On Friday, September 3rd, Gearbox Software dropped a bomb on the gaming world when they announced that they had shown up to PAX 2010 with Duke Nukem Forever. So naturally, Ripten cancelled all of our appointments so we could talk to some of the men who are bringing back Duke.
I had already played the demo that Friday, but it was not until Sunday that I got to sit down with Gearbox and talk to them about it. I was ushered into a small room with Mikey Neumann, creative director at Gearbox; also present was Markus Wilding, Global PR director for 2K games. Markus was helpful in answering a few questions and giving some insight, but I’m pretty sure he was just there to make sure I didn’t stab Mikey and run off with the game.
Mikey and Markus gave me some great insight into Gearbox, 2K, Duke, and even a little bit of Borderlands . . . I also got the chance to speak with CEO Randy Pitchford later on that day.
DO: First of all, I just want to say thank you, thank you , fucking … thank you. Words can’t express . . .
MN: Haha, you’re welcome sir.
DO: How in the hell did you manage to keep this under wraps for so long?
MN: Man, it’s crazy how many people knew about this and were able to keep it quiet . . .
DO: Yeah, because we all kind of knew that it was coming, but nobody could fucking confirm it!!
MN: Honestly, at Gearbox, everyone is so busy that there’s no time to even leak this kind of info. It’s been a crazy year watching this game come together into a game you can actually play through all the way. I think everyone has kind of lived through the shock of playing it at PAX . But we’ve had a year of being in shock from it. You’ve gotta trust the people you work with and you’ve gotta be able to trust the people in charge not to fuck that up, and I think we did pretty good.
DO: Oh yeah, so when did this whole thing come together, how did the transition go from 3D realms shutting down, to you picking it up, to 2K getting behind you. I mean, who spearheaded that, was it Randy … ?
MN: Oh yeah. I definitely think Randy Pitchford was at the center of that. I mean, he’s the one link between everybody. We have a great relationship with Take-Two and 2K, they’re awesome (Markus nods), and Borderlands was hugely successful for all of us, so it was kind of a no-brainer to work with them again. So, we kind of put the feelers out there to see what would happen. We said, “Lets talk to George (Broussard) and 2K and see if we can get everyone on the same page because we’ll all benefit, right?” If this doesn’t happen, then everyone kind of loses, the gamers especially. We can all profit and all be friends if we made this happen and it was really a no brainer I think. After that it all just came together.
DO: So how much of an actual transition was there? How much of the game is their game (3D Realms) and how much of the game is your game?
MN: Well, I don’t think we’re adding a whole lot content-wise because after 15 years there is plenty of content. I mean, there’s a lot, a lot of game there. It’s funny that we’re only playing 15 minutes at PAX, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this game. But yeah, Gearbox is really good at producing and putting games together and pacing them and making sure all the story works. So I think mainly in that capacity we really came in and fit it all together as a complete game as opposed to a series of vignettes and cool moments.
DO: So was the game almost done at 3Drealms?
MN: Heh, well I dunno. We definitely fit it all together … I don’t have a lot of specifics offhand, but for us it was really an exercise in taking a bunch of awesome stuff and fitting it together into one really cool game.
DO: How much game are we looking at here? 20+ hours?
MN: Oh man, it’s a lot, probably a lot more than games you’ve played lately if that says anything . . . I’m not gonna get into specifics, but it’s longer than most of the games you can pick up on shelves right now.
Read on as we talk about what a thrill it is to be bringing back Duke, and why Gearbox is the right developer to do it.