We talked with Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox Software, about Duke and what we can expect from his latest mission which has been in development for more than twelve years... Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
4Players: How do you feel to be responsible for destroying all those jokes, April's fools and running-gags which came up during the past twelve years?
Randy Pitchford: You know what? I was just like you. I was on the outside and a part of it. I mean...that part of a legend of this. Duke Nukem Forever is almost like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. You know what I mean?
Randy Pitchford, president and CEO of Gearbox Software...and savior of Duke Nukem Forever.
There's a bit of blurry stuff where some people claim that it's real, but c'mon...Loch Ness monster? C'mon! This is just some things they're doing to trick us. Duke is kind of unique in that way. It's kind of cool right now, too, to be able to take it and bring it to people. Now you can shake hands with Bigfoot. It turns out, Bigfoot is real!
4Players: So is it a relief?
Randy Pitchford: It's a pure relief when we ship it. I can tell you there is a lot of pressure and although the horizon is clear and we know what we're doing. And we're on the home stretch. But...there's gotta be some curse or something right? Something is gonna happen. I don't know what it is, but somehow we gonna get screwed. And I'm terrified! I just want to get to that point where I can go into the store and buy it myself and then I believe it myself. Here is the thing though: In spite of all the things that happened with Duke and all the broken promises for some reason we still care. I know how my heart felt when they cancelled it and I was like C'mon...really? I just love my Duke Nukem. Could you just figure this out, please.' We almost kind of need it to work out. It hasn't been games shipping that has kept Duke as an iconic figure in the industry. Cause it hadn't been any games would have shipped, right? It's just in the fan love and interests. Fascination with it. I don't know what it is.
4Players: He's a cool guy...
Randy Pitchford: Yeah...who doesn't want to be a guy who can play his own videogame while being pleasured by two women at the same time? I don't know how you get that world, but sign me up. I want that!
4Players: How much work does Gearbox actually do?
Randy Pitchford: A lot. It's difficult in the time that we gonna spend for me to be able to be accurate to the big complex game. There's a couple of things I can say that give your readers the right impression. And the first thing is that the game is the vision that was developed at 3D Realms. It is George and Alan, 3D Realm team's vision for Duke Nukem Forever. This is their game. And that's what's helping to follow through on that. Having said that, there's a huge amount of effort in order to follow through on that, that can't be trivialized. There are people working day and night, working their asses off to make sure that we can have this. And so that effort has to be respected. I calculated once that 3D Realms over the twelve years they've been working on the game probably put in between 3000 to 4000 man-months of time. Since Gearbox got involved we calculated our risk, our investment to finish it to be between 2500 and 3000 man-months to finish it. And we're tracking. That's proven true. So that gives you sense of like the relative...like man-months, but in terms of like the vision for the story of the game and what we do...and the content from the jokes to the action to the obstacles that was 3D Realm's vision.
4Players: So you didn't have to start from scratch...
Randy Pitchford: No. If I did, I wouldn't call it Duke Nukem Forever. Cause the game I want to play, is the game that I should have gotten. I wanna play that game. So now that I'm responsible for it that's what I should be helping to happen.
4players: You mentioned some new ideas during your presentation. Can you give an example?
Randy Pitchford: Well, you know there are some iterations in the design. One of the things that Duke 3D innovated on was the idea of pacing in a shooter. Going from having like a moment where we are shooting...and then we clear that area up. But then we have some kind of obstacle. Either we have to explore an area and find a path or we can clearly see there is an obstacle in our way and we have to think about how to get around that obstacle. Maybe use the
The aliens need to get their ass kicked...again!
environment or change something in the environment or move things around. So there is a pacing to that and Duke Nukem kind of innovated there. We feel that kind of pacing in games like Half Life, where you have that pacing between action and puzzle solving. What I also like to mention is interactivity and secrets: These are not neccessary for the critical pass, but they both create entertainment and things that make it richer and more fun. So Duke Forever follows through with that general pacing structure or the balance between action and shooting and the other things. We add things that we have more and more recently in games, which is variety. In Duke Nukem 3D it was always Duke with a gun in his hand. And Duke Forever...there are times you get to hop into a vehicle or get on an alien ship. I mean...you gonna do some crazy shit. So much for the great design principle of pacing. But it does something differently: It takes the story in real-time.