Duke Nukem Forever Q&A - A Walking Armory

We chat with David Riegel, president of Triptych Games, about the outrageous weapons in Duke Nukem Forever.

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We knew better than to bet against the Duke. It may have taken a while--15 years to be exact--but Duke Nukem Forever is finally nearing its release date. This foul-mouthed first-person-shooter is back with all its vulgar humor and the title character's inflated ego. After covering the single-player and multiplayer, we got the chance to talk with David Riegel, president of Triptych Games, about the game's arsenal of weapons. They say clothes make the man, but as we soon discovered, it is the weapons that make the Duke.

GameSpot: From what we've played, it doesn't feel like Duke's new pistol packs quite the same punch as its semiautomatic predecessor. Why did you decide to make this change to his default starting weapon?

David Riegel: All of the weapons in Duke Nukem Forever are designed to have particular strengths and weaknesses. Duke's pistol has limited stopping power and a relatively small clip, but it's deadly accurate and perfect for taking out midrange foes. One or two headshots will drop most bipeds, and even if you're of the spray-and-pray mentality, the pistol will fire as fast as you can click. It also has the fastest melee speed of any weapon, and this can be important in close-range combat.

GS: In Duke Nukem 3D, steroids would increase your running speed, but in Duke Nukem Forever, they beef up your melee attack. Why the change? Was speed considered too strong of a boost?

DR: Steroids actually do make you faster in DNF! However, the combat in DNF is a little more tactical than it was in Duke 3D, and speed doesn't give much of an advantage by itself. As we iterated on power-up design, insta-kill melee attacks seemed like a natural fit for steroids. When we tried this design and combined it with the speed boost, we knew right away that we had a winner. Basic punch attacks are a blast under normal conditions; steroids not only allow you to punch stuff…but punch it and watch it explode! This is great in single-player but is even better in multiplayer. There's nothing funnier than watching a helpless character sprinting away from a steroid-crazed Duke who's running after him and swinging like a madman.

GS: It is hard to improve on classics, such as the shotgun or ripper. Nevertheless, can you tell us about the changes that have been made to these iconic weapons to adapt them for Duke Nukem Forever?

DR: The ripper and the shotgun are designed to be our most common medium and close-range weapons, respectively. Aesthetic updates--both to the models and the sounds--have gone through numerous iterations so that they look and sound awesome. You will encounter them everywhere, and it was really important to get the feeling right. In terms of gameplay tuning, it was largely about balancing these weapons against other weapons you can acquire in the game.

For example, the assault captain minigun is another medium-range weapon, and it can fire its entire payload or projectiles without a reload. However, the ripper shots hit their targets instantaneously, and the ripper has a larger overall round capacity. The freeze ray is our most powerful close-range weapon, but the shotgun can be used at midrange in a pinch. And while the freeze ray is great when you want to shatter enemies, the shotgun can be even more gratifying in that you can blow limbs and tentacles off of foes.

GS: We understand that the Holoduke has been tweaked so that it not only creates a decoy, but it also turns you invisible--a totally new ability. Was this to offset the fact that Duke Nukem Forever doesn't have the security cameras that Duke 3D had (which made the original Holoduke so insidious)? Or was it for some other reasons?

Shotguns and shrink rays are great, but for bigger foes you'll need something a little extra.

DR: Like all the power-up and weapon designs, the final Holoduke was born out of testing and iteration. In Duke 3D, combat was incredibly fast and took place in wide-open areas. It was easy to get mixed up just due to the speed. DNF is a lot more tactical, and we found that in multiplayer testing, just having a decoy wasn't powerful enough. Likewise, for single-player, it didn't make sense why enemies would only attack the Holoduke and not the real Duke if they were side by side. Making the enemies attack the Holoduke 50 percent of the time felt like a waste, so it made sense to make Duke invisible and have the enemies focus on the decoy. Plus, the light-refracting cloaking device looks cool!

GS: What's the deal with this new enforcer rocket launcher? It fires 15 different homing rockets? Isn't that just a little overpowered?

The Duke should spend less time ogling statues and more time watching his back.

DR: Well, if you're not playing DNF for an empowerment experience, you're playing it wrong! But seriously, the enforcer gun is one of the last weapons you find, and it's very difficult to get. It fires homing rockets in three-round bursts, and it's a great way to clear out a room full of pig cops. But a 15-round capacity means you only get five trigger pulls before you run out of ammo, and restocking means that you have to find and kill another enforcer. Further, the rockets don't track enemies at medium and long ranges, making the RPG or devastator a preferable choice in certain boss fights. But make no mistake, it does kick butt.

GS: The combination of freezing someone with the freeze ray and then shattering him with a mighty foot to the chest was really satisfying. Can you tell us more about how the freeze ray will function in DNF and your reasoning behind switching Duke's melee attack to a fist?

DR: The freeze ray works like an ice flamethrower, spraying out cryogenic death to any enemy at close range. Frozen enemies can be executed with special melee attacks. Executions instantly recharge Duke's ego, so it's worth your while to run toward an enemy, absorb damage, and then gain back the ego with the finisher.

GS: Duke 3D's pipe bombs could be left to lie more or less until you detonated them manually. They seem to work differently in Duke Nukem Forever; for instance, they now explode on contact when thrown, like grenades? Can you go over how these weapons work differently now? Why the change?

DR: Actually, the DNF pipe bombs work almost exactly like they did in Duke 3D. You can throw them into the world and detonate them immediately, or you can leave them as traps for enemies. When you press the detonator is up to you. The one difference we made was to bind the pipe bombs to single button press. This provides an elegant interface solution and doesn't force you to put your other guns away to use them.

GS: So…Duke has a railgun now? What's the deal with that?

DR: The railgun was one of the last weapons we added. Long-range combat always felt like it was missing something, and the railgun turned out to be the missing link. It works like a sniper rifle…very accurate, but it has a slow rate of fire and a small magazine size. Of course, if you manage to kill a pig cop up close, you better be wearing a raincoat.

GS: Some of the new features in the game, particularly in multiplayer, recall the classic shooters of the late 1990s, like the damage-enhancing Duke statue, the railgun, and the instagib mutator. Is it fair to say that one of the core goals of Duke's shooting action and multiplayer was to bring back that feeling of old-school deathmatch? If so, why go in this direction?

DR: Like single-player, one of the biggest goals for multiplayer was to provide a core Duke experience with a ton of variety. There are four game modes, five mutators, and a ton of customizations that can be applied to each match. In addition to beer, steroids, and Holodukes, there are unique multiplayer power-ups in the world, such as invincibility, double-damage, and jetpacks. Deathmatch allows you play the game at a fast and furious pace, but the more strategic Capture-the-Babe and Hail-to-the-King modes are there if you want a more team-oriented experience. So I think multiplayer has a little bit of everything.

GS: With so many different multiplayer games available out there, building and supporting an active online community is now more difficult (and vital) than ever. What are your plans to keep the Duke Nukem Forever online community engaged in the game after it is released?

DR: There is a world of new Duke paraphernalia coming. Action figures, Internet game spin-offs, and themes for Xbox Live are just a few of the things planned.

This says it all.

GS: Is there anything more you'd like to add about Duke Nukem Forever?

DR: Forever is finally here!

GS: Thank you for your time.

Discussion

83 comments
gowofwarKratos
gowofwarKratos

Well, i am a old game player and i had chance to enjoy the first game from PC and Sega Saturn God!!!! i remenber like was yesterday. As a fan i can't wait to get this too. The graphics seems ok for this new one but Duken Nuken besides other things is a funny game, at least the first one and if keep the same way i will be more then happy hehe!

deadreign22
deadreign22

duke nukem 3d and zero hour were good but this looks like a disappointment

MNMR
MNMR

Waiting waiting... --- After 15 years: --- Still waiting! not so much till release... Waiting...

Dr_Salvador
Dr_Salvador

Well it looks like even 15 years of gaming doesn't make you better at judging the greatness of a game. These footage's scream epicness.

Mr_Monkdawg91
Mr_Monkdawg91

I have played video games since I was 5, so about 15 years. That may seem insignificant to you old school gamers. Altho I have never played a Duke game before, I am aware of how beloved the franchise is. That being said, I have to be honest and point out that this game just does not look high quality whatsoever. The gameplay seems incredibly dull and simplistic. It is not my goal to be a troll, but it's unfair to call anyone who disses this game "NOT gamers", cuz I have been gaming for about 15 years now. Who knows, it might turn out to be an amazing game, we'll see.

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

The people dissing this game are NOT even gamers therefore there opinion does not even matter. Most of them probably started gaming no more than 2-5 years ago and don't even have the gaming experience to dictate what a good game is or not. You can tell by their hatred for classic gaming franchises. Go play your noob friendly games children. The king is BACK whether you like it or not!

Samrat_Ashok
Samrat_Ashok

Wow...why are the kids even coming here to moan when they don't care about this game I cannot fathom.... Run along now little kiddies. The saga of the Duke started before you were born, and it's for adults.

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

@Ificationer short? try 12-15 hours single player :p and im sure it will be good just from watching randy talk about the game with a big grin on his face.

xSlugox
xSlugox

Nice....... Textures? Hmm, nope.

LT-Voltaire
LT-Voltaire

Well this game looks good and as long as Duke is still his raunchy self then this game will live up to its legacy. You cry babies its good to see and old face in the misted of this sequel, prequel era. Where is the new Doom for this age. I to grew up with adventure with duke from his 2D past to 3D alien hunting badass days. I know its been a while I cant wait. I bet its gonna be at least 20 hour game.

Rafass
Rafass

I really don't know what people are talking about, this game looks fun! And I bet the multiplayer will be even better. Well I guess everyone is a critic, and a bad one! Wristbreaker, you are getting old and grumpy by the way, I can even see your flabby arms when you move the mouse :P

ymarkman
ymarkman

This has gotta be the best interview for a video game I've read in a long while. The ending is cool, and sheds a lot of light on the fact that Duke Nukem Forever isn't gonna be just a stupid 'reboot sequel.' I really admire the fact that they are bringing back the old, throwing in some new, and not just rushing the game to completion just to get money and short-lived praise from long-time fans of the series. I believe any true DN fan will love this game, whether or not it's taken so damn long for it to be finished and released. Truly, people...Hail to the KING!

wristbreaker
wristbreaker

its gonna be a really lousy game... all the hype wouldn't live up to what it is supposed to be... i think i have to agree with darkwolf1982, if they had released this game a decade ago it wouldve been nice, these days however, its really sucky... either that or im getting old...

darkwolf1982
darkwolf1982

Unless you are a fanatical fan of the franchise (from the beginning) and stuck by 3DR when others were criticizing / mocking over the time it has taken (in which Gearbox has been given the unenviable task of completing). The chances of anyone else truly appreciating this game are (to put fairly) somewhat remote at best. DN:F WOULD have dominated in 2001/02 IF it had have been released THEN.

Bubreg
Bubreg

This looks so bad that it hurts.

Ificationer
Ificationer

dont know why,but I have feeling that its gonna be a short game :(

HT89488
HT89488

sorry, blood is not a chemical, but you understand what I am saying.

HT89488
HT89488

@Alex_09 There Aliens, what if they don't have blood. ;) What if in DNAE, or DN 1, they found out that blood was a weak chemical of the human body? So they don't have blood anymore. lol. nvm, you have to use your imagination.

gho5ty
gho5ty

they did say you can freeze your emys in a video or they where showing it god i cant wait till this hits.

Mr_Monkdawg91
Mr_Monkdawg91

This might be a beloved game franchise...but sorry this game looks like complete crap

cryofax
cryofax

"...combat was incredibly fast and took place in wide-open areas. It was easy to get mixed up just due to the speed. DNF is a lot more tactical,..." TRANSLATION : DNF is more linear and smaller and dumbed down compared to the superior original. Yay.

WarThrash
WarThrash

@-Canas- Since when is 7/10 synonymous with "crap". Hell Borderlands got a 7 from Gamespot and that's one of the funnest FPS experiences you can get.

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

no freeze gun and no un-shrink gun? :(

DFA1
DFA1

2:43 OMG THE ORIGINAL LEVEL FROM 3D!!!! AWESOME!!!!

-Canas-
-Canas-

Hate to be a downer but this game looks like crap. It has the rigidity and variety of early launch titles and i'm not surprised to see that there are still horrible clipping issues. Duke is a staple of my childhood, but this will never live up to the legacy. I forecast a 7.0/10

aguatacaluseo
aguatacaluseo

DNF and Diablo III... Back to school!!! BIG TIME! I think i'm crying, no wait, I am crying.

boxterduke
boxterduke

I sure hope the freeze gun is still in the game.

HT89488
HT89488

Samrat-Ashok Couldn't agree with you more.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Does anyone else think the gore looks really weird in this game? The people get blown apart but there's no blood.

chewingglass
chewingglass

@Samrat_Ashok first acces club members get it first, that's why it's called first access, but I'm sure the demo will be made public a few days after, it would be kinda stupid to have the demo be exclusive since it's just a taste of the real deal ;)

costin_branzas
costin_branzas

anyone noticed something familiar about 2:43? :)

Samrat_Ashok
Samrat_Ashok

This is one thing I don't really like. Demos should never be exclusive...that normally forces the players to turn towards other, means, which I'd rather not mention. They should've made the demo for this game open to all. That said, I'm in no way advocating players to turn rogue....the collectors edition for this one was well worth it.

chewingglass
chewingglass

@hella_epic 3rd of june for duke's first access club members, don't know when for the rest...

hella_epic
hella_epic

soo any news on when the demo is out??

kytomasi
kytomasi

@Vega12mv thats what she said...

HT89488
HT89488

Since Ive switched back to PC gaming since my new system, I miss having achievements. Most of these new games on Steam don't any achievements at all. Games like Batman:AA has in game trophies etc, I wish they could do that do Duke Nukem. I remember Duke Nukem Atomic Edition having some hidden objects...so I wonder if they will have hidden things throughout the game in this new one. I don't know about anyone else, but this helps with replay value for me.

vega13mv
vega13mv

oh duke, i knew you'd....come

Sergeant_
Sergeant_

@snus3n It is sad.... I actually touch base on that with my latest blog entry of Duke. It seems that now a days a game is judged only by its visuals rather then its game play. Besides, I wouldn't waste my lectures on the kiddies anyways..even if they wanted to purchase the game it would be difficult because its rated "M".

Nafe
Nafe

No freeze gun :(((

haejuk
haejuk

It's time to delay release and chew bubble gum... and I'm all out of delays.

endorbr
endorbr

Why do they keep asking if this is a throw back to '90s style gaming? Hello, development for this game started in the '90s. They've been working on it for 15 years. It isn't a throw back to anything. It is the same style of '90s game because it was designed to be that kind of game from the start.

snus3n
snus3n

For the "fans" of the series, dont rage on the ones that are new to gaming and dont know what duke is and its history. Its not worth it.. Sure, they might complain that the graphics are a tad less lower than your avarage game.. But then again they dont know what duke is all about. Sadly.. And these are the ones that wont buy the game. And sadly will miss out of one of those titles of the decade. Because duke is duke.. Not your mainstream fps. If you like duke.. You will like duke.. Its one of those games that most ppl that wasnt born before the 90s wont pick up since they wont understand what this title is all about. And its sad =/ But thats what its about.. This game is a piece of gaming history.. And they will never understand why ppl like myself will buy it and love it.. Even if its not tweaked enough at rls im still going to love the game since i'v been waiting for more than 10 years for the title. And what i'v seen from the vid fotage they have rls'd they are infact making this game for the fans.. They're not showing us much new content.. Its content that we all remember they are showing it seems.. So feels like they are targeting ppl like me. People that actually have played most duke games. And i couldnt be more privileged to be able to get these glimses to what I'v been waiting for, for such a long time. HAIL TO THE KING! BABY!

Marasca2
Marasca2

The graphics aren't great, but who cares? IT'S DUKE NUKEM BABY!

grim0187
grim0187

Like I said before, the people complaining about graphics are NOT old school gamers and this game is made for old school gamers. These kids dont remember crackin open a gamepro magazine in the 90's and first reading about this game. Its not for them.

hella_epic
hella_epic

the only thing tat makes me sad are the graphics,cuz then we can't see DUKE RIPPING PAST THE ALIENS VERY NICELY :D i cannot believe it is finally here *screams like a girl nd then faints*