Gearbox was mystery developer behind Duke Begins

Court filings reveal Brothers in Arms studio had been tapped for now-shelved Duke Nukem project.

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Last month, court filings in the Take-Two Interactive lawsuit against Duke Nukem Forever developer 3D Realms (incorporated as Apogee Software) revealed 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 appears to have been revealed as Brothers in Arms developer Gearbox in the dispute's latest filing.

Duke Nukem Forever would have been filled with beasties like this.
Duke Nukem Forever would have been filled with beasties like this.

As reported by ShackNews and confirmed by GameSpot, a Take-Two response to Apogee's countersuit drops mention of the Borderlands and Aliens first-person shooter studio in a reference to the original three-company contract for Duke Begins.

The suit reads, "Under the 2007 Agreement, any modification to the development schedule for the Duke Begins game, following Final Concept Approval (as defined in the 2007 Agreement), is permitted without Apogee's consent provided that both 2K Games and Gearbox (as defined in the 2007 Agreement) consent to the change."

Gearbox has a fair amount of work on its plate even without Duke Begins. The studio is at work on Borderlands for Take-Two in preparation of an October launch, as well as the sci-fi first-person shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines for Sega. Looking further out, Gearbox also has its War Hero project, for which the studio registered a number of trademarks last month.

Take-Two acknowledges elsewhere in its filing that development on Duke Begins has been shelved "for the time being," but disputes that the project was put on hold to delay royalty payments that would have been owed to Apogee.

The current legal impasse between the two companies stems from the fact that Take-Two holds the publishing rights for Duke Nukem Forever, preventing Apogee from taking it to another company. Since Apogee owns the Duke Nukem IP, Take-Two can't commission another studio to make a game without the developer's consent.

According to a May 18 statement from Apogee, Take-Two tried to buy the Duke Nukem IP outright earlier this year. However, according to the developer, "Take-Two's proposal was unacceptable to 3DR for many reasons, including no upfront money, no guaranteed minimum payment, and no guarantee to complete the DNF game."

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