that and asked Gearbox if they were interested in officially helping Triptych Games there. Duke Nukem Forever was re-announced at the Penny Arcade Expo 2010. On the last day, Gearbox bought the Duke Nukem intellectual property from 3D Realms and 2K Games got the exclusive long-term publishing rights of the game.
On January 21, 2011, the game has been announced to be released on May 3 in North America and on May 6 in the rest of the world. This was, however, delayed by a month to June 10 internationally, with a North American release on June 14.