Prior to its collapse in 2009, 3D Realms fired off one more installment in its Duke Nukem franchise, rereleasing 1996's highly regarded Duke Nukem 3D for Xbox Live Arcade. Now, Gearbox Software owns the rights to the Duke Nukem IP, and one of its first acts--beyond dating Duke Nukem Forever, of course--has been to grant a noncommercial license to revive Duke Nukem 3D with Unreal Engine 3-powered graphics.
As detailed in a post to Gearbox's message boards, forum user Fresch announced that the studio had granted him the license to proceed with his project, tentatively titled Duke Nukem: Next Gen. In the words of Fresch, the project gained legs after he built a "test" map using UE3 and posted screenshots to Gearbox's message boards.
"A few weeks ago, I played with the idea of a Duke Nukem 3D revision, made on Unreal Engine 3 Tech," he wrote. "Knowning that every other Duke project, not based on 3Drealms own technology (Build), has been knifed and cancelled, I didn't think it was possible to do…I contacted George Brussard and Scott Miller, to start a conversation about the project…But the project was only doable if Take-Two would approve it."
Enter Gearbox VP and general counsel PJ Putnam, who worked out the details with Take-Two, which culminated in a license for the project.
As for what that project will be, Fresch described DNNG as a complete graphical overhaul of Duke Nukem 3D using Epic Games' engine. The final release, which will be offered free of charge, will include a three episode single-player campaign and a multiplayer mode. The game does not yet have a release date.