Duke Nukem Forever is a first-person shooter video game that was in development since 1997 (the longest game development in history) by the software developer 3D Realms. It is a sequel to the 1996 game Duke Nukem 3D, as part of the long-running Duke Nukem video game series. The game's development was directed by George Broussard, one of the creators of the original Duke Nukem game. Intended to be groundbreaking, it became infamous for its development hell. The game was the subject of much speculation, and had frequently been referred to as vaporware.
Development on Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) was first publicly announced in April 1997, and promotional information for the game was released in one form or another in each of 1997, 1998, 2001, 2007, and 2008. After repeatedly announcing and deferring release dates for the game, 3D Realms announced publicly in 2001 that DNF would be released simply "when it's done". Although Take-Two Interactive still owns the publishing rights to the game, they do not have an agreement with 3D Realms to provide funding for the game's continued development. In 2009, Take-Two Interactive filed a lawsuit against 3D Realms over their failure to finish development of the game.
After another delay, the game was finally released on June 10, 2011.
Scott Miller was a lifelong gamer who released his text-based video games as shareware in the 1980s. By 1988 the shareware business was a $10 to $20 million a year market, but the distribution method had never been tried for video games. Miller found that gamers were not willing to pay for something they could get for free, so he came up with the idea of offering only the opening levels of his games; players could purchase the game to receive the rest of the game. George Broussard, whom Miller met while he was in high school, joined Miller at his company, Apogee, which published and marketed games developed by other companies. While Miller was quiet, with a head for business, Broussard was an enthusiastic "creative impresario". Apogee (renamed to 3D Realms in 1994) grew from a small startup to a successful corporation. Among the titles they published was id Software's Wolfenstein 3D in 1992. Wolfenstein was highly successful, popularizing 3D gaming and establishing the first-person shooter (FPS) genre.
By 1994, Broussard began working on 3D Realm's own first-person shooter. Rather than the faceless marine of other games, players assumed the role of Duke Nukem, whom Broussard described as "a combo of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger". After a year and a half of work, Duke Nukem 3D was released in January 1996. Among game aspects that appealed to players were environmental interaction and adult-oriented content—including blood and strippers. Buoyed by the success, Broussard announced a follow-up, Duke Nukem Forever. Duke Nukem Forever finally released on June 10, 2011 in Europe and on June 14, 2011 in North America on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Wired News has awarded Duke Nukem Forever its Vaporware Awards several times. It placed second in June 2000 and topped the list in 2001 and 2002.Wired created the Vaporware Lifetime Achievement Award exclusively for DNF and awarded it in 2003. George Broussard accepted the award, simply stating, "We're undeniably late and we know it. In 2004, the game did not make the top 10; Wired editors said that they had given DNF the Lifetime Achievement Award to get it off of the list. However, upon readers' demands, Wired changed its mind, and DNF won first place in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Wired staff officially considered removing DNF from their annual list, citing that "even the best jokes get old eventually", only to reconsider upon viewing the handheld camera footage of the game in The Jace Hall Show, awarding the game with first place once again. In 2009, Wired published Wired News' Vaporware Awards 2009: Duke Nukem Forever is not in list, but only because Wired decided to give a pass to it.
Duke Nukem Forever has drawn a number of jokes related to its development timeline. The video gaming media and public in general have routinely suggested several names in place of Forever, calling it "Never", "(Taking) Forever", "Whenever", "ForNever", "Neverever", and "If Ever". The game has also been ridiculed as Duke Nukem: Forever In Development, "the longest game ever in production" and "an elaborate in-joke at the expense of the industry".
When the GameSpy editors compiled a list of the "Top 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming History" in June 2003, Duke Nukem Forever placed #18. Top 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming History. GameSpy. June 10, 2003.
Jason Hall, host of The Jace Hall Show, featured Duke Nukem Forever in the show's premiere episode on June 4, 2008 and described his hands-on play experience with the game as "perfect", ending the segment with "I saw it. They have been working. It's not a myth. You're going to be pleased." In a subsequent interview with 1UP.com, Jason Hall described the game as "amazing" with the summation, "This might be the only game in history worth waiting 12 years for, perhaps longer.... It was good."