Yesterday as part of his prolific Twitter stream, 3D Realms president George Broussard posted a cryptic picture of pigs flying. Today, the reason became clear. At PAX Prime in Seattle, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford took the stage to announce that his studio has taken over Duke Nukem Forever, which had been in development at the now-all-but-defunct 3D Realms since 1997.
Speaking to a shocked and enthusiastic crowd, Pitchford said, "We can't let the Duke die, right? The guys at 3D Realms who put their hearts and souls into this, so we wanted to make sure it hits all the platforms. It's coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2011."
Pitchford also told the Wall Street Journal that Gearbox took over the game in late 2009, following the quasi-closure of 3D Realms and tit-for-tat lawsuits between 3D Realms and Duken Nukem Forever publisher Take-Two Interactive. (He also told the paper the game was coming out in 2010, but he said 2011 at PAX today.)
"Clearly the game hadn't been finished at 3D Realms but a lot of content had been created," Pitchford told the Journal. "The approach and investment and process at 3D Realms didn’t quite make it and it cracked at the end. With Gearbox Software we brought all those pieces together. It's the game it was meant to be."
Scott Miller, owner and CEO of 3D Realms, also reflected to the Journal why his studio failed to complete the game. "We were probably too much of a perfectionist about the game. When some other game had some great feature come out, we wanted to match it…We'd been distracted on other games like Prey. It was a combination of those things. We were trying to build a game that was too great."
Duke Nukem Forever isn't the first Duke Nukem game that Gearbox has worked on. In June, court filings in the Take-Two Interactive lawsuit against Duke Nukem Forever developer 3D Realms (incorporated as Apogee Software) revealed that another game featuring the first-person shooter icon was in the works at a "well-known game developer" as early as 2007. That mystery developer was, in fact, Gearbox.
The Duke Nukem-Gearbox connections don't stop there. Before forming Gearbox, Pitchford worked at 3D Realms on an expansion for Duke Nukem 3D for the PC. (The game was rereleased in 2008 as an Xbox Live Arcade title.) "People like George Broussard and the 3D Realms team are the reason I got into gaming," said Pitchford during today's speech.